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William Howard Taft (1857) Options
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William Howard Taft (1857)

An extremely large, easygoing man, Taft was said to have not really wanted to be US president. In 1908, he was elected anyway, having already served as solicitor general, appellate judge, secretary of war, and governor of the Philippines. His split with former president Theodore Roosevelt, who consequently ran for office again, cost them both the 1912 election. Taft later served as chief justice of the Supreme Court. He was the last president to have what physical characteristic? More...
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Taft, William Howard
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William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft as Chief Justice SCOTUS.jpg
Taft as Chief Justice, c. 1921
27th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
Vice President James Sherman (1909–1912)
None (1912–1913)
Preceded by Theodore Roosevelt
Succeeded by Woodrow Wilson
10th Chief Justice of the United States
In office
July 11, 1921[1] – February 3, 1930
Nominated by Warren Harding
Preceded by Edward White
Succeeded by Charles Hughes
Provisional Governor of Cuba
In office
September 29, 1906 – October 13, 1906
Appointed by Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by Tomás Estrada Palma (President)
Succeeded by Charles Magoon
42nd United States Secretary of War
In office
February 1, 1904 – June 30, 1908
President Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by Elihu Root
Succeeded by Luke Wright
Governor-General of the Philippines
In office
July 4, 1901 – December 23, 1903
Appointed by William McKinley
Preceded by Arthur MacArthur
Succeeded by Luke Wright
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
In office
March 17, 1892 – March 15, 1900
Nominated by Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Henry Severens
5th United States Solicitor General
In office
February 1890 – March 1892
President Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by Orlow Chapman
Succeeded by Charles Aldrich
Personal details
Born September 15, 1857
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Died March 8, 1930 (aged 72)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Herron
(1886–1930; his death)
Children Robert
Helen
Charles
Alma mater Yale University
Cincinnati Law School
Profession Lawyer
Jurist
Religion Unitarian
Signature Cursive signature in ink

William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was the 27th President of the United States (1909–1913) and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States (1921–1930). He is the only person to have served in both of these offices.

Before becoming President, Taft, a Republican, was selected to serve on the Superior Court of Cincinnati 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 appointed Taft Secretary of War in an effort to groom Taft, then his close political ally, into his handpicked presidential successor. Taft assumed a prominent role in problem solving, assuming on some occasions the role of acting Secretary of State, while declining repeated offers from Roosevelt to serve on the Supreme Court.

Riding a wave of popular support for fellow Republican Roosevelt, Taft won an easy victory in his 1908 bid for the presidency.[2] In his only term, 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 nations in Latin America and Asia through "Dollar Diplomacy", and showed decisiveness and restraint in response to revolution in Mexico. The task-oriented Taft 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. In surveys of presidential scholars, Taft is usually ranked near the middle of lists of all American Presidents.

After leaving office, Taft spent his time in academia, arbitration, and the pursuit of 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. He served in this capacity until shortly before his death in 1930.
Early life and education
Yale College photograph of Taft

William Howard Taft was born into the powerful Taft family September 15, 1857, near Cincinnati, Ohio as[3] the son of Louisa Torrey and Alphonso Taft. His paternal grandfather was Peter Rawson Taft, a descendant of Robert Taft I, the first Taft in America, who settled in Colonial Mendon and later Uxbridge Massachusetts. Alphonso Taft went to Cincinnati in 1839 to open a law practice,[4] and was a prominent Republican who served as Secretary of War and Attorney General under President Ulysses S. Grant.[5]

Young William attended Cincinnati's First Congregational-Unitarian Church with his parents; he joined the congregation at an early age and was an enthusiastic participant. As he rose in the government, he spent little time in Cincinnati. He attended the church much less frequently than he had but worshiped there when he could.[6]

Taft attended Woodward High School in Cincinnati, and laid the cornerstone of the new Woodward High School, now the site of the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA).[7] Like others in his family, he 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; and the Beta chapter of the Psi Upsilon fraternity. He was given the nickname "Big Lub" because of his size, but his college friends knew him by the nickname "Old Bill".[9] Taft received comments, sometimes humorous, about his weight.[10] Making positive use of his stature, Taft was Yale's intramural heavyweight wrestling champion.[11] In 1878, Taft graduated, ranking second in his class out of 121.[9] 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.[9]
Legal career and early politics

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 Superior Court of Cincinnati.[12] In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him Solicitor General of the United States;[12] at age 32, he was 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] he 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 the processing aluminum patents belonging to the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, now known as Alcoa.[16] 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]

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][19]

From 1901 to 1904, 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 more than $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

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