As a result of the SpanishAmerican War in 1898, the United States gained possession of the Philippines and made it a territory. In 1901, President William McKinley appointed William Howard Taft as the first governor of the archipelago, and for three years Taft served the United States in this capacity.
The Filipinos revered him and treated him with the utmost respect throughout his tenure, even if Elihu Root didn’t. The United States Secretary of War, and in fact his entire department, could never quite forget that Taft was morbidly obese.
When Taft assumed his duties as governor of the Philippines, he was an enormously corpulent man of 43 years and 330 pounds. Wherever he went, he waved a friendly, cushioned palm and smiled with “enchanting sweetness.” His pale blue eyes were “squeezed between chuckling rolls of fat,” and merely to look at him was to be warmed and impressed — at least this was so for the Filipinos, if not for Elihu Root and his hirelings.
Governor Taft went about his business at, what was for him, an easy pace. He lounged comfortably and spoke calmly in all circumstances. Although he was periodically drowsy from too much food, he was not lazy. Once he got under way, he had the ponderous momentum of an elephant. His gestures were slow, but full of power. He bore huge workloads with no complaint and always got the job done...