27 William Howard Taft
Manage episode 358405145 series 2929640
William Howard Taft is perhaps best known as the fattest president who allegedly got stuck in a bathtub, but this episode will show that he was much, much more than that. Taft followed in his eminent father's footsteps to become a Yale graduate, lawyer, and judge. His highest ambition was to join the U.S. Supreme Court, and President McKinley promised to appoint him--if he first agreed to serve as civil governor of the Philippines. After his friend Theodore Roosevelt became president upon McKinley's assassination, Taft would turn down multiple offers to join the Supreme Court so he could finish his work in the Philippines. As Secretary of War, his masterful administrative skills and lovable personality made him Roosevelt's closest advisor and chosen successor for the presidency in 1908. Though Taft still yearned for the Supreme Court, he found himself as our nation's 27th President. He quietly built an impressive record of tariff reform, fiscal responsibility, conservation, antitrust enforcement, and international economic expansion via "Dollar Diplomacy." But his judicial temperament lacked finely-tuned political instincts, and he lost the confidence of the growing progressive wing of the Republican party--which turned to the increasingly radical Roosevelt to challenge Taft in the 1912 election, splitting the party and handing the presidency to the Democrats. Taft went on to serve as a law professor at Yale until 1921, when President Harding floored him with an offer to become Chief Justice of the United States. Finally ensconced in his dream job, Taft would transform the federal judiciary like no Chief Justice since the great John Marshall.
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