was the 27th President of the United States.
Served as President: 1909-1913 Vice President: James Schoolcraft Sherman Party: Republican Age at inauguration: 51
Born: September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio Died: March 8, 1930 in Washington D.C.
Married: Helen Herron Taft Children: Robert, Helen, Charles Nickname: Big Bill
What is William Taft most known for?
William Taft was selected by President Teddy Roosevelt to be his successor. He is most famous for being the only president to serve on the Supreme Court after leaving office.
1925 U.S. Supreme Court Justices Source: US Government
William grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was a lawyer who served as the Secretary of War and the Attorney General under President Ulysses S. Grant. William enjoyed sports and school. He was especially good at baseball and math. In 1878 he graduated from Yale University and then went to law school to learn to become a lawyer. In 1880 he passed the bar exam and opened his own law practice.
Before He Became President
In addition to his law practice, Taft wanted to enter public service. He worked in a variety of government jobs including the Ohio Superior Court, Solicitor General under President Harrison, and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. He hoped that these jobs would prepare him for his dream job, which was to be on the U.S. Supreme Court.
When the United States gained control of the Philippines in the Spanish-American War, President McKinley asked Taft to set up a government there. Taft became governor of the Philippines serving there for four years.
In 1904, Taft joined President Theodore Roosevelt's cabinet as the Secretary of War. While Secretary of War he oversaw the construction of the Panama Canal. Several times Taft was offered a position on the Supreme Court and each time he turned it down because he felt he had to finish his work for the president. When Teddy Roosevelt finished his second term, he recommended Taft for president. Taft wasn't sure he wanted to run, but with his wife's encouragement he ran and won the election.
William Taft's Presidency
Taft had numerous accomplishments while president:
He established a parcel post service that helped stimulate nationwide commerce and trade.
The sixteenth amendment creating a federal income tax was passed.
The Department of Labor was created to help the average worker by insuring things like workplace safety, wage standards, work hours, and unemployment insurance.
The 17th amendment was passed stating that U.S. Senators were to be elected by the people rather than by the state legislatures.
The states New Mexico and Arizona were added to the country making Taft the first president over the 48 contiguous states.
Like his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt, Taft broke up many monopolies and trusts.
Despite all his accomplishments, Taft was not well liked. He also implemented some unpopular policies such as reducing tariffs on imports and his foreign policy known as "Dollar Diplomacy". As a result he lost the next presidential election in a landslide to Woodrow Wilson.
The Supreme Court
After leaving the presidency, Taft did not want to retire. He took a job as a law professor at Yale University. Then in 1921 he finally got his dream job when President Warren G. Harding appointed him to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice. Taft truly enjoyed working on the Supreme Court. He worked almost up until the time of his death.
How did he die?
Taft died of heart disease in 1930. He was buried in Arlington National Seminary. His wife Helen was later buried next to him.
William Howard Taft by Anders Zorn
Fun Facts About William Taft
At 332 pounds, Taft was the heaviest president in history. After getting stuck in the White House bathtub, he had the standard sized bathtub removed and a larger one installed.
He once fell asleep during a parade where he was the main attraction!
Helen Taft helped to coordinate the planting of 3,000 Japanese cherry trees around the Tidal Basin on the Washington D.C. National Mall. These cherry trees are a very popular tourist attraction every year when they bloom in the spring.
He started the tradition of throwing out the first ball of the MLB baseball season.
He was the first president to have a presidential car and the last to have a cow (for fresh milk at the White House).
While Chief Justice, Taft became the only former president to swear in a new president. He administered the oath to presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.