William Howard Taft National Historic Site is the birthplace of the nation’s 10th chief justice and 27th president.
Taft is remembered more for his hefty girth than his political accomplishments. He came into the White House during a contentious period in American history.
Taft studied law at Yale and practiced in Cincinnati before being named to the Federal Court in 1891. The son of a judge, he always hoped to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. But his career took a political detour.
In 1900, he served as chief civil administrator in the Philippines at the request of President McKinley. Theodore Roosevelt named him secretary of war, and hand-picked Taft to succeed him in the White House.
Taft was a skilled administrator, but not a natural politician. He angered his fellow Republicans, including his predecessor, by keeping tariffs high and allowing his secretary of the interior to abandon Roosevelt’s conservation program.
Meanwhile, Taft got little recognition for cracking down on monopolies, pushing through the federal income tax, and establishing the Interstate Commerce Commission. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt ran against him on the Progressive ticket, splitting the vote and ushering Woodrow Wilson into office.
His political career ended, Taft taught law at Yale before realizing his dream of being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
William Howard Taft National Historic Site includes a tour of his family home and exhibits about his career.