September 15, 1857 - March 08, 1930
He never wanted to be President. His father was a judge, and William Howard Taft's dream was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Eventually he reached his goal, but after a term as chief executive.
As a teenager in Cincinnati, Taft was a robust figure who stood 6 feet-2 and weighed 225 pounds. He loved to wrestle, swim, bowl and play all kinds of ball games. He was agile, and as good a dancer as he was a street fighter, excelling at both. He gained a solid reputation as a wrestler, but when he entered Yale, his father prevailed upon him to give up sports and concentrate on his studies. He did win the wrestling championship of his freshman class, then pinned the winner of the upper classes.
Soon after completing law school in 1880, he was summoned to public service for the rest of his life. Taft was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President and hero of the Spanish-American War.
A respected governor of the Philippine Islands, Taft was called home to serve as Roosevelt's Secretary of War. He succeeded Roosevelt as President in 1908, but his quiet, private personality was in sharp contrast to that of the flamboyant "Teddy," and he lost Roosevelt's support. Roosevelt's third party threw the 1912 election to Woodrow Wilson.
Taft established the Bureau of Mines to clean up abuses, and another bureau to deal with child labor. He was the first President to have an official automobile, the first to throw out a baseball on opening day, and the last to keep a cow to provide fresh milk for the White House.
His lifelong dream of becoming Chief Justice came true in 1921. The Court was at a standstill, with 343 cases awaiting judgment and 421 to be filed. He pressured Congress to allow the Court to determine its own caseload, which it does to this day. Taft served nine years as Chief Justice, but resigned in February, 1930, after several heart attacks, and died a month later.