188 Facts About William Howard Taft


William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States and the tenth chief justice of the United States, the only person to have held both offices.

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In 1921, President Warren G Harding appointed Taft to be chief justice, a position he held until a month before his death.

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William Howard Taft's father, Alphonso Taft, was a US attorney general and secretary of war.

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William Howard Taft attended Yale and joined the Skull and Bones, of which his father was a founding member.

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William Howard Taft continued a rapid rise, being named solicitor general and a judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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In 1901, President William McKinley appointed Taft civilian governor of the Philippines.

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William Howard Taft sought reductions to trade tariffs, then a major source of governmental income, but the resulting bill was heavily influenced by special interests.

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William Howard Taft's administration was filled with conflict between the Republican Party's conservative wing, with which Taft often sympathized, and its progressive wing, toward which Roosevelt moved more and more.

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Controversies over conservation and antitrust cases filed by the William Howard Taft administration served to further separate the two men.

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William Howard Taft used his control of the party machinery to gain a bare majority of delegates and Roosevelt bolted the party.

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Chief Justice William Howard Taft was a conservative on business issues, and under him there were advances in individual rights.

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William Howard Taft was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the first president and first Supreme Court justice to be interred there.

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William Howard Taft is generally listed near the middle in historians' rankings of US presidents.

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William Howard Taft was born September 15,1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Alphonso Taft and Louise Torrey.

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The William Howard Taft family was not wealthy, living in a modest home in the suburb of Mount Auburn.

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William Taft was not seen as brilliant as a child, but was a hard worker; his demanding parents pushed him and his four brothers toward success, tolerating nothing less.

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At Yale College, which he entered in 1874, the heavyset, jovial William Howard Taft was popular and an intramural heavyweight wrestling champion.

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William Howard Taft attended Cincinnati Law School, and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1880.

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William Howard Taft was assigned to cover the local courts, and spent time reading law in his father's office; both activities gave him practical knowledge of the law that was not taught in class.

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Shortly before graduating from law school, William Howard Taft went to Columbus to take the bar examination and easily passed.

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In October 1880, William Howard Taft was appointed assistant prosecutor for Hamilton County, and took office the following January.

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William Howard Taft served for a year as assistant prosecutor, trying his share of routine cases.

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William Howard Taft resigned in January 1882 after President Chester A Arthur appointed him Collector of Internal Revenue for Ohio's First District, an area centered on Cincinnati.

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William Howard Taft refused to dismiss competent employees who were politically out of favor, and resigned effective in March 1883, writing to Arthur that he wished to begin private practice in Cincinnati.

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In 1884, Taft campaigned for the Republican candidate for president, Maine Senator James G Blaine, who lost to New York Governor Grover Cleveland.

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William Howard Taft ruled that the union's action amounted to a secondary boycott, which was illegal.

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William Taft remained devoted to his wife throughout their almost 44 years of marriage.

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Nellie William Howard Taft pushed her husband much as his parents had, and she could be very frank with her criticisms.

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William Howard Taft was 32 and his professional goal was always a seat on the Supreme Court.

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William Howard Taft actively sought the appointment, writing to Foraker to urge the governor to press his case, while stating to others it was unlikely he would get it.

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When William Howard Taft arrived in Washington in February 1890, the office had been vacant for two months, with the work piling up.

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William Howard Taft worked to eliminate the backlog, while simultaneously educating himself on federal law and procedure he had not needed as an Ohio state judge.

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Nellie William Howard Taft was ambitious for herself and her husband, and was annoyed when the people he socialized with most were mainly Supreme Court justices, rather than the arbiters of Washington society such as Theodore Roosevelt, John Hay, Henry Cabot Lodge and their wives.

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In 1891, William Howard Taft introduced a new policy: confession of error, by which the US government would concede a case in the Supreme Court that it had won in the court below but that the solicitor general thought it should have lost.

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In March 1892, William Howard Taft resigned as Solicitor General to resume his judicial career.

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William Howard Taft's federal judgeship was a lifetime appointment, and one from which promotion to the Supreme Court might come.

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William Howard Taft's duties involved hearing trials in the circuit, which included Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and participating with Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, the circuit justice, and judges of the Sixth Circuit in hearing appeals.

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William Howard Taft spent these years, from 1892 to 1900, in personal and professional contentment.

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William Howard Taft supported the right of labor to organize and strike, and he ruled against employers in several negligence cases.

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In 1896, William Howard Taft became dean and Professor of Property at his alma mater, the Cincinnati Law School, a post that required him to prepare and give two hour-long lectures each week.

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William Howard Taft was devoted to his law school, and was deeply committed to legal education, introducing the case method to the curriculum.

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William Howard Taft watched with some disbelief as the campaign of Ohio Governor William McKinley developed in 1894 and 1895, writing "I cannot find anybody in Washington who wants him".

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William Howard Taft landed solidly in McKinley's camp after former Nebraska representative William Jennings Bryan in July stampeded the 1896 Democratic National Convention with his Cross of Gold speech.

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William Howard Taft feared that people would hoard gold in anticipation of a Bryan victory, but he could do nothing but worry.

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William Howard Taft was active in many organizations, was a leader in the worldwide arbitration movement, and taught international law at the Yale Law School.

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William Howard Taft hoped a Supreme Court appointment was in the works, but instead McKinley wanted to place William Howard Taft on the commission to organize a civilian government in the Philippines.

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William Howard Taft accepted on condition he was made head of the commission, with responsibility for success or failure; McKinley agreed, and William Howard Taft sailed for the islands in April 1900.

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William Howard Taft sought to make the Filipinos partners in a venture that would lead to their self-government; he saw independence as something decades off.

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Many Americans in the Philippines viewed the locals as racial inferiors, but William Howard Taft wrote soon before his arrival, "we propose to banish this idea from their minds".

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William Howard Taft did not impose racial segregation at official events, and treated the Filipinos as social equals.

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Nellie William Howard Taft recalled that "neither politics nor race should influence our hospitality in any way".

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William Howard Taft had, after McKinley's election, urged the appointment of Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and watched as Roosevelt became a war hero, Governor of New York, and Vice President of the United States.

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William Howard Taft wanted Filipino farmers to have a stake in the new government through land ownership, but much of the arable land was held by Catholic religious orders of mostly Spanish priests, which were often resented by the Filipinos.

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Roosevelt had William Howard Taft go to Rome to negotiate with Pope Leo XIII, to purchase the lands and to arrange the withdrawal of the Spanish priests, with Americans replacing them and training locals as clergy.

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William Howard Taft did not succeed in resolving these issues on his visit to Rome, but an agreement on both points was made in 1903.

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In late 1902, William Howard Taft had heard from Roosevelt that a seat on the Supreme Court would soon fall vacant on the resignation of Justice George Shiras, and Roosevelt desired that William Howard Taft fill it.

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When William Howard Taft took office as Secretary of War in January 1904, he was not called upon to spend much time administering the army, which the president was content to do himself—Roosevelt wanted William Howard Taft as a troubleshooter in difficult situations, as a legal adviser, and to be able to give campaign speeches as he sought election in his own right.

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Between 1905 and 1907, William Howard Taft came to terms with the likelihood he would be the next Republican nominee for president, though he did not plan to actively campaign for it.

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Alternatively, William Howard Taft wanted to be chief justice, and kept a close eye on the health of the aging incumbent, Melville Fuller, who turned 75 in 1908.

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William Howard Taft journeyed to Panama in 1904, viewing the canal site and meeting with Panamanian officials.

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William Howard Taft traveled to Cuba with a small American force, and on September 29,1906, under the terms of the Cuban–American Treaty of Relations of 1903, declared himself Provisional Governor of Cuba, a post he held for two weeks before being succeeded by Charles Edward Magoon.

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William Howard Taft expressed unwillingness to change his position, and threatened to resign; Roosevelt hastily dropped the matter.

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William Howard Taft returned to the islands in 1905, leading a delegation of congressmen, and again in 1907, to open the first Philippine Assembly.

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Roosevelt believed William Howard Taft was his logical successor, although the War Secretary was initially reluctant to run.

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Yet Taft did not have things his own way: he had hoped his running mate would be a midwestern progressive like Iowa Senator Jonathan Dolliver, but instead the convention named Congressman James S Sherman of New York, a conservative.

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William Howard Taft was only willing to see the contributions disclosed after the election, and tried to ensure that officers and directors of corporations litigating with the government were not among his contributors.

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William Howard Taft began the campaign on the wrong foot, fueling the arguments of those who said he was not his own man by traveling to Roosevelt's home at Sagamore Hill for advice on his acceptance speech, saying that he needed "the President's judgment and criticism".

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William Howard Taft argued that labor had a right to organize, but not boycott, and that corporations and the wealthy must obey the law.

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Bryan wanted the railroads to be owned by the government, but William Howard Taft preferred that they remain in the private sector, with their maximum rates set by the Interstate Commerce Commission, subject to judicial review.

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William Howard Taft attributed blame for the recent recession, the Panic of 1907, to stock speculation and other abuses, and felt some reform of the currency was needed to allow flexibility in the government's response to poor economic times, that specific legislation on trusts was needed to supplement the Sherman Antitrust Act, and that the constitution should be amended to allow for an income tax, thus overruling decisions of the Supreme Court striking such a tax down.

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Roosevelt's expansive use of executive power had been controversial; William Howard Taft proposed to continue his policies, but place them on more solid legal underpinnings through the passage of legislation.

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Bryan urged a system of bank guarantees, so that depositors could be repaid if banks failed, but William Howard Taft opposed this, offering a postal savings system instead.

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William Howard Taft defeated Bryan by 321 electoral votes to 162; however, he garnered just 51.

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William Howard Taft pledged to make those reforms long-lasting, ensuring that honest businessmen did not suffer uncertainty through change of policy.

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William Howard Taft spoke of the need for reduction of the 1897 Dingley Tariff, for antitrust reform, and for continued advancement of the Philippines toward full self-government.

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Roosevelt left office with regret that his tenure in the position he enjoyed so much was over and, to keep out of William Howard Taft's way, arranged for a year-long hunting trip to Africa.

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William Howard Taft kept only Agriculture Secretary James Wilson and Postmaster General George von Lengerke Meyer.

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William Howard Taft did not enjoy the easy relationship with the press that Roosevelt had, choosing not to offer himself for interviews or photo opportunities as often as his predecessor had.

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William Howard Taft's administration marked a change in style from the charismatic leadership of Roosevelt to Taft's quieter passion for the rule of law.

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William Howard Taft spent several hours each day looking after her and teaching her to speak again, which took a year.

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The defense of the Panama Canal, which was under construction throughout William Howard Taft's term, guided United States foreign policy in the Caribbean and Central America.

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Previous administrations had made efforts to promote American business interests overseas, but William Howard Taft went a step further and used the web of American diplomats and consuls abroad to further trade.

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William Howard Taft pushed for arbitration treaties with Great Britain and France, but the Senate was not willing to yield to arbitrators its constitutional prerogative to approve treaties.

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At the time of William Howard Taft's presidency, protectionism through the use of tariffs was a fundamental position of the Republican Party.

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William Howard Taft called a special session of Congress to convene on March 15,1909 to deal with the tariff question.

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William Howard Taft insisted that most imports from the Philippines be free of duty, and according to Anderson, showed effective leadership on a subject he was knowledgeable on and cared about.

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When opponents sought to modify the tariff bill to allow for an income tax, William Howard Taft opposed it on the ground that the Supreme Court would likely strike it down as unconstitutional, as it had before.

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Britain at that time still handled Canada's foreign relations, and William Howard Taft found the British and Canadian governments willing.

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When William Howard Taft entered office, Mexico was increasingly restless under the grip of longtime dictator Porfirio Diaz.

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William Howard Taft told his military aide, Archibald Butt, that "I am going to sit on the lid and it will take a great deal to pry me off".

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William Howard Taft showed his support for Diaz by meeting with him at El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the first meeting between a US and a Mexican president and the first time an American president visited Mexico.

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William Howard Taft was against an aggressive response and so instructed the territorial governor.

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The country remained unstable, and after another coup in 1911 and more disturbances in 1912, William Howard Taft sent troops to begin the United States occupation of Nicaragua, which lasted until 1933.

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William Howard Taft considered relations with Europe relatively unimportant, but because of the potential for trade and investment, William Howard Taft ranked the post of minister to China as most important in the Foreign Service.

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William Howard Taft appealed personally to the Prince Regent, Zaifeng, Prince Chun, and was successful in gaining US participation, though agreements were not signed until May 1911.

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William Howard Taft continued the policy against immigration from China and Japan as under Roosevelt.

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William Howard Taft was opposed to the traditional practice of rewarding wealthy supporters with key ambassadorial posts, preferring that diplomats not live in a lavish lifestyle and selecting men who, as William Howard Taft put it, would recognize an American when they saw one.

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William Howard Taft was a supporter of settling international disputes by arbitration, and he negotiated treaties with Great Britain and with France providing that differences be arbitrated.

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William Howard Taft continued and expanded Roosevelt's efforts to break up business combinations through lawsuits brought under the Sherman Antitrust Act, bringing 70 cases in four years.

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The pleadings in the case had not been reviewed by William Howard Taft, and alleged that Roosevelt "had fostered monopoly, and had been duped by clever industrialists".

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William Howard Taft sent a special message to Congress on the need for a revamped antitrust statute when it convened its regular session in December 1911, but it took no action.

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Supporters of William Howard Taft alleged that Roosevelt had acted improperly; the former president blasted William Howard Taft for waiting three and a half years, and until he was under challenge, to reverse a decision he had supported.

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William Howard Taft agreed with the need for conservation, but felt it should be accomplished by legislation rather than executive order.

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Roosevelt was surprised at the replacement, believing that William Howard Taft had promised to keep Garfield, and this change was one of the events that caused Roosevelt to realize that William Howard Taft would choose different policies.

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On September 13,1909 Taft dismissed Glavis from government service, relying on a report from Attorney General George W Wickersham dated two days previously.

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Pinchot was determined to dramatize the issue by forcing his own dismissal, which William Howard Taft tried to avoid, fearing that it might cause a break with Roosevelt.

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William Howard Taft asked Elihu Root to look into the matter, and Root urged the firing of Pinchot.

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William Howard Taft had ordered government officials not to comment on the fracas.

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In January 1910, Pinchot forced the issue by sending a letter to Iowa Senator Dolliver alleging that but for the actions of the Forestry Service, William Howard Taft would have approved a fraudulent claim on public lands.

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William Howard Taft announced in his inaugural address that he would not appoint African Americans to federal jobs, such as postmaster, where this would cause racial friction.

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William Howard Taft followed through, removing most black office holders in the South, and made few appointments of African Americans in the North.

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At the time William Howard Taft was inaugurated, the way forward for African Americans was debated by their leaders.

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William Howard Taft thus failed to see or follow the humanitarian mission historically associated with the Republican party, with the result that Negroes both North and South began to drift toward the Democratic party.

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William Howard Taft, a Unitarian, was a leader in the early 20th century of the favorable reappraisal of Catholicism's historic role.

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William Howard Taft praised the "enterprise, courage, and fidelity to duty that distinguished those heroes of Spain who braved the then frightful dangers of the deep to carry Christianity and European civilization into" the Philippines.

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Supporter of free immigration, William Howard Taft vetoed a bill passed by Congress and supported by labor unions that would have restricted unskilled laborers by imposing a literacy test.

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William Howard Taft chose an old friend and colleague from the Sixth Circuit, Horace H Lurton of Georgia; he had in vain urged Theodore Roosevelt to appoint Lurton to the high court.

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William Howard Taft named Lurton anyway on December 13,1909, and the Senate confirmed him by voice vote a week later.

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William Howard Taft told Hughes that should the chief justiceship fall vacant during his term, Hughes would be his likely choice for the center seat.

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William Howard Taft took five months to replace Fuller, and when he did, it was with Justice Edward Douglass White, who became the first associate justice to be promoted to chief justice.

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William Howard Taft appointed 13 judges to the federal courts of appeal and 38 to the United States district courts.

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William Howard Taft appointed judges to various specialized courts, including the first five appointees each to the United States Commerce Court and the United States Court of Customs Appeals.

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William Howard Taft vetoed a bill to abolish the court, but the respite was short-lived as Woodrow Wilson signed similar legislation in October 1913.

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Nevertheless, he wrote that he expected William Howard Taft to be renominated by the Republicans in 1912, and did not speak of himself as a candidate.

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Stanley Solvick argues that William Howard Taft abided by the goals and procedures of the "Square Deal" that Roosevelt promoted in his first term.

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William Howard Taft was reluctant to oppose Roosevelt, who helped make him president, but having become president, he was determined to be president, and that meant not standing aside to allow Roosevelt to gain another term.

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One blow to William Howard Taft was the loss of Archibald Butt, one of the last links between the previous and present presidents, as Butt had formerly served Roosevelt.

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William Howard Taft had control of the party machinery, and it came as no surprise that he gained the bulk of the delegates decided at district or state conventions.

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William Howard Taft did not have a majority, but was likely to have one once southern delegations committed to him.

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William Howard Taft followed custom and remained in Washington, but Roosevelt went to Chicago to run his campaign and told his supporters in a speech, "we stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord".

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William Howard Taft had won over Root, who agreed to run for temporary chairman of the convention, and the delegates elected Root over Roosevelt's candidate.

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William Howard Taft's name was placed in nomination by Warren Harding, whose attempts to praise William Howard Taft and unify the party were met with angry interruptions from progressives.

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William Howard Taft was nominated on the first ballot, though most Roosevelt delegates refused to vote.

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William Howard Taft had difficulty in financing the campaign, as many industrialists had concluded he could not win, and would support Wilson to block Roosevelt.

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William Howard Taft had hoped to send his cabinet officers out on the campaign trail, but found them reluctant to go.

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William Howard Taft was not on the ballot in California, due to the actions of local Progressives, nor in South Dakota.

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William Howard Taft accepted, and after a month's vacation in Georgia, arrived in New Haven on April 1,1913 to a rapturous reception.

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William Howard Taft had been made president of the Lincoln Memorial Commission while still in office; when Democrats proposed removing him for one of their party, he quipped that unlike losing the presidency, such a removal would hurt.

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William Howard Taft lobbied for the western stone, and the matter was submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts, which supported William Howard Taft and Bacon.

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The project went forward; William Howard Taft would dedicate the Lincoln Memorial as chief justice in 1922.

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In 1913, William Howard Taft was elected to a one-year term as president of the American Bar Association, a trade group of lawyers.

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William Howard Taft was appalled when, after Justice Lamar's death in January 1916, Wilson nominated Brandeis, whom the former president had never forgiven for his role in the Ballinger–Pinchot affair.

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When hearings led to nothing discreditable about Brandeis, William Howard Taft intervened with a letter signed by himself and other former ABA presidents, stating that Brandeis was not fit to serve on the Supreme Court.

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William Howard Taft supported the effort to get Justice Hughes to resign from the bench and accept the Republican presidential nomination.

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In March 1917, William Howard Taft demonstrated public support for the war effort by joining the Connecticut State Guard, a state defense force organized to carry out the state duties of the Connecticut National Guard while the National Guard served on active duty.

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When Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany in April 1917, William Howard Taft was an enthusiastic supporter; he was chairman of the American Red Cross' executive committee, which occupied much of the former president's time.

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William Howard Taft was the leader of his party's activist wing, and was opposed by a small group of senators who vigorously opposed the League.

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William Howard Taft was among those asked to come to the president-elect's home in Marion, Ohio to advise him on appointments, and the two men conferred there on December 24,1920.

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William Howard Taft had a condition for Harding—having served as president, and having appointed two of the present associate justices and opposed Brandeis, he could accept only the chief justice position.

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In January 1921, William Howard Taft heard through intermediaries that Harding planned to appoint him, if given the chance.

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William Howard Taft issued a tribute to the man he had appointed to the center seat, and waited and worried if he would be White's successor.

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William Howard Taft was lobbying for himself behind the scenes, especially with the Ohio politicians who formed Harding's inner circle.

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William Howard Taft felt, when he learned of this plan, that a short-term appointment would not serve the office well, and that once confirmed by the Senate, the memory of Day would grow dim.

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William Howard Taft drew the objections of three progressive Republicans and one southern Democrat.

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Supreme Court under William Howard Taft compiled a conservative record in Commerce Clause jurisprudence.

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William Howard Taft held that the tax was not intended to raise revenue, but rather was an attempt to regulate matters reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment, and that allowing such taxation would eliminate the power of the states.

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Case in which the Taft Court struck down regulation that generated a dissent from the chief justice was Adkins v Children's Hospital.

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In 1922, Taft ruled for a unanimous court in Balzac v Porto Rico.

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William Howard Taft held that as Puerto Rico was not a territory designated for statehood, only such constitutional protections as Congress decreed would apply to its residents.

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William Howard Taft noted that there is no restriction of the president's power to remove officials in the Constitution.

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In 1925, the William Howard Taft Court laid the groundwork for the incorporation of many of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to be applied against the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

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William Howard Taft alleged the second prosecution violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

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William Howard Taft exercised the power of his position to influence the decisions of his colleagues, urging unanimity and discouraging dissents.

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William Howard Taft saw nothing wrong with making his views on possible appointments to the Court known to the White House, and was annoyed to be criticized in the press.

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William Howard Taft was initially a firm supporter of President Coolidge after Harding's death in 1923, but became disillusioned with Coolidge's appointments to office and to the bench; he had similar misgivings about Coolidge's successor, Herbert Hoover.

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William Howard Taft advised the Republican presidents in office while he was chief justice to avoid "offside" appointments like Brandeis and Holmes.

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Nevertheless, by 1923, William Howard Taft was writing of his liking for Brandeis, whom he deemed a hard worker, and Holmes walked to work with him until age and infirmity required an automobile.

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Immediately on taking office, William Howard Taft made it a priority to confer with Attorney General Daugherty as to new legislation, and made his case before congressional hearings, in legal periodicals and in speeches across the country.

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Congress objected to some aspects, requiring William Howard Taft to get the agreement of the senior judge of each involved circuit before assigning a judge, but it passed the bill in September 1922, and the Judicial Conference of Senior Circuit Judges held its first meeting that December.

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William Howard Taft believed an appeal should usually be settled by the circuit court, with only cases of major import decided by the justices.

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When William Howard Taft became Chief Justice, the Court did not have its own building and met in the Capitol.

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In 1925, William Howard Taft began a fight to get the Court a building, and two years later Congress appropriated money to purchase the land, on the south side of the Capitol.

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William Howard Taft had hoped to live to see the Court move into the new building, but it did not do so until 1935, after William Howard Taft's death.

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At Hoover's inauguration on March 4,1929, William Howard Taft recited part of the oath incorrectly, later writing, "my memory is not always accurate and one sometimes becomes a little uncertain", misquoting again in that letter, differently.

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William Howard Taft insisted on going to Cincinnati to attend the funeral of his brother Charles, who died on December 31,1929; the strain did not improve his own health.

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William Howard Taft was afraid that Stone would be made chief justice; he did not resign until he had secured assurances from Hoover that Hughes would be the choice.

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William Howard Taft died at his home in Washington DC on March 8,1930 at age 72, likely of heart disease, inflammation of the liver, and high blood pressure.

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Lurie argued that William Howard Taft did not receive the public credit for his policies that he should have.

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William Howard Taft similarly remains known for another physical characteristic—as the last president with facial hair to date.

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Coletta deemed William Howard Taft to have had a solid record of bills passed by Congress, but felt he could have accomplished more with political skill.

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Inevitably linked with Roosevelt, William Howard Taft generally falls in the shadow of the flamboyant Rough Rider, who chose him to be president, and who took it away.

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William Howard Taft was generally slow to act, and when he did, his actions often generated enemies, as in the Ballinger–Pinchot affair.

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Roosevelt was able to secure positive coverage in the newspapers; William Howard Taft had a judge's reticence in talking to reporters, and, with no comment from the White House, hostile journalists would supply the want with a quote from a William Howard Taft opponent.

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William Howard Taft replied to his predecessor's criticism with his constitutional treatise on the powers of the presidency.

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Lurie catalogued progressive innovations that took place under William Howard Taft, and argued that historians have overlooked them because William Howard Taft was not an effective political writer or speaker.

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William Howard Taft has been rated among the greatest of the chief justices; later Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noted that this was "not so much on the basis of his opinions, perhaps because many of them ran counter to the ultimate sweep of history".

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William Howard Taft was named one of the first Gold Medal Honorees of the National Institute of Social Sciences.

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William Howard Taft's son Robert was a significant political figure, becoming Senate Majority Leader and three times a major contender for the Republican nomination for president.

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