William Howard Taft was elected as the 27th president of the United States in 1909 and became the tenth chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1921. It is a feat that only he has attained in the rest of U.S. History. Take a look at how he fared as a child, and how his future already became a promising one even as a child.
The Birth of William Howard Taft
On the 15th day of September in 1857, William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Alphonso Taft, and Louisa Maria “Louise” Torrey. His father was a renowned attorney that served as the U.S. Secretary of War and U.S Attorney General under Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency and later worked as Minister to Austria-Hungary and Russia under Chester A. Arthur’s government. Though their family was not wealthy, they lived modestly in the suburb district of Mt. Auburn. But, it wasn’t bleak that William was set to become a scion of his father’s prominence.
Early Years and Education
William was active as a child despite his tendency to getting obese. He took dances and has a passion for sports. Of all, he loved to play baseball and proved to be an excellent second baseman and an incredible hitter. While he was not seen at first to be a brilliant kid, William Taft was undoubtedly a hard worker.
He studied at Woodward High School, a distinguished private school in his home city. In 1874, he finished high school and ranked second in his class, getting a 91.5 out of 100 in his four-year stay in the academy.
Yale University’s photograph of William Howard Taft
Following family tradition, William went to Yale University in Connecticut. While he loved sports, his father advised him not to engage in any form of athletics so that it won’t halt his academic progress. But, he still became a wrestling champion in the intramurals and was known for his ‘collar and bone’ type of wrestling. His classmates described William as a cheerful person who thrived through hard work and integrity rather than sheer intelligence.
Again, he finished as a salutatorian among his class. William returned to Cincinnati to study in The Cincinnati Law School (which later on merged with the University of Cincinnati) and earned his law degree. William then worked for The Cincinnati Commercial newspaper as a part-time courthouse reporter. He was tasked to document local courts, while also devoting time reading about law at his father’s office. Both experiences were valuable in helping him gain practical knowledge outside the four corners of the classroom. William passed the Ohio bar exams in May 1880 with ease.
William grew up in a huge, intimate, yet vivifying family. His family was under the Unitarian Church that asserted that there is a God but did not believe in Christ’s divinity. He had a total of five siblings, two of which are half-brothers from his father’s first marriage and another two brothers plus a sister born by his mother.
Alphonso Taft, William’s Father
Louise Taft, William’s Mother
His father, Alphonso Taft, a well-revered lawyer, became William’s role model. Alphonso was kind, sensible, gentle, but always maintained his emotions under strict control. The Senior Taft was an active member of the Republican Party and served at the city council of Cincinnati. On the contrary, Alphonso had a liberal mindset of women’s rights, and motivated Louise, William’s mother, to have her independent ways and activities on her own intellectual inquisitiveness.
Louise was dynamic and adventurous. He established citywide and statewide kindergarten movements, book clubs, art associations, and joined her husband in his diplomatic endeavors. She took the family in directions other ones would not have drifted to.
Always Living In Fear
Alphonso and Louise, however, were both demanding parents. Throughout his academic career, William lived in imminent fear of not satisfying the expectations of his parents. Despite how excellent he performed, he was always apprehensive of their approval. Truth to be told, when he finished high school in 1874, he picked women’s suffrage as the subject of his ceremony address, discussing the progressive views of his parents. It was believed that William’s heavyset body could be traced down to his family anxieties. Nevertheless, it was what pushed William, and his other siblings towards attaining success, without tolerance for anything less.
The Promising Start
After passing the bar, William returned to The Cincinnati Commercial Newspapers and worked full-time. His editor, Murat Halstead, was very much willing to get him permanently for the job with an increased salary if he would forgo his law aspirations. However, William declined. In October 1880, William was designated to become the Hamilton County’s assistant prosecutor and started office in January the following year. William held the position for a year, sharing some of the routine cases. It was only the start of his fruitful career in law, which helped him reap all necessary experience and catapulted him to the Presidency almost two decades after.