He was the only U.S. president to also serve as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He had previously been appointed by President McKinley as the first governor of the Philippines, 1901-04, after the Spanish-American War. He was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as secretary of war, 1904-08.
The largest president, weighing over 300 pounds, a bathtub was installed for him in the White House big enough to hold four men. His name was William Howard Taft, and he was born Sept. 15, 1857.
In his inaugural address as the 27th U.S. president, William Howard Taft stated, March 4, 1909: “I invoke the considerate sympathy and support of my fellow citizens and the aid of the Almighty God in the discharge of my responsible duties.”
President Taft stated in a national day of Thanksgiving proclamation, Nov. 15, 1909: “The people of the United States are wont to meet in their usual places of worship on a day of thanksgiving appointed by the Civil Magistrate to return thanks to God for the great mercies and benefits which they have enjoyed. During the past year we have been highly blessed. … It is altogether fitting that we should humbly and gratefully acknowledge the Divine Source of these blessings. … I hereby appoint … a day of general thanksgiving, and I call upon the people on that day, laying aside their usual vocations, to repair to their churches and unite in appropriate services of praise and thanks to Almighty God.”
President William Howard Taft proclaimed, Nov. 5, 1910: “These blessings have not descended upon us in restricted measure, but overflow and abound. They are the blessings and bounty of God. … In accordance with the wise custom of the civil magistrate since the first settlements in this land and with the rule established from the foundation of this Government … do appoint … a day of National Thanksgiving and Prayer, enjoining the people upon that day to meet in their churches for the praise of Almighty God and to return heartfelt thanks to Him for all His goodness and loving-kindness.”
Taft stated, as recorded in Donald F. Anderson’s “William Howard Taft: A Conservative’s Conception of the Presidency” (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973): “The President can exercise no power which cannot fairly be traced to some specific grant of power in the Constitution or act of Congress.”
In 1912, Taft created the United States Chamber of Commerce to counterbalance the labor movement. Taft met with Booker T. Washington and encouraged his program for uplifting of the black Americans through education and entrepreneurship.
On Thanksgiving, Nov. 7, 1912, President Taft proclaimed: “A God-fearing nation, like ours, owes it to its inborn and sincere sense of moral duty to testify its devout gratitude to the All-Giver for the countless benefits its has enjoyed. For many years it has been customary at the close of the year for the national Executive to call upon his fellow countrymen to offer praise and thanks to God for the manifold blessings vouchsafed to them. … I, William Howard Taft, President of the United States of America, in pursuance of long-established usage and in response to the wish of the American people, invite my countrymen … to join … in appropriate ascription of praise and thanks to God for the good gifts that have been our portion, and in humble prayer that His great mercies toward us may endure.”
In his annual message, Dec. 6, 1912, William Howard Taft stated: “We would go as far as any nation in the world to avoid war, but we are a world power, our responsibilities in the Pacific and the Atlantic, our defense of the Panama Canal, together with our enormous world trade and our Missionary outposts on the frontiers of civilization, require us to recognize our position as one of the foremost in the family of nations, and to clothe ourselves with sufficient naval power to give force to our reasonable demands, and to give weight to our influence in those directions of progress that a powerful Christian nation should advocate.”
In 1913, Taft became a professor at Yale Law School and president of the American Bar Association.
In 1921, William Howard Taft was appointed chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, where he gave the oath of office to subsequent Presidents Calvin Coolidge (1925) and Herbert Hoover (1929).
Taft united the federal court system for the first time under the administrative supervision of the chief justice. In 1929, Taft promoted the Supreme Court move from the Capitol’s basement into its own building, which was completed in 1935.
At a missionary conference, 1908, William Howard Taft stated: “No man can study the movement of modern civilization from an impartial standpoint and not realize that Christianity, and the spread of Christianity, are the basis of hope of modern civilization in the growth of popular self government. The spirit of Christianity is pure democracy. It is equality of man before God – the equality of man before the law, which is the most God-like manifestation that man has been able to make.”
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