William Howard Taft
Overview
 
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1909–1913) and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 (1921–1930). He is the only person to have served in both offices, and along with James Polk, the only president to have also headed another branch of the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 with the exception of vice-presidents who went on to become president.

Born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, into the powerful Taft family
Taft family
The Taft family of the United States hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, with historic origins in Massachusetts; its members have served Ohio, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Utah, and the United States in various positions, such as Governor of Ohio, Governor of Rhode Island, U.S. Senator , U.S...

, "Big Bill" graduated from Yale College
Yale College
Yale College was the official name of Yale University from 1718 to 1887. The name now refers to the undergraduate part of the university. Each undergraduate student is assigned to one of 12 residential colleges.-Residential colleges:...

 as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1878 and from Cincinnati Law School in 1880.
Quotations

We are all imperfect. We can not expect perfect government.

Address at a banquet given by the Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce of Washington, D.C., May 8, 1909.; found in Presidential Addresses and State Papers of William Howard Taft, vol. 1, chapter 7, p. 82 (1910)

I have come to the conclusion that the major part of the work of a President is to increase the gate receipts of expositions and fairs and bring tourists to town.

Letter of Archibald Butt to Clara F. Butt (1909-06-01); reprinted in The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt (Doubleday, Doran, & Co., 1930)

I am in favor of helping the prosperity of all countries because, when we are all prosperous, the trade of each becomes more valuable to the other.

Address at the Hotel Fairmont in San Francisco (6 October 1909)

I love judges, and I love courts. They are my ideals, that typify on earth what we shall meet hereafter in heaven under a just God.

Address in Pocatello, Idaho (5 October 1911)

The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress.

Speech to the Lotus Club (16 November 1912)

The diplomacy of the present administration has sought to respond to modern ideas of commercial intercourse. This policy has been characterized as substituting dollars for bullets. It is one that appeals alike to idealistic humanitarian sentiments, to the dictates of sound policy and strategy, and to legitimate commercial aims.

"State of the Union" (3 December 1912)

Encyclopedia
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1909–1913) and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 (1921–1930). He is the only person to have served in both offices, and along with James Polk, the only president to have also headed another branch of the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 with the exception of vice-presidents who went on to become president.

Born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, into the powerful Taft family
Taft family
The Taft family of the United States hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, with historic origins in Massachusetts; its members have served Ohio, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Utah, and the United States in various positions, such as Governor of Ohio, Governor of Rhode Island, U.S. Senator , U.S...

, "Big Bill" graduated from Yale College
Yale College
Yale College was the official name of Yale University from 1718 to 1887. The name now refers to the undergraduate part of the university. Each undergraduate student is assigned to one of 12 residential colleges.-Residential colleges:...

 as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1878 and from Cincinnati Law School in 1880. He worked in local nondescript legal positions until he was tapped to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Ohio
The Supreme Court of Ohio is the highest court in the U.S. state of Ohio, with final authority over interpretations of Ohio law and the Ohio Constitution. The court has seven members, a chief justice and six associate justices, each serving six-year terms...

 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
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Kentucky* Western District of Kentucky...

. In 1900, President William McKinley
William McKinley
William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States . He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s...

 appointed Taft Governor-General of the Philippines
Governor-General of the Philippines
The Governor-General of the Philippines was the title of the government executive during the colonial period of the Philippines, governed mainly by Spain and the United States, and briefly by Great Britain, from 1565 to 1935....

. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 appointed Taft Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 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
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

 Roosevelt, Taft won an easy victory in his 1908 bid for the presidency.

In his only term, Taft's domestic agenda emphasized trust-busting, civil service reform
United States civil service
In the United States, the civil service was established in 1872. The Federal Civil Service is defined as "all appointive positions in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, except positions in the uniformed services." . In the early 19th century,...

, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission
Interstate Commerce Commission
The Interstate Commerce Commission was a regulatory body in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including...

, improving the performance of the postal service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

, and passage of the Sixteenth Amendment
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on Census results...

. Abroad, Taft sought to further the economic development of nations in Latin America and Asia through "Dollar Diplomacy
Dollar Diplomacy
Dollar Diplomacy is a term used to describe the effort of the United States—particularly under President William Howard Taft—to further its aims in Latin America and East Asia through use of its economic power by guaranteeing loans made to foreign countries. The term was originally coined by...

", and showed masterful decisiveness and restraint in response to revolution in Mexico
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

. 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
United States presidential election, 1912
The United States presidential election of 1912 was a rare four-way contest. Incumbent President William Howard Taft was renominated by the Republican Party with the support of its conservative wing. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called...

. In the Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States Taft receives an aggregate ranking of 22nd.

After leaving office, Taft spent his time in academia, arbitration, and the search for world peace through his self-founded League to Enforce Peace
League to Enforce Peace
The League to Enforce Peace was an American organization established in 1915 to promote the formation of an international body for world peace...

. In 1921, after the First World War, President Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...

 appointed Taft Chief Justice of the United States. Taft served in this capacity until shortly before his death in 1930. He is the only former president to administer the oath of office to another President and the only Chief Justice to serve with associate justices whom he had appointed to the court.

Early life and education

William Howard Taft was born on September 15, 1857, near Cincinnati, Ohio. the son of Louisa Torrey
Louise Taft
Louisa “Louise” Maria Torrey was the second wife of Alphonso Taft, and the mother of U.S. President William Howard Taft.-Background:...

 and Alphonso Taft
Alphonso Taft
Alphonso Taft was the Attorney General and Secretary of War under President Ulysses S. Grant and the founder of an American political dynasty. He was the father of U.S...

. His paternal grandfather was Peter Rawson Taft, a descendant of Robert Taft I, the first Taft in America, who settled in Colonial Massachusetts. Alphonso Taft went to Cincinnati in 1839 to open a law practice, and was a prominent Republican who served as Secretary of War and Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 under President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

.

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.

Taft attended Woodward High School
Woodward High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Woodward High School is a public high school located in the Bond Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is part of the Cincinnati Public School District.-Old Woodward Building :Woodward was one of the first public schools in the country...

 in Cincinnati, and laid the cornerstone of the new Woodward High School, now the site of the School for Creative and Performing Arts
School for Creative and Performing Arts
The School for Creative and Performing Arts is a magnet arts school in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, and part of the Cincinnati Public Schools...

 (SCPA). Like others in his family, he attended Yale College
Yale College
Yale College was the official name of Yale University from 1718 to 1887. The name now refers to the undergraduate part of the university. Each undergraduate student is assigned to one of 12 residential colleges.-Residential colleges:...

 in New Haven, Connecticut. At Yale, he was a member of the Linonian Society
Linonian Society
Linonia is a literary and debating society founded in 1753 at Yale University.-History:Linonia was founded in 1753 as Yale University's second literary and debating society. By the late eighteenth century, all incoming freshmen at Yale College became members either of Linonia or its rival society,...

, a literary and debating society; Skull and Bones
Skull and Bones
Skull and Bones is an undergraduate senior or secret society at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. It is a traditional peer society to Scroll and Key and Wolf's Head, as the three senior class 'landed societies' at Yale....

, the secret society co-founded by his father in 1832; and the Beta chapter of the Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon is the fifth oldest college fraternity in the United States, founded at Union College in 1833. It has chapters at colleges and universities throughout North America. For most of its history, Psi Upsilon, like most social fraternities, limited its membership to men only...

 fraternity. He was given the nickname "Big Lub" because of his size, but his college friends knew him by the nickname "Old Bill". Taft received comments, sometimes humorous, about his weight. Making positive use of his stature, Taft was Yale's intramural heavyweight wrestling champion. In 1878, Taft graduated, ranking second in his class out of 121. After college, he attended Cincinnati Law School
University of Cincinnati College of Law
The University of Cincinnati College of Law is the fourth oldest continually running law school in the United States and a founding member of the Association of American Law Schools. It was started in 1833 as the Cincinnati Law School...

, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Laws
The Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law originating in England and offered in most common law countries as the primary law degree...

 in 1880. While in law school, he worked on the area newspaper The Cincinnati Commercial.

Legal career and early politics

After admission to the Ohio bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

, Taft was appointed Assistant Prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

 of Hamilton County, Ohio
Hamilton County, Ohio
As of 2000, there were 845,303 people, 346,790 households, and 212,582 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,075 people per square mile . There were 373,393 housing units at an average density of 917 per square mile...

, based in Cincinnati. In 1882, he was appointed local Collector of Internal Revenue
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

. Taft married his longtime sweetheart, Helen Herron
Helen Herron Taft
Helen Louise Herron "Nellie" Taft was the wife of William Howard Taft and First Lady of the United States from 1909 to 1913.-Early years:...

, in Cincinnati in 1886. In 1887, he was appointed a judge of the Ohio Superior Court. In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States . Harrison, a grandson of President William Henry Harrison, was born in North Bend, Ohio, and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana at age 21, eventually becoming a prominent politician there...

 appointed him Solicitor General of the United States; at age 32, he was the youngest-ever Solicitor General. Taft then began serving on the newly created United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1891.; Taft was confirmed by the Senate on March 17, 1892, and received his commission that same day. In about 1893, Taft decided in favor of the processing aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 patents belonging to the Pittsburg Reduction Company, now known as Alcoa
Alcoa
Alcoa Inc. is the world's third largest producer of aluminum, behind Rio Tinto Alcan and Rusal. From its operational headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alcoa conducts operations in 31 countries...

. 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
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati is a comprehensive public research university in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a part of the University System of Ohio....

.

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
Treaty of Paris (1898)
The Treaty of Paris of 1898 was signed on December 10, 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War, and came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the ratifications were exchanged....

. 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.

From 1901 to 1903, Taft served as the first civilian Governor-General of the Philippines
Governor-General of the Philippines
The Governor-General of the Philippines was the title of the government executive during the colonial period of the Philippines, governed mainly by Spain and the United States, and briefly by Great Britain, from 1565 to 1935....

, a position in which he was very popular with both Americans and Filipinos
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

. In 1902, Taft visited Rome to negotiate with Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

 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. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt offered Taft the seat on the Supreme Court to which he had for so long aspired, but he reluctantly declined since he viewed the Filipinos as not yet being capable of governing themselves and because of his popularity among them. This decision was one among many in Taft's career which demonstrated a compulsive dedication to the job at hand, without regard to his self interest. (Roosevelt actually made the offer of a seat on the Court on several different occasions, being met with a decline every time. ) This dedication to the task at hand was the source of much frustration of his political colleagues. According to biographer Anderson, contrary to the belief of Roosevelt and other allies, Taft's role as Governor-General in the Philippines did not serve to equip him with the political skills essential for the White House.

Secretary of War (1904–1908)

In 1904, Roosevelt appointed Taft as Secretary of War. This appointment allowed Taft to remain involved in the Philippines and Roosevelt also assured Taft he would support his later appointment to the Court, while Taft agreed to support Roosevelt in the Presidential election of 1904. Roosevelt made the basic policy decisions regarding military affairs, using Taft as a well-traveled spokesman who campaigned for Roosevelt's reelection in 1904. Of Taft's appointment, Roosevelt said, "If only there were three of you; I could appoint one of you to the Court, one to the War Department and one to the Philippines."
Taft met with the Emperor of Japan who alerted him of the probability of war with Russia. In 1905, Taft met with Japanese Prime Minister Katsura Tarō
Katsura Taro
Prince , was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, politician and three-time Prime Minister of Japan.-Early life:Katsura was born into a samurai family from Hagi, Chōshū Domain...

. At that meeting, the two signed a secret diplomatic memorandum now called the Taft–Katsura Agreement. Contrary to rumor, the memorandum did not establish any new policies but instead repeated the public positions of both nations.

In 1906, President Roosevelt sent troops to restore order in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 during the revolt led by General Enrique Loynaz del Castillo, and Taft temporarily became the Civil Governor of Cuba, personally negotiating with Castillo for a peaceful end to the revolt. Also in that year Roosevelt made his third offer to Taft of a position on the Court which he again declined out of a sense of duty to resolve pending issues in the Philippines. Had it been for the Chief Justice seat, a different result may well have ensued.

Taft indicated to Roosevelt he wanted to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, not President, but there was no vacancy and Roosevelt had other plans – in 1907 he began touting Taft as the best choice for the Presidential nomination by the party. Taft's spouse was determined to gain the White House and pressured him not to accept a court appointment; other family members also strongly favored the Presidency for him. He gave Taft more responsibilities along with the Philippines and the Panama Canal. For a while, Taft was Acting Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

. When Roosevelt was away, Taft was, in effect, the Acting President. While serving as the War Secretary Taft generally concentrated on major developments, including the Philippines and the Panama Canal, to the detriment of departmental housekeeping problems, including factionalism within the Department, of which Roosevelt was aware. In 1907 the Hay-Bunace-Varilla Treaty granted the U.S. construction rights for the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

, which Roosevelt delegated to the War Department, and Taft thereby supervised the beginning of construction on the Canal. Taft promoted a reduction in the tariffs on sugar and tobacco in the Philippines, a position with which Roosevelt disagreed; Taft offered to resign but this was refused by Roosevelt. Taft also had a disagreement with Roosevelt over the latter's conclusion of an executive agreement with the Dominican Republic, in lieu of what Taft thought should have been a treaty, requiring ratification by the Senate. Roosevelt dismissed the complaint as "trifling", and Taft, in his usual style, let it go.

Presidential election of 1908

After serving for nearly two full terms, the popular Theodore Roosevelt refused to run in the election of 1908
United States presidential election, 1908
The United States presidential election of 1908 was held on November 3, 1908. Popular incumbent President Theodore Roosevelt, honoring a promise not to seek a third term, persuaded the Republican Party to nominate William Howard Taft, his close friend and Secretary of War, to become his successor...

, a decision that he later regretted. Taft was the logical successor, but he was initially reluctant to run, as he had been earlier. As a member of Roosevelt's cabinet, he had declared that his future ambition was to serve on the Supreme Court, not the White House. Taft's efforts in stumping for the party in the 1906 mid-term elections made him aware of his deficiencies as an effective campaigner. Mrs. Taft even commented during this time, "never did he cease to regard a Supreme Court appointment as more desirable than the presidency."
But,Taft conceded, with his extensive involvement as the most prominent member of the cabinet, that he was the most "available" man; thus he agreed that were he to be nominated for president, he would put his personal convictions aside and run a vigorous campaign.

At the time, Roosevelt was convinced that Taft was a genuine "progressive
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

" and helped push through the nomination of his Secretary of War onto the Republican ticket on the first ballot at the party convention. His opponent in the general election was William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

, who had run for president twice before, in 1896
United States presidential election, 1896
The United States presidential election held on November 3, 1896, saw Republican William McKinley defeat Democrat William Jennings Bryan in a campaign considered by political scientists to be one of the most dramatic and complex in American history....

 and in 1900
United States presidential election, 1900
The United States presidential election of 1900 was a re-match of the 1896 race between Republican President William McKinley and his Democratic challenger, William Jennings Bryan. The return of economic prosperity and recent victory in the Spanish–American War helped McKinley to score a decisive...

 against William McKinley
William McKinley
William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States . He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s...

. During the campaign, Taft undercut Bryan's liberal support by accepting some of his reformist ideas, and Roosevelt's progressive policies blurred the distinctions between the parties. Bryan, on the other hand, ran an aggressive campaign against the nation's business elite. The democrats referred to Taft's nomination and potential election, pre-determined by the powerful Roosevelt, as a possible "forced succession to the presidency."

It did not take long for Taft's markedly different style, and lack of political acumen, to emerge. Joseph B. Foraker
Joseph B. Foraker
Joseph Benson Foraker was a Republican politician from Ohio. He served as the 37th Governor of Ohio from 1886 to 1890.-Early life:...

 of Ohio, seeking Taft's support in his senatorial re-election, made an appearance with Taft, creating the impression Taft was allied with the big business trusts. And when Taft failed to follow the Hearst papers in denouncing Foraker's association with them, Roosevelt became incensed. Taft also showed his political ineptness by choosing Frank Hitchcock to be Chairman of the Republican Party. Hitchcock was quick to bring in men closely allied with big business, which further alienated the progressive wing of the party. Despite the difference in styles, Taft had demonstrated for the most part that the substance of his policies echoed those of Roosevelt.
In the end, Taft won by a comfortable electoral margin, giving Bryan his worst loss in three presidential campaigns. Taft defeated Bryan by 159 electoral votes; however, he garnered just 51% of the popular vote. Mrs. Taft was quoted quite prophetically, saying that, "There was nothing to criticize, except his not knowing or caring about the way the game of politics is played."

Presidency, 1909–1913

Taft did not enjoy the easy relationship with the press that Roosevelt had, choosing not to offer himself for interviews or photo opportunities as often as the previous president had done. When a reporter informed him he was no Teddy Roosevelt, Taft replied that his goal was to "try to accomplish just as much without any noise". Taft even made executive decisions (see below) demonstrating his indifference with the press. Indeed, Taft's administration marked a change in style from the political charisma of Roosevelt to the passion of Taft for the rule of law. Taft, in fashioning his cabinet, showed also that he was not unwilling to depart to some degree from Roosevelt's progressivism; he named an anti-progressive, Philander Chase Knox Secretary of State, who had primary influence over other appointments.

Taft considered himself a progressive, in part from his belief in an expansive use of the rule of law, as the prevailing device that should be actively used by judges and others others in authority to solve society's, and even the world's, problems. But his devotion to the law also often made Taft a slave to precedent, and less than adroit in politics than Roosevelt; he therefore lacked the flexibility, creativity and personal magnetism of his mentor, not to mention the publicity devices, the dedicated supporters, and the broad base of public support that made Roosevelt so formidable.

The divergent views of the two men over the powers of the executive is well articulated in their respective memoirs. In summary, Roosevelt for his part believed 'the President has not just a right but a duty to do anything demanded by the needs of the nation, unless such action is forbidden by the Constitution or federal law." Taft's general opinion on the other hand was that "the President can exercise no power which cannot fairly be traced to some specific grant of power in the Constitution or act of Congress."

Domestic policies and politics

When Roosevelt realized that lowering the tariff would divide the Republican Party, he assumed a low profile on that issue. Taft ignored the political effects and kept the tariff rates on his agenda (he had raised expectations of lower rates in the campaign); he passively encouraged congressional reformers to draft bills including lower rates, while broadcasting a willingness to compromise with conservative leaders in the Congress, who wanted to keep tariff rates high. Taft described this approach as his "policy of harmony" with the Congress. The President displayed a more aggressive role early in the drafting of tariff legislation as it regarded the Philippines. He also assumed a similar role in pushing for a corporate income tax. On other matters, he was content to wait until legislation reached its final stage in a joint House–Senate conference committee. Once there however, he jumped in with both feet, calling each and every member of the committee for a one-on-one meeting at the White House. The resulting tariff rates in the Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909 were too high for the progressives, based in part on Taft's campaign promises; but instead of blaming the act's shortcomings on Senator Nelson W. Aldrich
Nelson W. Aldrich
Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich was a prominent American politician and a leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, where he served from 1881 to 1911....

 and big business, Taft claimed the responsibility, calling it the best bill to come from the Republican Party. Again, due to his results-oriented style, politically he had managed to alienate all sides. The Bureau of Trade Relations later concluded the act overall was moderately successful in lowering rates. Congress refused however to fund the Tariff Board which the President included in the Payne–Aldrich Bill, which would have removed the setting of rates from direct continual Congressional manipulation.

Taft was less likely to speak critically of big business than Roosevelt. Nevertheless, his rule of law orientation resulted in the filing of 90 antitrust
Competition law
Competition law, known in the United States as antitrust law, is law that promotes or maintains market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies....

 suits during his administration, compared to 54 such suits by Roosevelt's two-term Justice Department. Taft's efforts included one suit against the country's largest corporation, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

, for the acquisition of a Tennessee company during Roosevelt's tenure. The lawsuit even named Roosevelt personally without Taft's knowledge (another example of his excessive delegation and political ineptness.) This was responsible for a complete break with Roosevelt. Progressives within the Republican Party began to actively oppose against Taft. Senator Robert LaFollette
Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Robert Marion "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr. , was an American Republican politician. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was the Governor of Wisconsin, and was also a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin...

 of Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 created the National Progressive Republican League to replace Taft on the national level; although, his campaign crashed after a disastrous speech. Most of LaFollette's supporters went over to Roosevelt. The business community and the conservative wing of the party were also alienated from Taft and contributions to the GOP dried up.

Taft's administration got a political boost after 25 western railroads announced an intent to raise rates by 20%, and Taft responded, first with a threat to enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act
Sherman Antitrust Act
The Sherman Antitrust Act requires the United States federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of violating the Act. It was the first Federal statute to limit cartels and monopolies, and today still forms the basis for most antitrust litigation by...

 against them; he then negotiated a settlement whereby they agreed to submit delayed rate requests to a new Interstate Commerce Commission having authority over rate requests.

Taft's obsession with the law over politics created more trouble for him in the well noted dispute between his Interior Secretary, Richard Achilles Ballinger
Richard Achilles Ballinger
Richard Achilles Ballinger was mayor of Seattle, Washington, from 1904–1906 and U.S. Secretary of the Interior from 1909–1911.Ballinger was born in Boonesboro, Iowa...

, and the Chief of the Forestry Service, Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot was the first Chief of the United States Forest Service and the 28th Governor of Pennsylvania...

. Ballinger's job was to assure the proper legal form of land withdrawals made from the private sector as part of Roosevelt's conservation policy. Ballinger's review in many instances concluded that the legalities were lacking and lands had to be returned to private owners. Pinchot led the objections to these returns, and even convinced an Interior Department subordinate, Louis Glavis
Louis Glavis
Louis Russell Glavis was an American lawyer and an employee of the United States Department of the Interior. He was a prominent figure in the 1910 Pinchot-Ballinger Controversy;...

, to bring an accusation against Ballinger for fraud and collusion with corporate timber interests. Taft refused to intervene until the resulting discord in the cabinet forced him to act. The President reviewed the matter, then fired Glavis and Pinchot; Ballinger also tendered his resignation, which would have further served to end the matter, but Taft refused for the longest time before accepting it. By that time the political damage had been done, with further alienation of the Progressives from the administration.

Taft, ever reluctant to dismiss cabinet members, nevertheless used the resignations of Ballinger and War Secretary Dickinson to modify the complexion of the cabinet by appointing more progressive Republicans. Walter L. Fisher
Walter L. Fisher
Walter Lowrie Fisher was United States Secretary of the Interior under President William Howard Taft from 1911 to 1913....

, from the National Conservation League and an ally of Pinchot, replaced Ballinger. Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
Henry Lewis Stimson was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He twice served as Secretary of War 1911–1913 under Republican William Howard Taft and 1940–1945, under Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the latter role he was a leading hawk...

, another progressive, replaced Dickinson. Taft's overriding concern in making most appointments, however, was ability and experience, not party or faction alignment. This was particularly the case with respect to judiciary appointments, specifically in the south, where Taft felt the courts were the weakest. Taft's high standards, which reduced the influence of Senatorial courtesy in the selection process, resulted in the placement of over one hundred well qualified federal judges. Nevertheless, in the process Taft passed up yet another opportunity to embolden himself politically through the use of patronage.

In the area of federal spending, Taft initiated reforms which would revolutionize the Executive's role in the federal government's budget process. Previously, each executive department presented to the Treasury Dept. its own expense estimates, which were then forwarded to the Congress. Taft ordered each department to begin submitting its requests to the cabinet for review. The first such round of requests and cabinet reviews resulted in a reduction of $92 million, representing the first actual presidential budget in modern history. Taft then requested, and received, approval and funding to create the Commission on Economy and Efficiency to study the budgeting process. The study recommended the President be required early in the Congressional session to present the legislature with a comprehensive budget. This recommendation ultimately became law with passage of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921.

Taft's "policy of harmony" with Congress facilitated passage of most of his legislative program. Nevertheless, in the 1910 midterm elections, the Democrats assumed control of the House for the first time in 16 years. At the same time, in the Senate, while the Republicans retained their majority, they lost 8 seats.

Corporate income tax

To solve an impasse during the 1909 tariff debate, Taft proposed income taxes for corporations and a constitutional amendment to remove the apportionment requirement for taxes on incomes from property (taxes on dividends, interest, and rents), on June 16, 1909. His proposed tax on corporate net income was 1% on net profits over $5,000. It was designated an excise on the privilege of doing business as a corporation whose stockholders enjoyed the privilege of limited liability
Limited liability
Limited liability is a concept where by a person's financial liability is limited to a fixed sum, most commonly the value of a person's investment in a company or partnership with limited liability. If a company with limited liability is sued, then the plaintiffs are suing the company, not its...

, and not a tax on incomes as such. In 1911, the Supreme Court, in Flint v. Stone Tracy Co.
Flint v. Stone Tracy Co.
Flint v. Stone Tracy Co. 220 U.S. 107 was a United States Supreme Court case challenging the validity of an income tax on corporations...

, upheld the tax. Receipts grew from $21 million in the fiscal year 1910 to $34.8 million in 1912.

In July 1909, a proposed amendment to allow the federal government to tax incomes was passed unanimously in the Senate and by a vote of 318 to 14 in the House. It was quickly ratified by the states, and on February 3, 1913, it became a part of the Constitution as the Sixteenth Amendment
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on Census results...

.

Blacks and immigrants

Taft met with and publicly endorsed Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915...

's program for uplifting the black race, advising them to stay out of politics at the time and emphasize education and entrepreneurship. A supporter of free immigration, Taft vetoed a law passed by Congress and supported by labor unions that would have restricted unskilled laborers by imposing a literacy test.

Foreign policy

The President surprised the diplomatic arena with his early dismissal of one of the State Department's most experienced, Henry White
Henry White
Henry White may refer to:*Henry Graham White , British Liberal Member of Parliament for Birkenhead East*Henry Julian White , biblical scholar*Henry Kirke White , English poet...

, the Ambassador to France. The only suspected reason for this decision was that White was thought to have somehow slighted the President and his wife 25 years earlier on their honeymoon in Europe. Taft was oblivious to the serious damage which this decision caused his political reputation. (The following year White accepted Taft's appointment to head a delegation to the Pan-American Conference in Buenos Aires.)

The President made it a top priority to reorganize the State Department, saying, "It is organized on the basis of the needs of the government in 1800 instead of 1900." The Department was for the first time organized into geographical divisions, including the Far East, the Near East, Latin America and Western Europe. This reorganization was engineered in large part by Secretary of State Knox's First Assistant Secretary, Huntington Wilson, who served as de facto Secretary of State due to the frequent absence of Knox. Again displaying his inept administrative leadership, Taft, while not sharing any of Knox's respect for Wilson's ability, deferred to much of Wilson's policy making.

The President personally engaged in talks with the Chinese to provide American assistance in the expansion of the Chinese railroad industry; this was accomplished through participation in the multi-national Hukuang Loan. The effort was dubbed "shirt sleeves diplomacy". Initial success in China led to an extended effort by the President to effect the Open Door Policy, particularly in Manchuria; this was not successful due in large part to the President's reliance on the inexperienced Knox, who failed to properly assess the objections of Japan and Russia.

Taft actively promoted the nation's role in the economic development of Latin America, specifically through the Honduras and Nicaragua conventions. The concept, referred to as "Dollar Diplomacy", called for the State Department to coordinate loans to the countries for infrastructure improvement from the largest banks in the U.S. Strategically, this was designed to strengthen security for the Panama Canal, increase American trade, and diminish the presence of European nations in the area. Progressives and Insurgent Republicans in the Senate opposed the Wall Street connection, so the effort was largely a failure. The President was more successful in Argentina, where agreements were reached whereby the U.S. provided loans to enable Argentina to acquire battleships; some naval construction and design secrets were sacrificed in the arrangement.

Another of Taft's goals was the furtherance of world peace. He believed that international arbitration between adversarial nations could be utilized as the best means to avoid armed conflict. This was a logical extension of his boundless faith in the rule of law as a Progressive, and it therefore even superseded U.S nationalism as embodied in the Constitution. Hence, he found no objection to surrendering to an international body jurisdiction over the nation's rights in international affairs. As a result, he championed arbitration treaties with Britain and France. The Senate was not prepared to make such a surrender of the nation's interests, and approved the treaties but only with modifications that provided the Senate with a veto over any decisions made in arbitration.

In the 1911 Congressional session Taft's most potentially notable achievement was approval of a reciprocity agreement with Canada which proposed to drastically lower trade barriers. The passage was accomplished with the cooperation of some Democrats, and at a considerable cost of Republican unity. The President confessed to Roosevelt "I think it may break the Republican party for a while." Taft also responded to criticism from party leaders, saying, "I do not give a tinker's damn whether it injures my political prospects or not." Despite the potential benefits of the agreement to the country, which Roosevelt as well understood and anticipated, all was for naught when the Canadian legislature refused to approve it.

No foreign affairs controversy tested Taft's statesmanship and commitment to peace more than the uprising in Mexico against the authoritarian regime of the aging Porfirio Diaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

, which had attracted billions in capital investment for economic development, much of it from the U.S. Anti-regime (and anti-American) riots began in 1910 and were reported by Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson
Henry Lane Wilson
Henry Lane Wilson was an American diplomat.-Biography:He was born in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana to Indiana congressman James Wilson and his wife, Emma Wilson; he was the younger brother of John L. Wilson, and had been named for Henry Smith Lane...

 to Knox, who failed to pass the information on to the President. Some months later Wilson met with Taft (Knox was out of town on vacation), and upon hearing the information, the President immediately and unilaterally ordered a mobilization of 25,000 troops to the Mexican border as well as naval maneuvers in the Gulf of Mexico. Taft publicly directed that no intervention of troops into Mexico was to occur without Congressional authorization. The President's restraint in the name of peace was difficult to maintain; in Arizona two citizens were killed and almost a dozen injured as a result of the uprising; but Taft would not be goaded into fighting and so instructed the Arizona governor.

1912 presidential campaign and election

The results of the 1910 elections made it clear to the President that Roosevelt had departed his camp, and that he might even contend for the party nomination in 1912. On his return from Europe, Roosevelt openly broke with Taft in one of the notable political feuds of the 20th century. To the surprise of observers who thought Roosevelt had unstoppable momentum, Taft determined he would not simply step aside for the popular ex-President, despite the diminished support he had in the party. Taft acknowledged this, saying, "the longer I am President, the less of a party man I seem to become." Roosevelt declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination in February of 1912; Taft soon decided that he would focus on canvassing for delegates and not attempt at the outset to take on the more able campaigner one on one. As Roosevelt became more radical in his progressivism, Taft was hardened in his resolve to achieve re-nomination, as he was convinced that the Progressives threatened the very foundation of the government. Taft ultimately outmaneuvered Roosevelt and Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Robert Marion "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr. , was an American Republican politician. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was the Governor of Wisconsin, and was also a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin...

 in delegate count, regained control of the GOP convention; and defeated Roosevelt for the nomination.

Roosevelt and his group of disgruntled party delegates and members bolted from the party to create the Progressive Party
Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
The Progressive Party of 1912 was an American political party. It was formed after a split in the Republican Party between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt....

 (or "Bull Moose") ticket, splitting the Republican vote in the 1912 election. Taft thought that, despite probable defeat, the party had been preserved as "the defender of conservative government and conservative institutions." He also felt that the expected defeat would remind the party of the need for for self-discipline in the face of populist rancor. Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

, the Democrat, was elected with 41% of the popular vote; Roosevelt got 27%, and Taft garnered 25%. Taft won a mere eight electoral votes, in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 and Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, making it the worst defeat in American history of an incumbent President seeking reelection.

The defeated President had long ago acknowledged his weakness as a campaigner and as well his failure to do the necessary political housekeeping when decisions were made. He also refused to recognize the need to publicize his policies and decisions, saying "After I have made a definite statement, I have to let it go at that until the time for action arises." Taft's indifference towards the press even extended to legislation, where he failed to recognize the press' need for reduced tariffs on print paper and wood pulp. He further alienated the press when recommending that a deficit in the post office be reduced by eliminating the lower second class rates afforded to magazines and newspapers. Taft commented as follows on the state of his party after the election, "...it behooves the Republicans to gather again to the party standard and pledge anew their faith in their party's principles and to organize again to defend the constitutional government handed down to us by our fathers. Without compromising our principles, we must convince and win back former Republicans, and we must reinforce our ranks with Constitution-loving Democrats."

In spite of his failure to be re-elected, Taft achieved what he felt were his main goals as President: keeping permanent control of the party and keeping the courts sacrosanct until they were next threatened
Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937
The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, frequently called the court-packing plan, was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt's purpose was to obtain favorable rulings regarding New Deal legislation that...

. While the strife during the election of 1912 devastated the once very close friendship between Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, the two eventually did reconcile not long before Roosevelt's death in 1919.

Administration and cabinet

OFFICE NAME TERM
President William Howard Taft 1909–1913
Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

James S. Sherman
James S. Sherman
James Schoolcraft Sherman was a United States Representative from New York and the 27th Vice President of the United States . He was a member of the Baldwin, Hoar, and Sherman families.-Early life:...

1909–1912
None 1912–1913
Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

Philander C. Knox
Philander C. Knox
Philander Chase Knox was an American lawyer and politician who served as United States Attorney General , a Senator from Pennsylvania and Secretary of State ....

1909–1913
Secretary of the Treasury
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 
Franklin MacVeagh
Franklin MacVeagh
Franklin MacVeagh was an American banker and Treasury Secretary.Born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Yale University in 1858, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1864. He worked as a wholesale grocer and lawyer...

1909–1913
Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

Jacob M. Dickinson
Jacob M. Dickinson
Jacob McGavock Dickinson was United States Secretary of War under President William Howard Taft from 1909 to 1911. He was succeeded by Henry L. Stimson.-Biography:...

1909–1911
Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
Henry Lewis Stimson was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He twice served as Secretary of War 1911–1913 under Republican William Howard Taft and 1940–1945, under Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the latter role he was a leading hawk...

1911–1913
Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

George W. Wickersham
George W. Wickersham
George Woodward Wickersham was an American lawyer and Presidential Cabinet Secretary.-Biography:Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania...

1909–1913
Postmaster General Frank H. Hitchcock
Frank H. Hitchcock
Frank Harris Hitchcock , was chairman of Republican National Committee from 1908 to 1909. He was then Postmaster General of the United States under President William Howard Taft from 1909 to 1913.-Biography:...

1909–1913
Secretary of the Navy
United States Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of the Navy of the United States of America is the head of the Department of the Navy, a component organization of the Department of Defense...

George von L. Meyer
George von Lengerke Meyer
George von Lengerke Meyer was a Massachusetts businessman and politician who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, as United States ambassador to Italy and Russia, as United States Postmaster General from 1907 to 1909 during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt and...

1909–1913
Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

Richard A. Ballinger
Richard Achilles Ballinger
Richard Achilles Ballinger was mayor of Seattle, Washington, from 1904–1906 and U.S. Secretary of the Interior from 1909–1911.Ballinger was born in Boonesboro, Iowa...

1909–1911
Walter L. Fisher
Walter L. Fisher
Walter Lowrie Fisher was United States Secretary of the Interior under President William Howard Taft from 1911 to 1913....

1911–1913
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Secretary of Agriculture
The United States Secretary of Agriculture is the head of the United States Department of Agriculture. The current secretary is Tom Vilsack, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 20 January 2009. The position carries similar responsibilities to those of agriculture ministers in other...

James Wilson
James Wilson (U.S. politician)
James "Tama Jim" Wilson was a Scotland-born United States politician who served as United States Secretary of Agriculture for sixteen years during three presidencies, from 1897 to 1913. He holds the record as the longest-serving United States Cabinet member.-Personal background:Wilson was born in...

1909–1913
Secretary of Commerce & Labor Charles Nagel
Charles Nagel
Charles Nagel was a United States politician and lawyer from St. Louis, Missouri. He was Secretary of Commerce and Labor during President William Howard Taft's administration .-Biography:...

1909–1913

Supreme Court

During his presidency, Taft appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

:
  • Horace Harmon Lurton
    Horace Harmon Lurton
    Horace Harmon Lurton was an American jurist who served for four years as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed at the age of 65, Lurton was the oldest justice appointed to the Court.-Life:...

     – 1910
Lurton had served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit with Taft, and Taft's attorney general said that at 66, he was too old to become a Supreme Court justice, but Taft had always admired Lurton. According to the Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (2001 edition), Taft later said that "the chief pleasure of my administration" was the appointment of Lurton.
  • Charles Evans Hughes
    Charles Evans Hughes
    Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician from New York. He served as the 36th Governor of New York , Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States , United States Secretary of State , a judge on the Court of International Justice , and...

     – 1910
Even though Hughes resigned in 1916 to run in the presidential election that year
United States presidential election, 1916
The United States presidential election of 1916 took place while Europe was embroiled in World War I. Public sentiment in the still neutral United States leaned towards the British and French forces, due to the harsh treatment of civilians by the German Army, which had invaded and occupied large...

, he became Taft's successor as Chief Justice.
  • Edward Douglass White
    Edward Douglass White
    Edward Douglass White, Jr. , American politician and jurist, was a United States senator, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and the ninth Chief Justice of the United States. He was best known for formulating the Rule of Reason standard of antitrust law. He also sided with the...

     – Chief Justice – 1910
Already on the Court as an associate justice since 1894, White was the first Chief Justice to be elevated from an associate justiceship since President George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 appointed John Rutledge
John Rutledge
John Rutledge was an American statesman and judge. He was the first Governor of South Carolina following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the 31st overall...

 to Chief Justice in 1795. Taft succeeded White as Chief Justice in 1921.
  • Willis Van Devanter
    Willis Van Devanter
    Willis Van Devanter was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, January 3, 1911 to June 2, 1937.- Early life and career :...

     – 1911
  • Joseph Rucker Lamar
    Joseph Rucker Lamar
    Joseph Rucker Lamar was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court appointed by President William Howard Taft...

     – 1911
  • Mahlon Pitney
    Mahlon Pitney
    Mahlon Pitney was an American jurist and Republican Party politician from New Jersey, who served in the United States Congress and as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.-Biography:...

     – 1912


Taft's six appointments to the Court rank below only those of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 (who appointed all six justices to the first Court), and of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 (who was president for just over twelve years). Taft's appointment of five new justices tied the number appointed by both Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 and Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

. Four of Taft's appointees were relatively young, aged 48, 51, 53, and 54.

The appointments of Edward Douglass White and Charles Evans Hughes also are notable because Taft essentially appointed both his predecessor and successor Chief Justices, respectively. Hughes initially was appointed an Associate Justice
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are the members of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the Chief Justice of the United States...

, but later resigned to run for the Republican Party's presidential candidate in the 1916 election
United States presidential election, 1916
The United States presidential election of 1916 took place while Europe was embroiled in World War I. Public sentiment in the still neutral United States leaned towards the British and French forces, due to the harsh treatment of civilians by the German Army, which had invaded and occupied large...

, which he would lose. President Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 renominated Hughes to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice following Taft's retirement.

Other courts

Besides his Supreme Court appointments, Taft appointed 13 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

, and 38 judges to the United States district courts. Taft also appointed judges to various specialty courts, including the first five appointees each to the United States Commerce Court
United States Commerce Court
The Commerce Court of the United States was a brief-lived federal trial court. It was created by the Mann-Elkins Act in 1910 and abolished a mere three years later. The Commerce Court was a specialized court, given jurisdiction over cases arising from orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission...

 and the United States Court of Customs Appeals
United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals
The United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals is a former United States federal court which existed from 1909 to 1982 and had jurisdiction over certain types of civil disputes.-History:...

. The Commerce Court was abolished in 1913; Taft was thus the only President to appoint judges to that body.

States admitted to the Union

  • New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

    : January 6, 1912
  • Arizona
    Arizona
    Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

    : Taft insisted on removing the recall
    Recall election
    A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

     provision of the state constitution before he would approve it; It was removed, Taft signed the statehood bill on February 14, 1912, and state residents promptly put the provision back in.

Post-presidency

Upon leaving the White House in 1913, Taft was appointed the Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School
Yale Law School
Yale Law School, or YLS, is the law school of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Established in 1824, it offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D. and M.S.L. degrees in law. It also hosts visiting scholars, visiting researchers and a number of legal research centers...

. At the same time, Taft was elected president of the American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

. He spent much of his time writing newspaper articles and books, most notably his series on American legal philosophy
Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

. He was a vigorous opponent of prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

, predicting the undesirable situation that the Eighteenth Amendment
Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution established Prohibition in the United States. The separate Volstead Act set down methods of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition...

 and prohibition would create. He also continued to advocate world peace through international arbitration, urging nations to enter into arbitration treaties with each other and promoting the idea of a League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 even before the First World War began. Taft was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 1914.

When World War I did break out in Europe in 1914, however, Taft founded the League to Enforce Peace
League to Enforce Peace
The League to Enforce Peace was an American organization established in 1915 to promote the formation of an international body for world peace...

. He was a co-chairman of the powerful National War Labor Board
National War Labor Board
The National War Labor Board was a federal agency created in April 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson. It was composed of twelve representatives from business and labor, and co-chaired by Former President William Howard Taft. Its purpose was to arbitrate disputes between workers and employers in...

 between 1917 and 1918. Although he continually advocated peace, he strongly favored conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 once the United States entered the War, pleading publicly that the United States not fight a "finicky" war. He feared the war would be long, but was for fighting it out to a finish, given what he viewed as "Germany's brutality."

Nomination

On June 30, 1921, following the death of Chief Justice Edward Douglass White
Edward Douglass White
Edward Douglass White, Jr. , American politician and jurist, was a United States senator, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and the ninth Chief Justice of the United States. He was best known for formulating the Rule of Reason standard of antitrust law. He also sided with the...

, President Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...

 nominated Taft to take his place. For a man who had once remarked, "there is nothing I would have loved more than being chief justice of the United States" the nomination to oversee the highest court in the land was like a dream come true. There was little opposition to the nomination, and the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 approved him 60-4 in a secret session on the day of his nomination, but the roll call
Roll call
Roll call is the calling of the names of people from a list to determine the presence or absence of the listed people . The term applies to the calling itself, to the time moment of this procedure, and to a military signal that announces it Roll call is the calling of the names of people from a...

 of the vote has never been made public. Taft received his commission immediately and readily took up the position, taking the oath of office on July 11, and serving until 1930. As such, he became the only President to serve as Chief Justice, and thus the only former President to swear in subsequent Presidents, giving the oath of office to both Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 (in 1929).

Taft enjoyed his years on the court and was respected by his peers. Justice Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.-Early life:Frankfurter was born into a Jewish family on November 15, 1882, in Vienna, Austria, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Europe. He was the third of six children of Leopold and Emma Frankfurter...

 once remarked to Justice Louis Brandeis
Louis Brandeis
Louis Dembitz Brandeis ; November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939.He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish immigrant parents who raised him in a secular mode...

 that it was "difficult for me to understand why a man who is so good a Chief Justice...could have been so bad as President. Taft remains the only person to have led both the Executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 and Judicial
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 branches of the United States government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

. He considered his time as Chief Justice to be the highest point of his career; allegedly, he once remarked "I do not remember that I was ever President".

Accomplishments

In 1922, Taft traveled to Great Britain to study the procedural structure of the English courts and to learn how they dropped such a large number of cases quickly. During the trip, King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 and Queen Mary
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V....

 received Taft and his wife as state visitors.

With what he had learned in England, Taft decided to advocate the introduction and passage of the Judiciary Act of 1925
Judiciary Act of 1925
The Judiciary Act of 1925 , also known as the Certiorari Act, was an act of the United States Congress which sought to reduce the workload of the Supreme Court of the United States....

, which shifts the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction to be largely discretionary upon review of litigants' petitioning to be granted an appeal (see also writ of certiorari
Certiorari
Certiorari is a type of writ seeking judicial review, recognized in U.S., Roman, English, Philippine, and other law. Certiorari is the present passive infinitive of the Latin certiorare...

). This allowed the Supreme Court to give preference to what they believed to be cases of national importance and allowed the Court to work more efficiently.

Besides giving the Supreme Court more control over its docket, supporting new legislation, and organizing the Judicial Conference, Taft gave the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice general supervisory power over the scattered and disorganized federal courts.

The legislation also brought the courts of the District of Columbia and of the Territories (and soon, the Commonwealths of the Philippines and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

) into the Federal Court system. This united the courts for the first time as an independent third branch of government under the administrative supervision of the Chief Justice. Taft was also the first Justice to employ two full-time law clerk
Law clerk
A law clerk or a judicial clerk is a person who provides assistance to a judge in researching issues before the court and in writing opinions. Law clerks are not court clerks or courtroom deputies, who are administrative staff for the court. Most law clerks are recent law school graduates who...

s to assist him.

In 1929, Taft successfully argued in favor of the construction of the first separate and spacious United States Supreme Court building
United States Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court Building is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is situated in Washington, D.C. at 1 First Street, NE, on the block immediately east of the United States Capitol. The building is under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol. On May 4, 1987, the Supreme...

 (the one that is still in use now), reasoning that the Supreme Court needed to distance itself from the Congress as a separate branch of the Federal Government. Until then, the Court had heard cases in Old Senate Chamber
Old Senate Chamber
The Old Senate Chamber is a room in the United States Capitol that was the legislative chamber of the United States Senate from 1810 to 1859. It was designed in Neoclassical style and is elaborately decorated...

 of the Capitol Building. The Justices had no private chambers there, and their conferences were held in a room in the Capitol's basement. The building was completed in 1935, five years after Taft's death.

Opinions

While Chief Justice, Taft wrote the opinion for the Court in 256 cases out of the Court's ever-growing caseload. His philosophy of constitutional interpretation
Judicial interpretation
Judicial interpretation is a theory or mode of thought that explains how the judiciary should interpret the law, particularly constitutional documents and legislation...

 was essentially historical contextualism. Some of his more notable opinions include:

  • Balzac v. Porto Rico
    Balzac v. Porto Rico
    Balzac v. Porto Rico, , was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that certain provisions of the U.S. Constitution did not apply to territories not incorporated into the union. It originated when Jesús M. Balzac was prosecuted for criminal libel in a district court of Puerto...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment
      Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
      The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

       did not apply the criminal provisions of the Bill of Rights
      United States Bill of Rights
      The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

       to overseas territories. This was one of the more famous of the Insular Cases
      Insular Cases
      The Insular Cases are several U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning the status of territories acquired by the U.S. in the Spanish-American War . The name "insular" derives from the fact that these territories are islands and were administered by the War Department's Bureau of Insular Affairs...

      .
  • Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co.
    Child Labor Tax Case
    Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U.S. 20 , was a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the 1919 Child Labor Tax Law unconstitutional as an improper attempt by Congress to penalize employers using child labor...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Holding the 1919 Child Labor Tax Law unconstitutional.
  • Hill v. Wallace
    Hill v. Wallace
    The Futures Trading Act of 1921, approved August 24, 1921. , c. 86 attempted to institute Federal regulation of grain futures contract trading by imposing a prohibitive tax on futures contracts traded on any market other than those that met the statute's requirements and were regulated by the...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Holding the Future Trading Act
      Future Trading Act
      The Future Trading Act of 1921 was a United States Act of Congress intended to institute regulation of grain futures contracts and, particularly, the exchanges on which they were traded...

       an unconstitutional use of Congress's taxing power
      Taxing and Spending Clause
      Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, is known as the Taxing and Spending Clause. It is the clause that gives the federal government of the United States its power of taxation...

  • Adkins v. Children's Hospital
    Adkins v. Children's Hospital
    Adkins v. Children's Hospital, , is a Supreme Court opinion holding that federal minimum wage legislation for women was an unconstitutional infringement of liberty of contract, as protected by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment....

    , (dissenting opinion)
    • Disapproving of the Court's upholding of Lochner v. New York
      Lochner v. New York
      Lochner vs. New York, , was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that held a "liberty of contract" was implicit in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case involved a New York law that limited the number of hours that a baker could work each day to ten, and limited the...

      . In 1937, the Supreme Court agreed with Taft and overruled this decision permanently.
  • Board of Trade of City of Chicago v. Olsen
    Board of Trade of City of Chicago v. Olsen
    Board of Trade of City of Chicago v. Olsen, 262 U.S. 1 , is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, in which it upheld the Grain Futures Act as constitutional under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution....

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Upholding the constitutionality of the Grain Futures Act
      Grain Futures Act
      The Grain Futures Act , is a United States federal law enacted September 21, 1922 involving the regulation of trading in certain commodity futures, and causing the establishment of the Grain Futures Administration, a predecessor organization to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.The bill that...

       under the Commerce Clause
      Commerce Clause
      The Commerce Clause is an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution . The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." Courts and commentators have tended to...

  • Ex Parte Grossman, (opinion for the Court)
    • Holding that the President's pardon
      Pardon
      Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

       power extends to pardoning people held for criminal contempt. While the Supreme Court rules provide for issuing writs of habeas corpus
      Habeas corpus
      is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

       within the Court's original jurisdiction
      Original jurisdiction
      The original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a court has the power to review a lower court's decision.-France:...

      , Taft's opinion in Grossman was the last time the Court did so.
  • Carroll v. United States
    Carroll v. United States
    Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 , was a decision by the United States Supreme Court which upheld that the warrantless search of an automobile is known as the automobile exception...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Holding that police searches of automobile
      Automobile
      An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

      s without a warrant do not violate the Fourth Amendment
      Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
      The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause...

       when the police have probable cause
      Probable cause
      In United States criminal law, probable cause is the standard by which an officer or agent of the law has the grounds to make an arrest, to conduct a personal or property search, or to obtain a warrant for arrest, etc. when criminal charges are being considered. It is also used to refer to the...

       to believe that contraband
      Contraband
      The word contraband, reported in English since 1529, from Medieval French contrebande "a smuggling," denotes any item which, relating to its nature, is illegal to be possessed or sold....

       would be found in the automobile
  • Myers v. United States
    Myers v. United States
    Myers v. United States, , was a United States Supreme Court decision ruling that the President has the exclusive power to remove executive branch officials, and does not need the approval of the Senate or any other legislative body....

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Ruling that the President of the United States had the power to unilaterally dismiss Executive Branch appointees who had been confirmed by the Senate.
  • United States v. General Electric Co.
    United States v. General Electric Co.
    United States v. General Electric Co. is a 1926 decision of the United States Supreme Court holding that a patentee who has granted a single license to a competitor to manufacture the patented product may lawfully fix the price at which the licensee may sell the product.-Background:GE owned three...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Ruling that a patentee who has granted a single license to a competitor to manufacture the patented product may lawfully fix the price at which the licensee may sell the product.
  • Lum v. Rice
    Lum v. Rice
    Lum v. Rice, 275 U.S. 78 , is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the exclusion on account of race of a child of Chinese ancestry from a state high school did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment
      Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
      The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

       did not prohibit Mississippi
      Mississippi
      Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

      's prevention of Asian children attending white
      White people
      White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

       schools during racial segregation
      Racial segregation
      Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

      . The Supreme Court overruled this opinion in 1954.
  • Olmstead v. United States
    Olmstead v. United States
    Olmstead v. United States, , was a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in which the Court reviewed whether the use of wiretapped private telephone conversations, obtained by federal agents without judicial approval and subsequently used as evidence, constituted a violation of the...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Ruling that the judicial practice of excluding evidence obtained without a warrant was based on the Fourth Amendment's
      Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
      The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause...

       proscription on unreasonable search and seizure
      Search and seizure
      Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.Some countries have...

       but did not apply to telephone wiretapping
      Telephone tapping
      Telephone tapping is the monitoring of telephone and Internet conversations by a third party, often by covert means. The wire tap received its name because, historically, the monitoring connection was an actual electrical tap on the telephone line...

      .
  • Wisconsin v. Illinois
    Wisconsin v. Illinois
    Wisconsin v. Illinois, also referred to as the Chicago Sanitary District Case, is an opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States which held that the equitable power of the United States can be utilized to impose positive action on one state in a situation in which nonaction would result in...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Holding that the equitable power of the United States can be used to impose positive action on the states in a situation where non-action would result in damage to the interests of other states.
  • Old Colony Trust Co. v. Commissioner
    Old Colony Trust Co. v. Commissioner
    Old Colony Trust Co. v. Commissioner, , was an income tax case before the Supreme Court of the United States.HELD:*When a third party purports to pay a person's income tax on his behalf, it must include the amount of the tax payment in the gross income on which it calculates his tax liability,...

    , (opinion for the Court)
    • Holding that where a third party pays the income tax
      Income tax in the United States
      In the United States, a tax is imposed on income by the Federal, most states, and many local governments. The income tax is determined by applying a tax rate, which may increase as income increases, to taxable income as defined. Individuals and corporations are directly taxable, and estates and...

       owed by an individual, the amount of tax paid constitutes additional income to the taxpayer.

Medical condition

Evidence from eyewitnesses
Eyewitness memory
Eyewitness memory refers to episodic memories that occur most frequently to the witness of a crime or dramatic event. These witness testimonies are highly relied upon in the judicial system. However, their validity is sometimes questioned due to the many influences that may take part in creating...

, and from Taft himself, strongly suggests that during his presidency he had severe obstructive sleep apnea
Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Similarly, each abnormally low...

 because of his obesity. Within a year of leaving the presidency, Taft lost approximately 80 pounds (36.3 kg). His somnolence problem resolved and, less obviously, his systolic blood pressure
Blood pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels, and is one of the principal vital signs. When used without further specification, "blood pressure" usually refers to the arterial pressure of the systemic circulation. During each heartbeat, BP varies...

 dropped 40–50 mmHg (from 210 mmHg). Undoubtedly, this weight loss extended his life. Soon after his weight loss, he had a revival of interest in the outdoors; this led him to explore Alaska. Beginning in 1920, Taft used a cane; this was a gift from Professor of Geology W.S. Foster, and was made of 250,000-year-old wood.

Death and legacy

Taft retired as Chief Justice on February 3, 1930, because of ill health. Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician from New York. He served as the 36th Governor of New York , Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States , United States Secretary of State , a judge on the Court of International Justice , and...

, whom he had appointed to the Court while president, succeeded him.

Five weeks following his retirement, Taft died, on March 8, 1930, the same date as Associate Justice Edward Terry Sanford
Edward Terry Sanford
Edward Terry Sanford was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court from 1923 until his death in 1930. Prior to his nomination to the high court, Sanford served as an Assistant Attorney General under President Theodore Roosevelt from 1905 to 1907, and...

 (who died unexpectedly). As it was customary for members of the court to attend the funeral of deceased members, this posed a "logistical nightmare", necessitating cross-country travel.

Three days following his demise, on March 11, he became the first president to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

. James Earle Fraser sculpted his grave marker out of Stony Creek granite. Taft is one of two presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and is one of four Chief Justices buried there. Taft was the only Chief Justice to have had a state funeral
State funerals in the United States
State funerals in the United States are public funerals held in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. that are offered to a sitting or ex-President of the United States, a President-elect, as well as other people designated by the President...

.

In 1938, a third generation of the Taft family entered the national political stage with the election of the former President's oldest son Robert A. Taft I
Robert Taft
Robert Alphonso Taft , of the Taft political family of Cincinnati, was a Republican United States Senator and a prominent conservative statesman...

 to the Senate, where he became a leader of the conservative Republicans. President Taft's other son, Charles Phelps Taft II
Charles Phelps Taft II
Charles Phelps Taft II was a U.S. Republican Party politician and member of the Taft family. From 1955 to 1957, he served as Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio. Like other members of his family, Taft was a Republican for the purposes of state-wide elections. However, when running for municipal office in...

, served as the mayor of Cincinnati from 1955 to 1957.

Two more generations of the Taft family later entered politics. The President's grandson, Robert Taft, Jr.
Robert Taft, Jr.
Robert Taft Jr. was a member of the Taft political family who served as a Republican Congressman from Ohio between 1963 and 1965, as well as between 1967 and 1971. He also served as a U.S. Senator between 1971 and 1976....

, served a term as a Senator from Ohio from 1971 to 1977, and the President's great-grandson, Robert A. "Bob" Taft III
Bob Taft
Robert Alphonso "Bob" Taft II is an Ohio Republican Party politician. He was elected to two terms of office as the 67th Governor of the U.S. state of Ohio between 1999-2007. After leaving office, Taft started working for the University of Dayton beginning August 15, 2007.-Personal background:Taft...

, served as the Governor of Ohio from 1999 to 2007. William Howard Taft III
William Howard Taft III
William Howard Taft III was the grandson of William Howard Taft and served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Ireland from 1953 to 1957. His task was made easier by the fact that John A. Costello, Taoiseach 1954-57 was a personal friend; Taft described Costello as "pleasant and unassuming"...

 was the U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 1953 to 1957.

William Howard Taft IV
William Howard Taft IV
William Howard Taft IV is an attorney who has served in the United States government under several Republican administrations. He is the son of William Howard Taft III and the great-grandson of U.S. President William Howard Taft....

, currently in private law practice, was the general counsel in the former United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in the 1970s, was the Deputy Secretary of Defense under Caspar Weinberger
Caspar Weinberger
Caspar Willard "Cap" Weinberger , was an American politician, vice president and general counsel of Bechtel Corporation, and Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan from January 21, 1981, until November 23, 1987, making him the third longest-serving defense secretary to date, after...

 and Frank Carlucci
Frank Carlucci
Frank Charles Carlucci III is a former official in the United States Government, associated with the Republican Party. The most prominent office held by Carlucci was as Secretary of Defense from 1987 until 1989 in the Reagan Administration.-Early life and career:Carlucci was born in Scranton,...

 in the 1980s, and acted as the United States Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 during its vacancy from January to March 1989. In addition, he was a high-level official in the Department of State from 2000 to 2006.

President Taft's enduring legacy includes many things named after him. The William Howard Taft National Historic Site
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
William Howard Taft National Historic Site is a National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio, maintained by the National Park Service of the United States...

 is the Taft boyhood home. The house in which he was born has been restored to its original appearance. It includes four period rooms reflecting family life during Taft's boyhood, and second-floor exhibits highlighting Taft's life.Others include the courthouse of the Ohio Court of Appeals for the First District in Cincinnati; streets in Cincinnati, Arlington, Virginia; and Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

, Philippines; a law school in Santa Ana, California
Santa Ana, California
Santa Ana is the county seat and second most populous city in Orange County, California, and with a population of 324,528 at the 2010 census, Santa Ana is the 57th-most populous city in the United States....

; and high schools in San Antonio, Texas; Woodland Hills
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
Woodland Hills is a district in the city of Los Angeles, California.Woodland Hills is located in the southwestern area of the San Fernando Valley, east of Calabasas and west of Tarzana, with Warner Center in its northern section...

, California; Chicago, Illinois; and The Bronx
Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications
Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications is a public high school located in The Bronx, New York City. It is one of six smaller specialty high schools located on the campus of the former William H. Taft High School, which was closed in 2008 and divided into separate collocated...

. Taft, Eastern Samar
Taft, Eastern Samar
Taft is a 4th class municipality in the province of Eastern Samar, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 16,435 people in 3,186 households. The town was named after United States President William Howard Taft...

, a town in the Philippines was named after him. After a fire burned much of the town of Moron
Taft, California
Taft is a city in the foothills at the extreme southwestern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, in Kern County, California. Taft is located west-southwest of Bakersfield, at an elevation of 955 feet . The population was 9,327 at the 2010 census...

, California, in the 1920s, it was renamed Taft, California, in his honor.

George Burroughs Torrey
George Burroughs Torrey
George Burroughs Torrey was an American painter, best known for his portraits. He has been called the "painter of presidents", because he painted portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, and Herbert Hoover.- Biography :...

 painted a portrait of him. Taft is the last President to have sported facial hair while in office.

Media

See also

  • Demographics of the Supreme Court of the United States
    Demographics of the Supreme Court of the United States
    The demographics of the Supreme Court of the United States encompass the gender, ethnic, religious, geographic, and economic backgrounds of the 112 justices appointed to the Supreme Court. Certain of these characteristics have been raised as an issue since the Court was established in 1789. For its...

  • Dollar Diplomacy
    Dollar Diplomacy
    Dollar Diplomacy is a term used to describe the effort of the United States—particularly under President William Howard Taft—to further its aims in Latin America and East Asia through use of its economic power by guaranteeing loans made to foreign countries. The term was originally coined by...

  • History of the United States (1865–1918)
    History of the United States (1865–1918)
    The History of the United States covers Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the Progressive Era, and includes the rise of industrialization and the resulting surge of immigration in the United States. This period of rapid economic growth and soaring prosperity in North and West saw the U.S...

  • List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
  • List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States



External links



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