Health and Medical History of PresidentWilliam Howard Taft: Infrequent Use of Alcohol
Taft did not smoke. In college, he drank, if at all, only an occasional glass of beer. 3a During Taft's first year in office, his aide wrote 2a:
The President never takes anything to drink at all, but is most profligate in making others imbibe. I do not see how he sits through these long dinners and banquets without taking enough merely to exhilarate him, but he takes no alcoholic liquors of any kind and seems to be much the better for it.Taft became a teetotaller in 1906, three years before becoming President. 1a BELOW
Charles E. Barker, "doctor of physical culture," claims to have supervised Taft's weight control efforts, beginning when Taft was Secretary of War in 1905, and continuing in the White House. Barker writes 1a:
Referring to Mr. Taft's personal habits, one of the articles [in the Saturday Evening Post] stated that he was a light user of tobacco and liquor. As a matter of fact, Mr. Taft never used tobacco in any form, and in 1906 he became a teetotaler and abstained entirely from the use of intoxicants until his death in 1930.Barker is not mentioned by either of Taft's great chroniclers 2 3, so it is difficult to know what to make of his book. The Barker description of Taft's alcohol habits does, however, fit with Pringle's 3b:
Taft was a temperate man in all ways but one. He did not use alcohol. He did not smoke. He did not stay up late and sacrifice sleep. His only dissipation was food.In 1908 Taft himself wrote 3c:
I venture to say that I am as temperate a man as there is anywhere. I am not a teetoaler, but I rarely drink anything. It does not agree with me and I know that I am better off without it.