William Howard Taft

Media Items
Personal Information
Tuesday, September 15, 1857
Saturday, March 8, 1930
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Chief Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Thursday, June 30, 1921
Sworn In 
Monday, July 11, 1921
Left Office 
Monday, February 3, 1930
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
8 years, 6 months, 23 days
William Howard Taft
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Ernest Ludwig Ipsen)

William Howard Taft came from a distinguished Ohio family. He was eduated at Yale where he was the class salutatorian. He studied at Cincinnati Law School and was admitted to the bar at age 23. Taft quickly became involved in Republican politics. By the time he was 30, he had been appointed to the Ohio Superior Court. He remained there three years when President Benjamin Harrison appointed Taft as his solicitor general. Two years later, Harrison nominated Taft to be a federal appellate judge.

Taft enjoyed his experience on the bench and left reluctantly to become civilian governor of the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Three years later, President Theodore Roosevelt named Taft as his secretary of war. Taft's influence in the Republican Party increased to the point that he was nominated as the the party's presidential candidate in 1908. He won, but it was not the office he sought. Above all, Taft aspired to be chief justice of the United States.

Taft served only one term as president. He was renominated in 1912, but his former ally, Theodore Roosevelt, split off to launch his own candidacy under the banner of the Bull Moose Party. The result divided the Republican vote and Woodrow Wilson (the Democratic candidate) was elected.

Taft's long-held wish came true in 1921 when President Warren Harding selected Taft to replace Edward D. White as chief justice.

Clerk Law School Terms Clerked
Edwin McElwain 1938
Reynolds Robertson 1929
C. Dickerman Williams Yale (1924) 1924
John J. Byrne 1921, 1922
Wendell Mischler 1921, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929

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William Howard Taft. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_howard_taft>.
William Howard Taft, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_howard_taft (last visited August 26, 2015).
"William Howard Taft," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_howard_taft.