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William H. Taft

U.S. President / U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Born: 15 September 1857
Died: 8 March 1930
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
Best known as:

The large man who was U.S. president from 1909-1913

William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States, serving one term from 1909-1913. Taft was the son of Alphonso Taft, Secretary of War and Attorney General in the cabinet of Ulysses S. Grant. William graduated from Yale in 1878 and Cincinnati Law School in 1880, then went on to be a respectable Republican jurist and administrator. He served under Teddy Roosevelt as the first civilian governor of the Philippines, Secretary of War and a provisional governor of Cuba. A lifelong Republican, he was Roosevelt's successor as president, elected in 1908 and taking office in 1809. He lost a re-election bid in 1912 when Roosevelt ran against him and both were defeated by Democrat Woodrow Wilson. By his own admission, Taft wasn't much of a president, and historians tend to attribute his political rise to the ambitions of his wife, Helen "Nellie" Taft. Nonetheless, he was by all accounts a likable fellow with a great legal mind. In 1921 Taft was appointed Chief Justice of the United States by President Warren Harding; he held the post for nine years, resigning just before his death in 1930. Taft's son Robert A. Taft was a powerful senator known as "Mr. Republican" in the mid-1900s.

Extra credit:

Taft was a large man, weighing over three hundred pounds... When Taft visited Mexico's President Porfirio Díaz at Ciudad Juárez in 1909, it was the first time a U.S. president set foot on foreign soil... Taft was the first president to open the baseball season by tossing out a ball (1910).

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