— 22nd & 24th President of the United States —
ELECTED FROM: New York
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
1st TERM: March 4, 1885 to March 3, 1889
2nd TERM: March 4, 1893 to March 3, 1897
BORN: March 18, 1837
BIRTHPLACE: Caldwell, New Jersey
DIED: June 24, 1908, Princeton, New Jersey
MARRIED: Frances Folsom, 1886
CHILDREN: Ruth, Esther, Marion, Francis, Richard
As a child, Grover Cleveland liked the outdoors. He would chop
wood or cultivate the garden. He also liked to swim.
Along with his sense of humor, young Cleveland had a good sense
of what was to become important in his life. "If we expect to
become great and good men and be respected and esteemed by our
friends, we must improve our time when we are young," he wrote
in an essay at age nine. His role models were George Washington
and Andrew Jackson.
Cleveland worked hard in school but was not an outstanding
student. He wanted to attend college, but his father's sudden
death in 1853 ended that dream, and he was forced to go to work.
In 1855, he landed an editing job that enabled him to study law
in Buffalo, New York. He became a lawyer in 1859.
Cleveland was a bachelor when first elected president at age 49.
On June 2, 1886, he became the only president ever to be married
in the White House when he wed Frances Folsom, age 21.
His first elected office was that of Sheriff of Erie County, New
York from 1871-1873. In that role, he also served as
executioner. He personally hanged a man who had stabbed his
mother to death and another man convicted of a killing over a
card game. He became mayor of Buffalo in 1882 and served as
governor of New York from 1883-1885.
Cleveland won a narrow victory. It was under his presidency that
federal lands were opened to homesteading and the civil service
reforms that had begun earlier were continued.
President Cleveland lost his bid for reelection in 1888 but
returned four years later to serve again as president.
He died at his home in Princeton, New Jersey on June 24, 1908 at
Stephen Grover Cleveland
Twice elected president of the United States, Stephen Grover
Cleveland (1837-1908) owed his early political successes to
reformism. His efforts to stem economic depression were
unsuccessful, and the conservative means he used to settle
internal industrial conflicts were unpopular.
Grover Cleveland's political career developed while the wounds
of the Civil War and Reconstruction were healing and just as the
serious social and economic problems attendant upon
industrialization and urbanization were unclearly emerging.
Although a lifelong Democrat, Cleveland was not skilled in party
politics; he had emerged from a reform wing of his party and had
only a few years of public experience before becoming president.
Interested in public issues, he used the presidency to try to
shape legislation and public opinion in domestic areas. Yet, by
his second term of office, the old, familiar debates over
tariffs and currency had been called into question and
traditional political alignments began to tear apart. Cleveland,
however, was not sensitive to the problems of party harmony;
instead, he stood on principle at the price of party unity and
personal repudiation. In the depression of the 1890s, his
concern for the flow of gold from the Treasury led him to force
Congress to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, and this
action caused division of the Democratic party. The depression
worsened, and by his intervention in the Pullman strike of 1894
he alienated the laboring class, thus losing all effectiveness
as president. In 1896 Cleveland was rejected by his party.
Cleveland was born in New Jersey but spent most of his life in
New York. Despite the early death of his father, a Presbyterian
minister, and his consequent family responsibilities, he studied
law in a respected Buffalo firm and gained admission to the New
York bar in 1859. He joined the Democratic party, acting as ward
delegate and ward supervisor before being appointed assistant
district attorney for Erie County in 1863. Diligent and devoted,
Cleveland set a good, though not brilliant, record. Enactment of
the Conscription Act of 1863 caught him in the dilemma of
whether to serve in the Army or find a substitute. To continue
supporting his mother and sisters, he took the latter option,
remaining in Buffalo to practice law. This was a costly
decision, for a military record was expected of almost any
aspirant to public trust. Though without public office from 1865
to 1870, he steadily enlarged his law practice and gained
stature in the community.
Cleveland became sheriff in 1870, a post which promised large
fees as well as frustrating experiences with graft and
corruption. Although he was respected for his handling of
official responsibilities, he made many enemies and won few
admirers, for most citizens looked with disfavor on the office
of sheriff. After 3 years he returned to legal practice,
concentrating now on corporate law. His legal aspirations (and
fees) were modest. His qualities as a lawyer were a good index
to the whole of his public service: he was thorough, careful,
slow, diligent, serious, severe, and un-yielding. His sober
approach to his career contrasted sharply with the boisterous
humor of his private life, for he was a popular, if corpulent,
Quickly Up the Political Ladder
In 1881 Buffalo Democrats, certain that a reform candidate could
sweep the mayoralty election, turned to Cleveland. In his
one-year term as mayor he stood for honesty and efficiency -
exactly the qualities the New York Democrats sought in a
candidate for governor in 1882. New York State was alive with
calls for reform in politics; a trustworthy candidate was much
in demand. Elected governor by a handsome margin, Cleveland
favored reform legislation and countered the interests of the
New York-based political machine called Tammany Hall and its
"boss," John Kelly, to such an extent that it caused a rift
between them. After one term as governor, Cleveland was seen as
a leading contender for the presidential nomination of 1884. His
advantages lay in his having become identified with honesty and
uprightness; also, he came from a state with many votes to cast,
wealthy contributors, and a strong political organization.
Pitted against Republican nominee James G. Blaine, Cleveland
even won the support of reform-minded Republican dissidents
known as Mugwumps. Several forces favored him: Tammany's
eventual decision to support him in New York State, blame for
the depression of the 1880s falling on the Republicans, and
temperance workers' ire with the Republican party.
Thus, in 4 years, riding a crest of reform movements on
municipal, state, and national levels, Cleveland moved from a
modest law practice in upstate New York to president-elect. The
rapidity of this political success had several implications for
the balance of his career - he had not had to make compromises
in order to survive, he had not become identified with new
programs or different systems, he owed fewer debts to
special-interest groups than most new presidents, and he had
come to the presidency on the strength of his belief in simple
solutions of honesty and reform.
First Term as President
Cleveland's victory margin in 1884 was slim. His Cabinet
appointees were men of substance, though not of prominence:
Thomas Bayard as secretary of state, Daniel Manning as secretary
of the Treasury, and William Endicott as head of the War
Department. All shared the conviction that government should be
neither paternalistic nor favorable to any special group and
that contesting economic groups should settle their differences
without government intervention. With little administrative
experience and few reasons to think highly of party
organization, Cleveland in his first term advocated improved
civil service procedures, reform of executive departments,
curtailment of largesse in pensions to Civil War veterans,
tariff reform, and ending coinage based on silver. He failed to
stop silver coinage but achieved at least modest success in the
other areas. In one regard Cleveland was an innovative
president: he used his office to focus attention on substantive
issues, to pressure for legislation, and to define and determine
the lines of congressional debate. Previously (and again after
Cleveland), U.S. presidents left issues of legislation to
Congress, spending most of their efforts on party leadership.
Thus, in 1887 Cleveland took a strong position on tariff reform
and later supported passage of the Mills Bill of 1888. Although
the Mills Bill provided for only moderate tariff reductions, it
was viewed as a step in the right direction, a way of reducing
the embarrassingly large annual government surpluses.
The Republicans mobilized to meet tariff reduction head on,
stopping the Mills Bill and substituting a protective tariff
measure, going into the election of 1888 with the tariff as the
key issue. Renominated for the presidency in 1888 without
challenge, Democrat Cleveland was opposed by Republican Benjamin
Harrison of Indiana, who had the support of businessmen and
industrialists favoring protective tariffs. Superior Republican
organization, Democratic party feuding, and election fraud lost
the 1888 election for Cleveland, although he won a plurality of
the popular vote. He moved back to New York to practice law and
enjoy his family.
Out of office, Cleveland withdrew from politics for a year but
then began again to behave like an interested candidate. Stirred
into attacking the McKinley tariff of 1890 and taking a strong
position against currency expansion through silver-based
coinage, he gained the Democratic presidential nomination in
Cleveland's campaign against incumbent President Harrison was a
quiet one, with the Democrats aided by the 1892 Homestead
strike, in which prominent Republicans were involved in the
effort to break labor power and to maintain special benefits for
the powerful steel magnates. The Democrats scored smashing
victories in 1892, not only electing Cleveland but winning
control of both House and Senate.
Second Term As President
To his second Cabinet, Cleveland named Walter Gresham as
secretary of state, John G. Carlisle as secretary of the
Treasury, Daniel S. Lamont as head of the War Department, and
Richard Olney as attorney general. Like Cleveland's earlier
Cabinet, these men agreed on extreme conservatism in handling
economic issues. It was to Carlisle, Lamont, and Olney that
Cleveland listened most closely, although in the final analysis
he made his own decisions.
Policies in Time of Depression
Cleveland had scarcely taken his oath of office when the worst
financial panic in years broke across the country. A complex
phenomenon, the Panic of 1892-1893 had its roots in over
expansion of United States industry, particularly railroad
interests; in the long-term agricultural depression that reached
back to the 1880s; and in the withdrawal of European capital
from America as a result of hard times overseas. As the panic
broadened into depression, the American public tended to focus
debate about its cause and cure on one item: the money question.
On one side the argument was that businessmen (alarmed by the
Sherman Silver Purchase Act requiring a purchase of silver each
month) had lost confidence in the monetary system and feared
depletion of the gold reserves; to regain their confidence and a
return to prosperity, the buying of silver by the Federal
government had to be halted. On the opposite side of the
argument, silver exponents maintained that what was needed was
more money in circulation, which could be achieved only if more,
not less, silver was purchased by the government and used as a
basis for coinage.
Cleveland, long afraid of silver as a threat to economic
stability, determined that repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase
Act would stem the drain of gold reserves and end the depression
by restoring confidence to businessmen; he called a special
session of Congress for its repeal. Protracted and bitter debate
ensued. The Democratic party divided along sectional lines, with
western and southern Democrats standing against repeal. The
repeal, however, was voted, but it was ineffective, and gold
reserves continued to dwindle. Meanwhile the depression became
worse during 1893 and 1894.
Wounds that had opened during the silver-repeal debate were not
healed when Cleveland's administration turned to the
long-promised issue of tariff reform. Cleveland had been
identified for many years with downward revision of tariffs and
more equitable distributions. Pressured by sectional interests,
the Democrats in Congress were more divided than united over
tariff legislation. In addition, the silver battle had virtually
torn the party in half, leaving many Democrats with nothing but
hatred for the President. The Wilson bill, from the viewpoint of
the President, a fairly satisfactory measure for tariff
reduction, was amended almost beyond recognition as it passed
through the Senate, emerging with tariff rates only slightly
lower than previous ones and carrying a host of provisions for
special-interest groups. Highly dissatisfied but unsuccessful in
his attempts to improve it, Cleveland allowed the Wilson-Gorman
Act to become law without his signature.
To avert what he viewed as financial disaster, Cleveland became
involved with four bond issues to draw gold into the Treasury.
Not only was this effort to maintain gold reserves unsuccessful,
but Cleveland was charged with having catered to Wall Street
millionaires when other governmental policies had failed.
Beset by currency and tariff failures and hated by a large
segment of the general population and by many in his own party,
Cleveland further suffered loss of prestige by his actions in
the Pullman strike of 1894. Convinced that the strike of the
American Railway Union under Eugene V: Debs against the Pullman
Company constituted an intolerable threat to law and order and
that local authorities were unwilling to take action, Cleveland
and Olney sent Federal troops to Chicago and sought to have Debs
and his associates imprisoned. Although Cleveland prevailed and
order was enforced, laborers throughout the country were angered
by this use of Federal force.
The congressional elections of 1894 marked a sharp decline in
Democratic power. Bitter at Cleveland and disheartened by
worsening depression, American voters turned against the
Democrats. Although Cleveland felt betrayed by his party and
misunderstood by his constituents, he remained confident that
his money policy had been correctly conceived and reasonably
executed. Perhaps his party had split, but for him the defense
of principle was more important than political harmony.
Confronted with possibilities for compromise, Cleveland spurned
such options and withdrew into isolation.
More successful in foreign policy, Cleveland exhibited the same
determination and toughness. He would not be drawn into the
Cuban rebellion against Spain; he would not sanction the
Hawaiian revolution engineered by American commercial interests.
Yet he took an equally stern posture vis-á-vis the boundary
dispute between Venezuela and Great Britain in 1895-1896.
Concerned about European influence in the Western Hemisphere,
Cleveland and Olney carried the United States to the brink of
war by insisting that the dispute be arbitrated. Business
interests, clamoring for guarantees of open markets for their
products, had considerable influence in shaping Cleveland's
policy, which succeeded when Great Britain accepted arbitration.
Again a Private Citizen
Distrusted now and detested, Cleveland was convincingly
repudiated by the Democratic Convention of 1896, which nominated
William Jennings Bryan on a platform demanding free and
unlimited coinage of both silver and gold at the rate of 16 to
1. Cleveland took no role in the campaign. He retired to
Princeton, N.J., as soon as his term ended. He occupied himself
with writing, occasional legal consultation, the affairs of
Princeton University, and very occasional public speaking, but
after 1900 he became less reluctant to appear in public.
Sympathetic crowds greeted his appearances as the conservative
Democratic forces with which he had been identified took party
leadership from William Jennings Bryan. Briefly stirred into
activity in 1904 to support Alton B. Parker's candidacy for the
presidency, Cleveland spent most of his retirement years outside
political battles, increasingly honored as a statesman. After
offering to assist President Theodore Roosevelt in an
investigation of the anthracite coal strike of 1902, he was
active in the reorganization of the affairs of the Equitable
Life Assurance Society in 1905. His death in 1908 was the
occasion for general national mourning.
Grover Cleveland began his political career as Erie County
sheriff in New York, and after a meteoric rise became the first
Democratic President elected after the Civil War and the only
President to be married in the White House. In dealing with
Congress and state governors, he was the strongest President
since Abraham Lincoln.
The son of a Presbyterian minister, Cleveland helped support his
family by working in a local grocery store beginning at age 14.
He worked on his uncle's farm in Buffalo, then studied law. He
became assistant district attorney of Erie County during the
Civil War, hiring a substitute to fight for him for $300 when he
was drafted, a frequent and legal procedure at the time. In 1865
he was defeated in his first election bid when he ran for
district attorney of Erie County.
Nine years later he was elected mayor of Buffalo. As mayor, and
then as governor of New York, he ran honest administrations and
vetoed patronage (political appointments) and pork barrel
measures (special projects for the benefit of particular
constituents) of the city council and state legislature. He also
vetoed progressive legislation that would have held down transit
fares and regulated transit workers’ hours.
Cleveland won the Democratic nomination in 1884 because of his
record as a reformer.
As President, Cleveland was a conservative in budget matters and
a reformer when it came to patronage and the civil service. He
expanded the classified “merit appointment” list of the civil
service by 85,000 positions. His cabinet and other high-level
appointments owed less to patronage and politics and more to
merit; his new secretary of the navy, William Whitney, built a
modern steel navy that proved its worth to future Presidents. He
vetoed 200 of the 1,700 private pension bills Congress passed
for veterans of the Civil War, arguing that many of these claims
were fraudulent. He also vetoed measures to relieve farmers in
the West from drought because he did not believe that the
national government had the responsibility under the
Constitution to solve the problems of people in need.
Although Cleveland's administration was free of scandal and
corruption, he was not all that popular. In 1888, running
against a high-tariff candidate, Republican Benjamin Harrison,
he won a majority of the popular vote but lost in the electoral
college, in part because he failed to carry New York.
After leaving the White House, Cleveland practiced law in New
York City for four years, a period he termed the happiest in his
life. In 1892, Cleveland was nominated by the Democrats a third
time, and he won the rematch with Harrison. Cleveland ran on a
platform of good government, lower tariffs, and a return to
using only gold (rather than silver) to back the paper currency
issued by the U.S. Treasury. His victory made him the only
American President to serve two nonconsecutive terms.
Cleveland's eventful second term was a contrast to his first.
The Panic of 1893 led to calls from populists and progressives
for national government programs to regulate the banks, but
Cleveland turned a deaf ear. He refused to inflate the currency
and forced repeal of the Silver Purchase Act, which had
guaranteed that the government would purchase a set amount of
silver from mine owners each year. This led to a contraction in
the supply of money that worsened already hard times in the
Labor unrest added to Cleveland's troubles. When Jacob S. Coxey
led “Coxey's army,” a group of unemployed men, to the capital to
demand public service jobs, Cleveland had them dispersed by the
police. When Pullman railway car workers went on strike in 1894,
Cleveland won a court injunction and then sent 2,000 federal
troops into Illinois to break the strike. At the behest of
Attorney General Richard Olney, a former railroad lawyer
himself, the socialist leader Eugene V. Debs, head of the
American Railway Union, was jailed for his role in organizing a
boycott of Pullman cars in support of the strikers.
In foreign affairs Cleveland refused to accept a petition from a
white settlers’ government that Hawaii be annexed by the United
States, accurately describing the local “Committee of Safety” as
unrepresentative of the native population and not elected by it.
In 1895 he insisted that the British government accept an
American determination of the boundary between Venezuela and
British Guyana. Ultimately, the British and Venezuelans
negotiated an end to their boundary dispute, and arbitration
upheld most of the British claim. Cleveland refused to intervene
in the Cuban revolt against Spanish rule, leaving the problem
for his successor. When there was talk in Congress of declaring
war against Spain, Cleveland let it be known that as commander
in chief he would refuse to use the military to fight such a
war. He also rejected the idea that the United States buy Cuba
from Spain. Instead, he proposed that the Spanish offer “genuine
autonomy” to the Cubans.
By 1896 Cleveland's leadership was repudiated by his own party.
A coalition of populists and silver Democrats, who were
interested in aid to farmers, regulation of business, and
increased use of silver coins as currency, dominated the party
convention. It turned away from conservative policies and
nominated the fiery populist William Jennings Bryan.
Cleveland moved to Princeton, New Jersey, and became a trustee
of Princeton University. When he died in 1908 he was buried in
Princeton Cemetery, close to the grave of former Vice President
JACANA HOME PAGE
CLASSIC VIDEO CLIPS
JACANA ASTRONOMY SITE
JACANA PHOTO LIBRARY |
OLD MAUN PHOTO GALLERY |
MAUN PHONE DIRECTORY
FREE FONTS |
PIC OF THE DAY
GENERAL LIBRARY |
MAP LIBRARY |
HOUSE PLANS LIBRARY
MAUN E-MAIL, WEBSITE & SKYPE LIST
BOTSWANA GPS CO-ORDINATES
MAUN SAFARI WEB LINKS |
FREE SOFTWARE |
JACANA WEATHER PAGE
JACANA CROSSWORD LIBRARY |
JACANA CARTOON PAGE |
This web page was last updated on:
09 December, 2008