William H. Taft   (1857-1930)

By Pach Brothers Studio, ca. 1908. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Twenty-seventh President, 1909-1913

Friendly and good-natured, William Howard Taft pursued the White House with the encouragement of Theodore Roosevelt. The energetic former president was a hard act to follow, but Taft's administration turned out to be an active one. Along with the continued prosecution of unfair business practices under the Sherman Antitrust Act, the country saw the establishment of the postal savings bank, the parcel-post system, and the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment calling for the collection of income tax. Taft was the first president to buy automobiles for the White House, and he created the presidential tradition of throwing out the first ball on opening day of the baseball season. After facing a rough reelection campaign in 1912, Taft declared himself happy to leave the White House. In 1921, he was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court and subsequently swore presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover into office.