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Taft was not an enthusiastic president, and seems to have lost interest during his term. His administration was “drift, drift, drift, – little attempted nothing done” and he compensated for the stress of office by eating too much and becoming obese.  He is also said to have had an undiagnosed sleeping condition of obstructive sleep apnoea which meant he dropped off at any given moment leaving him unable to function effectively. Which is a fancy way of saying he got bored easily and fell asleep at meetings.

The second tree above shows the strong Taft family connections with the east specifically Rhode Island.  We see strong cross state connections in the family.  William Howard Taft 27th President married Nellie Heron who was the daughter of Rutherford Hays’s law partner.  Her sister Lucy married the Governor of Rhode Island Henry Lippitt.  The Lippitt family seem to have a choke hold on the office of Governor of Rhode Island from old man Henry Lippitt on down.  A change of name may disguise!  The latest member is Lincoln Davenport Chafee who was US Senator for Rhode Island until 2007.  His political ambitions have not yet been sated, as he is intending to run for Governor of Rhode Island, just like his dear ol’ great- great- grand-pappy.

Lincoln Chafee

These families as seen in “Taft 2” are not just simply connected with no communication between themselves.  They do not operate as individual bodies only coincidentally linked.  It’s certainly not as if they don’t know about each other or aren’t talking.  They continue to operate as a unit.  This continues to the present day so it is not some historical fossil, and we may take the example Henry Frederick Lippitt son of one time United States Senator Henry Frederick Lippitt[i].

Fred Lippitt was Rhode Island’s minority House Leader, and three times unsuccessful candidate for being Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, a lawyer and noted good citizen who had a special interest in wild country and nature reserves.  He was the godfather to William Howard Taft IV, who we remember was a Washington lawyer who served until March 2005 as Chief Legal advisor to the United States State department in the Bush administration.

William H Taft IV

He’s on the tree for Taft One.  Taft’s wife Julia was also a top State Department official during the Clinton administration.  (Keep it in the family we don’t want the oiks getting their hands on the levers of power.)  As Taft remembered Fred was “one of my father’s closest friends, and was a cousin of my grandfather, so we were related as well.”  Fred had invited Taft and his wife to his summer cottage (a simple, single storied wood shingled 1600 square foot home on Long Pond off Commodore Perry Highway standing in 42 secluded acres with a smaller undeveloped lot further shielding it from the road and the gaze of the hoi polloi) some thirty years ago, and they had taken to come over for a couple of weeks every summer since then with their family.  In his will Fred left them the use of this country dacha for the remainder of their lives.

Thereafter the dacha and his own town house presently co-owned with Fred’s elderly sister will be left to Brown University.  Brown is the descendant of the original College of Rhode Island which was renamed Brown after a gift from Nicholas Brown a member of another of the five leading families of Rhode Island.

Other members of the extended Taft clan turn up in the most unexpected areas.  Ezra Taft Benson II is the son of George Taft Benson the former United States Secretary of Agriculture under both Eisenhower administrations.  Ezra was the leader of the Mormon church from 1985-1994.

Ezra’s grandson Stephen Benson is editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republican.


[i]Wednesday July 27, 2005 The Providence Journal. Article by Bretand Tracy.

Copyright David Macadam

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