William Howard Taft – US president
William Howard Taft was the twenty-seventh president of the United States from 1909 to 1913. He later served as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the only person to have held the country’s two highest offices.
William Howard Taft was born on September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio into a wealthy family. Both his father and grandfather had served terms as judges, and young Taft aspired to a judicial career.
In 1878 Taft graduated from Yale University and in 1880 from Cincinnati Law School.
Between 1880 and 1890 he served successively as assistant prosecuting attorney for Hamilton County, Ohio, collector of internal revenue for Cincinnati, and judge of the Superior Court of Ohio.
In 1886 he married Helen Herron and they had three children.
In 1887 Taft became a judge of the superior court of Ohio. In 1892 he was named a judge of a U.S. circuit court.
In 1900 President William McKinley asked Taft to organize a government for the Philippines and next year Taft became governor of the Philippines. There he established an educational system, built roads and harbors.
In 1904 Taft returned home and served as secretary of war under President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1908 Taft became president himself.
In 1912 Taft left office and began teaching law at Yale University.
On June 30, 1921 President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He retired from the court in February 1930 because of heart trouble.
Taft died on March 8, 1930 in Washington, D.C.
With a mechanistic view of government, President Taft acted like an engineer trying to make the agencies of government work together. A conservative by education and choice, he did not understand the dynamics of pressure groups and never learned how to mobilize power in the political system, how to balance the advocates of reform against those of reaction, or how to forgive those who crossed him in politics.