[William Howard Taft, half-length portrait, seated, facing left]
J202799 U.S. Copyright Office.
William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) served as the 27th President of the United States (1909–1913) and as the 10th Chief Justice of the United States (1921–1930), the only person to have held both offices. Taft was elected president in 1908 and was defeated for re-election by Woodrow Wilson in 1912 after Roosevelt split the Republican vote by running as a third-party candidate. William Taft attended Yale and was a member of Skull and Bones secret society. In 1904, Roosevelt made him Secretary of War and he became Roosevelt's hand-picked successor. After leaving office, Taft returned to Yale as a professor, continuing his political activity and working against war through the League to Enforce Peace. In 1921, President Harding appointed Taft chief justice, an office he had long sought. "Don't write so that you can be understood, write so that you can't be misunderstood."