5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About William Taft

September 15, 1857, is the birthday of President William Howard Taft. Although he served only one term, his influence on the country is undeniable in that he was later appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court. Here are 5 facts to help you celebrate William Howard Taft's legacy.

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He Was the Last U.S. President to Have Facial Hair Between the Lincoln and Taft administrations, all but two commanders-in-chief boasted some sort of facial hair. All U.S. presidents after Taft have been clean-shaven. The first U.S. president to have a mustache in office was Ulysses S. Grant, and the first person to have any facial hair, in the form of prominent sideburns, was John Quincy Adams.

He Preferred Being on the Supreme Court In 1921, Taft was appointed to the Supreme Court by then-President Warren G. Harding, where he served as Chief Justice. Taft remains the only person to hold the offices of both President and Chief Justice. Taft was open about how much he preferred being on the Supreme Court to being in the White House (though interestingly, he was offered appointments to the court in the early 1900s and turned those down). Upon becoming Chief Justice in 1921, he happily declared “I don’t remember that I was ever president.”

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He Was the First President to Throw an Opening-Day Pitch Taft and some of the members of his administration decided to attend the home-opener baseball game for the Washington Senators in April 1910. While Taft was in the stands, the umpire came over and asked Taft to throw out a new baseball to start the game. One hundred and ten years later, this opening day tradition is still going strong.

He Once Had an Embarrassing Bathtub Incident (No, Not That One). William Taft is often remembered as "the president that got stuck in a bathtub while in office."  The story, however, apparently doesn’t hold any water. No documentary evidence backs it up, and the story didn’t arise until two decades after Taft left the presidency.  However, he did have a different verified incident with a bathtub -- just not one in which he got stuck. Instead, this one involved water displacement. He was getting into a full tub in a hotel in 1915 when his bulk caused the water level to rise so much that water spilled out of the tub, soaked through the floor, and dripped onto people downstairs.  Taft made light of the situation while looking out at the Atlantic Ocean shortly thereafter, he said, “I’ll get a piece of that fenced in some day, and then I venture to say there won’t be any overflow.” 

His Son and Grandson Continued the Family Political Dynasty Taft wasn't the only one in his family to go into politics. His son, Robert A. Taft,  nicknamed "Mr. Republican", became one of the twentieth century’s most influential senators. He is often remembered for leading an anti-Truman coalition of conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats. Taft's grandson, William H. Taft IV, became a political attorney who worked with Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.