We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is William Howard Taft?

By S. N. Smith
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

William Howard Taft, 27th president of the United States of America, was born on 15 September 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Louise Torrey Taft, his mother, was a Massachusetts native and Alphonso Taft's second wife. Alphonso, father of William Howard Taft, was a Vermonter who had moved to Cincinnati 20 years prior to his son’s birth to establish a law practice. He became a judge and eventually held the positions of secretary of war and attorney general during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

Growing up, William Howard Taft was a good student. In 1874, he was admitted to Yale University. At Yale, he was studious and well liked. He graduated as salutatorian of his class in 1878 and returned to Ohio to enter the Cincinnati Law School.

Upon graduation from law school in 1880, things moved quickly for Taft. He passed the Ohio bar exam in short order, and in 1881, was appointed assistant prosecutor of Hamilton County, Ohio. From 1883 to 1887, Taft spent a few years in Cincinnati, working as a lawyer in private practice. During this time he became assistant county solicitor for Hamilton County.

On 19 June 1886, Taft married Helen Herron. Helen, whom Taft nicknamed "Nellie," was an intelligent woman whose ambitions for her husband would be instrumental in the evolution of his career. Over the course of their marriage, Taft and Nellie would have three children: Robert Alphonso (1889–1953), Helen Herron (1891–1987), and Charles Phelps (1897–1983).

In 1900, President McKinley sent Taft to serve as chief civil administrator in the Philippines. Taft constructed schools and roads, improved the economy, and sought other ways to assist the Filipino people. In 1901, Taft became the first civil governor of the Philippines and continued to carry out his work toward achieving Filipino independence.

Following McKinley's assassination, President Theodore Roosevelt saw Taft as a valuable asset and assigned him to the post of secretary of war. From 1904 to 1908, Taft oversaw construction of the Panama Canal.

By the time the 1908 presidential elections came around, Taft had become closely identified with Roosevelt. Roosevelt declined to run for the presidency and instead used his influence to secure Taft's nomination. William Howard Taft won this election, becoming the 27th president of the United States.

Unfortunately for Taft, Roosevelt turned out to be a tough act to follow. Taft lacked Roosevelt's political flair and genius for public speaking. Taft's presidency was much haunted by the specter of his first and greatest love: the law. His great faith in the law was evidenced by the 80 antitrust suits he set into motion during office. One such suit was leveled against U.S. Steel, in direct contradiction to a deal Roosevelt had accepted. Roosevelt was greatly displeased with the actions of the man he'd helped place in office, and the relationship between the two men deteriorated precipitously.

Taft's presidency was characterized by advocacy of world arbitration to solve conflict, foreign policy that embraced the practice of "dollar diplomacy," and the dissolution of trusts. Taft supported the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, and appointed six justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although he pursued world peace, by the 1912 elections, Taft and Roosevelt were engaged in a personal battle. Frustrated and fed up, Roosevelt determined to wrest control back from Taft. Taft, however, won the Republican Party's nomination. Undeterred, Roosevelt formed his own party, the Progressive, or Bull Moose, Party. Ultimately, they split the Republican vote, and Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic candidate, took the election.

In his post-presidential career, Taft taught law at Yale Law School. He was elected president of the American Bar Association. In 1921, he was appointed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Warren Harding. Taft is the only U.S. president to date to hold the position of Chief Justice, and the only individual to helm both the Judicial and Executive branches of the government.

At last, Taft was again doing the work he loved, enjoying his tenure on the Supreme Court immensely. Finally, though, in February 1930, ill with heart disease, he had no choice but to retire. William Howard Taft died almost exactly one month later, on 8 March 1930, and became the first U.S. president to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
By anon148691 — On Feb 02, 2011

I have a problem with you saying that Taft's mother was a "Massachusetts native." In that day and age, the only true "natives" were the American Indians.

By anon148649 — On Feb 02, 2011

yes- the author saw the key points and politics well and communicated them clearly.

Please make a printer-friendly option. This is too hard. --elle fagan

By anon148629 — On Feb 02, 2011

Interestingly, William Howard Taft is better known as Chief Justice for the Supreme Court of the U.S. than as President of the U.S.

I am pleased that the writer of this piece chose to focus more on the Chief Justice as opposed to the Presidency of William Howard Taft.

By obsessedwithloopy — On Jan 02, 2010

The time when president Taft was in the office was definitely a different time, with different rules.

It has passed about one hundred years since his presidency, but for example while in the White House the lawn served as a pasture for his cow, Pauline Wayne, who supplied milk for the family.

By anon23963 — On Jan 05, 2009

This article was excellent. it helped me write my president report and I think i am going to do good. Who ever wrote this article keep writing. it was good and clear to understand. I think you should write a book and probably on him.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.