Alphonso Taft (November 5, 1810 – May 21, 1891) was an American jurist, diplomat, politician, Attorney General and Secretary of War under President Ulysses S. Grant. He was also the founder of the Taft political dynasty, and father of President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft. As Secretary of War, Taft's popular appointment by Grant did much to restore the integrity of the War Department. Taft reformed the War Department by allowing commanders at Indian forts to choose who could start and run post traderships, and by making reductions in wasteful military spending.
Taft asserted that the school board was within its rights to stop the practice of reading the Bible in public schools, arguing that religious liberty demands that "The government is neutral, and, while protecting all [religious sects], it prefers none, and it disparages none."
Taft was a member of the Taft family political dynasty. His son, William Howard Taft, was the 27th president of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice of the United States, and was a member of Yale's Skull and Bones like his founder father; another son, Charles Phelps Taft, supported the founding of Wolf's Head Society at Yale; both his grandson and great-grandson, Robert A. Taft I (also Skull and Bones) and Robert Taft Jr., were U.S. Senators; his great-great-grandson, Robert A. Taft II, was the Governor of Ohio from 1999 until 2007. William Howard Taft III was ambassador to Ireland; William Howard Taft IV worked in several Republican administrations, most recently that of George W. Bush.