Poised high above downtown Cincinnati in the Mt. Auburn neighborhood, the stately, yellow, boyhood home of William Howard Taft makes a fine impression. Knowing that Ohio sent so many men to the White House, I realized that I knew very little about most of our favorite sons. After being welcomed by a ranger at the office – yes, this National Historic Site is part of the National Park Service – we watched a short movie that described the life and accomplishments of Taft.
Learning that both he and his family, especially his father, Alphonso played such an important role in Ohio politics intrigued me. His role as governor of The Philippines and his work on the Panama Canal touched a sympathetic cord to which I could relate. Taft showed his integrity when he refused numerous promotions, including a judgeship, his heart’s desire, while stationed abroad. He insisted on completing his work in The Philippines.
Perfectly timed to coincide with a tour of the house, a short movie gives an outstanding introduction to this most interesting President. We walked to the house and were greeted by another ranger who explained the history of the house and the life of Taft. The house had been purchased as a retreat from the dirt and disease of the city below. With a few acres, the children had green space to play, but playing was just a part of the the life of this family. They immersed themselves into the arts, science and literature. Young Will enjoyed playing baseball and would later be the first President to throw out the ball at the first game of the season. The history of the house is as interesting as Taft’s career. Starting in May, walking tours of the neighborhood will be offered.
Taft was not only the first person to hold the position of both President and Supreme Court Justice, but also one of only three Presidents who continued with public service after their presidential careers. To keep with the theme of the visit, we thought it appropriate to head to the Over the Rhine district and raise a toast befittingly at the Taft’s Ale House to William Howard Taft, a man whose influence and leadership make our government what it is today.