More of Don's
Presidents' Places: William Howard Taft
William Howard ("Bill") Taft was born in this house in Cincinnati, Ohio. Needless to say, the family was quite well-to-do. They were well-educated, intellectual, progressive, and independent.
As you can see, this is a very nice house indeed. All of the Tafts were studious, and they also played sports and were very active. As a result of a fall from a horse, Bill lost control of his appetite and just could not stop eating. As he grew older, he became inactive. He would eat a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, and piles of pancakes for breakfast, leaving him drowsy for most of the morning (to put it mildly).
William Howard Taft attended this congregation (at a different location), the First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati, until he left home. This particular building was not built until Taft had left for college, but he attended here after college, during law school, and during his years in Cincinnati as an attorney, apparently.
This is a pretty nice building, as you can see. Only four presidents have been members of Unitarian churches: the Adamses, Fillmore, and Taft. Jefferson is sometimes said to have been a Unitarian, and Lincoln is sometimes said to have been one too, with even less evidence. You might like to read my article on the subject.
The Rose Window;
photo © First UU Church
of Cincinnati, Ohio
In Washington, D.C., Taft attended the Unitarian Church there; his wife was Episcopal, and she raised their children in that faith.
During his presidency, he took up golf, which helped him physically, but which also put him in contact with rich businessmen, thus ending his progressive attitude. He even vetoed a bill limiting child labor.
Bill Taft is the only President who later served as Chief Justice.
The Taft Education Center has Charlie Taft, Bill's younger son, telling stories. Actually, he's a robot; you push a button and he'll tell you a story. Very clever.
Bill's children, Robert, Helen, and Charles, became very successful and highly accomplished in their own right: Robert as a Senator, Helen as a college dean and college president, and Charles as a political reformer. The family has carried on the political tradition: Robert's son became a Senator, and as of 2004, William Howard Taft's great grandson, Bob Taft, is Governor of Ohio.
Bill must have hated this photo; not too flattering.