When Grover Cleveland ran the first time for President, one newspaper gave its readers four reasons to vote for the Democratic nominee: 1. He is an honest man. 2. He is an honest man. 3. He is an honest man. 4. He is an honest man.
Stephen Grover Cleveland, the only chief executive to serve nonconsecutive terms – 22nd and 24th Presidencies – was an honest man, but honesty alone does not make a good president.
By 1863, Cleveland, born on March 18, 1837, was assistant district attorney in Buffalo, New York. Then he was drafted for military service in the Civil War, but paid another man to go in his place so that he could stay at home to support his mother and sister. After the war, he was elected sheriff, but devoted most of his time to his law practice.
Cleveland began his meteoric rise to the Presidency in 1881, when he became the reform mayor of Buffalo. He proved so successful that the Democrats nominated him for governor in 1882 and he handily won that race.
In 1884, the Republicans nominated veteran Senator James G. Blaine of Maine. The Democrats countered with the fresh face of Cleveland. The campaign that followed was a very nasty one, but in the end, Cleveland managed to win.
During his first term Cleveland ran into trouble, when he filled every federal office he could with “deserving” Democrats, rather than people of merit. He also rejected a package of veteran benefits; this hurt Cleveland a lot with powerful veterans’ groups. Cleveland had not served in the Civil War and in the 1888 election, veterans supported Republican Benjamin Harrison, a Union general.
Harrison defeated Cleveland but made such a mess of his own Presidency that four years later, in 1892, Cleveland ran again and won.
On taking office for the second time, Cleveland had to handle a major economic crisis. In trying to prevent a national depression, Cleveland divided his own party. His use of federal troops to break up a strike against the Pullman Company in Chicago lost him the support of the Democrats. In 1896, the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan for president. Cleveland retired and continued pressing for government reforms until his death on June 24, 1908.
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