American Presidents





William Howard Taft American Presidents Teacher Guide


Biography of William Howard Taft
September 6, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level


Before Viewing American Presidents

Part 1
Have students identify basic biographical information on or about President William Howard Taft. Instruct students to visit C-SPAN's American Presidents web site and review biographical information on President William Howard Taft. Each student should take note of five facts about President Taft that he or she find interesting. (please note: students who do not have access to the Internet can use a print out from the web site.)

Discuss the facts gathered by the students by writing them on the board in front of the classroom. How many facts were gathered in total? Which fact did the class find most interesting? Why? As a class, develop a biographical profile of the president and try to develop an understanding of his personality.


Part 2
William Howard Taft held many positions as a public servant including President, US Supreme Court Justice, Secretary of War, and Governor-General of the Philippines. As a class, consider the following quote:

"It's very difficult for me to understand how a man who is so good as Chief Justice could have been so bad as President"
- Justice Louis Brandeis
What qualities are needed to be president? What qualities are needed to be a Chief Justice? What is the process to achieve these public service positions? Why do you think a person can be a good chief justice but a poor president?


While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Take notes on information presented during the American Presidents biography program on President William Howard Taft. Students should connect events during William Howard Taft's life (1857 - 1930) with his action as a public servant.

Childhood and Education
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International Affairs
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Domestic Policy
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Justice System
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After Viewing American Presidents
Divide students into three groups. Assign each group to study one of the following topics: International Affairs, Domestic Policy, and Justice System. Students can use the information they gathered during the above activity to aid in their research.

Students must answer the following questions according to their topic: Considering that he was an unwilling candidate, what would American history have been like if William Howard Taft was not president?

Tips: Students must be able to identify contributions by William Howard Taft before and after his presidency, problems he had encountered as president, the political environment during Taft's presidency, and the man he beat in the 1908 election.

The student groups will present their research and views to the class.


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