William Howard Taft, President - Chief Justice
William Howard Taft is the only individual in United States history
to hold both the Presidency and the Chief Justiceship of
the Supreme Court.
Taft was born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio
and earned a Bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1878.
He graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in 1880 and
was admitted to the Ohio Bar. He was a member of the Yale
baseball team and later started the tradition of the President
throwing out the first ball on the opening day of the major
league baseball season.
Public service was a tradition in the Taft family. William Howard
Taft extended it to its limit during his lifetime.
Taft was appointed a Federal Circuit Judge in 1892.
He remained on the court until 1900 when President McKinley asked
him to head a commission established to ensure the smooth transition
of government in the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American
President Theodore Roosevelt named him to Secretary of War in
1904. As Taft's prestige grew in the administration, so did his
influence in the Republican Party. With Roosevelt's backing, he
won the party's nomination for President and the subsequent election
in 1908. He was sworn in as the twenty-seventh President of the
United States in March, 1909. His single term in office was not
controversial. It saw the development of the postal savings system
and the Tariff Board, the intervention of American troops in the
affairs of the Dominican Republic, the ratification of the Sixteenth
Amendment to the Constitution, and continuation of the trust-busting
begun under Theodore Roosevelt.
Soon after he was elected President, Taft began
to fall out of favor with former President Roosevelt. The two
men came to represent opposing sides of a division within the
Republican Party. When Taft was renominated in 1912, Roosevelt
ran for President under the banner of his "Bull Moose"
Party and effectively splintered the Republican vote, giving the
election to democrat Woodrow Wilson.
After leaving the White House, Taft taught Constitutional
Law at Yale University, served as President of the American Bar
Association, wrote magazine articles and was a frequent participant
on the lecture circuit. During this period he also continued discreetly
to publicize his desire to be named to the high court.
His greatest ambition was achieved when President
Harding named him Chief Justice on June 30, 1921 and he was confirmed
by voice vote of the Senate on the same day.
Mr. Taft died in Washington, D.C. on March 8, 1930.