William Howard Taft, 27th President and 10th Chief Justice of the USA

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President William Howard Taft

Birthplace: Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States
Death: March 08, 1930 (72)
Washington, District of Columbia, United States (complications of cardiovascular disease)
Place of Burial: Arlington, Arlington County , Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Amb. Alphonso Francis Taft and Louisa Maria Taft
Husband of Helen "Nellie" Herron, 1st Lady of the United States
Father of Robert Alphonso Taft, Sr., US Senator; Helen Taft Manning; Charles Phelps Taft II and Helen Taft
Brother of Samuel Davenport Taft; Henry Waters Taft; Horace Dutton Taft, I and Frances Louise Edwards
Half brother of Charles Phelps Taft; Peter Rawson "Rossy" Taft II; N Taft; Mary Taft and Alphonao Taft, 2nd

Occupation: President of the United States, College Dean, Attorney, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Lawyer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Howard Taft, 27th President and 10th Chief Justice of the USA

"Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever." -- William Howard Taft

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".



William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was the 27th president of the United States (1909–1913) and the tenth chief justice of the United States (1921–1930), the only person to have held both offices. Taft was elected president in 1908, the chosen successor of Theodore Roosevelt, but was defeated for re-election by Woodrow Wilson in 1912 after Roosevelt split the Republican vote by running as a third-party candidate. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft to be chief justice, a position in which he served until a month before his death.

Taft was born in Cincinnati in 1857. His father, Alphonso Taft, was a U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of War. Taft attended Yale and, like his father, was a member of Skull and Bones. After becoming a lawyer, he was appointed a judge while still in his twenties. He continued a rapid rise, being named Solicitor General and as a judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1901, President William McKinley appointed Taft civilian governor of the Philippines. In 1904, Roosevelt made him Secretary of War, and he became Roosevelt's hand-picked successor. Despite his personal ambition to become chief justice, Taft declined repeated offers of appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, believing his political work to be more important.

With Roosevelt's help, Taft had little opposition for the Republican nomination for president in 1908 and easily defeated William Jennings Bryan for the presidency that November. In the White House, he focused on East Asia more than European affairs and repeatedly intervened to prop up or remove Latin American governments. Taft sought reductions to trade tariffs, then a major source of governmental income, but the resulting bill was heavily influenced by special interests. His administration was filled with conflict between the conservative wing of the Republican Party, with which Taft often sympathized, and the progressive wing, toward which Roosevelt moved more and more. Controversies over conservation and antitrust cases filed by the Taft administration served to further separate the two men. Roosevelt challenged Taft for renomination in 1912. Taft used his control of the party machinery to gain a bare majority of delegates and Roosevelt bolted the party. The split left Taft with little chance of re-election and he took only Utah and Vermont in Wilson's victory.

After leaving office, Taft returned to Yale as a professor, continuing his political activity and working against war through the League to Enforce Peace. In 1921, President Harding appointed Taft as chief justice, an office he had long sought. Chief Justice Taft was a conservative on business issues and under him there were advances in individual rights. In poor health, he resigned in February 1930. After his death the next month, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the first president and first Supreme Court justice to be interred there. Taft is generally listed near the middle in historians' rankings of U.S. presidents.


US Cabinet Secretary, US President, and US Supreme Court Chief Justice. A member of the Republican Party, he served as the 27th US President from 1909 until 1913 and the 10th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court from 1921 until 1930, the only person to have served in both offices. He was the son of Alphonso Taft, a lawyer who served as Secretary of War and Attorney General under President Ulysses S. Grant. After graduating from Woodward High School in Cincinnati, Ohio he attend Yale College (now Yale University) in New Haven, Connecticut, graduating in 1878. He then attended Cincinnati Law School and graduated in 1880 with a Bachelor of Laws Degree and was admitted to the Ohio bar and appointed Assistant Prosecutor of Hamilton County, Ohio. In 1882 he was appointed local Collector of Internal Revenue and in 1887 he became a judge of the Superior Court of Cincinnati. In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him US Solicitor General and at age 32, he was the youngest-ever Solicitor General. The following year he was appointed to the newly created United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and in March 1892 was confirmed by the US Senate and received his commission. In 1900 President William McKinley appointed him chairman of a commission to organize a civilian government in the Philippines which had been ceded to the US by Spain, following the Spanish-American War and the 1898 Treaty of Paris, and from 1901 to 1904 he served as the first civilian Governor-General of the Philippines and he returned to the US when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to his Cabinet as Secretary of War. In September 1906 he initiated the Second Occupation of Cuba when he established the Provisional Government of Cuba under the terms of the Cuban-American Treaty of Relations of 1903 (the Platt Amendment), declaring himself Provisional Governor of Cuba. The US sent troops to restore order in Cuba during the revolt led by General Enrique Loynaz del Castillo, and he became the Civil Governor of Cuba for about two weeks, personally negotiating with Castillo for a peaceful end to the revolt. In 1907 Roosevelt began touting Taft as the best choice for the Presidential nomination by the Republican Party and in 1908 he secured the nomination on the first ballot at the party's convention. His Democratic opponent was William Jennings Bryan who had run in 1896 and 1900, and in the end, he won by almost 160 electoral votes, giving Bryan his worst loss in three presidential campaigns. However, he garnered just 51 percent of the popular vote. During his term as President, his domestic agenda emphasized trust-busting, civil service reform, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, improving the performance of the postal service, creation the Chamber of Commerce organization, and passage of the 16th Amendment (which became a part of the US Constitution in February 1913), that allowed the federal government to tax incomes. He was the first President to introduce the automobile in official Washington DC life. His foreign policy sought to further the economic development of nations in Latin America and Asia through "Dollar Diplomacy," and showed decisiveness and restraint in response to the revolution in Mexico that started in 1910. He was task-oriented and was oblivious to the political ramifications of his decisions, often alienated his own key constituencies, and was overwhelmingly defeated in his bid for a second term in the presidential election of 1912, due in large part his low public approval rating coupled with Theodore Roosevelt's creation of the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party that split the Republican vote and allowed the Democratic challenger, Woodrow Wilson, to easily win. In 1913, after leaving the White House, he was appointed the Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School and was elected president of the American Bar Association. He opposed the 18th Amendment (prohibition of alcohol) and was a strong advocate of 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 World War I began. In June 1921 he was nominated by President Warren G. Harding to replace Chief US Supreme Court Justice Edward Douglass White who had died. With minimal opposition in the US Senate, he was confirmed and took the oath of office the following month and his ultimate dream came true. In 1922 he traveled to England to study the procedural structure of the English courts and to learn how they dropped such a large number of cases quickly, which led to the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1925, allowing the Supreme Court to give preference to what they believed to be cases of national importance and allowed the Court to work more efficiently. In 1929 he successfully argued for the construction of a separate and more spacious US Supreme Court building, reasoning that it needed to distance itself from the Congress as a separate branch of the federal government. In February 1930 he retired from the US Supreme Court due to ill health caused by being hugely overweight (over 300 pounds) and high blood pressure, and he died five weeks later at his home from cardiovascular disease at the age of 72. The new US Supreme Court building was completed in 1935, five years after his death. He was the father of Ohio US Senator and Republican leader Robert A. Taft I who served from 1939 until his death in 1953 and Charles Phelps Taft II, who served as mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio from 1955 to 1957. His grandson, Robert Taft, Jr., served a term as a US Senator from Ohio from 1971 to 1977, and his great-grandson, Robert A. "Bob" Taft III, served as the Governor of Ohio from 1999 to 2007. He is the last President to have sported facial hair while in office.

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William Howard Taft, 27th President and 10th Chief Justice of the USA's Timeline

September 15, 1857
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States
- 1874
Age 12
Wodward High School
- 1878
Age 16
Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
- 1880
Age 20
Cincinnati Law School, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
September 8, 1889
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States
February 1890
- March 1892
Age 32
Cincinnati, Ohio
August 1, 1891
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, United States
September 20, 1897
Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio