William Howard Taft ( September 15 , 1857 - March 8, 1930 ) was the 27th (1909 - 1913 ) President of the United States, and the 10th Chief Justice of the United States.
In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft chair of a commission to organize a civilian government in the Philippines which had been ceded to the United States at the close of the Spanish-American War. From 1901 to 1904 Taft served successfully as the first civilian governor of the Philippines. In 1904 Theodore Roosevelt named Taft as Secretary of War.
After serving nearly two full terms, popular Theodore Roosevelt refused to run in the election of 1908. Instead, he promoted Taft as the next Republican president. With Roosevelt's help, Taft handily defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Throughout his presidency, Taft contended with dissent from more liberal members of the Republican party, many of whom continued to follow the lead of former President Roosevelt.
Progressive Republicans openly challenged Taft in the Congressional elections of 1910 and in the Republican presidential primaries of 1912. When Taft won the Republican nomination, the Progressives organized a rival party (the United States Progressive Party, a.k.a. "Bull Moose") and selected Theodore Roosevelt to run against Taft in the general election. Roosevelt's Bull Moose candidacy split the Republican vote and helped elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
From 1921 until 1930, Taft served on the Supreme Court as Chief Justice of the United States. In an effort to make the Court work more efficiently, he advocated passage of the 1925 Judges Act enabling the Supreme Court to give precedence to cases of national importance.
A third generation of the Taft family entered the national political stage in 1938. The former president's son, Robert A. Taft , was elected to the Senate. A vociferous critic of the New Deal, Robert Taft was a Republican leader in the Senate from 1939-1953.