Turns out it was his wife, Nellie Taft, who kept getting him to turn down appointments to the Supreme Court, which was his lifelong ambition. She wanted her husband to be President more than her husband wanted to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and she wore the pants in the Taft house.
By 1905, it was clear to everyone that Taft would be Theodore Roosevelt’s successor in 1908, and Nellie Taft was already “mentally redecorating the White House.”
Taft was a weak presidential candidate, and Teddy had to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Taft won, and Teddy made plans to leave the country on a year-long African safari. He knew it was best, for many reasons, for him to get out of the United States for a long while.
For many, many good reasons, Theodore Roosevelt went to Africa.
Ultimately, what would have been best for all concerned was for each man to get his heart’s fondest desire: another (and final) term as President for Teddy, after which he could finally lay down his burdens, knowing that he had done all he could. A seat on the highest court in the land for Taft, where his brilliant legal mind could do what it was always meant to do. Forcing these two square pegs into round holes created an off-kilter situation that could only be resolved through disaster.
On our next episode, we take a much-needed break from former President Theodore Roosevelt. As his contemporaries knew all too well, Teddy was exhausting, so we’ll leave him to butcher his way through Africa, slaughtering as many wild beasts as he can and go off on a tangent where Teddy only has a walk-on part, but still looms large. Because he just can’t help himself.
It’s the story of how the escape plan of the richest man in the world was thwarted by his weakness for his favorite food.
Stay tuned for John D. Rockefeller’s Favorite Cheese.
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Morris, Edmund. “Colonel Roosevelt.” Random House, 2010.
Roosevelt, Theodore. “Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt.”
Wikipedia, “William Howard Taft.” Retrieved August 9, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Howard_Taft