Charles Phelps Taft II

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Charles P. Taft II
Chas. P. Taft., son of Wm. Howard, (10-24-25) LCCN2016841215 (cropped).jpg
Taft in 1925
Mayor of Cincinnati
In office
Preceded byCarl W. Rich
Succeeded byDonald D. Clancy
Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney
In office
Preceded byCharles S. Bell
Succeeded byNelson Schwab
Personal details
Born(1897-09-20)September 20, 1897
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJune 24, 1983(1983-06-24) (aged 85)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. [1]
Political partyRepublican
Charter (municipal)
SpouseEleanor Kellogg Chase Taft
Children7, including Seth Taft
EducationYale University
Yale Law School
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1918
Battles/warsWorld War I
Charlie with his parents and siblings (1912)

Charles Phelps Taft II (September 20, 1897 – June 24, 1983) was a U.S. Republican Party politician and member of the Taft family. From 1955 to 1957, he served as Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio. Like other members of his family, Taft was a Republican for the purposes of statewide elections. However, when running for municipal office in Cincinnati, Taft was a member of the Charter Party. During his term as mayor, Fortune magazine ranked Cincinnati as the best managed big city in the United States. As mayor, he gained the nickname "Mr. Cincinnati".

Early life[edit]

Charles Phelps Taft II was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the youngest of three children born to President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen Herron Taft. His siblings were U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft and Bryn Mawr College professor Helen Taft Manning. He was named after his uncle, U.S. Congressman Charles Phelps Taft. Taft was only 11 years old when he moved to the White House, upon his father's election as President. During his father's tenure as Secretary of War, he was a frequent playmate of President Theodore Roosevelt's children. On the morning of May 17, 1909, the same day his mother suffered a severe stroke, he underwent a "bloody adenoid operation".[2] Taft dropped out of Yale University in order to serve in the United States Army during World War I and later returned to graduate in 1918, and then earned his law degree from Yale Law School in 1921. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi and a 1918 initiate into the Skull and Bones student society.[3]


Taft married Eleanor Kellogg Chase on October 6, 1917, in Waterbury, Connecticut. His wife's father ran the Waterbury Clock Company. They had 7 children:

  • Eleanor Kellogg Hall (Taft) (September 16, 1918 – June 28, 2004)
  • Sylvia Howard Lotspeich (Taft) (August 7, 1920 – June 26, 2008)
  • Seth Taft (December 31, 1922 – April 14, 2013)
  • Lucia Chase Taft (June 6, 1924 – October 29, 1955)
  • Cynthia Herron Taft Manning (April 28, 1928 – July 16, 2013)
  • Rosalyn Rawson Taft (January 7, 1930 – September 4, 1941)
  • Peter Rawson Taft III (1936).[citation needed]

Rosalyn died from polio and Lucia committed suicide.[4][5]


Upon graduation from law school, Taft practiced law and became active in Cincinnati local politics. In 1925, he helped introduce the home-rule charter under which Cincinnati became the first major city in the United States to adopt the city manager form of government. Later that year, he became the youngest President of the International YMCA.[6] In 1926, he and his brother Robert A. Taft helped form the Cincinnati law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister. From 1927 to 1928, he served as Hamilton County Prosecutor. He served on the Cincinnati City Council three times, from 1938 to 1942, from 1948 to 1951, and from 1955 to 1977. During World War II, he served as Director of U.S. Community War Service at the Federal Security Agency and later as Director of Economic Affairs at the State Department, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. From 1947 to 1948, he served as the first layman President of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. In the 1952 election, he ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Ohio, losing to incumbent Frank Lausche.

Personal interests[edit]

He was an avid fan of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team and sometimes listened to games on the radio with an earplug during city council meetings. In addition, he was an avid fisherman whose trademark was a canoe tied to his car in anticipation of his next fishing trip. When he died, the epitaph "Gone fishing" was inscribed on his grave at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.

Charles served on the vestry (board of directors for an Episcopal parish) of Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati for decades. He served as a vestry member from 1928 to 1941, Junior Warden (vice president of the board) from 1942 to 1949, and Senior Warden (president of the board) from 1950 to 1977.[7] The large sculpture on the southwest corner of the Christ Church Cathedral building is commemorated to him and was created by the commissioned artist, Timothy S. Werrell (b. 1957).[8] He was known to be a champion for the poor and worked to study why there were no African Americans attending the church in the 1950s.[7] To this day, The Taft Lecture Series, funded by The Charles P. and Eleanor Taft Memorial Fund, "features provocative thinkers, writers, teachers, theologians, social justice activists, and leaders in the fields of religion, social science, the arts, politics, and more. Lectures are presented once or twice or year as the featured speakers’ schedules permit, and are always free to the public."[9]

In his later years he spent much time preserving his father's childhood home, which became the William Howard Taft National Historic Site.


In 1952 (while he was Senior Warden at Christ Church), Mr. Taft was accused by Cincinnati Councilman Jesse D. Locker, the first Black council member in Cincinnati, of inserting restrictive race clauses into the deeds of properties he was developing. These clauses read, “These premises shall not be sold, leased or rented to, nor occupied by, except as a servant, anyone not of the Caucasian Race”.[10] Though these types of clauses had been deemed illegal and unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, Taft defended himself by saying, “I built 265 good houses during the war at Woodside Homes and Shawanoe Trail and I am proud of them. I could only do that on borrowed money, and at that time I nor anyone else could borrow a dime from any financial institution I know, for any such purpose, without such clauses in the deeds”.[10]

In Popular Culture[edit]

In the 1979 television miniseries Backstairs at the White House, Taft as a youth is portrayed as simply an innocent, fun-loving boy. In one scene, he introduces himself to Emmett Rogers, son of African-American White House maid Maggie Rogers (White House maid), who has just been hired as a yard boy by White House gardener Kearney even though he is not actually old enough legally in an effort to help the financial situation of his mother at the suggestion to her by streetwise White House African-American staff and starts a playful tussle with him with loose leaves Rogers is paid to rake; and when Kearney berates Rogers for not doing the job he was paid to do, Taft defends him by saying the whole horseplay is not Rogers fault as he himself started it. Taft then helps Rogers pick up leaves and asks him if he would like to assist him in mischief with a portrait of Andrew Jackson. Taft is played by Gary Borden.


  1. ^ "Charles Phelps Taft II (1897-1983)".
  2. ^ "President William Taft: Health and Medical History".
  3. ^ "CHARLES P.TAFT, 2D TO WED MISS CHASE; Ex-President's Younger Son Engaged to Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Irving Chase. HE IS A JUNIOR AT YALE Football Player and Winner of Gordon Brown Prize Is Enlisted as Artilleryman in U.S. Army". The New York Times. Jul 4, 1917.
  4. ^ "Rosalyn Taft Victim of Infantile Paralysis". The Minneapolis Star. International News Service. September 5, 1941. p. 2. Retrieved June 20, 2022 – via
  5. ^ "A Niece of Senator Taft Kills Herself". Des Moines Sunday Register. Associated Press. October 30, 1955. p. 1. Retrieved June 20, 2022 – via
  6. ^ Treaster, Joseph B. (1983-06-25). "Charles P. Taft, Former Mayor of Cincinnati". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  7. ^ a b Morris, J. W. (1969). Christ Church Cincinnati, 1817-1967. Cincinnati Lithographing Ohio Press.
  8. ^ "Ohio Outdoor Sculpture, Charles P. Taft, II Memorial Sculpture".
  9. ^ "Christ Church Cathedral, Taft Lecture Series".
  10. ^ a b "Restriction Is Hit By Locker In Charles P. Taft's Realty Proviso". The Cincinnati Enquirer. April 3, 1952.


  • Degregorio, William A., The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Barricade Books, 1997
  • Wead, Doug, All the President's Children, Atria Books, 2003

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican Party nominee for Governor of Ohio
Succeeded by