Thursday, September 18, 2014

Judge William Howard Taft’s Visit to Sandusky in 1908

Early in September of 1908, William Howard Taft gave a speech in Sandusky in 1908 that was generally regarded as the first speech of his active campaign for the U.S. presidency as the Republican candidate in 1908.  On September 7, after arriving in Sandusky aboard the Lake Shore Electric Railway from Fremont, Judge William Howard Taft, General J. Warren Kiefer, General Henry Corbin, along with Mrs. Taft and young Charlie Taft, were driven from the Lake Shore Electric station to the residence of Edward H. Marsh, where the visitors would spend the night.  A representative from the Sandusky Register met Judge Taft at the station, where he was greeted with the well known “Taft smile.” The party had dinner at the Marsh home at 6 p.m. Sandusky photographer W.A. Bishop took this picture of William Howard Taft, General Kiefer, Edward Marsh and Edward Lea Marsh, during Taft’s visit to Sandusky.

On the morning of September 8, 1908, Judge Taft, General Kiefer, and General Corbin, went to the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home, where they gave addresses of a non-political nature.

Judge and Mrs. Taft visited several of the residents of the Home who were too frail to leave their rooms to hear Taft’s speech in person. At noon, Judge Taft addressed a large audience at the Opera House in Sandusky. The theater was filled, with only a few seats left vacant.  Judge Taft spoke for thirty minutes, having his speech interrupted with applause several times. According to a lengthy article in the September 9, 1908 issue of the Sandusky Register, Taft stated that if elected “he would spend his time suggesting to Congress means by which the Rooseveltian policies might be clinched” After his speech, Judge Taft shook hands with several ladies and gentlemen who gathered around him on stage at the Opera House. Judge Taft departed from the Big Four station on the 1:40 p.m. train, on his way to make more speeches in the Cincinnati area. Pictured below is William Howard Taft in his top hat, surrounded by several people as he got ready to leave Sandusky.

Of course, William Howard Taft did go on to win the election in November of 1908, defeating William Jennings Bryan. To read more details about William Howard Taft’s visit to Sandusky, see the September 8 and September 9, 1908 issues of the Sandusky Register, available on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The text of the speech presented by William Howard Taft in Sandusky was reprinted in the book Political Issues and Outlooks: Speeches Delivered Between August, 1908 and February, 1909, by William Howard Taft (Doubleday, Page and Co., 1909.)

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