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 The President on discovering he has neglected his winter training

If you have been following the comments in the post “Jason and the Oligarchs” you will have seen my discussion with the author of that excellent blog “Dynasticpolitics” – check it on the blogroll.  The conversation had moved off the Carters and on to another oligarchical clan, that of the Tafts, and so, tonight, I intend to move this out of the commentary box to a post of its own.

The territorial settlement of the west has on occasion been given the gloss of being the preserve of the independent common man, usually played by John Wayne, riding out to fresh lands where men were men and those certain, solid, all American values, were king.  Gone and long left behind were the tired corrupt eastern politicians with their redundant philosophies, and here was a land – if not of the brave then certainly of the meritocratic.  If the American dream was to find its happy home anywhere it was going to be way out west.

However all too often the establishment was there before them.  In Ohio, Arthur St Clair –( remember him?) he was one of the Presidents ICA – was already placed as Governor of the Territories, and indeed had held high hopes of being the new Governor of Ohio until his appalling general-ship and arguments with Jefferson put an end to that.

And William Henry Harrison, that old Virginian oligarch and 9th President, was himself Senator from Ohio.  He who liked to be seen as a great “Injun fighter” and the victor of Tippecanoe.  We saw his family tree in “Jason and the Oligarchs” .

But the family most closely linked with Ohio-from its earliest days right through to the present is that of Taft.

As a family the Tafts have been established in America since the late 1600’s, and Peter Taft I (1785-1867) who was third in line from that first settler, was already a member of the Vermont legislature.  His son Alphonso Taft (1810-1891) with whom I start my tree by turns United States Secretary of War in 1876, Attorney General 1876-77.  He was later Ambassador to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and to the mpire of the Czar.  Not someone who was some hick from the sticks then.

It was his son who was President William Howard Taft 27th 1857 -1930 and President from 1909 to 1913.   He is remembered if at all as being the fattest President there ever was, weighing in at an estimated 330 lbs.  He famously got stuck in a bath at the White House.

He later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court a position he enjoyed far more.  Robert Taft I was a United States Senator and four time Republican candidate for nomination for President.  You’d have thought after a couple of times they’d have let someone else have a shot.  The brother of Charles became Mayor of Cincinnati.  Robert’s son – Robert junior- was also a Senator and also a repeatedly unsuccessful candidate for President.  And we see again that mix of Senator and Ambassador as William Taft II was Ambassador to Ireland.  Robert’s son yet another Robert was Governor of Ohio until 1999.  Now Robert (the Governor) is seventh cousin to George W Bush and is also related to Dick Cheney the former Vice President.  Mind you he kept that quiet.

Finally Robert’s cousin William Henry Taft IV was chief legal advisor to the US Department of state until 2005.  After that he turned up on BBC World Service doing spots justifying American foreign policy to an insomniac Commonwealth.  And very smooth and polished he was too.

Lastly on this side of the family I will leave you with a “stray” cousin – Kingsley Taft – who was Chief Justice of Ohio’s Supreme Court.

So, a President of the Union, mayors of great cities in the state, Chief Justices of the State, and the Supreme Court, Representatives of the State and Senators in Washington, not to mention advisors to the President, pretty much covers all the bases eh?

Not quite.  I haven’t done the other side of the family yet.  I’ll leave that for tomorrow night.

Copyright David Macadam 2010

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