William H. Taft (1904–1908)
William Howard Taft is the first and only man to have served as president, cabinet member, and supreme court justice. He is also the last cabinet member to rise to the presidency. Born September 15, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Taft would study at Yale University until 1878, returning home to earn a law degree from Cincinnati Law School in 1880. After working as a local attorney in Hamilton County, Ohio, Taft was appointed judge for the Superior Court of Cincinnati in 1887.
He was then named solicitor general of the United States by President Benjamin Harrison, serving in that post from February 1890 to March 1892. After Congress expanded the number of circuit courts in the nation, President Harrison appointed Taft to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Taft went abroad in 1900, having been appointed civil governor of the Philippine Islands by President William McKinley. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt summoned his old friend to become secretary of war following the resignation of Elihu Root. Taft served in the War Department from February 1904 to June 1908. He spent 255 days on special missions, dealing with the Pope, visiting Cuba, or overseeing the digging of the Panama Canal.
Taft resigned the same day he won the Republican presidential nomination in 1908; he would serve the nation as its twenty-seventh President from 1909 to 1913. Taft ran again for the presidency on the Republican ticket in 1912, though rival party member Theodore Roosevelt bolted for the Progressive Party, taking valuable support and votes with him. Taft, and Roosevelt, would lose the election to Woodrow Wilson. Following his time in the White House, Taft taught law at Yale University until President Warren Harding named him to the Supreme Court, where he served from 1921 to 1930. William Howard Taft died on March 8, 1930, in Washington, D.C.