William Howard Taft and Sleep Apnea
With the possible exception of Lincoln, no man has faced greater challenges as President than William Howard Taft.
Taft's challenges were not from well-understood foes such as war, famine, plague, or politics. His challenges arose within, from a disease all but unknown at the time -- a disease that steals energy, stamina, intellect, patience, forgiveness, and life.
Taft had severe obstructive sleep apnea. In his four years as President (1909-1913), he could never count on a good night's sleep. The great gift of waking refreshed, ready to face the day's work, was not his. He was always tired, mentally and physically. His greatest desire was to rest. He slept, but rest did not come.
Taft knew the best doctors in the world. They did not help. He was on his own. A lesser man might have surrendered, but with an unwavering sense of duty Taft persevered, accomplishing much during his administration.
Taft had no energy left for politics. A good President, but a poor politician, he was defeated for re-election.
Eight years later, Taft became Chief Justice of the United States. By then he had beaten his severe obesity and his sleep apnea, forever. He was alert and attentive on the bench, and ran the Supreme Court with great energy and skill. His death, in 1930, prompted an enormous outpouring of public grief and tribute.
Apneos is pleased to present this resource website on Taft and sleep apnea. Apneos supported the historical research of Dr. John Sotos that described Taft's illness in a recent medical journal article.
Members of the public will want to read: