From President to Chief Justice
William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States. He is also known for his role as the 10th chief justice of the United States, a position he was appointed to after his presidency. In fact, to this day he is the only president to hold both roles.
In addition, Taft served as a judge on the Cincinnati Superior Court, solicitor general of the United States, judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, governor-general of the Philippines, and secretary of war under President Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, Roosevelt picked Taft for the role of secretary of war with him in mind as his potential successor.
A Man of Many Organizations
Taft attended Yale College and was a member of various school clubs including the Linonian Society, Skull and Bones, and Psi Upsilon fraternity.
He was nicknamed “Old Bill” by his closest friends and “Big Lub” because of his size. By his graduation, Taft ranked second in his class, and from there he attended Cincinnati Law School, graduating in 1880.
In 1886, Taft married Helen Herron; they had three children. In 1887, he became judge of the Superior Court of Cincinnati, thus launching a successful and long career in law.
William Howard Taft’s Pets
- Pauline Wayne, last cow at the White House
- Mooly Wooly, another cow
- Caruso, dog
MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets
A Law Career Interrupted by the Presidency
Although William Howard Taft had made law his career from the get-go, in 1908 he won the bid for presidency, having been hand-picked by Roosevelt to succeed him in office.
Taft served only one term, and he focused on civil service reform, trust busting, passing the 16th Amendment, and the postal service. Additionally, through foreign policy he supported both Latin America and Asia in economic development.
However, his presidency was not without strife, and by the end of his term, many voters felt alienated. He lost his second election and went back into academia and law. His last role, before his death in 1930, was chief justice, a role that he seemed not only destined for, but passionate about.
Did You Know…?
- Taft felt more honored in his appointment as chief justice of the Supreme Court than when he was president. That’s not to say he wasn’t honored to serve as president — but Taft had always wanted to remain in law. He was pushed into a more political direction by his wife, who had wanted bigger and better things for him.
- The presidential tradition of throwing the first ball at the start of baseball season was started by Taft. He threw the ball for the 1910 game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics.
- Out of all the presidents past and present, Taft was the heaviest — once weighing in at around 340 pounds. In fact, Taft was so heavy that he had a new, larger bathtub installed. Rumor has it, he got stuck in the old one!