William Howard Taft
-William Howard Taft, (1857-1930), was president of the United States from 1909 to 1913. In 1921, he was named chief justice of the United States. He was the only person in U.S. history who served first as president, then as chief justice. Taft did not want to be president. At heart, he was a judge and had little taste for politics. Above all, he wanted to be a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
-Early life. William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Sept. 15, 1857. He was the second son of Alphonso Taft and Alphonso's second wife, Louise Maria Torrey Taft.
-First offices. During 1881 and 1882, Taft served as assistant prosecuting attorney of Hamilton County, Ohio. In March 1882, President Chester A. Arthur appointed him collector of internal revenue for the first district, with headquarters at Cincinnati. Taft resigned a year later because he did not want to discharge good workers just to make jobs for deserving Republicans. He then formed a successful law partnership.
-Taft's family. On June 19, 1886, Taft married Helen "Nellie" Herron (June 2, 1861-May 22, 1943), the daughter of John W. Herron of Cincinnati.
-State judge. Taft was happy as a lawyer, but his father's importance in the Republican Party kept pushing him toward political life. Early in 1885, Taft was named assistant county solicitor for Hamilton County. In March 1887, Governor J. B. Foraker of Ohio appointed him to a vacancy on the Cincinnati Superior Court. The next year, the voters elected Taft to the court for a five-year term. This was the only office except the presidency that Taft won by popular vote.
-Governor of the Philippines. In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft chairman of a civil commission to govern the newly acquired Philippines. The next year Taft was named the first civil governor of the islands.
-Secretary of war. Secretary of War Elihu Root resigned in February 1904. Taft returned to Washington to assume this post in President Theodore Roosevelt's Cabinet. Taft's appointment was good politics. The 1904 presidential campaign was approaching, and Taft had won great popularity for his work in the Philippines.
-Election of 1908. Roosevelt announced he would not seek reelection in 1908, and recommended Taft as the man who would follow his policies. At first, Taft objected, preferring to wait for possible appointment to the Supreme Court. But Mrs. Taft and his brothers helped change his mind. With Roosevelt's support, Taft won the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention, which was held in Chicago. Representative James S. Sherman of New York received the vice presidential nomination. In the election, the voters gave Taft a plurality of more than a million votes over William Jennings Bryan, who suffered his third loss as Democratic nominee for president. Bryan shared the Democratic ticket with John W. Kern, a Democratic Party leader of Indiana.
-Legislative defeats. Taft began his term with a divided party, although the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. On the advice of Roosevelt, Taft refused to support the liberal Republicans in their fight to curb the almost unrestricted powers of the Speaker of the House, Joseph "Uncle Joe" Cannon of Illinois. But these Republicans, led by Representative George W. Norris of Nebraska, overthrew "Cannonism". Because of his political inexperience in this and other matters, Taft soon lost the support of most liberal Republicans.
-Life in the White House. Mrs. Taft, a skillful hostess, enjoyed presiding at state functions and entertaining friends at small teas. She hired a woman to replace the traditional male steward because she thought the service would be improved. At Mrs. Taft's request, the mayor of Tokyo presented about 3,000 cherry trees to the American people. The trees were planted along the banks of the Potomac River.
-Election of 1912. Theodore Roosevelt had returned in 1910 from an African hunting trip. He denied an interest in running for the presidency again but began making speeches advocating a "New Nationalism." Under this slogan, Roosevelt included his old policies of honest government, checks on big business, and conservation, as well as demands for social justice, including old-age and unemployment insurance. Conservative Republicans lined up with Taft against Roosevelt. Roosevelt and the progressive Republicans accused Taft of "stealing" the convention by recognizing the votes of pro-Taft delegations. They organized the Progressive Party with Roosevelt as their nomineeand chose Senator Hiram W. Johnson of California as his running mate. The Democrats nominated Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey for president and Governor Thomas R. Marshall of Indiana for vice president.
Taft faced inevitable defeat. He received only 8 electoral votes, against 88 for Roosevelt and 435 for Wilson.
-Chief justice. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft chief justice of the United States. Taft regarded this appointment as the greatest honor of his life. His accomplishments as administrator of the nation's highest court were more important than his decisions. The Supreme Court had fallen far behind in its work. In 1925, Taft achieved passage of the Judiciary Act. This law gave the court greater control over the number and kinds of cases it would consider and made it possible for the court to function effectively and get its work done. Taft was also instrumental in obtaining congressional approval for a new court building. Bad health, chiefly due to heart trouble, forced his retirement on Feb. 3, 1930. Taft died on March 8 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Taft and President John F. Kennedy are the only presidents buried there.
Burton, David H. "Taft, William Howard." World Book Student. World Book, 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2012.
Gable, John A. "Roosevelt, Theodore." World Book Student. World Book, 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2012.
Has any president not liked living in the White House?