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Next PagePrevious Page Physicians in William Howard Taft's Life

Many physicians came in contact with Taft, for many reasons. To assist scholars newly approaching the Taft papers, this page supplies an annotated list of the physicians noted in research to date.

Contents
  1. Physicians with whom Taft had a doctor-patient relationship
  2. Physicians with whom Taft had professional contact, other than as a patient
  3. Physicians with whom Taft had social connections
  4. Physicians who took care of other members of the Taft household
  5. Possible physician names to investigate
  6. Physicians attending various Baltimore dinners honoring Taft
  7. Bibliographic notes

[1] Physicians with whom Taft had a doctor-patient relationship

Name
Years
Comments and sources
Rhodes
1901
Rhodes and Reilly performed emergency surgery on Taft in the Philippines in October 1901, and a second operation in November 1901 [WHT-HHT 1902-02-03]. As Taft later put it, "Major (and Doctor) Rhodes ... carved me up in the Philippines [WHT-Charles 1909-08-01]. •• Rhodes and Taft had later contacts -- see below.
Reilly
1901
Borden
1902
An ?Army physician who discovered in early February 1902 that Taft needed a third operation for his rectal abscess [WHT-HHT 1902-02-03].
Kelly, Howard A.
1902-1909
Chief of gynecology at Johns Hopkins, and a renowned, technically brilliant surgeon. Taft's wife strongly encouraged Taft to consult Kelly about the "third operation" [HHT-WHT 1902-02-06] [HHT-WHT 1902-02-08]. Taft said he would [WHT-HHT 1902-02-08]. I found no evidence he did consult Kelly, but it was difficult for Taft to refuse his wife anything. •• There is a 1909 receipt from Kelly listed in the index of the Taft papers, but I was not able to locate it.
Thatcher, John
1902-1920
In preparing for the "third operation," Taft also consulted Dr. John Thatcher, whom he describes as a "fine physician" [WHT-HHT 1902-02-12]. •• Thacher looked after Taft in Murray Bay [Ross 270] [Hicks 118]. •• Thacher was a professor in the Yale School of Medicine [Hicks 118]. •• There is only one letter from a Thacher in the Taft papers -- 1902. I did not check for other spellings. •• Taft may have consulted Dr. Thacher [sic] in the second half of 1920 [Blumer-WHT 1920-07-16], although it is not perfectly clear that this is the same as Thatcher in 1902.  Blumer's sister married Thacher's half-brother [Blumer-WHT 1920-07-16].
McBirney
1902
Taft was also considering a Dr. McBirney, and planned to consult him in person on February 13 "as to the necessity for an operation without deciding whether I shall have him do it" [WHT-HHT 1902-02-12]. This may have been Dr. Charles McBurney [sic], surgeon at the Roosevelt Hospital, after whom McBurney's sign of acute appendicitis is named. Taft's brother, Henry, and the physician John Thatcher advised Taft to see McBirney. •• A Dr. Charles McBirney was part of President McKinley's surgical team [Rixey].
McCash [?]
1902
Another surgeon Taft consulted was a Dr. McCash in New York City [WHT-HHT 1902-02-12]. Taft's handwriting is difficult to read, so the name may be incorrect. McCash may have been affiliated with the Presbyterian Hospital.
Forchheimer, Frederick
1902
Ultimately, these two Cincinnati medical men performed the third operation on Taft [Ross 143].
Rauschoff, Hiller
1902
Ransohoff, Joseph
1902
Taft's letters before his March 1902 surgery suggest that Dr. Joseph Ransohoff of Cincinnati was to perform the "third operation." But Ross says Hiller Rauschoff performed the procedure [Ross 143]. Clearly, this Dr. Ransohoff existed and knew Taft [Ransohoff-WHT 1910-10-25], so one wonders if Ross mis-read Taft's difficult handwriting.
Edie
1905
Major Edie was the physician traveling with Taft's party to the Far East. There was an outbreak of diarrhea among the party (including Taft) after dinner at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan. [WHT-HHT 1905-09-24]
Yorke-Davies, Nathaniel Edward
1905-1907
Taft's diet doctor, working at 44 Harley Street, London. It appears that Taft's sister-in-law Julia had previously engaged Dr. Yorke-Davies [WHT-HHT 1905-10-09]. A Google search shows that Yorke-Davies wrote occasionally for the British Medical Journal on metabolism-related subjects. There was a portrait of Yorke-Davies, called "Dietetics," in Vanity Fair in 1900, and this is how I ascertained his first name: the people selling the print on eBay listed his first and middle names. •• In 1914, a Dr. W. Yorke-Davies of 44 Harley Street asked Taft if he needed dietary supervision [WHT-WYD 1914-02-09].
Barker, Charles
1905-1913
Taft's "physical culture man" [WHT-NEYD, 1905-12-31]. I am not sure whether Barker had an M.D. or not. Barker wrote a book, which shows that they remained friends until Taft's death, but it gives few details of Taft's medical condition. [Barker CE. With President Taft in the White House. Chicago: A. Kroch and Son; 1947.]
DeLaney, Matthew A.
1909-1913
Taft's Presidential physician, and family physician to the Tafts. •• Upon taking office, Taft did not retain the Navy admiral (Rixey) who had been White House physician to Roosevelt and McKinley, noting "that when he wanted a physician he would call in an army surgeon, as he had been accustomed to do in the past" [Butt 5]. •• DeLaney was a Major in the US Army while Taft was President. The Rixey autobiography notes that DeLaney ultimately rose to Colonel [Rixey 460]. •• Taft was pleased enough with DeLaney's service to write him a complimentary letter at the end of his term in office [WHT-DeLaney 1913-03-03].
Davis
1911
Davis is described as Delaney's assistant. He treated the President at least once, for what sounds like a temporo-mandibular ailment. [WHT-HHT 1911-08-01] [WHT-HHT 1911-08-02]
Richardson
1907-1909 (at least)
Taft had seen a physician named Richardson as early as June 1907 for throat treatment (probably voice strain) [WHT-HHT 1907-06-15].  •• It appears Taft sometimes traveled with Richardson: "My voice is holding out fairly well, and the presence of Dr. Richardson enables me to feel that all possible care will be taken of it." [WHT-HHT 1908-09-23]  •• Dr. Richardson was with Taft in Houston in Oct. 1909 [WHT-HHT 1909-10-22]  •• It is likely, but not definite, that this is the same Richardson as below.
Richardson
1909-1910
According to [Hoover], a "Dr. Richardson" appears frequently on Taft's appointment schedule starting in December 1909, rather in the same way that Barker appears on the calendar. Richardson could, therefore, have also been a "physical culture man," but, it is more likely he was the throat specialist noted above.
Dean
1907
While in Minneapolis in 1907, Taft wrote: "Before delivering my address I went to consult Dr. Dean, a throat specialist, who blew me out as Dr. Richardson does. I fancy these fellows put some cocaine in their treatment. [After giving two addresses:] I went again to Dr. Dean to be treated, in order that I might speak to about 4000 people... [After four more speeches that day and the next:] I rode about Minneapolis for a while in an automobile, went to a throat specialist who blew me out, and got back to Senator Washburn's in time to dress for dinner." [WHT-HHT 1907-06-15]
Jackson, James Marsh
1910-1911
Jackson attentended Taft at the Summer White House in Beverly, Massachusetts [Butt 547-548] [WHT-JMJ 1911-11-15]. •• The results of Jackson's pessimistic evaluation of October 1910 were to have been transmitted to DeLaney [Butt 547].  It is unclear whether this happened [JMJ-WHT 1914-02-11].  •• Taft "met" Dr. Jackson in Boston in January 1914, but it does not seem to have been a clinic visit [WHT-Blumer 1914-01-18].  As a result of that meeting, Taft asked Jackson to forward his medical records to Blumer [WHT-JMJ 1914-02-09] [JMJ-WHT 1914-02-11]. •• Jackson's obituary was published [Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. 1919;180(3):87.].
Major Rhoads
1911-1913 (at least)
This is probably the same person as "Dr. Rhodes" mentioned elsewhere. •• After Archie Butt's death in April 1912, [Hoover] records Taft often traveling with a Major Rhoads [e.g. week of 1913-01-26]. •• [Bromley 353] says that in November 1912 "Major Rhoads, Archie's replacement and long Taft's personal physician" visited an asylum. •• As part of White House renovations, "all the Major's hygiene recommendations have been followed." [WHT-HHT 1912-10-27] •• "Major Rhoads came to live in the White House with us." [WHT-HHT 1912-07-16] •• "I do not think I have caught more cold. Rhoads is very attentive. My voice did nicely yesterday." [WHT-HHT 1911-09-18] •• See also [WHT-Charles Norton 1911-02-17, reel 390, 492K file].
Hill, John Wesley
1912-1923 (at least)
"My voice gave out [during a 17-speech day] but I called on John Wesley Hill to help me." [WHT-HHT 1912-05-16] •• The Tafts sent the Hills a Christmas card (at a Washington address) in 1923.
Cleveland
1913
According to [Hoover], a "Dr. Cleveland" appears frequently on Taft's list of appointments starting in January 1913. I did not investigate Cleveland's identity.
Coleman, Thomas D.
1913
After leaving the White House, Taft spent a month in Augusta, Georgia.  Coleman, who was apparently a friend of Taft's, was also his physician [Coleman-Blumer 1913-03-30].
Blumer, George D.
1913-1923
Taft was apparently referred to Blumer by Coleman [Coleman-Blumer 1913-03-30] •• Blumer was dean of the Yale Medical School, so some of the Taft-Blumer correspondence deals with the medical school and medical education •• Blumer has published reminiscences, which do not mention Taft [Yale J Biol Med 1955;28(1):1-28].
Churchman
1913
"Dr. Churchman has arranged to call on me this afternoon at half past six" [WHT-Blumer 1913-04-05]. Taft wrote this from New Haven.
Tilerson, Wilder
1915
Blumer recommended him as a physician able to care for Taft in Murray Bay [WHT-Blumer 1915-06-02]. May also be "Tilerton."
Claytor, Thomas
1921-1930
When Taft was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1921, he moved from New Haven to Washington and needed a new physician. ••  Blumer recommeded Claytor [WHT-Blumer 1921-07-30]. •• Blumer sent a summary of Taft's case to Claytor [WHT-Blumer 1921-09-26].
Hagner, Frances
1922-1930
Blumer recommended Hagner, a urologist, when Taft passed blood in his urine in late 1922 [WHT-Blumer 1923-01-02]. •• Hagner's first name is not mentioned in the Taft papers.  I obtained it from the autobiography of Hugh H. Young [Hugh Young : A Surgeon's Autobiography . New York : Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1940], which also mentions that Hagner trained at Hopkins under Halsted (pages 57-58)..
Thayer, William S.
1924-1926
Taft's consultant cardiologist. They first met, socially, in 1904 (see below) at Osler's house. •• Thayer was delinquent in communicating with Taft's primary care physician, Thomas Clayor [Claytor-WHT 1924-06-27] [Claytor-WHT 1924-07-07] [Claytor-WHT 1924-07-25]. •• Thayer refused to bill Taft when Taft was Supreme Court Chief Justice [WST-WHT 1925-Jan. or Feb.]. •• There were other problems getting hold of Thayer [WHT-Annie 1926-07-08].
Macnaughton
1926
(at least)
Taft's physician in Murray Bay [WHT-Annie 1926-07-08] [WHT-Claytor 1926-09-03].
?
1926
An unnamed heart specialist from Johns Hopkins consulted on Taft in July 1926 [WHT-Annie 1926-07-08].  Welch recommended the consultant when Thayer was out of town and could not be reached. •• This consultant did not bill Taft [WHT-Claytor 1926-10-07].
Henry, John Stewart
1927
From a web page of the McGill University archives: "John Stewart Henry (M.D.,C.M., McGill, 1925) was born in Salisbury, New Brunswick. In order to finance postdoctoral studies, he worked during the summer of 1927 at Murray Bay; among the summer visitors he treated were former U.S. President William Taft and a Boston physician, Vincent Bowditch."
Fuller
1929-1930
Hagner's assistant.  Taft, wary of his bladder and "what happened the last time I was in Cincinnati," took Fuller with him on the trip to Cincinnati in late December 1929 [WHT-Charley 1929-12-30].
Wilmer, William H.

Johns Hopkins ophthalmologist who also maintained a private practice in Washington. I have not thoroughly read the correspondence between Wilmer and Taft.  It seems likely that Wilmer cared for Taft. •• Taft met Wilmer and his wife [WHT-R.A.Taft 1929-12-01]
Greene, Louis 1913-1914
Partner of Dr. Wilmer in Washington, DC. I have not read all the letters between Greene and the Tafts.


[2] Physicians with whom Taft had professional contact, other than as a patient

No other President has been brought into contact with physicians and their work in so many ways -- has had such a practical knowledge of what medical science has done and is doing -- for no other President has had the opportunities for personal observation of the results of scientific sanitation that President Taft had in the Philippines, in Cuba, in Porto Rico, in the Canal Zone and as Secretary of War.
-- Journal of the American Medical Association
1911;56:1393-1394

Name
Years
Comments and sources
Gorgas, William C.

Gorgas coordinated the campaigns against yellow fever and other infectious diseases in the Panama Canal Zone, during Taft's tenure as Secretary of War.
Rixey, Presley Marion

Rixey was White House physician to William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He was also surgeon general of the U.S. Navy when Taft became President. •• Rixey wrote the just-inaugurated Taft to ask "whether he desired him to continue to act as the surgeon for the White House.... The President had construed this into being some sort of threat and had answered that he did not," which surprised Rixey [Butt 5].  •• Nor did Taft renew Rixey's appointment as surgeon-general of the Navy, choosing Stokes instead. Apparently, the Hopkins physicians had something to do with this, although several of them knew Rixey [Rixey 350-355, 401-402]. •• Rixey, Grayson, Butt, and Taft's son Charlie went fishing together on July 20, 1910 [Butt 445].
Rodman, William L.
1911
President of the Medical Club of Philadelphia, who invited Taft to speak at dinner before a thousand doctors at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel on May 4, 1911 [Butt 639]. (This is the hotel in which Legionnaire's disease "appeared" in the mid-1970s.) •• The evening's speeches are printed in: [Journal Am. Medical Assn. 1911;56:1399-1404] and also in: [Military Surgeon 1911;28:599-605]. •• Other speakers included Welch, Mitchell, Reed, Stokes, Torney, and Taft.
Stokes, Charles F.

Taft appointed him Rixey's successor as Navy surgeon general. Stokes had been the Baltimore City microbiologist [source?], which may have been why the Hopkins physicians went to bat for him [Foster 305]. •• Stokes spoke at the meeting of the Medical Club of Philadelphia on May 4, 1911, at which Taft also spoke.
Torney, George H.

Surgeon General of the U.S. Army during Taft's presidency. •• Torney spoke at the meeting of the Medical Club of Philadelphia on May 4, 1911, at which Taft also spoke.
Wood, Leonard

Taft knew of Wood's brain tumor, and drafted a letter asking Wood to help with his (Taft's) sister-in-law's brain tumor [WHT-Horace 1909-10-28].


[3] Physicians with whom Taft had social connections

Name
Years
Comments and sources
Coe, Henry Clarke
1871-
Coe was a Yale classmate of Taft's who became a gynecologist. There are many letters between them, which I did not examine.
Comroe, Julius H. Sr.
1908 (at least)
Comroe wrote Taft a congratulatory letter shortly after Taft's election to the Presidency. Taft replied with the standard letter he used to answer the hundreds of such good wishes. [WHT-Comroe 1908-11-23] Comroe, the father of the renowned physiologist of the same name, was an internist in York, PA.
Edwards, William
1890-1918?
Taft's brother-in-law (husband of sister Annie). Edwards was a Los Angeles surgeon who had cared for Taft's father [Ross 103]. After meeting Taft for the first time in 1890, Edwards predicted Taft would be President someday [Ross 103].
Grayson, Cary T.

Rixey, Grayson, Butt, and Taft's son Charlie went fishing together on July 20, 1910 [Butt 445]. •• Taft may have consulted Grayson on July 22, 1910. Taft was having trouble with his ankle (probably gout), and was persuaded by Butt to see the "ship's doctor" aboard SS Mayflower [Butt 449]. Grayson was a member of the ship's company [Butt 445]. •• Grayson was later Woodrow Wilson's White House physician.
Keen, W. W.
? - ?
While seeking a surgeon for his sister-in-law's brain tumor in 1909, Taft writes: "I believe the greatest authority on the subject is W. W. Keen, of Philadelphia, whom I know very well" [WHT-Horace 1909-10-28]. •• I do not know how they met, although it could have been through S. Weir Mitchell. It does not appear that Keen was known to Mrs. Taft [WHT-HHT 1909-10-28]. •• Keen was one of the surgeons who operated on President Grover Cleveland in 1893.
Lackwood

No longer in practice, but Taft shares info with him [WHT-Lackwood 1924-07-02].
Mitchell, Silas Weir
1908-1912
Mitchell was a nationally renowned Philadelphia neurologist, whom Bliss describes as a "society doctor" [Bliss 130]. Taft stayed at Mitchell's home for two days in 1909 [Earnest ES. S. Weir Mitchell: Novelist and Physician. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 1950. pp. 206-207]. Mitchell wrote Taft a dozen letters over the years, some of which refer to other meetings between the men. Butt [147] records a meeting on July 21, 1910, in which Mitchell urged Taft to return captured battle flags to Mexico. •• Mitchell spoke at the meeting of the Medical Club of Philadelphia on May 4, 1911, at which Taft also spoke.
Reed, Charles A. L.

Cincinnati surgeon, "for years at the head of the American Medical Association. He and I have a long friendship and many things in common." [Taft to Knox 1909-03-15] •• A "warm friend of the President" [Rodman to Hillis, 1911-04-18, reel 390, file 492K] •• Reed spoke at the meeting of the Medical Club of Philadelphia on May 4, 1911, at which Taft also spoke.
Rhodes
1902-1909 (at least)
Rhodes was Taft's surgeon in the Philippines -- see above. •• Taft also discussed his wife's case with Rhodes in August 1909: "Major (and Doctor) Rhodes, who carved me up in the Philippines, was talking with me about the disease which she has - nervous aphasia - and said that it took usually from four to six months to recover complete control of the voice and vocal organs" [WHT-Charles 1909-08-01]. •• It is unclear if this is the same person as Rhoads.
Webb, Seward
1909 (at least)
Taft went to visit the Webbs in Burlington, "but the doctor was absent, due to the fact that he is generally drunk." [WHT-HHT 1909-07-11] [It is unclear if Webb was a PhD or MD.]
Wrong, George M.
1908 (at least)
Wrong wrote Taft a congratulatory letter shortly after Taft's election to the Presidency. Taft replied: "I remember going over the golf field with you once or twice and discussing politics, and finding that there was much sympathy between us." [WHT-Wrong 1908-11-30] [It is unclear if Wrong was a PhD or MD.]
The Johns Hopkins Doctors
Osler, William
1902-1919
Osler and Taft met while summering in the small Quebec town of Murray Bay in 1902 [Bliss]. •• Osler and Taft were co-feted at a 1905 dinner (see Section 6).
Thayer, William S.
1904-1926 (at least)
They first met at dinner at Osler's house in 1904 [WST-WHT 1908-11-29]. •• Thayer was invited to the 1905 Taft-Osler dinner (see Section 6). •• Thayer wrote a congratulatory letter when Taft was elected President [WST-WHT 1908-11-29]. •• Thayer invited Taft to an April 1910 dinner inWelch's honor, incuding an invitation for Taft to stay at Thayer's house in Baltimore [WHT-WST 1910-02-25, in the Thayer papers in the Alan Chesney Archives at Johns Hopkins]. Ultimately, Taft declined [WHT(Carpenter)-W.S.Thayer 1910-03-01, in the Thayer papers in the Alan Chesney Archives at Johns Hopkins]
Cushing, Harvey
1909-1926 (at least)
They met when Cushing took care of Taft's sister-in-law at Hopkins in 1909 (see below). •• Cushing and Finney and "The Professor" [who? Welch?] called on Taft in the White House on Jan. 5, 1910 to put in a word for Stokes to become the new surgeon-general of the Navy [Foster 305]. •• Taft read Cushing's Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography of William Osler "with moist eyes" and wrote Cushing a complimentary letter [WHT-HC 1926-12-14], noting: "I have not seen you for many a year but I follow you and your work as well as I can, i.e. as well as I can that of a Yale man at Harvard. My deepest sympathy in the blinding sorrow of the loss of your boy went to you when I heard of it. Nothing can take away the life long effect of such a blow and only hard work can mitigate it." Taft also describes the diagnosis of his atrial fibrillation, made by W. S. Thayer. Cushing writes back a wonderful, warm letter [HC-WHT 1926-December] that starts: "That is a delightful and much appreciated letter from you. The only out about it lies in your confession that you have fallen under Thayer's commands. But then there are far worse things than cardiac fibrillation -- even for a man with as large and warm a heart as yours, which must be able to fibrillate mightily."
Kelly, Howard A.
1902-?
Taft may have consulted Kelly in 1902 -- see above. •• Kelly attended the 1905 Taft-Osler dinner (see Section 6).
Welch, William H.
1905-1926 (at least)
Welch attended the 1905 Taft-Osler dinner (see Section 6). •• In February 1909, Welch invited Taft to address the American Medical Association. We conclude Welch was somewhat scatterbrained, as his letter to Taft is dated February 29 [sic], 1909, a date which any third-grader knows can not exist. •• Taft declined an invitation to an April 1910 dinner in Welch's honor [WHT(Carpenter)-Thayer 1910-03-01, in the Thayer papers in the Alan Chesney Archives at Johns Hopkins] •• Welch spoke at the meeting of the Medical Club of Philadelphia on May 4, 1911, at which Taft also spoke. •• Welch wrote a congratulatory letter when Taft was chosen Chief Justice, and Taft answered. Taft's letter to Welch, dated July 6, 1921, is in the Welch papers in the Johns Hopkins Archives. Taft notes: "When I reach Washington, we shall become neighbors again, and I hope I may see more of you than in the recent past." •• A few months later,Welch invited him to speak at the Maryland Social Hygiene Society, but Taft declined [WHW-WHT 1921-12-19]. •• Welch was invited to a 1923 dinner in honor of Chief Justice Taft (see Section 6). •• Welch and Taft were co-feted at a 1924 dinner (see Section 6). •• Welch recommeded a cardiac specialist to Taft in summer 1926, when Thayer was out of town [WHT-Annie 1926-07-08].
Barker, Lewellys F.
1909-1924 (at least)
Barker had a professional relationship with Mrs. Taft starting 1909 (see below) •• Barker sent a congratulatory note to Taft when the Supreme Court appointment was announced [LFB-WHT 1921-07-30]. •• Barker was invited to a 1924 dinner in honor of Taft and Welch (see Section 6).
Cullen, Thomas S.
1927
P. L. Goldsborough, President of the National Union Bank of Maryland, wrote that his "very dear friend," Dr. Cullen, was anxious to call on Taft for the purpose of inviting him to address the Medical and Chirurgical Society of Maryland [Goldsborough-WHT 1927-02-25, in Cullen papers]. Taft replied that he had given up the making of public addresses, but would be happy to receive Cullen [WHT-Goldsborough 1927-02-27, Cullen papers]. It is unclear if Cullen ever paid the call [Goldsborough-Cullen 1927-02-28, Cullen papers].
Flexner

There are letters from various Flexners in the Taft papers. •• Llewellys Barker and Simon Flexner were both members of the First Philippine Commission in 1899, but did not overlap Taft's tenure in the islands [Lewellys F. Barker. Time and the Physician. NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1942].
Finney, J. M. T.
1910-1924
Cushing and Finney and "The Professor" [who?] called on Taft in the White House on Jan. 5, 1910 to put in a word for Stokes to become the new surgeon-general of the Navy [Foster 305]. •• Finney was invited to a 1924 dinner in honor of Taft and Welch (see Section 6).
Futcher, T. B.

There is a 1913 letter in the Taft papers, but I did not look at it.
Others

See Section 6. Several Hopkins physicians presumably met Taft at the occasional dinners in his honor given in Baltimore.


[4] Physicians who took care of other members of the Taft household

Name
Years
Comments and sources
Baer, W. S.
1904 ?
Head of the Johns Hopkins orthopedic department in 1904, when Osler recommended him to evaluate the spinal curvature of Taft's daughter, Helen [WO-WHT 1904-06-13]. I do not know if Baer actually ever consulted on Helen or not. Osler recommended a Dr. Bradford of Boston as a second choice. Ross [160] states that Helen had curvature of the spine, wore a plaster jacket for a time, and did special exercises for years.
Barker, Lewellys F.
1909
Consulted on Mrs. Taft 5 months after her stroke [DeLaney-WHT 1909-10-28]. Barker apparently visited the White House in secret. He found her "practically normal" except for her articulation. •• Taft received a letter from DeLaney "in which he says that Dr. Barker spoke in the most encouraging way about [Nellie's] condition, and said that everything was going as well as I could possibly hope." [WHT-HHT 1909-10-31]
Cushing, Harvey
1909
Operated on Taft's sister in law, Winifred, at Johns Hopkins in October 1909 [WHT-Delia Torrey 1909-11-13]. She died in December [Ross 234]. Winifred was the wife of Taft's brother Horace. Taft helped Horace find a surgeon for Winifred [WHT-Horace 1909-10-28] [WHT-HHT 1909-10-28], and knew Cushing only by reputation at this time.
DeLaney, Matthew A.
1909-1913
White House physician who provided initial care for Mrs. Taft at time of her stroke [WHT-Robert 1909-05-18]. He administered stimulants for her heart, "which was very weak," and had her put to bed. Taft wrote: "The doctor soon reassured us all, and her as well ... that it was a mere attack of nervous hysteria. •• DeLaney later arranged for Dr. L. F. Barker to evaluate Mrs. Taft [DeLaney-WHT 1909-10-28]. •• Taft, writing to his wife, mentions DeLaney in several letters: 1911-05-17?, 1911-08-01, 1911-08-04
Forcheimer
1902-1913
I believe that Forcheimer was the Taft family physician, but have not exhaustively looked in the Taft Papers to confirm it. My belief is based on the occurrence of his name (spelled various ways) in Taft correspondence from February 1902. It appears that he was taking care of Mrs. Taft, and that Mr. Taft knew him as well. •• Taft expresses his sadness at the death of Forchheimer. [WHT-HHT 1913-06-25] •• Forchheimer may have operated on Taft in March 1902 (see above).
Münsterburg
1910
Taft wrote to DeLaney on May 9, 1910: "I send you a communication that I have from Professor Münsterberg, who saw Mrs. Taft. I think it is a crank communication, but I thought I would give it to you."
Rugh, James Torrance
? - 1909
Philadelphia-based Rugh cared for Taft's daughter, Helen, for reasons unknown. Helen left his care in June 1909 (she turned 18 in August 1909), with some protest from Dr. Rugh [JTR-WHT 1909-06-30].
Wilmer, William H.

Mrs. Taft had an appointment with him on April 28, 1909, three weeks before her stroke [appointment is listed in Mrs. Taft's White House diary, on reel 609].


[5] Possible physician names to investigate

Name
Years
Comments and sources
Ainsworth, F. A.
??

Kean, Jefferson R.
??
Lieutenant Colonel. See, perhaps, [WHT-Blumer 1916-03-13].
Thacher
??
See discussion of Thatcher.


[6] Physicians attending various Baltimore dinners honoring Taft

These dinners were held at the Maryland Club in Baltimore, which was astonishingly uncooperative with efforts to research these historical events.
  • Taft-Osler dinner of March 11, 1905.
    • Invitees: Dr. William S. Halsted • Dr. Henry M. Hurd • Dr. Howard A. Kelly • Dr. William H. Welch • Dr. J. Whitridge Williams • Dr. W. S. Thayer • Dr. Joseph S. Ames • Dr. Charles M. Ellis
    • Source: Howard Kelly papers in the Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins
    • We know that Kelly and Welch attended because their programs are in the Chesney Archives at Johns Hopkins. I do not know if Ames and Ellis were physicians or PhDs. The others were MDs.
  • Taft dinner of February 14, 1923
    • Known invitees: Dr. William H. Welch
    • The Welch papers in the Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins contain an invitation to a dinner meeting of the '91 Club at the Maryland Club on that date. The invitation notes that "The Chief Justice asks that no publicity be given to his attendance" at the dinner. I do not know what the '91 Club is. Since Welch and Taft were both Yale alumni, it may have been a Yale organization. A handwritten note on the invitiation says: "Found in middle room on revolving bookcase, 807 St. Paul St." -- perhaps an indication that Welch's home was in disarray when he died in 1934.
  • Taft-Welch dinner of February 28, 1924
    • Invitees: Dr. Lewellys F. Barker • Dr. Frederic S. Dennis • Dr. J. M. T. Finney • Dr. William S. Halsted • Dr. Winford H. Smith • Dr. James Brown Scott • Dr. J. Whitridge Williams • Dr. Henry Wood • Dr. Hugh H. Young
    • Source: Welch papers in the Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins
    • I do not know if Dennis, Smith, Scott, and Wood were physicians or PhDs. The others were MDs.

[7] Bibliographic notes

  • All references in square brackets are to the Taft papers in the Library of Congress, unless otherwise noted.
  • Many references in square brackets have the form: [letterWriter-letterReceiver date]
    • Abbreviations for letterWriter and letterReader :
      • WHT = William Howard Taft
      • HHT = Helen Herron Taft (Mrs. William H. Taft)
      • NEYD = N. E. Yorke-Davies
      • other intitials refer to the doctor that is being described in the same row
    • Other letter writers and receivers:
      • Annie = Annie Sinton Taft (Taft's sister-in-law)
      • Charles = Charles P. Taft (Taft's half-brother)
      • Charlie = Charlie Taft (Taft's son)
      • Horace = Horace D. Taft (Taft's brother)
      • Robert = Robert A. Taft (Taft's son)
      • other: the name of a physician listed in the tables
    • date has the form: year-month-day
  • Chesney Archives = Alan M. Chesney Archives at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
  • Other references:
    • Bliss = Bliss M. William Osler: A Life in Medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1999.
    • Bromley = Bromley ML. William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland, 2003.
    • Butt = Butt AW. Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt, Military Aide. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran; 1930.
    • Foster = Foster JF. Harvey Cushing: A Biography. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas; 1946.
    • Hicks = Hicks FC. William Howard Taft, Yale Professor of Law & New Haven Citizen: An Academic Interlude in the Life of the Twenty-Seventh President of the United States and the Tenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; 1945.
    • Hoover = Irwin (Ike) Hoover papers in the Library of Congress. His papers include the daily White House appointment schedule.
    • Rixey = Rixey PM, Braisted WC, Bell WH. The Life Story of Presley Marion Rixey: Surgeon General, U. S. Navy, 1902-1910. Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc., 1930
    • Ross = Ross I. An American Family: The Tafts - 1678 to 1964. Cleveland, OH: World Publishing; 1964.


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