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William Howard Taft

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The White House card signed by the President and future Chief Justice

William Howard Taft, 18571930.  27th President of the United States, 19091913; Chief Justice of the United States, 19211930.  The White House card boldly signed, Wm H Taft, in black ink.

This card has a beautiful bold, black fountain pen signature by President Taft.  According to the leading authority on these cards, Taftʼs cards like this one, bearing only his signature without either a sentiment or a date, are the most difficult to obtain.  Lynne E. Keyes & Stephen Koschal, The History of Collecting Executive Mansion, White House, and The White House Cards 43 (2d ed. 2006).

Taft is the only person ever to serve as both President and Chief Justice.  The son of a distinguished judge, and a jurist at heart himself, his lifelong ambition was to be on the Supreme Court.  But his wife had other ideas.

Taft graduated from Yale Law School and returned to Cincinnati to study and practice law.  He rose in prominence through Republican judicial appointments.  He became a judge of the United States Court of Appeals, a step below the Supreme Court, at age 34.  But politics beckoned.  President William McKinley made him chief civil administrator of the Philippines in 1900.  A capable administrator, Taft he improved the Philippine economy, built roads and schools, and gave the people some participation in government.  Later President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Taft to be Secretary of War and decided that Taft should then succeed him in the White House.  Taft was reluctant, but his wife, Helen, pushed him to run.  Taft was elected President in 1908.

But the conservative Taft soon alienated Roosevelt and his progressive wing of the Republican Party.  In 1912, Roosevelt challenged Taft for the Republican nomination.  When Taft prevailed, Roosevelt ran a third-party candidacy on the Progressive Party ticket.  That split the Republican vote, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected.

Taft was glad to leave the presidency.  “Iʼm glad to be going,” he told Wilson as he left the White House.  “This is the loneliest place in the world."  He returned to Yale, where he served as a law professor until 1921, when President Warren G. Harding appointed him Chief Justice.  He served as Chief Justice until just before he died in 1930. That appointment was Tafts greatest honor:  “I don't remember,” he wrote, “that I ever was president."

This card has toning lines around the edges and mounting traces on the back from prior framing, and there is a faint bend line across the lower right corner that is visible if the card is turned just right to the light.  The card is in fine condition.

Unframed.    Please click here for information about custom framing this piece.


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