William Howard Taft
WHO S/HE WAS:
William Howard Taft was the twenty-seventh President of the United States, a Republican and later the 10th Chief Justice of the United States. In his first and only term, President Taft's domestic agenda emphasized trust-busting, civil service reform, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, improving the performance of the postal service, and passage of the Sixteenth Amendment. Abroad, Taft sought to further the economic development of undeveloped nations in Latin America and Asia through the method he termed "Dollar Diplomacy." However, Taft often alienated his own key constituencies, and was overwhelmingly defeated in his bid for a second term in the presidential election of 1912. President Harding appointed Taft Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a position he held until just before his death in 1930. To Taft, the appointment was his greatest honor; reflecting:
WHAT S/HE SAID:
I don't remember that I ever was President.
WHY S/HE MATTERED:
Taft was warm-hearted and kind, but ill-suited for the trials of the executive office. His indecisiveness and lack of leadership lead some historians to consider his presidency a failure.