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September 24, 2018

Sandra Scott Travels: Learn About The Life Of William Howard Taft


Last week I asked: What president got stuck in the bathtub?

William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft

The 27th U.S. president, William Howard Taft, who weighed 355 pounds, supposedly got stuck in the White House bathtub.

It is open to conjecture; but, he did have an extra-large tub installed in the White House that could hold four ordinary men.

When John and I were in Cincinnati, we visited the house where Taft was born.

It is now a National Park.

I have to admit, we didn’t know very much about Taft.

Taft historical site

Taft historical site

But, during our tour of his house and the adjacent museum my ambivalence turned to respect for him.

Taft was raised to consider civic service as an important part of his life.

However, he never wanted to be president.

His goal was to sit on the Supreme Court because as he said, “Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”

Even though Taft served the government in many positions including Secretary of State under President Teddy Roosevelt he did not want to run for the presidency.

Taft's early public service career.

Taft’s early public service career.

He was encouraged by his wife and others to run.

He didn’t like campaigning, but did travel across the United States making 259 speeches.

An observer in Minnesota, after listening to one of his speeches, commented, “I knew he was good-natured but I never dreamed he was so dull.”

In photos of him he usually is smiling and even has twinkle a in his eye.

He defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan and promised to carry on Teddy Roosevelt’s program of progressive reforms.

campaign financing

Campaign financing

Taft felt big corporations were influencing politics to their own end. Sounds familiar a hundred years later.

Even though there was a falling out between Roosevelt and Taft, Roosevelt said of Taft, “I have always said you would be the greatest president bar Washington and Lincoln…”

Theodore Roosevelt is known as the “Trust Buster” but Taft implemented tougher anti-trust legislation.

It was the beginning of Dollar Diplomacy, ensuring the financial stability of a region while protecting and strengthening United States commercial and financial interests there.

Taft served as chief justice until his death in 1930.

He wrote 253 opinions, or about one-sixth of all decisions handed down during his term.

Most of his decisions were cautiously conservative.

He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Taft house

Taft house

Taft and John F. Kennedy are the only Presidents buried at Arlington.

Taft was the first President to take up golf.

Some western voters thought his golf playing indecent if not immoral.

His love for the sport caused a golf boom in the nation, doubling the number of players on public courses.

Taft’s affection for golf also caused political problems during his presidency, when critics thought he would do well to spend less time on the links and more time at work in the White House.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

The museum has an animatronic of his son who shares wonderful personal memories of his father.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Ohio likes to lay claim to having the most presidents (eight) with deep roots in Ohio: William Henry Harrison, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft and Warren Harding.

We have visited the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor.

We will have to make a point to visit the President Hayes Presidential Center, the Harding Home, Grant’s boyhood home and McKinley presidential Library and Museum along with the burial sites of the Harrisons.

In Canton there is a First Ladies Museum that should be interesting.

Travel Trivia Tease™: Where can one learn about oil exploration?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!

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