TAFT, WILLIAM HOWARD

“I am glad to know that you have lost weight, because men of our habit are to be felicitated on any such result”

Item #13040


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TAFT, WILLIAM HOWARD - “I am glad to know that you have lost weight, because men of our habit are to be felicitated on any such result”
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TAFT, WILLIAM HOWARD - “I am glad to know that you have lost weight, because men of our habit are to be felicitated on any such result”

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TAFT, WILLIAM H.(1857-1930). Twenty-seventh president and chief justice of the United States. TLS. (“Wm. H Taft”). 1p. 4to. Washington, D.C., November 21, 1918. On his New Haven stationery on which he has added his Washington address. To Illinois Senator WILLIAM E. MASON (1850-1921).

 

“I have your letter of November 18th, and thank you for the tender of your services. I am glad to know that you have lost weight, because men of our habit are to be felicitated on any such result. I have transmitted your letter to Secretary Short, and I am sure he will be glad to call on you…”

 

A member of President Theodore Roosevelt’s cabinet, Taft was endorsed by TR as his successor, and his support allowed Taft to easily defeat Democratic rival, William Jennings Bryan, in the 1908 election. From 1909-1913, Taft dedicated his presidency to trust-busting and expanding the Interstate Commerce Commission. However, Roosevelt felt that the Taft’s efforts were not progressive enough and felt betrayed when he opposed a number of TR’s previous anti-trust efforts.

 

This led to a major schism in the Republican Party. After Taft won the Republican Party nomination despite Roosevelt racking up more delegates in the primaries, TR founded the Progressive or “Bull Moose” party, and held a national convention that touched off a bitter four-way race between Taft, Roosevelt, Socialist Eugene V. Debs, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt’s campaign split the Republican vote, and ensured Wilson’s victory.  

 

After leaving the White House in 1913, Taft accepted an appointment at Yale Law School and was selected as the American Bar Association’s president. Opposed to prohibition and an advocate for world peace and international arbitration, Taft supported President Wilson’s declaration of war on Germany in April 1917, and was active both in the American Red Cross and the National War Labor Board, which he co-chaired at the time of our letter. In 1921, Taft became the only president ever to serve on the Supreme Court, remaining on the bench until 1930.

 

Our interesting letter discusses the recipient’s weight loss, an issue that plagued Taft, who weighed 340 pounds at his heaviest, and whose girth was the butt of frequent jokes. It was famously rumored that Taft got stuck in the White House bathtub while president, which necessitated the installation of a large, custom-made tub. As Supreme Court Justice, Taft regularly walked three miles a day as part of a fitness regimen, and managed to lose nearly 100 pounds.

 

Mason, a Chicago lawyer, was elected to Congress in 1886, and served three non-consecutive terms. In 1896, he was elected to the Senate, and was one of 50 representatives who, in 1917, voted against war with Germany. Interestingly, the November 1911 issue of Chicago’s Lyceum News, ran an article about the physical resemblance between Mason and Taft, reporting that the Senator was frequently mistaken for the president.

 

Folded with some scattered toning and normal wear. In very good condition.


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