Alphonso Taft

Alphonso Taft

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=Alphonso Taft

title=United States Secretary of War
term_start=March 8, 1876
term_end=May 22, 1876
president=Ulysses S. Grant
predecessor=William W. Belknap
successor=J. Donald Cameron
title2=United States Attorney General
term_start2=May 22, 1876
term_end2=March 4, 1877
president2=Ulysses S. Grant
predecessor2=Edwards Pierrepont
successor2=Charles Devens
birth_date=birth date|1810|11|5|mf=y
birth_place=Townshend, Vermont, U.S.
death_date=death date and age|1891|5|21|1810|11|5
death_place=San Diego, California, U.S.
spouse=Fanny Phelps
Louise Taft
profession=Lawyer, Tutor, Politician

Alphonso Taft (November 5, 1810May 21, 1891) was the Attorney General and Secretary of War under President Ulysses S. Grant and the founder of an American political dynasty.

Born in Townshend, Vermont, the son of Peter Rawson Taft I, he graduated from Yale College in 1833, where he also was a tutor. At Yale, he and his classmate William Huntington Russell cofounded Skull and Bones, the preeminent undergraduate club. He subsequently studied law at the Yale Law School, was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1838, moved to Cincinnati in 1839 where he was a member of the Cincinnati City Council, and became one of the most influential citizens of Ohio. He was a member of the boards of trustees of the University of Cincinnati and of Yale College.

He made an unsuccessful run for the United States House of Representatives in 1856. He was a judge of the Superior Court of Cincinnati from 1866 to 1872. He was the first president of the Cincinnati Bar Association, serving in 1872. At a famous 1874 Taft family reunion at Elmshade, at Uxbridge, Mass., Alfonso delivered an impassioned speech on his family history and his father's origins in this community, as recorded in his autobiography.cite book|last=Leonard|first=Lewis Alexander|authorlink=|title="The Life of Alphonso Taft" by Google Books|publisher=|location=|ISBN= cite web|title="Life of Alphonso Taft"|publisher=Google Books|url=,M1|accessdate=2007-11-25] Taft was appointed Secretary of War by President Grant in March, 1876, and three months later Attorney General of the United States.

After he left office as Attorney General in 1877 he returned to the practice of law. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Ohio in 1875 and 1879, first to Rutherford B. Hayes and the second time to Charles Foster. Taft was ambassador to Austria-Hungary in 1882, and to Imperial Russia from 1884 to 1885.

Alphonso Taft died in San Diego, California, on May 21, 1891.

His son, William Howard Taft, was the 27th President of the United States and was a member of Yale's Skull and Bones like his founder father; another son, Charles Phelps Taft, supported the founding of Wolf's Head Society at Yale; both his grandson and great-grandson, Robert A. Taft I (also Skull and Bones) and Robert Taft Jr., were U.S. Senators; his great-great-grandson, Robert A. Taft II, was the Governor of Ohio from 1999 until 2007. William Howard Taft III was ambassador to Ireland; William Howard Taft IV worked in several Republican administrations, most recently that of George W. Bush.

The home of Alphonso Taft and family, in the Mount Auburn area, one mile north of downtown Cincinnati, has been restored to its original appearance. It is open to the public. It is now called the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. []


* [ Army biography]

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