Grover Cleveland was a man of undoubtable high moral value, who many people from both Democratic and Republican viewpoints counted on and believed in. He was a widely respected man who always strived for greatness and high moral ground. Through his roles as a lawyer, mayor, governor, and president his values and moral standing never changed. Though some people didn’t believe in his motives, many did, and his life can tell one why.
Birth and Early Years
Stephen Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell, New Jersey, on March 18, 1837. He was number five of nine siblings born to a Presbyterian family. Grover spent his childhood growing up in Fayetteville and Clinton, New York. He transferred to live there because of his father’s work at a very young age. His father, Reverend Richard Cleveland, died when Grover was only sixteen. So, Cleveland gave up on his dreams of high education like his father who had gone to Yale and began providing for his family in his father’s absence.
Cleveland never attended college because his father’s death caused him and his brother to become the “men” of the household; he worked with his brother as a clerk and part-time law student until he was accepted as a district attorney in Eerie County during the war at twenty-two. He never took the bar exam, but he was accepted because he was a witty individual and he was very good at learning the law firm quickly and efficiently and he won most of his cases. His friends began calling him “Big Steve,” at this time because he had gained up to about 240 pounds and so he dropped his first name entirely and began going by Grover.
He paid a man three-hundred dollars to go into the draft in his place during the Civil War which he was criticized by his opponents running for office later. In 1870, Cleveland became sheriff of Eerie County until 1873 when he went back to be an attorney. As sheriff people respected him greatly because he was a very respectable and kind individual.
Grover Cleveland became the 34th Mayor of Buffalo, New York in 1881; he won the majority vote with an astonishing 3,530, which was the highest of that time. He became known as the “veto Mayor” for famously vetoing many things while in office. He took his job as mayor very seriously and exposed many controversies to do with the city’s municipal services. If he felt something wasn’t being done right or a proposed law wasn’t moral, he would veto it how ever many times he needed to. He was a hard-working mayor and eventually ran for governor in 1882 with the affection of many Democrats across the state and the nations for his tactics. As governor, he vetoed the same things he did as mayor: things that were unfair to certain people or made it seem as others were getting special privileges. He was very thorough in his job as governor and often worked late to make sure everything was up to par. He ran for president against James Blaine for the Democratic nominee. The Republicans at the time were facing scandal and were known for being untrustworthy so Cleveland won the presidential election and became the first Democratic president in office since the Civil War.
Impact on America
Cleveland is mainly known for being the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, making him the 22nd and the 24th president of the United States. He is also known for being the only president up until that point to deliver his inaugural address without notes. He has accusations against him in 1873 sexually assaulting a woman named Maria Halpin in which she begets a child from. He claims this son was not his and this woman was insane, so he got her committed into an institution and placed the child in an orphanage. Many are on his side on this matter not only because of his sheer influence in power but because of him always striving to do the right thing. In fact, some of his last words before he died were, “I have tried so hard to do right.”
During his first term, he married Frances Folsom, which makes him the only president up until that time to marry in the White House. She was twenty-one years old at the time of their wedding which made him twenty-seven years older than she was. It also made her the youngest first lady in history. Between them, they had four children: Esther Cleveland, Ruth Cleveland, Richard Cleveland, and Francis Cleveland.
In office, he is known for the repeal of the Bland-Allison Silver Purchase Act of 1878 in which he thought that America’s currency should be backed by gold, so it could still retain its value. This act was in place until 1890 when it was replaced by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. The president also reduced tariffs on imported goods in which some argue that his way of doing this was “ineffective and poorly presented.” He signed the Interstate Commerce Act which allowed for the federal control of railroads and vetoed all laws that had loopholes for fraud including many private pension bills to Civil War veterans with claims that were based on fraud.
Cleveland also was in his first term during the dedication of the Statue of Liberty and while he was in office, the Apache wars ended. During his gap year, Benjamin Harrison was the president which he ran against and failed to become re-elected for that term. He won the popular vote for the election of that year but failed to win the electoral vote. When he got back into office for his second term in 1892, Hawaii was being annexed and Grover spoke on behalf of Hawaii’s monarchy writing, “I am ashamed of the whole affair.” His ways of taking on things and policies in the depression was becoming less flattering to his people who favored him, so he was tossed aside in favor of William Jennings Bryan.
Retirement and Later Years
Cleveland retired from presidency in 1897, leaving the White House and going to live in Princeton, New Jersey where he spent his last few years going back to his roots. He practiced law and invested in the stock market. He was treated by the inhabitants of the town like a king and was highly respected by Princeton University where he sent his essays and political views for them to study. He wrote a book in 1904 called Presidential problems which contained the mass amount of controversial decisions one must make as the president of the United States.
In 1904 he buried his own daughter, Ruth, which took a massive toll on him as four years later he never recovered from the predicament and was physically deteriorating. He died in April 1904, in his home in Princeton, New Jersey, a gastro-intestinal disease had over-incumbered him and his heart and kidneys had failed. He died a good man, at seventy-one years old, still striving to let the world know all he ever wanted to do was the right thing.