William Howard Taft: Wikis


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William Howard Taft

In office
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
Vice President James S. Sherman (1909–1912)
None (1912–1913)
Preceded by Theodore Roosevelt
Succeeded by Woodrow Wilson

In office
June 30, 1921[1] – February 3, 1930
Nominated by Warren G. Harding
Preceded by Edward Douglass White
Succeeded by Charles Evans Hughes

In office
September 29, 1906 – October 13, 1906
Preceded by Tomás Estrada Palma
President of Cuba
Succeeded by Charles Edward Magoon

In office
February 1, 1904 – June 30, 1908
President Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by Elihu Root
Succeeded by Luke Edward Wright

In office
July 4, 1901 – December 23, 1903
Preceded by Arthur MacArthur, Jr.
(U.S. Military Governor)
Succeeded by Luke Edward Wright

In office
February 1890 – March 1892
President Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by Orlow W. Chapman
Succeeded by Charles H. Aldrich

In office
March 17, 1892 – March 15, 1900
Nominated by Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by New Seat
Succeeded by Henry Franklin Severens

Born September 15, 1857
Cincinnati, Ohio
Died March 8, 1930 (aged 72)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Section 30, Lot S-14, Grid Y/Z-39.5
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Herron Taft
Children Robert Taft
Helen Taft Manning
Charles Phelps Taft II
Alma mater Yale University
University of Cincinnati
Occupation Lawyer, Jurist
Religion Unitarian

William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was the 27th President of the United States and later the 10th Chief Justice of the United States. He is the only person to have served in both offices.

Born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, into the powerful Taft family, Taft graduated from Yale College Phi Beta Kappa in 1878,[2] and from Cincinnati Law School in 1880. Then he worked in a number of local legal positions until being appointed an Ohio Supreme Court judge in 1887. In 1890, Taft was appointed Solicitor General of the United States and in 1891 a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft Governor-General of the Philippines. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt, then a political ally of Taft, appointed Taft Secretary of War to groom Taft as his successor to the presidency.

Riding a wave of popular support of President (and fellow Republican) Theodore Roosevelt, Taft won an easy victory in his 1908 bid for the presidency.

In his first and only term, President Taft's domestic agenda emphasized trust-busting, civil service reform, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, improving the performance of the postal service, and passage of the Sixteenth Amendment. Abroad, Taft sought to further the economic development of undeveloped nations in Latin America and Asia through the method he termed "Dollar Diplomacy." However, Taft often alienated his own key constituencies, and was overwhelmingly defeated in his bid for a second term in the presidential election of 1912.

After leaving office, Taft spent his time in academia, arbitration, and the search for world peace through his self-founded League to Enforce Peace. In 1921, after the First World War, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft Chief Justice of the United States. Taft served in this capacity until his death in 1930.

Weighing over 300 pounds on average, Taft was physically the heaviest American president ever elected, and the last president to have facial hair.[3]


Early life

Taft was born on September 15, 1857, near Cincinnati, Ohio.[4] His mother, Louisa Torrey, was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College. His father, Alphonso Taft, was the son of Peter Rawson Taft, a descendant of Robert Taft I, the first Taft in America, who settled in Colonial Massachusetts. Alphonso Taft went to Cincinnati in 1839 to open a law practice,[5] and was a prominent Republican who served as Secretary of War and Attorney General under President Ulysses S. Grant.

The William Howard Taft National Historic Site is the Taft boyhood home. The house in which he was born has been restored to its original appearance. It includes four period rooms reflecting family life during Taft's boyhood, and second-floor exhibits highlighting Taft's life.[6]


Taft attended Woodward High School[7] and, like most of his family, attended Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut.[8] At Yale, he was a member of the Linonian Society, a literary and debating society; Skull and Bones, the secret society co-founded by his father in 1832; the Beta chapter of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, and was made an honorary member of the Acacia Fraternity.[9] Later in life he was also inducted into the Omicron-Omicron chapter of the secret society of Theta Nu Epsilon, after delivering the commencement address to the class of 1910 at Ohio Northern University. He was given the nickname "Big Lub " because of his size, but his college friends knew him by the nickname "Old Bill".[10] Taft received jibes about his weight throughout his life: as Governor-General of the Philippines, Taft once sent a telegram to Washington, D.C. that read, "Went on a horse ride today; feeling good;" Secretary of War Elihu Root replied, "How's the horse?"[11] In 1878, Taft graduated from Yale, ranking second in his class out of 121.[10] After college, he attended Cincinnati Law School, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 1880. While in law school, he worked on the area newspaper The Cincinnati Commercial.[10]


Legal career

After admission to the Ohio bar, Taft was appointed Assistant Prosecutor of Hamilton County, Ohio,[12] based in Cincinnati. In 1882, he was appointed local Collector of Internal Revenue.[13] Taft married his longtime sweetheart, Helen Herron, in Cincinnati in 1886.[12] In 1887, he was appointed a judge of the Ohio Superior Court.[12] In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him Solicitor General of the United States.[12] As of January 2010, at age 32, he is the youngest-ever Solicitor General.[14] Taft then began serving on the newly created United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1891.[12] Taft was confirmed by the Senate on March 17, 1892, and received his commission that same day.[15] In about 1893, Taft decided in favor of one or more patents for processing aluminium belonging to the Pittsburg Reduction Company, today known as Alcoa, who settled with the other party in 1903 and became for a short while the only aluminum producer in the U.S.[16] Another of Taft's opinions was Addyston Pipe and Steel Company v. United States (1898). Along with his judgeship, between 1896 and 1900 Taft also served as the first dean and a professor of constitutional law at the University of Cincinnati.[17]

Political career

Taft with Secretary of War Elihu Root in 1904.

In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft chairman of a commission to organize a civilian government in the Philippines which had been ceded to the United States by Spain following the Spanish–American War and the 1898 Treaty of Paris.[12] Although Taft had been opposed to the annexation of the islands, and had told McKinley his real ambition was to become a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, he reluctantly accepted the appointment.[18]

From 1901 to 1903, Taft served as the first civilian Governor-General of the Philippines, a position in which he was very popular with both Americans and Filipinos.[18] In 1902, Taft visited Rome to negotiate with Pope Leo XIII for the purchase of Philippine lands owned by the Roman Catholic Church. Taft then persuaded Congress to appropriate over $7 million to purchase these lands, which he sold to Filipinos on easy terms.[18] In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt offered Taft the seat on the Supreme Court to which he had for so long aspired, but he reluctantly declined since he viewed the Filipinos as not yet being capable of governing themselves and because of his popularity among them.[18]

Secretary of War (1904–1908)

William Howard Taft addressing the audience at the Philippine Assembly in the Manila Grand Opera House.

In 1904, Roosevelt appointed Taft as Secretary of War.[12] Roosevelt made the basic policy decisions regarding military affairs, using Taft as a well-traveled spokesman who campaigned for Roosevelt's reelection in 1904.

Taft met with the Emperor of Japan who alerted him of the probability of war with Russia. In 1905, Taft met with Japanese Prime Minister Katsura Tarō. At that meeting, the two signed a secret diplomatic memorandum now called the Taft-Katsura Agreement. Contrary to myth, the memorandum did not establish any new policies but instead repeated the public positions of both nations. It did not promise Japan a free hand in Korea.[19]

In 1906, President Roosevelt sent troops to restore order in Cuba during the revolt led by General Enrique Loynaz del Castillo, and Taft temporarily became the Civil Governor of Cuba, personally negotiating with Castillo for a peaceful end to the revolt. In 1907, Taft helped supervise the beginning of construction on the Panama Canal.

Taft had repeatedly told Roosevelt he wanted to be Chief Justice, not President (and not an associate justice), but there was no vacancy and Roosevelt had other plans. He gave Taft more responsibilities along with the Philippines and the Panama Canal. For a while, Taft was Acting Secretary of State. When Roosevelt was away, Taft was, in effect, the Acting President. While Taft was Secretary of War, he authorized the confinement of a military thief to Fort Leavenworth's United States Disciplinary Barracks;[citation needed] this thief was serial killer Carl Panzram, who burglarized Taft's New Haven, Connecticut home in 1920 and stole a pistol with which he committed several murders.

Presidential election of 1908

Electoral votes by state, 1908.
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After serving for nearly two full terms, the popular Theodore Roosevelt refused to run in the election of 1908. Roosevelt certified Taft as a genuine "progressive" in 1908, and pushed through the nomination of his Secretary of War for the presidency. At age 51, and after a legal and political career of more than 20 years, Taft ran in an election for the first time. His opponent was William Jennings Bryan, who had run for president twice before, in 1896 and in 1900 against William McKinley. During the campaign, Taft undercut Bryan's liberal support by accepting some of his reformist ideas, and Roosevelt's progressive policies blurred the distinctions between the parties. Bryan, on the other hand, ran a vigorous campaign against the nation's business elite. In the end, Taft won by a comfortable margin, giving Bryan his worst loss in three presidential campaigns.

Presidency, 1909–1913

Taft fought for the prosecution of trusts (eventually issuing 80 lawsuits),[20] further strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission, established a postal savings bank and a parcel post system, and expanded the civil service. He supported the 16th Amendment, which allowed for a federal income tax, and the 17th Amendment, mandating the direct election of senators by the people, replacing the previous system whereby they were selected by state legislatures.[21]

Taft did not enjoy the easy relationship with the press that Roosevelt had, choosing not to offer himself for interviews or photo opportunities as often as the previous president had done.[22] When a reporter informed him he was no Teddy Roosevelt, Taft replied that his goal was to "try to accomplish just as much without any noise".[22]

Domestic policies

Official White House portrait of William Howard Taft in the Blue Room, 1911, oil on canvas by Anders Zorn (1860–1920), White House Collection.

Taft considered himself a "progressive" because of his deep belief in "The Law" as the scientific device that should be used by judges to solve society's problems. Taft proved a less adroit politician than Roosevelt and seemed to lack the energy and personal magnetism of his mentor, not to mention the publicity devices, the dedicated supporters, and the broad base of public support that made Roosevelt so formidable. When Roosevelt realized that lowering the tariff would risk severe tensions inside the Republican Party, pitting producers (manufacturers and farmers) against department stores and consumers, he stopped talking about the issue. Taft ignored the risks and tackled the tariff boldly, on the one hand encouraging reformers to fight for lower rates, and then on the other hand cutting deals with conservative leaders that kept overall rates high. The resulting Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909 was too high for most reformers, but instead of blaming this on Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and big business, Taft took credit, calling it the best bill to come from the Republican Party. Again, he had managed to alienate all sides.[23]

Unlike Roosevelt, Taft never attacked business or businessmen in his rhetoric. However, he was attentive to the law, so he launched 90 antitrust suits, including one against the country's largest corporation, U.S. Steel, for an acquisition that Roosevelt personally had approved. As a result, Taft lost the support of antitrust reformers (who disliked his conservative rhetoric), of big business (which disliked his actions), and of Roosevelt, who felt humiliated by his protégé.[24]

Progressives within the Republican Party began to agitate against Taft. Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin created the National Progressive Republican League to replace Taft at the national level; his campaign crashed after a disastrous speech. Most of LaFollette's supporters went over to Roosevelt, leaving LaFollette embittered and alone. More trouble came when Taft fired Gifford Pinchot, a leading conservationist and close ally of Roosevelt. Pinchot alleged that Taft's Secretary of Interior Richard Achilles Ballinger was in league with big timber interests. Conservationists sided with Pinchot, and Taft alienated yet another vocal constituency with the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy.[25]

Foreign policy

Taft actively pursued what he termed "Dollar Diplomacy" to further the economic development of less-developed nations of Latin America and Asia through American investment in their infrastructures.[26]

Throughout the early part of his presidency, he had difficulties with Nicaragua. When the United States shifted its interests to Panama to build a canal, Nicaraguan President José Santos Zelaya negotiated with Germany and Japan in an unsuccessful effort to have a canal constructed in his country. The Zelaya administration had growing friction with the United States government, which started giving aid to his Conservative opponents in Nicaragua. In 1907, U.S. warships seized several of Nicaragua's seaports. In early December, United States Marines landed on Nicaragua's Caribbean Sea coast. On December 17, 1909, Zelaya resigned and left for exile in Mexico. The U.S.-sponsored conservative regime of Adolfo Díaz was installed in his place. Military invasions with marine landings took place in 1910 and 1912, and the Marines stayed in Nicaragua through 1925.[27]

One of Taft's main goals while President was to further the idea of world peace. Given his judicial sensibilities, he believed that international arbitration was the best means to effect the end of war on Earth.[28] As a result, he championed several reciprocity and arbitration treaties. In 1910, he persuaded congressional Democrats to support a reciprocity, or free trade, treaty with Canada, but the Liberal Canadian government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier that negotiated the treaty was turned out of office in 1911 and the treaty collapsed (a US-Canada reciprocity treaty would not come into effect until 1988).[29]

In 1910 and 1911, however, Taft secured the ratification of arbitration treaties that he had successfully negotiated with Britain and France, and thereafter was known as one of the foremost advocates of world peace and arbitration.[28]

President William Howard Taft.

16th Amendment

To solve an impasse during the 1909 tariff debate, Taft proposed income taxes for corporations and a constitutional amendment to remove the apportionment requirement for taxes on incomes from property (taxes on dividends, interest, and rents), on June 16, 1909.[30] His proposed tax on corporate net income was 1% on net profits over $5,000. It was designated an excise on the privilege of doing business as a corporation whose stockholders enjoyed the privilege of limited liability, and not a tax on incomes as such. In 1911, the Supreme Court, in Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., upheld the tax. Receipts grew from $21 million in the fiscal year 1910 to $34.8 million in 1912.

In July 1909, a proposed amendment to remove the apportionment requirement was passed unanimously in the Senate and by a vote of 318 to 14 in the House. It was quickly ratified by the states, and on February 3, 1913, it became a part of the Constitution as the Sixteenth Amendment, just as Taft was leaving office.

Civil Rights

Taft was reluctant to use federal authority to enforce the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed African Americans the right to vote. As a result, state governments were able to enforce voter registration requirements that prevented African Americans from voting. Lynching by whites was common throughout the South at the time; however, Taft did nothing to stop the practice. Taft publicly endorsed Booker T. Washington's program for uplifting the black race, advising them to stay out of politics at the time.[31] A supporter of free immigration, Taft vetoed a law passed by Congress that would have restricted admissions by imposing a literacy test.[32]

Re-election campaign

Taft and Roosevelt were bitter enemies in the 1912 election

On his return from Europe, Roosevelt broke with Taft in one of the most dramatic political feuds of the 20th century. To the surprise of observers who thought Roosevelt had unstoppable momentum, Taft outmaneuvered Roosevelt and Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr., seized control of the GOP, and forced both out of the party. The main issue in 1911–12 was independence of the judiciary, which Roosevelt denounced. Most lawyers in the GOP supported Taft, including many of Roosevelt's key supporters like Elihu Root, Henry L. Stimson, and Roosevelt's own son-in-law, Nicholas Longworth. In lining up delegates for the 1912 nomination, Taft outmaneuvered Roosevelt, who had started much too late, and kept control of the Republican Party.[33]

In 1912, some delegates were chosen for the first time through primary elections, which were seen as a way to take power away from party bosses and put it into the hands of the people. Out of the 14 Republican primaries held, Roosevelt won nine, while Taft won only three. (Robert LaFollette won the other two.) Nevertheless, Taft had the delegates, and won the nomination at the Republican nominating convention in Chicago.[33]

Electoral votes by state, 1912.

Because he had not secured the Republican nomination, Roosevelt was forced to create the Progressive Party (or "Bull Moose") ticket, splitting the Republican vote in the 1912 election. Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat, was elected, although many historians argue that Wilson would have won anyway, because the Republican factions would not support each other. Taft won the mere eight electoral votes of Utah and Vermont, making his the single worst defeat in American history for an incumbent President seeking reelection; he finished not even second, but third, behind both Wilson and Roosevelt.[34]

In spite of his failure to be re-elected, however, Taft achieved what he felt were his main goals as President: keeping permanent control of the party and keeping the courts sacrosanct until they were next threatened. It also should be noted that while the strife during the election of 1912 devastated the once very close friendship between Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, the two eventually did reconcile not long before Roosevelt's death in 1919.[35]

Administration and cabinet

President William Howard Taft 1909–1913
Vice President James S. Sherman 1909–1912
None 1912–1913
Secretary of State Philander C. Knox 1909–1913
Secretary of War Jacob M. Dickinson 1909–1911
Henry L. Stimson 1911–1913
Attorney General George W. Wickersham 1909–1913
Secretary of the Navy George von L. Meyer 1909–1913
Secretary of the Interior Richard A. Ballinger 1909–1911
Walter L. Fisher 1911–1913
Roosevelt handing responsibility to Taft in 1909.

Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

During his presidency, Taft appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Lurton had served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit with Taft, and Taft's attorney general said that at 66 he was too old to become a Supreme Court justice, but Taft had always admired Lurton. According to the Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (2001 edition), Taft later said that "the chief pleasure of my administration" was the appointment of Lurton.
Even though Hughes resigned in 1916 to run in the presidential election that year, he became Taft's successor as Chief Justice.
Already on the Court as an associate justice since 1894, White was the first Chief Justice to be elevated from an associate justiceship since President George Washington appointed John Rutledge to Chief Justice in 1795. Taft succeeded White as Chief Justice in 1921.

Taft's six appointments to the Court rank below only those of George Washington (who appointed all six justices to the first Court), and of Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was president for just over twelve years). Taft's appointment of five new justices tied the number appointed by both Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. Four of Taft's appointees were relatively young, aged 48, 51, 53, and 54.

The appointments of Edward Douglass White and Charles Evans Hughes also are notable because Taft essentially appointed both his predecessor and successor Chief Justices, respectively. Hughes initially was appointed an Associate Justice, but later resigned to run for the Republican Party's presidential candidate in the 1916 election, which he would lose. President Herbert Hoover renominated Hughes to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice following Taft's retirement.

Other courts

Besides his Supreme Court appointments, Taft appointed 13 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, and 38 judges to the United States district courts. Taft also appointed judges to various specialty courts, including the first five appointees each to the United States Commerce Court and the United States Court of Customs Appeals. The Commerce Court was abolished in 1913; Taft was thus the only President to appoint judges to that body.

States admitted to the Union

  • New Mexico: January 6, 1912
  • Arizona: Taft insisted on removing the recall provision of the state constitution before he would approve it; It was removed, Taft signed the statehood bill on February 14, 1912, and state residents promptly put the provision back in.[36]


Taft says goodbye to his son, Charles Phelps Taft II as he leaves for World War I.

Upon leaving the White House in 1913, Taft was appointed the Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School.[8] Upon his appointment, the Yale Chapter of the Acacia Fraternity made him an honorary member. At the same time, Taft was elected president of the American Bar Association. He spent much of his time writing newspaper articles and books, most notably his series on American legal philosophy. He was a vigorous opponent of prohibition in the United States, predicting the undesirable situation that the Eighteenth Amendment and prohibition would create.[37] He also continued to advocate world peace through international arbitration, urging nations to enter into arbitration treaties with each other and promoting the idea of a League of Nations even before the First World War began.

When World War I did break out in Europe in 1914, however, Taft founded the League to Enforce Peace. He was a co-chairman of the powerful National War Labor Board between 1917 and 1918. Although he continually advocated peace, he strongly favored conscription once the United States entered the War, pleading publicly that the United States not fight a "finicky" war. He feared the war would be long, but was for fighting it out to a finish, given what he viewed as "Germany's brutality."

Chief Justice, 1921-1930


On June 30, 1921, following the death of Chief Justice Edward Douglass White, President Warren G. Harding nominated Taft to take his place, thereby fulfilling Taft's lifelong ambition to become Chief Justice of the United States. There was little opposition to the nomination, and the Senate approved him 60-4 in a secret session on the day of his nomination, but the roll call of the vote has never been made public.[38] Taft received his commission immediately and readily took up the position, serving until 1930. As such, he became the only President to serve as Chief Justice, and thus the only former President to swear in subsequent Presidents, giving the oath of office to both Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929).

Taft remains the only person to have led both the Executive and Judicial branches of the United States government. He considered his time as Chief Justice to be the highest point of his career; allegedly, he once remarked "I do not remember that I was ever President".[39]


In 1922, Taft traveled to Great Britain to study the procedural structure of the English courts and to learn how they dropped such a large number of cases quickly. During the trip, King George V and Queen Mary received Taft and his wife as state visitors.

With what he had learned in England, Taft decided to advocate the introduction and passage of the Judiciary Act of 1925 (often called the "Judges Bill"), which shifts the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction to be exercisable principally on review upon litigants' petitioning to be granted an appeal. The Court then has the power to accept or deny an appeal. Thereby, the Supreme Court is empowered to give preference to cases of national importance, and it allows the Court to work more efficiently (see also writ of certiorari).

Besides giving the Supreme Court more control over its docket, supporting new legislation, and organizing the Judicial Conference, Taft gave the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice general supervisory power over the scattered and disorganized federal courts.

The legislation also brought the courts of the District of Columbia and of the Territories (and soon, the Commonwealths of the Philippines and Puerto Rico) into the Federal Court system. This united the courts for the first time as an independent third branch of government under the administrative supervision of the Chief Justice. Taft was also the first Justice to employ two full-time law clerks to assist him.

In 1929, Taft successfully argued in favor of the construction of the first separate and roomy United States Supreme Court building (the one that is still in use now), reasoning that the Supreme Court needed to distance itself from the Congress as a separate branch of the Federal Government. Until then, the Court had heard cases in Old Senate Chamber of the Capitol Building. The Justices had no private chambers there, and their conferences were held in a room in the Capitol's basement. Unfortunately, Chief Justice Taft did not live to see the completion of the Court's new building in 1935.


See also: List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Taft Court

While Chief Justice, Taft wrote the opinion for the Court in 256 cases out of the Court's ever-growing caseload. His philosophy of constitutional interpretation was essentially historical contextualism. Some of his more notable opinions include:

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1925. Taft is seated in the bottom row, middle.

Medical condition

Evidence from eyewitnesses, and from Taft himself, strongly suggests that during his presidency he had severe obstructive sleep apnea because of his obesity. Within a year of leaving the presidency, Taft lost approximately 80 pounds (36 kg). His somnolence problem resolved and, less obviously, his systolic blood pressure dropped 40–50 mmHg (from 210 mmHg). Undoubtedly, this weight loss extended his life.[41] Soon after his weight loss, he had a revival of interest in the outdoors; this led him to explore Alaska.[42] Beginning in 1920, Taft used a cane; this was a gift from Professor of Geology W.S. Foster, and was made of 250,000-year-old wood.[43]

Death and legacy

Cenotaph to Taft at Arlington National Cemetery

Taft retired as Chief Justice on February 3, 1930, because of ill health. Charles Evans Hughes, whom he had appointed to the Court while president, succeeded him.

Five weeks following his retirement, Taft died, on March 8, 1930, the same date as Associate Justice Edward Terry Sanford (who died unexpectedly). As it was customary for members of the court to attend the funeral of deceased members, this posed a "logistical nightmare", necessitating cross-country travel.[44][45]

Three days following his demise, on March 11, he became the first president to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[44][46] James Earle Fraser sculpted his grave marker out of Stony Creek granite.[46] Taft is one of two presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the other being John F. Kennedy, and he is one of four Chief Justices buried at Arlington, the others being Earl Warren, Warren E. Burger, and William Rehnquist.[45] Since he had also served as President, Taft was the only Chief Justice to have had a state funeral.

In 1938, a third generation of the Taft family entered the national political stage with the election of the former President's oldest son Robert A. Taft I to the United States Senate representing Ohio; he continued in office as a senator until his death in 1953. President Taft's other son, Charles Phelps Taft II, served as the mayor of Cincinnati from 1955 to 1957.

Two more generations of the Taft family later entered politics. The President's grandson, Robert Taft, Jr., served a term as a Senator from Ohio from 1971 to 1977, and the President's great-grandson, Robert A. Taft II, served as the Governor of Ohio from 1999 to 2007. William Howard Taft III was the U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 1953 to 1957.

William Howard Taft IV, currently in private law practice, was the general counsel in the former United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in the 1970s, was the Deputy Secretary of Defense under Caspar Weinberger and Frank Carlucci in the 1980s, and acted as the United States Secretary of Defense during its vacancy from January to March 1989. In addition, he was a high-level official in the United States Department of State from 2000 to 2006.

President Taft's enduring legacy includes many things named after him. Some of these are the courthouse of the Ohio Court of Appeals for the First District in Cincinnati, Ohio; streets in Cincinnati, Ohio, Arlington, Virginia and Manila, Philippines; a law school in Santa Ana, California,[47] and high schools in San Antonio, Texas, Woodland Hills, Chicago, and The Bronx. Taft Ave. in Manila and Taft, Eastern Samar, a town in the Philippines was named after him. After a fire burned much of the town of Moron, California, in the 1920s, it was renamed Taft, California, in his honor.


William Taft video montage.ogg
Collection of video clips of the president

See also


  1. ^ "Federal Judicial Center: William Howard Taft". 2009-12-12. http://www.fjc.gov/servlet/tGetInfo?jid=2331. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  2. ^ U.S. Presidents Who Are Phi Beta Kappa Members, Phi Beta Kappa website, accessed October 4, 2009
  3. ^ "U.S. Presidential Inaugurations Through the Years". Telegraph Media Group. 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/4272030/US-Presidential-inaugurations-through-the-years.html?image=6. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  4. ^ Blassingame, Wyatt (2001). The Look-It-Up Book of Presidents. New York,: Random House. pp. 92. ISBN 0-679-80358-0. 
  5. ^ "Alphonso Taft, Answers.com". http://www.answers.com/topic/alphonso-taft. 
  6. ^ William Howard Taft Home, National Park Service.
  7. ^ "William H. Taft". Ohio History Central. 2005-07-01. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=369. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  8. ^ a b "William Howard Taft". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/580223/William-Howard-Taft. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  9. ^ Acacia Fraternity. "Acacia Fraternity: Notable Acacians". http://www.acacia.org/about_notables.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  10. ^ a b c "ArlingtonCemetery.Net citing New York Times. "Obituary: Taft Gained Peaks in Unusual Career." March 9, 1930.". http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/whtaft.htm. 
  11. ^ O'Brien, Cormac; Monica Suteski (2004). Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Productions. pp. 155. ISBN 1-931686-57-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=x21e_pt0ClIC&dq=elihu+root+how's+the+horse. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "William Howard Taft". National Park Service. 2004-01-22. http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/Presidents/bio27.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  13. ^ Herz, Walter (1999). "William Howard Taft". Unitarian Universalist Historical Society. http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/williamhowardtaft.html. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  14. ^ Cannon, Carl. "Solicitor general nominee likely to face questions about detainees". GovernmentExecutive.com. http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0405/042505nj1.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  15. ^ "William Howard Taft (1857-1930)". U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/lib_hist/courts/supreme/judges/taft/taft.html. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  16. ^ "Against the Cowles Company, Decision in the Aluminium Patent Infringement Case (article preview)". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). January 15, 1893. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9904E3DE1731E033A25756C1A9679C94629ED7CF. Retrieved 2007-10-28.  and Rosenbaum, David Ira (1998). Market Dominance: How Firms Gain, Hold, or Lose It and the Impact on Economic Performance. Praeger Publishers via Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 56. ISBN 0-2759-5604-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=htQDB-Pf4VIC. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  17. ^ Cincinnati Law School: 2006 William Howard Taft Lecture on Constitutional Law
  18. ^ a b c d "William Howard Taft". University of Virginia. 2008. http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/taft/essays/biography/2. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  19. ^ See Raymond A. Esthus, "The Taft-Katsura Agreement - Reality or Myth?" Journal of Modern History 1959 31(1): 46-51 in JSTOR; and Jongsuk Chay, "The Taft-Katsura Memorandum Reconsidered," Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Aug., 1968), pp. 321-326 in JSTOR
  20. ^ Biography of William Howard Taft at The White House.
  21. ^ Paolo Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft (1973)
  22. ^ a b Rouse, Robert (March 15, 2006). "Happy Anniversary to the first scheduled presidential press conference - 93 years young!". American Chronicle. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/6883. 
  23. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft ch 3
  24. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft ch 8
  25. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft ch 4-6
  26. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft ch 10
  27. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft pp 185-91
  28. ^ a b Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft ch 9
  29. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft ch 7
  30. ^ "President Taft speech of June 16, 1909". http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=68517. 
  31. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft pp 28
  32. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft pp 29-30.
  33. ^ a b Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft ch 12
  34. ^ James Chace, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs — The Election that Changed the Country (2004)
  35. ^ Coletta, Presidency of William Howard Taft pp 139-40
  36. ^ Cindy Hayostek, "Douglas Delegates to the 1910 Constitutional Convention and Arizona's Progressive Heritage," Journal of Arizona History 2006 47(4): 347-366
  37. ^ Burton, Baker, Taft, Time Magazine (October 15, 1928).
  38. ^ Report on Supreme Court nominees 1789-2005, Congressional Research Service, page 41.
  39. ^ "Painter, Judge Mark. From Revolution to Reconstruction William Howard Taft biography.". http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/wt27/about/taftbio.htm. 
  40. ^ Peter Hack, "The Roads Less Traveled: Post Conviction Relief Alternatives and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996", 30 American Journal of Criminal Law, p. 171 (Georgetown: Spring 2003)
  41. ^ "William Howard Taft and Sleep Apnea". http://www.apneos.com/taft_intro.html. 
  42. ^ "Gislason Erick, A Brief History of Alaska Statehood (1867-1959).". http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/BARTLETT/49state.html. 
  43. ^ The Edmonton Journal, July 10, 1920.
  44. ^ a b Christensen, George A. (1983) Here Lies the Supreme Court: Gravesites of the Justices, Yearbook Supreme Court Historical Society at Internet Archive.
  45. ^ a b Christensen, George A., Here Lies the Supreme Court: Revisited, Journal of Supreme Court History, Volume 33 Issue 1, Pages 17 - 41 (19 Feb 2008), University of Alabama.
  46. ^ a b "Biography of William Howard Taft, President of the United States and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court". Historical Information. THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/historical_information/william_taft.html. Retrieved 2007-01-04.  See also, William Howard Taft memorial at Find a Grave.
  47. ^ Taft University system, William Howard Taft University and Taft Law School (Witkin School of Law).


Primary sources
  • Butt, Archie. Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt (1930)
  • Taft, William Howard
    • Liberty Under Law Yale University Press, 1922.
    • Popular Government Yale University Press, 1913.
    • Present Day Problems
    • The Anti-Trust Act and the Supreme Court Harper and Row, 1914.
    • The Collected Works of William Howard Taft. Edited by David H. Burton. Ohio University Press, 2001–. 6 of 8 volumes have appeared.
    • The President and His Powers. Columbia University Press, 1924.
  • Taft, Mrs. William Howard, Recollections of Full Years (1914)
Secondary sources
  • Abraham, Henry J. (1992). Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506557-3. }
  • Anderson, Donald F. William Howard Taft: A Conservative's Conception of the Presidency (1973)
  • Anderson, Judith Icke. William Howard Taft: An Intimate History (1981).
  • Anthony, Carl Sferrazza. Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era (2005)
  • Bromley, Michael L. William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency (2003)
  • Burton, David H. Taft, Holmes, and the 1920s Court: An Appraisal (1998)
  • Burton, David H., Taft, Roosevelt, and the Limits of Friendship (2005)
  • Burton, David H. William Howard Taft, Confident Peacemaker (2005)
  • Chace, James. 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs — The Election that Changed the Country (2004)
  • Coletta, Paolo Enrico. The Presidency of William Howard Taft (1973), standard survey
  • Conner Valerie. The National War Labor Board' '(1983)
  • Cushman, Clare (2001). The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–1995 (2nd ed.). (Supreme Court Historical Society, Congressional Quarterly Books). ISBN 1568021267; ISBN 9781568021263.. 
  • Duffy, Herbert S. William Howard Taft (1930).
  • Frank, John P.; Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel, editors (1995). The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions. Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN 0791013774; ISBN 978-0791013779. 
  • Hall, Kermit L., ed (1992). The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195058356; ISBN 9780195058352.. 
  • Hechler, Kenneth S. Insurgency: Personalities and Politics of the Taft Era 1940.
  • Michael J. Korzi, Our chief magistrate and his powers: a reconsideration of William Howard Taft's "Whig" theory of presidential leadership (2003)
  • Manners, William. TR and Will: A Friendship that Split the Republican Party 1969.
  • Martin, Fenton S.; Goehlert, Robert U. (1990). The U.S. Supreme Court: A Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Books. ISBN 0871875543. 
  • Martin, Fenton S.; Goehlert, Robert U. (1990). The U.S. Supreme Court: A Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Books. ISBN 0871875543. 
  • Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Daville,Ill.:Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1563281554. OCLC 42970390.
  • Minger Ralph E. William Howard Taft and United States Diplomacy: The Apprenticeship Years. 1900–1908 (1975)
  • Mowry George E. The Era of Theodore Roosevelt (1958)
  • Pringle, Henry F. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography 2 vol (1939); Pulitzer prize; the standard biography
  • Renstrom, Peter G. The Taft Court: Justices, Rulings and Legacy ABC-CLIO, 2003
  • Scholes, Walter V. and Marie V. Scholes. The Foreign Policies of the Taft Administration 1970.
  • Solvick, Stanley D. (1 December 1963). "William Howard Taft and the Payne-Aldrich Tariff". Mississippi Valley Historical Review 50 (3): 424–442. doi:10.2307/1902605. ISSN 0161391X. 
  • Sternberg, Jonathan (2008). "Deciding Not to Decide: The Judiciary Act of 1925 and the Discretionary Court". Journal of Supreme Court History 33 (1): 1–16. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5818.2008.00176.x. 
  • Urofsky, Melvin I. (1994). The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Garland Publishing. pp. 590. ISBN 0815311761; ISBN 978-0815311768.. 
  • Warren, Charles. (1928) The Supreme Court in United States History, 2 vols. at Google books.
  • Wilensky, Norman N. Conservatives in the Progressive Era: The Taft Republicans of 1912 (1965).
  • Wills, Chuck. (2007) America's Presidents: Facts, Photos, and Memorabilia from the Nation's Chief Executives. ISBN 1401603254; ISBN 978-1401603250.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Theodore Roosevelt
President of the United States
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
Succeeded by
Woodrow Wilson
Preceded by
Elihu Root
United States Secretary of War
February 1, 1904 – June 30, 1908
Succeeded by
Luke Edward Wright
Government offices
Preceded by
Tomás Estrada Palma
as President of Cuba
Provisional Governor of Cuba
September 29, 1906 – October 13, 1906
Succeeded by
Charles Edward Magoon
Preceded by
Arthur MacArthur
as Military Governor of the Philippines
Civil Governor of the Philippines
Head of the Philippine Commission

July 4, 1901 – December 23, 1903
Succeeded by
Luke Edward Wright
Preceded by
Jacob Schurman
as Head of the Schurman Commission
Head of the Taft Commission
March 16, 1900 – September 1, 1901
Succeeded by
as Head of the Philippine Commission
Legal offices
Preceded by
Edward Douglass White
Chief Justice of the United States
June 30, 1921 – February 3, 1930
Succeeded by
Charles Evans Hughes
New seat Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit

March 17, 1892 – March 15, 1900
Succeeded by
Henry Franklin Severens
Preceded by
Orlow W. Chapman
United States Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Charles H. Aldrich
Party political offices
Preceded by
Theodore Roosevelt
Republican Party presidential candidate
1908, 1912
Succeeded by
Charles Evans Hughes
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Woodrow Wilson
Oldest U.S. President still living
February 3, 1924 – March 8, 1930
Succeeded by
Calvin Coolidge
Preceded by
Theodore Roosevelt
Oldest U.S. President still living
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
Succeeded by
Woodrow Wilson
Preceded by
Warren G. Harding
Persons who have lain in state or honor
in the United States Capitol rotunda

March 11, 1930
Succeeded by
John J. Pershing
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Hiram W. Evans
Cover of Time Magazine
30 June 1924
Succeeded by
James Stillman Rockefeller


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.

William Howard Taft (15 September 18578 March 1930) was the 27th President of the United States (1909–1913) and 10th Chief Justice of the United States (1921–1930). He also served as an associate judge on the Sixth Circuit, Governor-General of the Philippines, Secretary of War to Theodore Roosevelt and Solicitor General. Between 1914 and 1920 he was the Kent Professor of Law at Yale University.


  • I am a Unitarian. I believe in God. I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.
    • Letter to Yale University (1899), quoted in Henry F. Pringle, William Howard Taft: The Life and Times, vol. 1, p. 45 (1939)
  • The welfare of the farmer is vital to that of the whole country.
    • The Farmer and the Republican Party, address in Hot Springs, Virginia (1908-08-05) [1]
  • If humor be the safety of our race, then it is due largely to the infusion into the American people of the Irish brain.
    • Irish Humor, address in Hot Springs, Virginia (1908-08-05) [2]
  • We are all imperfect. We can not expect perfect government.
    • Address at a banquet given by the Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce of Washington, D.C., May 8, 1909.; found in Presidential Addresses and State Papers of William Howard Taft, vol. 1, chapter 7, p. 82 (1910)
  • I have come to the conclusion that the major part of the work of a President is to increase the gate receipts of expositions and fairs and bring tourists to town.
    • Letter of Archibald Butt to Clara F. Butt (1909-06-01); reprinted in The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt (Doubleday, Doran, & Co., 1930)
  • I am in favor of helping the prosperity of all countries because, when we are all prosperous, the trade of each becomes more valuable to the other.
    • Address at the Hotel Fairmont in San Francisco (6 October 1909)
  • One of the marvelous things about him is that he is strong enough to force the men who dislike him the most to stand by him. By far he is the strongest man before the people to-day except Roosevelt. I think his greatest fault is his failure to accord credit to anyone for what he may have done. This is a great weakness in any man. I think it was one of the strongest things about Roosevelt. He never tried to minimize what other people did and often exaggerated it.
    • On Charles Evans Hughes, in November 1909, as quoted in Taft and Roosevelt : The intimate letters of Archie Butt (1930) by Archibald Willingham Butt, p. 224; this has sometimes been paraphrased: "Failure to accord credit to anyone for what he may have done is a great weakness in any man."
  • I love judges, and I love courts. They are my ideals, that typify on earth what we shall meet hereafter in heaven under a just God.
    • Address in Pocatello, Idaho (5 October 1911)
  • The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress.
    • Speech to the Lotus Club (16 November 1912)
  • The diplomacy of the present administration has sought to respond to modern ideas of commercial intercourse. This policy has been characterized as substituting dollars for bullets. It is one that appeals alike to idealistic humanitarian sentiments, to the dictates of sound policy and strategy, and to legitimate commercial aims.
  • "State of the Union" (3 December 1912)
  • Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.
    • Popular Government: Its Essence, Its Permanence and Its Perils, chapter 3 (1913)
  • Socialism proposes no adequate substitute for the motive of enlightened selfishness that to-day is at the basis of all human labor and effort, enterprise and new activity.
    • Popular Government: Its Essence, Its Permanence and Its Perils, chapter 3 (1913)
  • There is nothing so despicable as a secret society that is based upon religious prejudice and that will attempt to defeat a man because of his religious beliefs. Such a society is like a cockroach — it thrives in the dark. So do those who combine for such an end.
    • Speech to the Young Men's Hebrew Association in New York (20 December 1914)
  • The world is not going to be saved by legislation.
    • Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers, chapter 6 (1916)
  • We live in a stage of politics, where legislators seem to regard the passage of laws as much more important than the results of their enforcement.
    • Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers, chapter 6 (1916)
  • Presidents may go to the seashore or to the mountains. Cabinet officers may go about the country explaining how fortunate the country is in having such an administration, but the machinery at Washington continues to operate under the army of faithful non-commissioned officers, and the great mass of governmental business is uninterrupted.
    • Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (1916)
  • Substantial progress toward better things can rarely be taken with out developing new evils requiring new remedies.
    • Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (Columbia University Press 1916), p. 61
  • The President cannot make clouds to rain and cannot make the corn to grow, he cannot make business good; although when these things occur, political parties do claim some credit for the good things that have happened in this way.
    • Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (1916)
  • Anti-Semitism is a noxious weed that should be cut out. It has no place in America.
    • "Anti-Semitism in the United States", address to the Anti Defamation League in Chicago, Illinois (1920-12-23)
  • It is important, of course, that controversies be settled right, but there are many civil questions which arise between individuals in which it is not so important the controversy be settled one way or another as that it be settled. Of course a settlement of a controversy on a fundamentally wrong principle of law is greatly to be deplored, but there must of necessity be many rules governing the relations between members of the same society that are more important in that their establishment creates a known rule of action than that they proceed on one principle or another. Delay works always for the man with the longest purse.
    • "Adequate Machinery for Judicial Business," Journal of the American Bar Association, vol. 7, p. 454 (September 1921)
  • The truth is that in my present life I don’t remember that I ever was president.
    • Correspondence (1925), quoted in James Chace (2004), 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs


  • Politics, when I am in it, makes me sick.
    • Quoted in Archibald W. Butt (1930), Taft and Roosevelt
  • I'll be damned if I am not getting tired of this. It seems to be the profession of a President simply to hear other people talk.
    • Quoted in Archibald W. Butt (1930), Taft and Roosevelt
  • Don't worry over what the newspapers say. I don't. Why should anyone else? I told the truth to the newspaper correspondents - but when you tell the truth to them they are at sea.
    • Quoted in Henry Pringle (1939), The Life and Times of William Howard Taft
  • The publishers profess to be the agents of heaven in establishing virtue and therefore that they ought to receive some subsidy from the government. I can ask no stronger refutation to this claim … than the utterly unscrupulous methods pursued by them in seeking to influence Congress on this subject.
    • Quoted in Henry Fowles Pringle (1939), The Life and Times of William Howard Taft, referring to a postal rate increase affecting popular magazines
  • Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.
    • Quoted in Henry Fowles Pringle (1939), The Life and Times of William Howard Taft
  • Enthusiasm for a cause sometimes warps judgment.
    • Quoted in David G. Plotkin (1955), Dictionary of American Maxims
  • Some men are graduated from college cum laude, some are graduated summa cum laude, and some are graduated mirabile dictu.
    • Quoted in David G. Plotkin (1955), Dictionary of American Maxims; the last phrase translates roughly as "It's a miracle."
  • No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.
    • Quoted in Robert J. Schoenberg (1992), Mr. Capone, apparently referring to the temperance movement

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT (1857-), the twenty-seventh President of the United States, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the 15th of September 1857. His father, Alphonso Taft (1810-1891), born in Townshend, Vermont, graduated at Yale College in 1833, became a tutor there, studied law at the Yale Law School, was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1838, removed to Cincinnati in 1839, and became one of the most influential citizens of Ohio. He served as judge of the Superior Court (1865-72), as secretary of war (1876) and as attorneygeneral of the United States (1876-77) in President Grant's cabinet; and as minister to Austria-Hungary (1882-84) and to Russia (1884-85) .

William Howard Taft attended the public schools of Cincinnati, graduated at the Woodward High School of that city in 1874, and in the autumn entered Yale College, where he took high rank as a student and was prominent in athletics and in the social life of the institution. He graduated second (salutatorian) in his class in 1878, and began to study law in Cincinnati College, where he graduated in 1880, dividing the first prize for scholarship. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1880. For a few months he worked as a legal reporter for the Cincinnati Times (owned by his brother C. P. Taft), and then for the Cincinnati Commercial. Early in 1881 he was appointed assistant prosecuting attorney of Hamilton (disambiguation)|Hamilton county (in which Cincinnati is situated), but resigned in 1882 on being appointed collector of internal revenue of the United States for the first district of Ohio. The work was distasteful, however, and in 1883 he resigned to return to the law. From 1885 to 1887 he served as assistant solicitor of Hamilton county, and in the latter year was appointed judge of the Superior Court of Ohio to fill a vacancy. He was elected by the people in the next year and served until 1800, when he was appointed solicitor-general of the United States by President Benjamin Harrison. His work in connexion with the drafting of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and with the Bering Sea controversy attracted attention. In 18 9 2 he was appointed a judge of the Sixth Circuit, United States Court, and became known as a fearless administrator of the law. Several decisions were particularly objectionable to organized labour. The first of these, decided in 1890, upheld the verdict of a jury awarding damages to the Moores Lime Company, which had sustained a secondary boycott because it had sold material to a contractor who had been boycotted by Bricklayers' Union No. 1. The second decision grew out of the attempt of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers to prevent other roads from accepting freight from the Toledo, Ann Arbor & North Michigan railroad, against which a "legal" strike had been declared. Judge Taft granted an injunction (7th March 1893) against the Pennsylvania railroad, making P. M. Arthur, chief of the Brotherhood, a party, and called Rule 1 2, forbidding engineers to haul the freight, criminal. During the great railway strikes of 18 9 4 Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railwa y Union, sent one Frank W. Phelan to tie up traffic in and around Cincinnati. The receiver of the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific railway applied for an injunction against Phelan and others, which was granted. Phelan disobeyed the injunction and on the 13th of July 1894 was sentenced to jail for six months for contempt. The doctrine that "the starvation of a nation cannot be the lawful purpose of a combination" was announced, and Judge Taft said further that "if there is any power in the army of the United States to run those trains, the trains will be run." In1896-1900Judge Taft was professor and dean of the law department of the University of Cincinnati.

A movement to elect Mr Taft president of Yale University gained some strength in 1898-99, but was promptly checked by him, on the ground that the head of a great university should be primarily an educationalist. In 1900 he was asked by President McKinley to accept the presidency of the Philippine Commission charged with the administration of the islands. Though he had been opposed to the acquisition of the Philippines, he did not believe that the inhabitants were capable of selfgovernment, and he foresaw some of the difficulties of the position. Yielding, however, to the urgent request of the president and his cabinet, he accepted and served from the 13th of March 1900 to the 1st of February 1904. On the establishment of civil government in the islands, on the 4th of July 1901, he became governor, ex officio. The task of constructing a system of government from the bottom, of reconciling the conflicting and often jealously sensitive elements, called for tact, firmness, industry and deep insight into human nature, all of which Governor Taft displayed in a marked degree. (See Philippine Islands.) The religious orders had been driven out during the insurrection, but held title to large tracts of land which many Filipinos and some Americans wished to confiscate. This delicate matter was arranged by Mr Taft in a personal interview with Pope Leo XIII. in the summer of 1902. The pope sent a special delegate to appraise the lands, and the sum of $7,23 9 ,000 was paid in December 1903. Mr Taft gained great influence among the more conservative Filipinos, and their entreaties to him to remain influenced him to decline the offer of a place upon the Supreme bench offered by President Roosevelt in 1902.

Finally, feeling that his work was accomplished, Mr. Taft returned to the United States to become secretary of war from the 1st of February 1904. With a party of congressmen he visited the Philippines on a tour of inspection July-September 1905, and in September 1906, on the downfall of the Cuban republic and the intervention of America, he took temporary charge of affairs in that island (September - October). In the next year (March - April) he inspected the Panama Canal and also visited Cuba and Porto Rico. He again visited the Philippines to open the first legislative assembly (16th October 1907), and returned by way of the Trans-Siberian railway. On this tour he visited Japan, and on the 2nd of October, at Tokyo, made a speech which had an important effect in quieting the apprehensions of the Japanese on the score of the treatment of their people on the Pacific coast.

With the approach of the presidential election of 1908, President Roosevelt reiterated his pledge not to accept another nomination, and threw his immense influence in favour of Mr Taft. At the Republican convention held in Chicago, in June, Mr Taft was nominated on the first ballot, receiving 702 out of 980 votes cast. James S. Sherman of New York was nominated for Vice-President. During the campaign many prominent labour leaders opposed the election of Mr Taft, on the ground that his decisions while on the bench had been unfriendly to organized labour. In the campaign Mr Taft boldly defended his course from the platform, and apparently lost few votes on account of this opposition. At the ensuing election in November, Taft and Sherman received 321 electoral votes against 162 cast for William Jennings Bryan and John W. Kern, the Democratic candidates.

In his inaugural address (4th March 1909) President Taft announced himself as favouring the maintenance and enforcement of the reforms initiated by President Roosevelt (including a strict enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, an effective measure for railway rate regulation, and the policy of conservation of natural resources); the revision of the tariff on the basis of affording protection to American manufactures equal to the difference between home and foreign cost of production; a graduated inheritance tax; a strong navy as the best guarantee of peace; postal savings banks; free trade with the Philippine Islands; and mail subsidies for American ships. He also announced his hope to bring about a better understanding between the North and the South, and to aid in the solution of the negro problem. In accordance with his pre-election pledge, Congress was called to meet in extra session on the 15th of March to revise the tariff. Hearings had been previously held by the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, and a measure was promptly reported. After passing the House it was sent to the Senate, where it was much changed. The final Payne-Aldrich Act was approved by the President on the 5th of August 1909, though in many respects it was not the measure he desired. The wish to meet people of the different sections of the country and to explain his position upon the questions of the day led the President to begin (14th September 1909), a tour which included the Pacific coast, the South-west, the Mississippi Valley and the South Atlantic states, and during which he travelled 13,000 miles and made 266 speeches.

Mr Taft delivered the Dodge lectures at Yale University in 1906 on the Responsibilities of Citizenship, published as Four Aspects of Civic Duty (1906). Some of his political speeches have been published under the titles Present Day Problems (1908), and Polticial Issues and Outlooks (1909).

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Up to date as of February 01, 2010
(Redirected to William Howard Taft (1857) article)

From Familypedia

William Taft 
Birth 1857 in "Cincinnati, Ohio"
Death: March 8, 1930 in "Washington"
Companion: Helen Herron Taft
Edit facts

William Taft was born 1857 and died 8 March 1930 at the age of 72 years of unspecified causes.

For a detailed biography, see the Biography tab.

Citations and remarks

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This article uses material from the "William Howard Taft (1857)" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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