Taft was educated at Yale and Cincinnati Law School where he took his degree. Taft's first public office was as Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor, in 1881. Then, at age 30, he served as judge on the Superior Court in Cincinnati for three years, before being appointed Solicitor General of the United States in 1890. Continuing his meteoric rise in the legal profession, Taft was appointed by President Harrison as a judge of the newly created Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, at age 34. He served on that court from 1892-1900. At the same time, he also served as the first Dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Taft was persuaded by his wife to accept appointment by President McKinley as chief administrator in the Philippines. His task was to transfer government from military to civilian rule. He served as civil governor there from 1901-1904. When Theodore Roosevelt became president after McKinley's assassination, he appointed Taft secretary of war in 1904. Taft was also charged with supervising the construction of the Panama Canal. Taft was picked as Roosevelt's successor in 1908 and became the 27th president after beating William Jennings Bryan in the election. Taft continued Roosevelt's "trust-busting" with Standard Oil, which was dissolved in 1911, instituting an eight-hour day for federal employees, and supporting the Sixteenth Amendment, allowing the income tax (ratified in 1913). Nevertheless, the progressive element of the party wanted Roosevelt back in office and at the 1912 convention split from the party when Taft was renominated. They formed the "Bull-Moose" party which effectively lost the election for the Republicans by splitting the vote and Woodrow Wilson was elected.
After the Presidency, Taft went back to the law - first as a professor of law at Yale where he taught for eight years, and was then nominated by President Harding to be the ninth Chief Justice of the United States and he was confirmed by the Senate the same day. He was the only person in history to be both President and Chief Justice. Upon his elevation to Chief Justice, he stated: "I don't remember that I was ever President."