TAFT, William Howard (1857-1930), President. Autograph letter signed ("Wm. H. Taft"), to Mr. Wheeler, Rutland, Vermont, 17 October 1913. 2 pages, 4to.
TAFT'S ACCOUNT OF HIS FAMILY HISTORY. Greatly relieved after surrendering the Presidency seven months earlier, William Howard Taft expounds upon his New England roots to this correspondent: "My father was born in West Townshend, Windham county Vermont. He was the son of Peter Rawson Taft and Sylvia Howard Taft. Aaron Taft, the father of Peter Rawson, was a Revolutionary soldier and had studied at Princeton College. His home was in Mendon, Worcester County Mass. After the Revolution, he moved his family to Townshend. Peter Rawson was then ten years old. Peter Rawson became lawyer, selectman, Judge of Probate...Judge of Common Pleas, member of legislature and farmed all the time. My father prepared for college at Amherst and then went to Yale where he was graduated in 1833. He became a tutor at Yale. In 1838, he went to Cincinnati. He married his first wife Fanny Phelps of Townshend. He married for his second wife, my mother, Louise M. Torrey of Millburn, Mass. After he settled in Cincinnati, he induced his father and mother to come to Cincinnati and they lived with him until their death. I have visited Townshend twice, once with my father before I came of age, and once more while I was President in 1912."
Taft was far happier following the family legal tradition than pursuing a career in electoral politics. His bid for re-election in 1912 was half-hearted: "As a leader, I had to have confidence and hope," he said, "but in my heart I have long been making plans for my future (DAB)." That future was in the law, and in March 1913 Taft became Kent Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale. Eight years later, President Harding made him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, where he served until shortly before his death in 1930.