William Howard Taft
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Arlington, Virginia June 11, 2004 7th Visited

A salute to William Howard Taft,
one of two presidents and twelve
Supreme Court justices interred
at Arlington National Cemetery.
He is the only person who has
served in both capacities.

Taft passed away just over a month after he
resigned from the Supreme Court. His death
occurred the same day as that of sitting
Associate Justice Edward Terry Sanford.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* William Howard Taft, a long term resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, was born in that city on September 15, 1857. Taft was an attendee of Yale University, which was known as Yale College in his day. He also went to law school, served on the Ohio Supreme Court, was the fifth United States solicitor general, and held numerous posts in both the executive and judiciary branches. Unfortunately, Taft is more commonly remembered because of his weight issues rather than his impressive achievements. America's heaviest president, Taft frequently weighed in at over 300 lbs, at one point reaching 332 lbs on the scale. Legend has it that the president was so large that he became lodged in the White House bathtub and was unable to get himself out. Eventually, a tub with the capacity of four grown men replaced the old one in order to accommodate the rotund commander-in-chief.

* One of Taft's most famous policies was called the Dollar Diplomacy. Basically, the idea of the policy was for the United States to focus on promoting itself through financial means, not by using its military. The Dollar Diplomacy was successful, but not completely. At one point, Taft was actually forced to go against his policy and use military force in Nicaragua. He dispatched a group of marines there in order to put an end to an uprising in 1912. Taft caught some flack for not following his policy and using the military to solve his problems. He was also criticized for playing golf with major businessmen, as people believed that he shouldn't spend his time with people thought to be money grubbing thieves. But what President Taft was most criticized for was that he was not acting like his friend, Theodore Roosevelt.

Eventually, the friendship between Taft and his mentor began to sour. Though Roosevelt and Taft were both Republicans, they found themselves siding with opposite factions within the GOP. Roosevelt was a member of the progressive side, which supported labor unions and highly opposed tariffs on imported goods. Taft's conservatives disagreed with basically all of the progressive faction's stances, and this created a major rift within the Republican Party. In 1912, former President Roosevelt chose to run for the presidency once again and retake the White House from William Howard Taft. The incumbent president won the Republican nomination, but Roosevelt was not out of the race yet. He became the candidate for the newly established Progressive Party, nicknamed "The Bull Moose Party". This did him no good, however. With the Republican Party split in two, it was no problem for Democrat Woodrow Wilson to swoop in and win the election.

* Taft finally got what was coming to him in 1921. That year, President Warren Harding appointed his predecessor to the Supreme Court. Not only that, but he became the head of the court, made possible by the death of Chief Justice Edward Douglass White. As this was what Taft had wanted for his entire life, he was thrilled beyond description. Chief Justice Taft was a big influence on the judicial branch. He advocated strongly for the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1925, which greatly diminished the amount of cases heard by the Supreme Court. Once the bill was passed, the Court was able to use discretion and only decide the verdict in cases deemed important enough for them to hear. After nine successful years, the only man to serve as both president and chief justice retired due to health problems.

First Lady: Helen Louise Herron Taft

  - Spouse: Helen Louise Herron Taft (m. 1886-1930)

Political Party:
Republican Party

Vice President:
James Schoolcraft Sherman (1909-1912)

Last Words:
"Good morning."

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