Elen Taft

Elen Taft

Wife of the 27th President of the United States
Date of Birth: 02.01.1861
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Helen (Herron) Taft
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Courtship and Marriage
  4. Life as the Wife of a Government Official
  5. First Lady of the United States
  6. Later Life

Biography of Helen (Herron) Taft

Helen (Herron) Taft was the wife of the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft, and served as the First Lady of the United States from 1909 to 1913. She was an incredibly ambitious woman and considered the role of First Lady to be more important than the presidency itself. Many historians believe that Taft became president largely because of his wife's influence and support.

Early Life and Education

Helen Taft, also known as Nellie, was born on January 2, 1861. She was the fourth child and eldest daughter in a family of eleven children. Her father, John Williamson Herron, was a well-respected judge and a close friend of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Nellie grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, in one of the city's most beautiful homes, designed by the architect of the White House, James Hoban.

Although she did not attend university, Nellie placed great importance on acquiring knowledge. She believed that a wife should be her husband's intellectual partner rather than just a lover. As a young woman, she hosted a salon where she invited friends for intellectual conversations. It was during this time that she first met William Taft, who would later become her husband.

Courtship and Marriage

Nellie initially pursued a career as a teacher and was also involved in music, becoming a skilled pianist. In 1882, she met William Taft for the first time when she was 18 years old. They went sledding together, and although they did not become close at that time, they occasionally crossed paths. It wasn't until a year later, after a reception at Taft's brother's house, that they began to see each other more frequently.

Taft was initially attracted to Nellie's intelligence, but as their relationship developed, he began to appreciate her other qualities as well. Nellie was an impulsive and talkative woman who never hesitated to speak her mind. By the standards of the time, she was unconventional - she smoked and drank beer with her friends. Many men pursued her, but none met her ambitious criteria.

After seven years of courtship, Nellie finally accepted William Taft's proposal, and they were married on June 19, 1886, in a ceremony held at her parents' home in Cincinnati. They embarked on a hundred-day honeymoon in Europe, traveling to England, Scotland, and France. Upon their return, they settled in a house called "The Quarry," built by the Taft family. Their first child, Robert Alphonso, was born in 1889, followed by Helen in 1891 and Charles in 1897.

Life as the Wife of a Government Official

Nellie was an active and engaged wife, supporting her husband's political career and becoming his closest advisor. She organized social events and receptions to build support for his presidential aspirations. Nellie also played a role in Taft's appointment as Chief Commissioner of the Philippines, where they lived from 1901 to 1904. During their time in the Philippines, Nellie embraced her role as the governor's wife, hosting lavish events and commanding a large staff.

Upon returning to the United States, Nellie continued to support her husband's political ambitions. She had reservations about President Theodore Roosevelt and doubted his sincerity in supporting Taft's candidacy. However, with Nellie's influence and perseverance, Taft secured the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1908.

First Lady of the United States

Nellie's ambition and determination paid off when William Taft won the presidential election in 1908. She eagerly prepared for their inauguration, ordering new dresses from New York fashion designers. On May 4, 1909, Nellie made history by riding to her husband's swearing-in ceremony in the same car as him, breaking with tradition. This bold move sparked controversy and drew criticism from the Senate committee organizing the event.

As First Lady, Nellie took an active role in supporting her husband's administration. She hosted lavish receptions at the White House, often engaging in discussions with guests and even acting as a substitute for her husband in some conversations. Nellie's involvement in politics and her strong influence on Taft's decisions were widely recognized.

Despite her successes, Nellie faced challenges during her time as First Lady. She was paralyzed for a period shortly after moving to the White House, but through her iron will and the help of her husband, she regained her mobility. Nellie's desire for power and influence eventually led to a strained relationship with her husband, as he sought to assert his own authority.

Later Life

After leaving the White House in 1913, William and Nellie Taft returned to private life. William served as a professor of law at Yale University and eventually became the Chief Justice of the United States in 1921, a position he held until 1930. Nellie continued to support her husband and engage in various cultural and social activities.

Nellie Taft passed away on May 22, 1943, at the age of 82. Throughout her life, she had been a strong and influential woman, leaving a lasting legacy as one of the most ambitious and politically astute First Ladies in American history.