Charles Phelps Taft

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Charles Phelps Taft
Taft 5579668698 7d2741cb4a o.jpg
Taft c. 1910-1915
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1895 – March 3, 1897
Preceded byBellamy Storer
Succeeded byWilliam B. Shattuc
Personal details
Born(1843-12-21)December 21, 1843
Cincinnati, Ohio
DiedDecember 31, 1929(1929-12-31) (aged 86)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Resting placeSpring Grove Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
Anna Sinton
(m. 1873)
RelationsWilliam Howard Taft (brother)
Parent(s)Alphonso Taft
EducationPhillips Academy
Alma materYale University
Columbia Law School
University of Heidelberg

Charles Phelps Taft (December 21, 1843 – December 31, 1929) was an American lawyer and politician who served as editor of the Cincinnati Times-Star and owned both the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs baseball teams.[1] From 1895 to 1897, he served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Early life[edit]

"Brother Charley" shown as part of president Taft's entourage

Taft was born on December 21, 1843 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the eldest child born to Fanny Phelps (1823-1852) and Alphonso Taft (1810–1891). His father served as the 34th United States Attorney General and 31st United States Secretary of War, both under President Ulysses S. Grant. Among his younger half-brothers was William Howard Taft (1857–1930), the 27th President of the United States and 10th Chief Justice of the United States, and Horace Dutton Taft (1861–1943), the founder of The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut,[2] to which he donated $150,000 in 1929.[3]

His maternal grandfather was Judge Charles Phelps, of Townshend, Vermont and his paternal grandparents were Peter Rawson Taft (1785–1867) of the Taft family and Sylvia (née Howard) Taft. He was the uncle of Robert Alphonso Taft and Charles Phelps Taft II, and the granduncle of Robert Taft Jr.[1]

He was educated at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and graduated from Yale University in 1864, and from Columbia University's law department in 1866.[4] In 1867, he received another degree from the University of Heidelberg.[1]


Following his graduation from Columbia Law School, he was admitted to the bar and became a partner in the law firm of Sage, Haacke & Taft. He remained with the firm until he left to study abroad in Germany and France.[4]

After returning from Germany, he resumed the practice of law in 1869 with General Edward F. Noyes, who later served as U.S. Minister to France and the 30th Governor of Ohio, at which point Taft was elected to the Ohio State Legislature.[4] Ten years later in 1879, he became editor of the Cincinnati Times-Star, which would later be bought by the Cincinnati Post. This began the Taft media empire which was his main claim to fame.[1]

United States Congress[edit]

In 1895, he went to Congress as a Republican succeeding Bellamy Storer, but served only two years from March 4, 1895 until March 3, 1897. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1896 to the Fifty-fifth Congress and his seat was taken by William B. Shattuc. After retiring from Congress, he returned to the newspaper business.[1]

Baseball team ownership[edit]

Taft later owned the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team from 1905 to 1913, and then the Chicago Cubs baseball team from 1914 to 1916 when he bought the team from Charles Murphy.[5] Upon becoming owner of the Cubs, Taft named Charles H. Thomas, the secretary under Murphy, as the new club president.[5] Taft sold the Cubs to Charles Weeghman, with some financial backing from William Wrigley Jr., after the 1915 season.[5]

Personal life[edit]

1908 drawing by Marguerite Martyn of Louise Taft, left, and Anna Sinton Taft, right

On December 4, 1873,[4] Taft was married to Anna Sinton (1850-1931), who was an heiress to a pig iron fortune, left by her father David Sinton. Together with her husband she began an art collection which she opened to the public from their home. Today their former home is the Taft Museum of Art.

  • Jane Taft (1874–1962), who married Albert S. Ingalls the son of railroad executive Melville E. Ingalls in 1929.
  • David Sinton Taft (1876–1891)
  • Anna Louise Taft Semple (1879–1961)
  • Charles Howard Taft (1885–1931).

Taft died on December 31, 1929 in Cincinnati, Ohio,[6] where he was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.[1][7][8] He left an estate valued at $6,367,374.[9]


Through his daughter Jane, he was the grandfather of First World War flying ace David Sinton Ingalls (1899–1985), who married Louise Hale Harkness, daughter of William L. Harkness and granddaughter of Daniel M. Harkness, who was instrumental in the formation of Standard Oil.[10] He was also the grandfather of Anne Taft Ingalls, who married Rupert E. L. Warburton, "a scion of one of England's oldest families," in 1929.[11] His nephew, Charles Phelps Taft II who served as Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio from 1955 to 1957 was named after him.


Following his death, Annie (Anna) Sinton Taft donated $5 million to the University of Cincinnati in 1930 and established a memorial fund after his name.[12] This fund was transformed in 2005 into the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati. The city of Taft, Texas was named after him in 1904.[13]

His art collection was said to be the most valuable in the West in 1908.[6] He owned at least two works each of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet and Ernest Meissonier, many pieces of fine Chinese porcelain, Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair by Rembrandt, The Tompkinson Boys by Thomas Gainsborough, and The Cobbler's Apprentice by Frank Duveneck, as well as paintings by Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Meindert Hobbema, Francisco Goya, Joshua Reynolds and Rousseau.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "TAFT, Charles Phelps - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Hudson, David L. (2011). The Handy Presidents Answer Book. Visible Ink Press. p. 289. ISBN 9781578593583. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  3. ^ "C.C Tafts Give Taft School $150,000". The New York Times. February 7, 1929. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Cutter, William Richard (1915). New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation. Lewis historical publishing Company. p. 1051. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Lee, Andrew (2017). Cubs Time. Page Publishing Inc. p. 33. ISBN 9781635688467. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "C.P. TAFT DEAD; EDITOR, ART PATRON; Half-Brother of Chief Justice and Former President Was Leader in Cincinnati. NOTED AS PHILANTHROPIST Gave Art Collection, His Home and $1,000,000 to Institute--Began Career as a Lawyer". The New York Times. January 1, 1930. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  7. ^ "C.P. TAFT'S FUNERAL TODAY; His Brother, the Chief Justice, on Way to Cincinnati". The New York Times. January 2, 1930. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  8. ^ "CINCINNATI MOURNS CHARLES P. TAFT; Notables at Editor's Funeral-- Chief Justice Taft Escorts Brother's Widow". The New York Times. January 3, 1930. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  9. ^ "Charles P. Taft Left $6,367,374". The New York Times. March 20, 1930. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  10. ^ "Milestones, Feb. 9, 1931". Time. February 9, 1931. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  11. ^ "ANNE TAFT INGALLS WED IN CLEVELAND; Chief Justice's Great-Niece Is Married to Rupert E.L. Warburton. KEEPS "OBEY" IN SERVICE Audrie M. Meyer Becomes Bride Here of Werner A. Gunther, a German Flier in War". The New York Times. April 11, 1929. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  12. ^ "Mrs. Charles P. Taft Gives $2,000,000 to Aid 'Humanities' Study as Memorial to Husband". The New York Times. May 7, 1930. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  13. ^ Texas State Historical Association

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1895–March 4, 1897
Succeeded by
Business positions
Preceded by Owner of the Philadelphia Phillies
Succeeded by
Preceded by Owner of the Chicago Cubs
Succeeded by