William Howard Taft Is Born

William Howard Taft served as both president of the United States and chief justice of the Supreme Court.

He was born on September 15, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Taft's father was a prominent Republican who served as secretary of war under President Ulysses S. Grant. The younger Taft began his political career in Ohio shortly after joining the bar in 1880. He served in the judicial branch of government—in Ohio in the superior court, as solicitor general of the United States, and in the federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft chair of a commission to organize a civilian government in the Philippines—which had been ceded to the United States at the close of the Spanish-American War. He became the first civilian governor of the Philippines in July 1901 (under McKinley) and continued when Theodore Roosevelt became president in September, serving until 1904. In 1904 Roosevelt named Taft secretary of war. In this position he played a role in the construction of the Panama Canal and in establishing a protectorate in Cuba.

William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was the 27th President of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice of the United States.

Born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, into the powerful Taft family, Taft graduated from Yale College in 1878, and later graduated from Cincinnati Law School in 1880. After his graduation from Cincinnati Law School, Taft worked in a number of local legal positions until being appointed a judge to the Ohio Superior Court in 1887. Taft was then appointed Solicitor General of the United States in 1890 and a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1891. In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft Governor-General of the Philippines. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt, then a political ally of Taft, appointed Taft Secretary of War in order to groom Taft as his successor to the presidency.

Riding a wave of popular support of President, and fellow Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft won an easy victory in his 1908 bid for the presidency. In his first and only term, President Taft emphasized trust-busting, civil service reform, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, improving the performance of the postal service, and the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment as part of his domestic agenda. Abroad, Taft sought to further the economic development of undeveloped nations in Latin America and Asia through the method that he termed "Dollar Diplomacy." However, Taft often managed to alienate his own key constituencies, and was overwhelmingly defeated for a second term in the president election of 1912.

After leaving office, Taft spent his time in academia, arbitration, and seeking world peace through his self-founded League to Enforce Peace. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft Chief Justice of the United States, fulfilling Taft's lifelong dream. Taft served in this capacity until his death in 1930.

Weighing over 300 pounds on average, Taft was physically the heaviest American president ever elected. Taft is also, to date, the last U.S. president to have facial hair while in office.