Even in an era before obesity became a national health concern, President William Howard Taft seemed larger than life. During his Presidency, 1909-13, the 340 pounds on his 5-foot-11½-inch frame made him an imposing figure and, at times, the subject of ridicule. Although Taft’s life pre-dates a time when special accommodations for large people were common, accommodations were made for him as President-elect. In January 1909, two months after being elected President, Taft boarded the USS North Carolina to set sail to inspect the Panama Canal construction zone; the ship had been specially outfitted just for him. Captain W. A. Marshall requested the following items: 1 brass double bedstead, of extra length; 1 superior spring mattress, extra strong; 1 bath tub, 5 feet 5 inches in length, over rolled rim, and of extra width.
National Archives, Records of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts (Navy)