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Taft’s Bathtubs Weighed A Ton

Taft might not have really gotten stuck in a bathtub, but he did seem to have a fondness for them

Unattributed photograph of William Howard Taft from 1909 (Wikimedia Commons)
smithsonian.com

Within the folklore of American presidents, one story in particular stands out. William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States reportedly sat down one day for a nice long bath and got hopelessly stuck, needing six men to free him.

Taft weighed about 340 pounds, and given his large size, the story isn’t totally implausible. That doesn't necessarily mean it's true. But what is true, according to Phil Edwards at Trivia Happy, is that Taft did have a love of bathtubs. Very large bathtubs. 

One tub, built in 1909, weighed a ton and was built expressly for Taft's use. The gargantuan tub was installed on the USS North Carolina for a visit to the Panama Canal. A similarly sized bath and bed were also installed on the USS Arkansas on a later journey. Another tub, installed in the Taft Hotel near Yale (where the former president lived after his one term in office ended), was "eight feet long, four feet wide and four feet deep," Trivia Happy says. It was referred to in the papers as the "Taft tank." 

While the getting stuck story might not be true, the former president did once cause a tub to overflow just by getting into. Trivia Happy:

Perhaps most impressively of all, Taft took his bathtub troubles in stride. [The day after overflowing a tub], he gazed at the ocean and joked, “I’ll get a piece of that fenced in some day, and then I venture to say there won’t be any overflow.”

Taft never did fence in the ocean to build a tub. Instead, he lost 70 pounds.

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