After more than two decades as a lawyer, Walter Stahr started writing books about American leaders. His biographies of John Jay, William Henry Seward and Edwin Stanton have earned praise and awards, and he is now at work on Salmon Chase, antislavery activist, treasury secretary and chief justice.
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For nine years, from 1892 through 1900, William Howard Taft was a senior federal judge, based in Cincinnati, handling both trials and appeals, for the Sixth Circuit, which then as now was composed of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. During this period, Judge Taft drafted and published more than three hundred opinions that were reported…