November 19, 1919

Former President William Howard Taft Rejoices in Deflecting Another Run: "I Have Served My Time"

Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages
SMC 134
Taft never wanted the presidency – though his wife wanted it for him. What he wanted was the Supreme Court. Even his mother, as ambitious as Atia, saw that presidency was no place for him. “I do not want my son to be President, he is not my candidate,” she told reporters before the election. “His is a judicial mind, and he loves the law.” But both pushed him, always, and as the enormously popular Theodore Roosevelt's handpicked successor, Taft landed up President – only to endure the unhappiest years of his life. As he had always tried to please his mother and his wife and his president, Roosevelt, so he tried now to please the public. But any decision he made was sure to rile someone – and Taft became increasingly insecure, indecisive and miserable. Losing the 1912 election to Wilson might have been a pleasure, if his departure had not been abetted by his friend and mentor, Roosevelt, also running against him as a Progressive. Taft finished third, and turned the presidency over to Wilson with the words, “I’m glad to be going.”
 
In this marvelous letter Taft speaks of the White House as a prison, as he refutes the notion that he should stand for the presidency ever again.
 
…It is impossible my name should even be considered in a Republican Convention. My support if I were to have any would be Democrats who wouldn't vote for me and women who could not. They are not supremely influential in Republican conventions.

Moreover, I have served my time. I am grateful to the American people for selecting me once. I have no word of complaint or criticism that they rejected me once. I rejoice to be able as a private citizen to contribute my mite to the solution of difficult problems now presenting themselves and to do this with complete relief from restraints of party or of office.

 
But the genial, juridical, and modest Taft would finally get his wish: after eight years of teaching constitutional and international law at Yale, he was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921 – and so realized his fondest ambition.
Autograph Letter Signed ("W.H. Taft"), 3 pages, octavo, on his personal letterhead, New Haven, Connecticut, November 19, 1919. To Glen W. Blogett of Oklahoma City. With Autograph Envelope.
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