William Howard Taft: An Unlucky Month


horse fall
 
May 18, 1909: despite his wife's stroke, Taft went horseback riding, which he did almost every day while President 1a. On this day, his aide recorded 1b:
The President was thrown from his horse this afternoon, but luckily not hurt. I am sure he is bruised and that he will be very sore to-morrow, but it was lucky that he was not killed. SEE BELOW
Taft had other problems with horses during his political career, including (1) the famous telegram from Secretary of War Elihu Root (see below) and (2) an angry exchange with his military aide at the Grand Canyon when Taft wanted to ride a horse down the trail into the Canyon. The aide, who "had no idea of letting him run the risk of breaking his neck and imposing the Vice President on the country as the Chief Executive," finally persuaded Taft it was not wise 1c. MORE

More...
Here is the full description of the incident from Major Butt's letter 1b:
The President was thrown from his horse this afternoon, but luckily not hurt. I am sure he is bruised and that he will be very sore to-morrow, but it was lucky that he was not killed. We were riding near the water's edge on the unimproved part of Alexandria Island when his horse took fright from the water, which suddenly became disturbed by a gust of wind, and wheeled. He simply wheeled from under the President and the latter fell on his back. The horse might easily have steppend on him, but instead of this he became frightened at the President on the ground and a leapt to one side. I dismounted at once, and by the time I reached the President he was shaking with laughter, so much that he could hardly get up. He mounted the animal a moment later and finished the ride. Later he asked me what I had thought when I saw him going.

"My only thought was, Mr. President, that the devil was certainly sitting up overtime to see what next he could do to the Taft family."

At which he laughed and said:

"It certainly does look as if he were giving an extra amount of attention to us, doesn't it?"

Butt worried about the President whenever he was riding MORE, and of course checked the President's horse ahead of time 1d.
Cited Sources
  1. Butt, Archibald W. Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt, Military Aide. Garden City, NY: Doubleday (1930). Volume 1: pages 1-432. Volume 2: pages 433-862.
        
    a  p.39  b  p.92  c  pp.206-207  d  p.45

    Comment: Butt, an Army officer, was military aide first to President Theodore Roosevelt and then to President William Taft. On April 14, 1912, Butt was at sea aboard the Titanic returning from a European vacation that Taft had insisted he take. President Taft later said: "When I heard that part of the ship's company had gone down, I gave up hope for the rescue of Major Butt, unless by accident. I knew that he would certainly remain on the ship's deck until every duty had been performed and every sacrifice made that properly fell on one charged, as he would feel himself charged, with responsibility for the rescue of others." Taft was correct. Butt did not survive the sinking.


George Washington · John Adams · Thomas Jefferson · James Madison · James Monroe · John Q. Adams · Andrew Jackson · Martin van Buren · William Harrison · John Tyler · James Polk · Zachary Taylor · Millard Fillmore · Franklin Pierce · James Buchanan · Abraham Lincoln · Andrew Johnson · Ulysses Grant · Rutherford Hayes · James Garfield · Chester Arthur · Grover Cleveland · Benjamin Harrison · William McKinley · Theodore Roosevelt · William Taft · Woodrow Wilson · Warren Harding · Calvin Coolidge · Herbert Hoover · Franklin Roosevelt · Harry Truman · Dwight Eisenhower · John Kennedy · Lyndon Johnson · Richard Nixon · Gerald Ford · James Carter · Ronald Reagan · George Bush · William Clinton · George W. Bush · Barack Obama