Wednesday, October 19, 2022

William Howard Taft

by Susan G Mathis

Known for his extra-extra-large size, five years before he became President, William Howard Taft served as the U.S. Secretary of War in President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. As a lawyer, judge, and solicitor general, Taft’s rise in politics was interesting. In 1901, President McKinley appointed Taft to be the Philippines’ civilian governor where he served for three years. The Filipinos had fought hard for their independence, but General McArthur wasn’t too keen on the idea of Americans helping the Philippines transition to autonomy and felt it was a foolish attempt to impose self-government on a people who weren’t ready for it. He didn’t like Taft being there either. As the civilian governor, President McKinley gave Taft charge of the island’s military budget and made MacArthur whopping mad.

When Roosevelt made him Secretary of War, Taft was tasked to troubleshoot various difficult situations, be Roosevelt’s legal adviser, and support him. Though Taft wanted to become chief justice, he declined offers to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to fulfill Roosevelt’s vision to become the next Republican president. He had never run for office, but with Roosevelt’s support, Big Bill Taft easily defeated William Jennings Bryan in 1908.

As President, he focused on East Asian affairs more than European affairs, tried to lower trade tariffs, filed anti-trust lawsuits, supported the amendment to require income tax, and intervened in Latin American affairs. A Republican rift developed between Taft’s conservatives and Roosevelt’s progressives, and when Roosevelt challenged Taft for the renomination of 1912, it split the party, giving Wilson the victory.

Taft loved the law more than politics, and he finally got the job he always wanted. He became the first President to be appointed the Chief Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Big Bill was a member of the Skull and Bones society that had a cottage in the Thousand Islands. The Tafts also had a summer home in Quebec, just upriver from the islands. In the summer of 1904, the Tafts stayed at the New Frontenac Hotel on Round Island in the Thousand Islands while working as Teddy’s war secretary. In my story, Rachel’s Reunion, Rachel meets Mr. and Mrs. Taft and hears many of their stories.

Who is your favorite President? Leave your answer or comments on the post below and join me on November 19th for my next post.

About Rachel’s Reunion:

Summer 1904

Rachel Kelly serves the most elite patrons at the famed New Frontenac Hotel on Round Island. She has wondered about her old beau, Mitch, for nearly two years, ever since he toyed with her affections while on Calumet Island, then left for the high seas and taken her heart with him. Now he’s back, opening the wound she thought was healed.

Mitch O’Keefe returns to claim his bride but finds it more difficult than he thought. Returning to work at the very place he hated, he becomes captain of a New Frontenac Hotel touring yacht, just to be near Rachel. But his attempts to win her back are thwarted, especially when a wealthy patron seeks her attention. Who will Rachel choose?

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty-five times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. She has nine in her fiction line including Peyton’s Promise. Find out more at


1 comment:

  1. Good morning and thanks for posting today. I found President Taft's story interesting. More and more, you're making me want to visit the Thousand Islands area! My favorite president to read about is Abraham Lincoln. I'm not sure why I'm drawn to him, but he certainly encountered many trying circumstances during his presidency.