Thursday, August 26, 2004
William Howard Taft: The 350 pound president
In 1909 American's went to the voting booth and elected William Howard Taft. Taft was 5 feet 11.5 inches tall and weighed over 300 pounds on election day. Under the guidance of English physician N. E. Yorke-Davies, he lost 70 pounds over the next year and a half. But two years after that, he was once again over 300 pounds He weighed 335-340 pounds when he left the White House. He then lost weight rapidly, dropping to 270 in a year and a half. The summer before he died, he weighed 244 pounds.
Click here for a graph depicting his weight through his adult life.
Taft was the heaviest man ever to hold the office of the Presidency, and unless Michael Moore is elected in 2008, he will hold that title for 100 years.
Taft once got stuck in the White House bathtub and had to have an oversized version brought in for his use.
Could you imagine the headlines if this happened today?
President Bush to have new bathtub installed for the late President Taft
That would be a hard decision to explain.
But, there was more to Taft's presidency than his weight.
Born in 1857, Taft was more interested in law than in politics. Still, he found his way to political appointments.
President Roosevelt made him Secretary of War.
Secretary & war? Words that don't really go together. Sorta like 'nurse chainsaw’, ‘battle maids' or 'Bon Jovi & talent.'
In 1907 Roosevelt chose Taft as his successor, and he was nominated at the Republican Convention.
Taft called the campaign "one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life." This was probably more due to the fact that he mistakenly wore his shoes on the wrong feet for the entire campaign.
In 1912, the Republicans re-nominated Taft. Angry with Taft, Roosevelt left the party to lead the Progressives party.
This split the Republican vote and led to the election of Woodrow Wilson.
Taft briefly served as Professor of Law at Yale until President Harding made him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Taft held this position until just before his death in 1930.
Taft felt being appointed Chief Justice was his greatest honor. He once wrote: "I don't remember that I ever was President." He also wore his shoes on the wrong feet for three months.
TRUE FACTS ABOUT TAFT:
Taft is the only President to also serve as Chief Justice in the Supreme Court.
Taft was the first president to throw the first baseball of a season.
He was the first president to own a car.
William H. Taft is one of two presidents who are buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.
Taft was the last president to have facial hair.
His funeral was the first to be broadcast on the radio.
William Howard Taft was a seventh cousin twice removed of Richard Nixon.
Taft fractured his skull in a carriage accident at age 9.
Taft kept a cow on the White House lawn to supply him with fresh milk. He was the last president to do so.
THINGS I JUST MADE UP ABOUT TAFT
Wore a fake mustache. On days when he was sick the Vice President would wear it.
Is the subject of the Carly Simon song 'You're So Vain.'
Was the first President to go Trick Or Treating. He dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard Of Oz.
Liked to wear a hat made out of tin foil. He said it kept "those Panamanians from listening to my brain."
Had several sons, all of whom were named George.
Would start Supreme Court sessions by saying "Order in the court. I'll have ham and cheese." Then he would laugh until his nose bled.
Could play the fiddle with his feet, but not very well.
Was the first President to admit to 'smoking crack.'
Started a war with Istanbul over an ill-conceived 'I got your nose gag.'