William H. Taft

27th President William H. Taft, 1909-191327th President William H. Taft, 1909-191327th President William H. Taft, 1909-191327th President William H. Taft, 1909-191327th President William H. Taft, 1909-191327th President William H. Taft, 1909-1913

27th President William H. Taft, 1909-1913

27th President of the United States
(March 4, 1909 to March 3, 1913)

Full Name: William Howard Taft
Nickname: "Big Bill", "Big Chief"

Born: September 15, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio
Died: March 8, 1930, in Washington, D.C.

Father: Alphonso Taft (1810-1891)
Mother: Louisa Maria Torrey Taft (1827-1907)
Married: Helen Herron (1861-1943), on June 19, 1886
Children: Robert Alphonso Taft (1889-1953); Helen Herron Taft (1891-1987); Charles Phelps Taft (1897-1983)

Religion: Unitarian
Education: Graduated from Yale College (1878); Cincinnati Law School (1880)
Occupation: Lawyer, public official
Political Party: Republican
Other Government Positions:

  • Judge in Ohio Superior Court, 1887-90
  • U.S. Solicitor General, 1890-92
  • U.S. Circuit Court Judge, 1892-1900
  • Governor of the Philippines, 1901-04
  • Secretary of War, 1904-08 (under T. Roosevelt)
  • Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1921-30

Presidential Salary: $75,000/year

Presidential Election Results:

YearCandidatePopular VotesElectoral Votes
1908William H. Taft7,676,320321
(map)William J. Bryan6,412,294162

YearCandidatePopular VotesElectoral Votes
1912Woodrow Wilson6,296,547435
(map)Theodore Roosevelt4,118,57188
William H. Taft3,486,7208

Vice President: James S. Sherman (1909-12)


Secretary of State
Philander C. Knox (1909-13)
Secretary of the Treasury
Franklin MacVeagh (1909-13)
Secretary of War
Jacob M. Dickinson (1909-11)
Henry L. Stimson (1911-13)
Attorney General
George W. Wickersham (1909-13)
Postmaster General
Frank H. Hitchcock (1909-13)
Secretary of the Navy
George von L. Meyer (1909-13)
Secretary of the Interior
Richard A. Ballinger (1909-11)
Walter Lowrie Fisher (1911-13)
Secretary of Agriculture
James Wilson (1909-13)
Secretary of Commerce and Labor
Charles Nagel (1909-13)

Supreme Court Justices:
Horace Harmon Lurton (1910-1914)
Charles Evans Hughes (1910-1916)
Edward Douglass White, Chief (1910-1921)
Willis Van Devanter (1911-1937)
Joseph Rucker Lamar (1911-1916)
Mahlon Pitney (1912-1922)

Notable Events:
  • 1909
    • On April 6, Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole.
    • On May 17, Taft's wife, Nellie, suffered a stroke. Recovery from the resulting speech impairment lasted a year.
    • On August 6, signed the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act establishing a Tariff Board and reducing tariffs.
    • On October 16, Taft and Porfirio Díaz held a summit, a first between a U.S. and Mexican president, and only narrowly escaped assassination.
  • 1910
    • Congress passed the Mann Act which prohibits the interstate transport of women for "immoral purposes."
  • 1911
    • The government won antitrust lawsuits against Standard Oil and American Tobacco. In October, the Justice Department brought suit against U.S. Steel for antitrust violations.
  • 1912
    • Mrs. Taft planted the first of the cherry trees in Washington, D.C.
    • On April 15, Taft's military aide, Archie Butt, perished on the Titanic.
    • On June 18, Taft defeated Theodore Roosevelt for the Republican party nomination. Roosevelt ran against the sitting president as a member of the Progressive party.
    • On August 24, signed the Panama Canal Act, which exempts American shipping from paying tolls.
    • On October 30, Vice President James Sherman died.
  • 1913
    • Ratification of the 16th Amendment allowing for a federal income tax.
Internet Biographies:
William Howard Taft -- from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
William Howard Taft -- from The American President
From the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in addition to information on the Presidents themselves, they have first lady and cabinet member biographies, listings of presidential staff and advisers, and timelines detailing significant events in the lives of each administration.
William Howard Taft -- from Encyclopaedia Britannica
Facts about Taft and his presidency.
Other Internet Resources:
The Best Biographies of William H. Taft
In 2012, Stephen Floyd started his search for the best biography of each president. He usually has reviews of multiple biographies for each president.
Health and Medical History of William Taft
Medical background of each president with references. Compiled by John Sotos, MD.
Looking East: William Howard Taft and the 1905 Mission to Asia
As Secretary of War, Taft led a three month goodwill tour to Asia with stops in Japan, the Philippines, and China. Includes mission photos.
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
The Cincinnati, Ohio birthplace and childhood home of Taft. Tourist information is available.
Points of Interest:

Arlington National Cemetery

Schley Dr, Arlington, VA 22204

2038 Auburn Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45219

Additional Facts:
  • On April 14, 1910, Taft was the first president to throw out the first pitch of the baseball season.
  • Taft was the first president to own a car. He converted the White House stables into a garage.
  • Taft was the last president to keep a cow at the White House for fresh milk.
  • At over 340 pounds, Taft was the heaviest president. Rumor has it he got stuck in the White House bath tub and required six aides to pull him free. It turns out the rumor is false.
  • Taft was the only president to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • As Chief Justice, Taft administered the presidential oath to Coolidge in 1925 and Hoover in 1929.

“We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage.”

“Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”

“Politics, when I am in it, makes me sick.”

“Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”

“The world is not going to be saved by legislation.”

“Failure to accord credit to anyone for what he may have done is a great weakness in any man.”

Previous President: Theodore Roosevelt
Next President: Woodrow Wilson