News & Politics

15 Random Facts About William Howard Taft

Fourteen truths and a lie about the Nationals’ newest Racing President.

William Howard Taft will join the four existing Racing Presidents on Opening Day. Photograph by Flickr user MissChatter.

First of all, this is not an April Fool’s joke. It’s a homage to the Nationals’ newest
Racing President, William Howard Taft, who makes his debut Monday at the opening-day
game against the Miami Marlins. And while this isn’t a joke list, there is one faux
fact included. Let us know which one you think it is in the comments.

  • When Taft lost the presidency to Woodrow Wilson in 1912, it was the worst defeat
    suffered by an incumbent President. He got only eight electoral votes.
  • Taft is the only US President to also join the Supreme Court. He was Chief Justice,
    the nation’s tenth, from 1921 to 1930.
  • At Yale, he was a member of the secret society Skull and Bones, which was cofounded
    by his father.
  • His religion: Unitarian.
  • Taft was just shy of six feet tall. During his presidency his weight peaked at about
    340 pounds. After leaving office, he lost 80 pounds.
  • Taft’s weight was always an issue. At Yale his nickname was the “Big Lub,” but he
    was also an accomplished wrestler.
  • He once got stuck in a White House bathtub and had to be pulled out by staff.
  • When he traveled to the Panama Canal by ship, the captain of the USS
    North Carolina requested an oversize bathtub for him.
  • As Chief Justice he had the unique distinction of swearing in presidents Calvin
    Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, a first for a former President.
  • Two states were admitted to the Union during his presidency: New Mexico and Arizona.
  • President Taft appointed six justices to the Supreme Court, the same as appointed
    by Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, and just shy of George Washington and Franklin
  • He was a Republican, succeeding Teddy Roosevelt. They were once friends but became
    fierce political enemies.
  • Taft came from a prominent political family in Cincinnati, Ohio, with ties to Massachusetts,
    Rhode Island, Vermont, and Utah.
  • The current governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, is a Taft family descendant.
  • Taft died on March 8, 1930, five weeks after retiring from the Supreme Court. He
    is the first President, and the only President other than JFK, to be buried at Arlington
    National Cemetery.

Spot the fake fact? Let us know in the comments.

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