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Determining the Facts

Reading 3: Brothers, Sister, Sons, and Daughter

All of Alphonso and Louise Taft's children were high achievers in public service and education. Charles Phelps Taft and Peter Rawson Taft joined their father in his law practice. Charles became one of Cincinnati's most famous benefactors of the arts. Another son, Horace Dutton Taft, founded the Taft School in Connecticut, while Henry Waters Taft chose law as a career.

William Howard Taft's own offspring and descendants continued the family tradition of service. He and his wife Helen had three children. Robert A. Taft, known as "Mr. Republican," was the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate and is best known for the 1947 Taft-Hartley labor law. Charles (Charlie), known as "Mr. Cincinnati," was a long-time Cincinnati City Council member and mayor of the city. Helen, William Howard Taft's only daughter, was a writer and dean of Bryn Mawr College.

Subsequent generations of Tafts have continued the family commitment to public service. Robert Taft, Jr., the second son of Robert A. Taft and his wife, Martha, served in the Ohio legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Until his death in 1993, he continued to practice law in the firm his father founded.

Robert A. (Bob) Taft II, Ohio secretary of state in 1992, is the great-grandson of William Howard Taft and the oldest of four children of Robert Taft, Jr. Bob Taft earlier served as a state representative and a Hamilton County, Ohio, commissioner. Another son of Robert A. Taft, Jr., William Howard Taft III, held various assignments in the State Department, including ambassadorships to Ireland and Mozambique.

William Howard Taft IV, the great-great-grandson of William Howard, also has held positions in the Federal Government including the ambassadorship to NATO and the undersecretary of defense.

Questions for Reading 3

1. Develop a Taft family tree based on the reading and list the accomplishments of each family member beside the name.

2. Compare the careers of William Howard Taft's siblings and descendants with those of Taft and his father.

3. For what law was Robert A. Taft best known? Why was this law important? What was Taft's role in the law's creation?

Reading 3 was adapted from David Arbogast, "William Howard Taft National Historic Site" (Hamilton County, Ohio) National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1976; and University of Cincinnati Program for the Dedication of the William Howard Taft statue, September 15, 1992.

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