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His foreign service didn’t end there. While serving as secretary of war under Theodore Roosevelt from 1904 to 1908, Taft traveled to Cuba after the island’s president, Tomás Estrada Palma, asked the U.S. to intervene in ongoing conflicts over its recent election following the country’s 1902 independence. The terms of the 1903 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations allowed the U.S. to intervene militarily in order to preserve Cuba’s independence, and Palma resigned when he realized Taft wasn’t going to do so on his behalf. The following day, September 29, 1906, Taft established a provisional government in Cuba and made himself its provisional governor, a post he held for two weeks before being succeeded by Charles Edward Magoon. Taft went on to serve as President of the United States from 1909 until 1913 and as chief justice of the United States from 1921 until 1930.
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By the Numbers
Taft’s grade-point average (out of 100) in high school
Year the Philippines attained independence
Electoral votes received by Taft in the 1908 election
Seats in the Cuban legislature
DID YOU KNOW?
Taft never got stuck in the White House bathtub.
While it’s true that William Howard Taft was a heavyweight of both the literal and figurative variety — he was nearly 350 pounds and a wrestler while at Yale — the story of President Taft getting stuck in a White House bathtub and needing to be helped out by several aides isn’t true. In fact, the myth didn’t even surface until Taft’s longtime usher Irwin Hoover published his dishy 1934 memoir, 42 Years in the White House. According to Dead Presidents author Brady Carlson, “The funny part is that while Taft was President, the White House got a tub that was so big a President couldn’t possibly get stuck in it.” There’s even a photo of the 7-foot-long, 41-inch-wide tub, which literally weighed a ton.