On Saturday afternoon, Sandy and I went to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati. This is the birthplace and boyhood home of Taft, the twenty-seventh president of the United States and the only president to also be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Taft actually held nine elected and appointed public service jobs in his distinguished career. He excelled in all of them but Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was his dream, not the Presidency.
Taft was blessed to be born into a powerful, educated, and wealthy family, and while that may have given him the opportunity to serve, his intelligence, hard work, and integrity made his service to our country exceptional. He only served one term as president, because he did what he thought was best for the country, not what was asked by his political supporters who withdrew their support as a result. When he came to the Supreme Court it was hopelessly backlogged with cases. He examined the situation and worked with congress to reform the court, allowing it to decide which cases it would address, those being the ones that required interpretation of the constitution. Previously, any case could be brought before the Supreme Court. While he was Secretary of War, he was in charge of the building of the Panama Canal, one of the twentieth century’s greatest feats.
All of this information and much more was obtained from the excellent exhibits at the house on Auburn Avenue in Cincinnati. I left thinking William Howard Taft probably did more in service to America than any other single man or woman. His wife, Nellie, is even responsible for the cherry trees in Washington, D. C. I’m glad Sandy’s new bucket listing is to visit all the National Parks. This site, run by the park service, was a great start and I recommend it to anyone interested in our country’s history.