As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
This Week in History
July 27, 1953 – Armistice Signed by U.S. and North Korea
The Korean War began when North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea. China, with assistance from the Soviet Union, came to the aid of North Korea. The war arose from the invasion of Korea and the end of World War II, and from the global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards.
The fighting ended on July 27, 1953, when an armistice was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty has ever been signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war.
Presidential Quote of the Week
William Howard Taft (1857-1930), 27th President of the United States
The efforts of [the State] Department to secure for citizens of the United States equal opportunities in the markets of the world and to expand American commerce have been most successful. The volume of business obtained in new fields of competition and upon new lines is already very great and Congress is urged to continue to support the Department of State in its endeavors for further trade expansion. Our foreign trade merits the best support of the Government and the most earnest endeavor of our manufacturers and merchants, who, if they do not already in all cases need a foreign market, are certain soon to become dependent on it. Therefore, now is the time to secure a strong position in this field. – State of the Union Address, December 6, 1910
William Howard Taft was born in September 1857 near Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was a lawyer and prominent politician, and his mother was a college graduate. Taft attended Woodward High School and like most of his family before him, attended Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut. After Yale, he attended Cincinnati Law School, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws. While in law school, he worked for an area newspaper.
After his admission to the Ohio bar, Taft was appointed Assistant Prosecutor of Hamilton County, Ohio. He was later appointed the local Collector of Internal Revenue. Five years later he was appointed a judge of the Ohio Superior Court, during which time he also served as the first dean and a professor of constitutional law of the University of Cincinnati. In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison appointed him Solicitor General of the United States. At the age of 32, he was appointed to the newly created United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and was easily confirmed by the Senate.
In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft chairman of a commission to organize a civilian government in the Philippines, which had been ceded to the United States by Spain following the Spanish-American War. He later served as the first civilian Governor General of the Philippines. Three years later, President Theodore Roosevelt offered Taft a seat on the Supreme Court, but he reluctantly declined as he felt the Filipinos were not yet capable of governing themselves.
In 1904, President Roosevelt appointed Taft as Secretary of War, and later the Civil Governor of Cuba. He also helped supervise the beginning of the construction of the Panama Canal.
Taft ran for and easily won the Presidency in 1908. The 16th Constitutional Amendment was passed during his presidency, allowing the Congress to levy an income tax, and the 15th Amendment which prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s race, color or previous condition of servitude (slavery). He served a single term as president. Even though president for such a short time, he nonetheless appointed six members to the United States Supreme Court. Both New Mexico and Arizona were admitted to the Union during his term.
Following his service as president, Taft became a Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School. In 1921, President William G. Harding nominated Taft to the position of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He is the only person to have held both the office of President and Chief Justice.
Taft was married to Helen Herron and they had three children. He was the first President to throw out the first pitch on baseball’s opening day. Considerably overweight for most of his adult life, high blood pressure, apnea and other illnesses consistent with obesity led to his demise in 1930. He became the first president to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He listed his faith as Unitarian.