William Taft (1857-1930) was the 27th president of the United States. He was the only president to also serve as chief justice. Born on September 15, 1857, Taft was raised in a political family. His father, Alphonso, was a Republican attorney who served as secretary of war and attorney general under President Ulysses S. Grant.
Becoming president was not really a goal. After graduating from Yale, he went to Cincinnati to study and practice law. But president William McKinley sent him to the Philippines as a chief civil administrator in 1900.
President Theodore Roosevelt offered Taft a Supreme Court appointment – twice – but he turned it down because he wanted to stay in the Philippines. In 1904, he accepted the position of Roosevelt’s secretary of war, with the understanding he could still supervise the Philippines. For the next four years, Taft spent a lot of time traveling and even oversaw the construction of the Panama Canal as well as serving as a governor of Cuba.