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Useful Notes / Grover Cleveland

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"Cleveland made the railroad people squirm.
Harrison signed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
Grover Cleveland served another term."
Jonathan Coulton, "The Presidents"

Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 — June 24, 1908) was the only American president to hold two non-consecutive terms, as the 22nd and 24th president (1885-89, 1893-97), preceded initially by Chester A. Arthur, then followed and preceded by Benjamin Harrison, then followed, in his second term, by William McKinley. He was the seventh Democratic President. Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd president, winning a bizarre race in 1888 in which Cleveland won the popular vote but Harrison prevailed in the Electoral College. Cleveland was also the second American president to get married while in office (after John Tyler note ), and the only one to marry in the White House itself. Alongside Woodrow Wilson, he was one of the only two Democratic Presidents from a period of Republican dominance in the White House lasting from 1861 to 1933. He used to be on the $1,000 dollar bill, but these have been discontinued since 1969.


He was drafted during the American Civil War but paid $150 for a substitute (entirely legal at the time), making him America's first draft-dodger President. This, and his refusal to grant bonuses to Civil War veterans, probably helped him lose to the aforementioned Harrison.

Started his political career as the Sheriff of Erie County, New York, where he handled the execution of several prisoners himself.

May or may not have fathered a child out of wedlock. During his campaign for his first term, the Buffalo Telegraph published a story about how he had an affair with a widow named Maria Halphin, who had borne a child. Cleveland wasn't certain that the child was his, but since denying it would be mean accusing his married friends of infidelity (Halphin, by all accounts, was known to really get around), he paid child support to Halphin regularly and never claimed anything to the contrary. His opponents took the story and ran with it, heckling Cleveland with chants of "'Maw, Maw, where's my Paw?' 'Gone to the White House, haw haw haw!'" For what it is worth, Halphin's accounts of their encounter mention that he forcibly had sex with her without her consent. The scandal may well have ruined Cleveland's bid for the presidency had it not been for the fact that his opponent, James G. Blaine, had two scandals to deal with; one involving railroad money, and another just days before the election when one of his spokesmen gave an inflammatory, anti-Catholic speech in New York City, which virtually destroyed Blaine's support in the city and threw the election to Cleveland.


At the start of his second term as president he discovered a tumor on the roof of his mouth; he had the tumor removed in a secret operation on the presidential yacht which was never revealed until well after his death.

Met Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was just five years old and reportedly said, "My little man, I am making a strange wish for you. It is that you may never be President of the United States." Just goes to show you should never tell a Roosevelt not to do something in any way, shape or form.

He is considered by libertarians to be a highly underrated President, as he mostly stayed within the Constitutional bounds of his office and of Federal power, and also because he generally opposed the growth of labor unions. He fought against waste and corruption by using the veto more than any President before him and kept America on the Gold Standard at a time when it was politically unpopular, which is considered a big reason for the astounding economic growth in the late Nineteenth Century (with the exception of the Panic of 1893). He still remains acclaimed for his honesty.

Cleveland was the President who dedicated the Statue of Liberty when it was completed in 1886.

During the start of his second term, a huge economic crisis developed, arguably the first of America's industrial age. It was caused by business overspeculation, shaky loans, and bank failures. Unemployment rose to over 18%, over 8,000 businesses collapsed within months, and people all over the country had wait in food lines for hours so that they could feed their families. It was often known as the Great Depression before an even worse one happened. Unemployed workers from the Midwest marched to the capital, and over 150,000 railroad workers went on strike (the quote at the top of the page references Cleveland using federal troops to forcibly end the strike). Cleveland pointed to the Sherman Silver Purchase Act passed during Harrison's term as the root cause. He successfully had the act repealed, but this caused the Treasury's gold supply to drop below $100 million. Overwhelmed, he turned towards banker J. P. Morgan to bail out a lot of government bonds. Many people criticized the President for apparently looking out for the money of the wealthy and not taking care of the suffering poor.

Meanwhile, American sugar planters in the Hawaiian islands overthrew Queen Liliuokalani and created the Republic of Hawaii. They petitioned the American government to annex them, but Cleveland realized the scheme that had taken place and refused. The guy after him, William McKinley, would do so.

Some claim that the "Baby Ruth" candy bar is not named after baseball star Babe Ruth, but after first daughter Ruth Cleveland, born between her father's first and second terms. However, since the candy bar was named "Baby Ruth" in 1921—17 years after Ruth Cleveland's death at the age of 12 and 24 years after her father left the White House, but right at the time that Babe Ruth was rocketing to superstardom—it seems more likely that the Curtiss Candy Company was simply avoiding paying Babe Ruth royalties.

Grover the Muppet was named after him.

Grover Cleveland in fiction:

  • Casey and Andy has him compete with Andy for the romantic attentions of Frances Folsom, who actually turns out to be Satan.
  • American Dad!. In the episode about the peanut brittle conspiracy, Stan refers to Grover as "America's greatest president". He left the peanut butter on George Washington Carver's doorstep.
  • The Simpsons and Futurama writer Ken Keeler has apparently worked a joke referencing the fact the Grover served two non-consecutive terms into every show he has written for, for instance in the episode 'Two Bad Neighbors' (the one with George H.W. Bush).
    Abe: Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions.
    • When asked to explain why this trademark joke involving Cleveland was funny he replied, 'Oh, it's not funny!' and then explained the facts about Cleveland for those not aware.
    • In Futurama, the crew visit the Hall of Presidents in the Head Museum. First there is Grover Cleveland's head, then Benjamin Harrison's head, then a second Grover Cleveland's head.
  • In the TV reunion movie The Wild Wild West Revisited, Cleveland is one of a collection of world leaders suspected of being replaced with a robotic duplicate: "He looks like Grover Cleveland. He sounds like Grover Cleveland. He bumbles around ineptly like Grover Cleveland..."
  • In an episode of Murphy Brown, Phil complains that George Bush and his entourage never stop by his resturant while they're jogging. "What we need's another President like Grover Cleveland! Nice and fat and slow."
  • The Disney film The One And Only Genuine Original Family Band is about a politically divided family during the election of 1888. The family patriarch, played by Walter Brennan, is a hardcore Democrat who writes a campaign song for Cleveland, which we hear performed by the family twice during the film.
  • An episode of The Venture Bros. features a brief line referring to "Grover Cleveland's Presidential Time Machine". To date, it has not been mentioned again since, but the show's creators are fond of revisiting that kind of thing.
    • It appears near the end of season 7 with little mention. A short time later a future Rusty and Billy emerge dressed as a Titanic passenger and Confederate General respectively.
  • In the "Super Trivia" episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock has forcibly given Shake encyclopedic trivia knowledge, which he tests with this exchange:
    Shake: Who do you think you are?
    Frylock: I'm the only US President to serve 2 non-consecutive terms in the oval office.
    Shake: Then that would make you Grover Cleveland and...why is this comin' out of my mouth?!
  • In It Happened in Athens, which is set at the Olympic Games of 1896, the cash-strapped American team briefly considers the feasibility of convincing President Cleveland to fund them. They're told that Cleveland can do nothing for them because he has a Republican Congress.


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