27th President William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was elected the 27th President of the United States (1909–1913) and later became the tenth Chief Justice of the United States (1921–1930), the only person to have served in both of these offices.
Distinguished jurist, effective administrator, but poor politician, William Howard Taft spent four uncomfortable years in the White House. Large, jovial, conscientious, he was caught in the intense battles between Progressives and conservatives, and got scant credit for the achievements of his administration.
Born in 1857, the son of a distinguished judge, he graduated from Yale, and returned to Cincinnati to study and practice law. He rose in politics through Republican judiciary appointments, through his own competence and availability, and because, as he once wrote facetiously, he always had his "plate the right side up when offices were falling."
But Taft much preferred law to politics. He was appointed a Federal circuit judge at 34. He aspired to be a member of the Supreme Court, but his wife, Helen Herron Taft, held other ambitions for him.
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The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,”
by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.