The Life of Grover Cleveland
The 22nd and 24th President of thge United States
The first Democratic president to be elected following the American Civil War, Grover Cleveland was also the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms.
Grover Cleveland was born in 1837. He was one of nine children born to a Presbyterian minister in New Jersey. He was raised in upstate New York, where he eventually set up a law practice in Buffalo. During this time Cleveland became known for his ability to concentrate completely on the task at hand, which indicated considerable mental discipline.
At the age of 44, Cleveland emerged into political prominence following a term as the Mayor of Buffalo and then as the Governor of New York.
Grover Cleveland’s First Term
Following the departure of Chester A. Arthur, Cleveland was able to win the Presidency thanks to the support of the Democrats and the “Mugwumps,” a group of reform-minded Republicans who were distrustful of the Republican candidate.
At first, Cleveland was uncomfortable with the comforts of the White House. He once wrote to a friend, “I must go to dinner, but I wish it was to eat a pickled herring, a Swiss cheese and a chop at Louis’ instead of this French stuff I shall find.”
In 1886, Cleveland became the only President to marry in the White House when he wed Frances Folsom.
In the meantime, Cleveland pursued a policy barring special favours to any economic group. After vetoing an appropriation for $10,000 in seeds for drought-stricken farmers in Texas, Cleveland wrote, “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care…”
Cleveland also vetoed a number of private pension bills for Civil War veterans, many of which were fraudulent claims. Additionally, when Congress tried to pass a bill granting disability pensions to civilians, Cleveland vetoed it as well.
He also angered railroad operators when he ordered an investigation of their land holdings in the western United States, which they had received mainly through government grants. Cleveland eventually forced them to return more than 80 million acres. At the same time, Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act, which represented the first attempt to regulate American railways.
In 1887, he called on Congress to reduce high protective tariffs. In reality, he gave the Republicans an effective issue for the up coming election. Even though, Cleveland won the popular vote, he was not able to win the Electoral College. As a result he was defeated by Benjamin Harrison.
Grover Cleveland’s Second Term
When Cleveland returned to the White House in 1892, he was faced with an acute economic depression. He chose to deal with the crisis by supporting the Treasury Department, rather than seeking a remedy for business failure and unemployment. Cleveland was also able to convince Congress to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which had caused mild inflation and exacerbated the depression. Finally, Cleveland was successful in enlisting the assistance of Wall Street to maintain the Treasury’s gold supply. Around the same time, he also sent Federal troops to Chicago to force striking railroad workers back to work.
Cleveland’s response to the railroad strike stirred the pride of many patriotic Americans. So did his efforts to convince the British to accept arbitration of a boundary dispute in Venezuela. Cleveland’s domestic economic policies were not popular, however, and the party abandoned him, nominating William Jennings Bryan instead. Bryan was defeated by William McKinley in the presidential election.
Following the end of his second term, Cleveland retired to Princeton, New Jersey where he died in 1908.
Grover Cleveland.The White House. US Government. Aug.18/09
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- August 19, 2009 / 3:22 pm
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