Served: March 4, 1885 – March 4, 1889; March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897
Born: March 18, 1837
Birthplace: Caldwell, New Jersey
Died: June 24, 1908
Political Party: Democratic
Spouse: Frances Folsom
One Man, Two Nonconsecutive Presidential Elections
As a Democrat leader, Cleveland opposed high tariffs, free silver, inflation, and subsidies to businesses, farms, and veterans. He was a fiscally conservative president who fought hard against corruption, and in doing so gained the backing of many American conservatives at the time.
Accepting Familial Responsibilities
Cleveland began teaching at an early age after his father died, to help support his family. In 1855, Cleveland traveled to Buffalo, New York, and met the Rogers, Bowen, and Rogers law firm partners, where he later began working while receiving a law education. He was admitted to the bar in 1859.
Three years later, he left to begin his own firm and was eventually appointed district attorney of Erie County. There he went on to serve as sheriff and mayor while building a reputation for himself with the Democratic Party.
Grover Cleveland’s Pets
- Cocker spaniel
- St. Bernard
- Canaries and mockingbirds belonging to Mrs. Frances Cleveland
- And her French poodle, Hector
- Imported fish (hundreds, including Japanese goldfish as well as paradise fish)
- Shawineck game chickens
MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets
A Strong First Term Followed by Economic Depression
In 1882, Cleveland was elected as governor of New York, where he made a name for himself vetoing bills in a bid to curb unnecessary government spending. During this time, he gained the admiration of many Congress members, including assemblyman and future president Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1884 Cleveland was nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate, and he went on to win the election. One of his main tasks after taking the presidency was to reform the presidential appointment system.
Rather than filling all the seats with members of his party, Cleveland promised not to fire or hire any employees on the basis of their party.
Additionally, he cut federal jobs that he believed had become full of employees with no real responsibilities. Cleveland took his role as government reformer seriously, and he proceeded to cancel Navy contracts for ship construction whose work was inferior, and he initiated an investigation into railroad lands being held by government grant. He ordered the return of 81 million acres of unused land after this investigation.
Though he was defeated for re-election, Cleveland ran again the following presidential election cycle and won the presidency in 1892. During his second term, the economy fell into a depression — and he lost some of the popularity that had made his first term a success.
Did You Know…?
- During his first presidential campaign (1884), Republicans accused Cleveland of fathering an illegitimate child. Cleveland’s response was to tell the truth: He admitted that he paid child support to a woman claiming him the father of her child, but that in all honesty he could not be sure he was indeed the father as there were several other men at the time with whom the woman was involved.
- Cleveland, 47, was a bachelor when he was elected president, and his sister assumed all first lady duties for the first two years of his term. In 1886, he married Frances Folsom, who was 21. To date, Cleveland is the only president to have a wedding at the White House, and Frances Cleveland is recognized as the youngest first lady. Together the couple had five children.
- During his second term, Cleveland recognized Hawaii’s sovereignty and rejected an annexation of the islands.