William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft was born in the Mount Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati in 1857. He attended Woodward high school where he participated in sports and graduated second in his class. He went to college at Yale University. He furthered his education at the Cincinnati College Law School where he graduated in 1880. In that same year he was granted the position of assistant prosecutor for Hamilton County. He served there until 1887 when he was asked to fill in for the remainder of a term on the Ohio Superior Court. When that term expired, he was elected in on his own term. In 1890 he made an attempt to become a Supreme Court Justice that year, but instead President William Henry Harrison installed him as Solicitor General, a position he served in for two years. (Taft would later achieve his dream of becoming a Supreme Court Justice in 1921). In 1892, he became the Federal Circuit Court Judge for the Cincinnati area. While serving as judge he also was a teacher at Cincinnati College Law School. In1896, he was named the dean of Cincinnati College Law School. In that same year as dean, he was a major force in the merger between Cincinnati College Law School and the University of Cincinnati Law Department. He left the college in 1900 to serve as Governor of the Philippines at President William McKinley’s request. He served there until December 1903 when President Roosevelt made him the Secretary of War in 1904. In 1906, Taft was elected President of the United States, making him the only man to serve as both President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1992, a sculpture of Taft was created by Michael D. Bigger and installed on the east side of the law school. Standing over eight feet tall, it projects Taft’s sizeable impact on the study of law at UC. Students do not always treat their benefactor with reverence; they regularly dress him in humorous outfits.

W.H. Taft statue that stands behind the Law School. Michael D. Bigger, 1992. And Taft adorned in one of students’ outrageous outfits. (Top photo: Courtesy of unknown Wikipedia editor, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Cincinnati_College_of_Law. Bottom photo: Courtesy of Kevin Grace, http://www.libraries.uc.edu/liblog/2011/09/14/taft-the-party-animal/.)

Barrow, Roscoe L. “Historical Note on the University of Cincinnati College of Law   

       (Cincinnati Law School)”. n.d.

Bennett, Paul. The University of Cincinnati. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2001.