William was born on September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, OH. He graduated from Yale College Phi Beta Kappa in 1878 and from Cincinnati Law School in 1880. He worked in a number of local legal positions until being appointed an Ohio Supreme Court Judge in 1887. In 1890, he was appointed Solicitor General of the United States and in 1891 a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft Governor-General of the Philippines. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt, then a political ally of Taft, appointed Taft Secretary of War to groom Taft as his successor to the presidency.
Riding a wave of popular support of President (and fellow Republican) Theodore Roosevelt, Taft won an easy victory in his 1908 bid for the presidency.
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.
After leaving office, Taft spent his time in academia, arbitration, and the search for world peace through his self-founded League to Enforce Peace. In 1921, after the First World War, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft Chief Justice of the United States. Taft served in this capacity until shortly before his death in 1930.
Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the 10th Chief Justice of the United States. He is the only person to have served in both offices.