“Politics makes me sick.”
“We are all imperfect. We cannot expect perfect government.”
William Taft never really wanted to be President. He called the White House the “lonesomest place in the world.” He was happy and relieved when his time there ended. Why did he become President? Because Theodore Roosevelt, who Taft had served as Secretary of War, backed and encouraged him.
- William Taft was born September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Taft’s father was a prominent lawyer.
- Taft was a big man, weighing about 330 pounds. He once got stuck in a bathtub and asked White House workers to install a larger tub. Four people could fit in the huge tub.
- Taft liked to play tennis and golf. He learned to surf.
- Taft married Helen Herron in 1886. They had three children.
- Taft graduated second in his class from Yale and went on to become a successful lawyer too. He enjoyed the law and wanted to be a Supreme Court judge.
- Taft served as civil governor of the Philippines and a judge for the Ohio Supreme Court. He did so well in these positions that Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt soon noticed him.
- Taft didn’t think he would make a good President, but Theodore Roosevelt and Taft’s wife convinced him to run. He easily won.
- Taft had a habit of falling asleep in public. He once slept through his own parade.
- As President, Taft tried to continue Roosevelt’s policies. He made some good changes, but Republicans didn’t think he was doing enough. Roosevelt turned on him and ran against him in the next election. Both men lost to Democrat, Woodrow Wilson.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What did William Taft do after he was President?
Answer: He taught law at Yale University and was appointed Chief Justice of the United States in 1921. He loved this job and said, “I don’t even remember that I ever was President.”
Visit the Miller Center to learn more.
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