Few people in U.S. history can claim to be as well-rounded as William Howard Taft. Among his accomplishments, Taft led two branches of government, was a wrestling champion, taught law in the Ivy League, and served as the youngest Solicitor General in American history. He also holds the distinction of being the only U.S. president to serve on the Supreme Court. In fact, his tenure in the White House included a wide range of "presidential firsts." After converting the White House stables into a garage, he was the first to have a presidential automobile, he was the first to occupy the Oval Office, he was the first to play golf as a hobby, and he was the first U.S. president to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game. Previously, as a young lawyer from a politically prominent family, he rose swiftly through the ranks, serving as county prosecutor and state judge before his 30th birthday. He is also known for preferring law over politics. After joining the nation's highest court, a position he held until his death, Taft wrote, “I don't remember that I ever was President.”
Before becoming the 27th President of the United States, Taft was just another freshman trying to succeed at Yale College. He entered in 1874 and used his athleticism and heavyset body to become an intramural heavyweight wrestling champion. Academically, he was known for using hard work to overcome any intellectual shortcomings. It is no surprise that he became a member of Skull and Bones, one of America's most famous secret societies. His father, former Attorney General Alphonso Taft, co-founded Skull and Bones as a Yale student in 1832. As a member of the organization, Taft received the honorary title of "magog," meaning he had the most sexual experiences while in the secret club. In 1878, he graduated second in his class of 121.
After leaving the White House, Taft was immediately offered a chair in law at Yale College. According to Yale secretary Anson Phelps Stokes '96, Taft joked with the Yale faculty that, "he was afraid that a Chair would not be adequate, but that if we would provide a Sofa of Law, it might be all right.”
Taft, who had always been an active alumnus, serving as a Trustee of the university even while he was President of the nation, spent the next eight years teaching at both Yale College and the Law School. During this period, he also coached a freshman debate team, attended campus social functions like proms, and enjoyed watching campus sports, especially Yale baseball games. While there is no building at Yale named after Taft, you can find various corners on the campus where his legacy is remembered. This includes a collection of special double-wide chairs that were installed on campus for Taft's legendary bulk.