William Howard Taft
|27th President of the United States|
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
|Vice President||James S. Sherman (1909–1912)|
|Preceded by||Theodore Roosevelt|
|Succeeded by||Woodrow Wilson|
|10th Chief Justice of the United States|
July 11, 1921 – February 3, 1930
|Nominated by||Warren G. Harding|
|Preceded by||Edward Douglass White|
|Succeeded by||Charles Evans Hughes|
|42nd United States Secretary of War|
February 1, 1904 – June 30, 1908
|Preceded by||Elihu Root|
|Succeeded by||Luke Edward Wright|
|1st Provisional Governor of Cuba|
September 29, 1906 – October 13, 1906
|Appointed by||Theodore Roosevelt|
|Preceded by||Tomás Estrada Palma|
|Succeeded by||Charles Edward Magoon|
|Governor-General of the Philippines|
July 4, 1901 – December 23, 1903
|Appointed by||William McKinley|
|Preceded by||Arthur MacArthur, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Luke Edward Wright|
|Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit|
March 17, 1892 – March 15, 1900
|Appointed by||Benjamin Harrison|
|Preceded by||Seat established|
|Succeeded by||Henry Franklin Severens|
|6th Solicitor General of the United States|
February 4, 1890 – March 20, 1892
|Preceded by||Orlow W. Chapman|
|Succeeded by||Charles H. Aldrich|
|Born||September 15, 1857|
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||March 8, 1930 (aged 72)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
Lousia Maria Torrey
|Education||Yale University (BA)|
University of Cincinnati (LLB)
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, Ohio 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, Taft 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, and died the following 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.
Early life and education
William Howard Taft was born September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Alphonso Taft and Louise Torrey. The Taft family was not wealthy, living in a modest home in the suburb of Mount Auburn. Alphonso served as a judge, ambassador and in the cabinet, as War Secretary and Attorney General under Ulysses S. Grant.
William Taft was not seen as brilliant as a child, but was a hard worker; Taft's demanding parents pushed him and his four brothers toward success, tolerating nothing less. He attended Woodward High School in Cincinnati. At Yale College, which he entered in 1874, the heavyset, jovial Taft was popular, and was an intramural heavyweight wrestling champion. One classmate described him succeeding through hard work rather than being the smartest, and as having integrity. In 1878, Taft graduated, second in his class out of 121. He attended Cincinnati Law School, and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1880. While in law school, he worked on The Cincinnati Commercial newspaper, edited by Murat Halstead. Taft was assigned to cover the local courts, and also spent time reading law in his father's office; both activities gave him practical knowledge of the law that was not taught in class. Shortly before graduating from law school, Taft went to the state capital of Columbus to take the bar examination and easily passed.