Our 22nd President: 1885-1889
Our 24th President: 1893-1897
Just the Facts:
- Cleveland’s nickname was “The Beast of Buffalo.”
- He was the only president to get married in the White House.
- His wife, Francis, was the youngest First Lady ever (she was only 21).
- His motto was “Tell the Trust” and his campaign slogan was “Public office is a public trust.”
- He loved his hunting dogs.
- The candy bar “Baby Ruth” is named after Cleveland’s daughter, Ruth.
Grover was born in New Jersey to a family of 9 children! He was right in the middle – the 5th to be born. When he was little, his family moved to New York and he spent a lot of time taking care of his siblings. As a result, he didn’t go to school much. In fact, Grover only had about four years of school in total – the had to learn the rest at home or on his own.
His father was a Presbyterian minister and taught Grover the importance of working hard in life. He worked as a store clerk and a teacher when he was young. When his father died, he worked hard to help take care of his family. Grover paid someone to take his place in the Civil War – it was a common practice of the day.
Grover visited an uncle in Buffalo and ended up staying – his uncle offered him a job as editor of a business magazine. He went on to become a lawyer. He took his responsibilities seriously and was committed to reforming the political system – he insisted that contracts go to bid rather than just given to a friend. Cleveland went on to become mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York.
Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th president. He was defeated when he ran for re-election in 1889, but went on to win again four years later. Cleveland was known for being honest and working hard – but he also loved to have fun. The Statue of Liberty was completed during his presidency and he gave the dedication speech.
Cleveland was a reformer – he tried to make the government work better. He vetoed more legislation than most other presidents, in his effort to clean up the system. Some people called him the “Veto President.” Cleveland was also president during one of the biggest financial crises in American history – the crash of 1893. Unfortunately, he couldn’t turn it around before his second term ended.
President Cleveland was the first president to get married in the White House – they got married in the Blue Room. He married his law partners’ daughter, Francis, who was 28 years younger than Grover. Their daughter, Ester, was the first child of a president to be born in the White House. As the First Lady, she hosted receptions twice per week and shook everyone’s hand. When they left the White House after Grover’s first term, Mrs. Cleveland promised the staff that they would be back in four years!
During his second term, Grover became ill with cancer in his jaw. He had secret surgery on a navy ship in New York Harbor. He retired to New Jersey and became a trustee of Princeton University. He went on to live 11 more years. Right before he died, his last words were “I have tried so hard to do right.”
“A government for the people must depend for its success on the intelligence, the morality, the justice, and the interest of the people themselves.”
“Officeholders are the agents of the people, not their masters”
“Honor lies in honest toil.”