July 11, 1921: Bathtubs of the Presidents II -Splish Splash, I Was Stuck in the Bath

Former President William Howard Taft became the tenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on July 11, 1921,  serving until his death in 1930. He was the only person to ever hold both positions. His long career also included stints as Secretary of War, Solicitor General, Governor of Cuba and Appellate Judge. The Almanac will, however, ignore all that stuff to concentrate on the burning question: Did Taft really get stuck in the White House bathtub?

Taft was a heavy-set fellow, weighing in at 340 pounds. Occasionally, chairs challenged his girth. He did have the White House bathtub super-sized during his presidency. That tub remained in taftthe White House until removed during renovation by a narrower president.  And, in an interesting coincidence (?), the Taft Justice Department was involved in breaking up the Bathtub Trust (aka the Loo League), a cartel of porcelain makers who were playing price-fixing games with bathtubs and toilets. Jump on that, conspiracy theorists.

Then there’s that telling photograph of four men sitting in the Taft Tub. White House plumbers, perhaps. Precursors of the Nixon gang?

Some stories have the entire Joints Chiefs of Staff extricating Taft from the tub. Others talk of lots and lots of butter. But is it true? Or was it a political dirty trick? Or a clever hoax?  H.L. Mencken maintains his innocence.

For further enlightenment see Part I of our  Bathtubs of the Presidents series.


I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper. ― Steve Martin