Taft became assistant prosecutor in Hamilton County, Ohio, upon his graduation from the University of Cincinnati Law School. In 1883, he went into private law practice. Taft had a strong desire to become a judge, and by 1887 he was appointed as a judge of the Ohio Superior Court.
In 1890, Taft was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison to be the U.S. solicitor general. Two years later, he was given the judgeship of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court in 1892 and eventually became the chief justice. He excelled as a jurist, and the position was his real passion in life. While serving on the court, he also taught law from 1896 to 1900.
Governor of the Philippines
In 1900, Taft was selected by President McKinley to be commissioner and then governor-general of the Philippines. In this capacity, he helped to create a civil regime on the islands and at the same time brought a peaceful end to recurring rebellions. Even though his goal was to become a Supreme Court justice, he turned down the opportunity when President Roosevelt offered it to him so that he could finish his work in the Philippines.
Secretary of War
From 1904 to 1908, Taft served as President Roosevelt's secretary of war. As such, he helped establish the American protectorate in Cuba. He was very close to the president and in fact was handpicked by Roosevelt to succeed him in 1908.