William Howard Taft – The Story Of A Bathtub

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William Howard Taft – The Story Of A Bathtub

November 4, 2020 | Politics | No Comments

William Howard Taft (1909-1913) was a political heavyweight in the truest sense of the word. At 150 kilos, he did something that no other president had done before: He was stuck in the bathtub of the White House. The employees had to smear him with butter and free him. At least that is the legend that Irwin “Ike” Hoover started.

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President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

In his book “42 Years in the White House”, the then chief usher in the White House chats from the sewing box. After all, he has worked under a total of ten presidents, including William Howard Taft.

Of the many stories that Hoover wrote down, that of the bathtub is difficult to prove, said Ray Henderson, historian, and director of the museum in Taft’s birthplace, Cincinnati, a few years ago. The usher’s statements are the only ones available.

The fact is, however, that Taft had to overcome some hurdles because of its weight. For example, the captain of the USS North Carolina ordered an oversized bathtub for the president’s voyage to the Panama Canal in 1909 – for a cozy and not too tight bath. Newspapers got wind of it and speculated about a “pond-sized bathtub “. The Daily Ardmoreite simply referred to the tub as a “monster” and recommended that Taft get one for the White House as well. Which he is supposed to have done.

The “Taft-sized” bathtub, as it was called in the media, was twice the size of a normal tub and weighed a ton. It is said to have been manufactured by the Mott Manufactory in Manhattan. The company spoke of the largest porcelain bathtub it would have ever produced. A photo published in the February 1909 Engineering Review shows the presidential bathtub.

Even if the president was never stuck in the bathtub, he literally pushed it to the limit. As the New York Tribune reported in June 1915, Taft checked into the Hotel Cape May after a long day in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, his room did not have a “taffeta-sized” bathtub. Nonetheless, he got in but forgot to estimate how much water might be spilled.

Taft only noticed that the guests in the hotel’s dining room also got some of the water when the police knocked on his door. He took it with humor because he obviously already knew the bathroom mishaps.

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