75%

The New International Encyclopædia/Cleveland, (Stephen) Grover

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

CLEVELAND, (Stephen) Grover (1837—). The twenty-second and twenty-fourth President of the United States. He was born at Caldwell, Essex County, N. J., March 18, 1837. In 1841 his father, the Rev. Richard F. Cleveland (Yale, 1824), a Presbyterian minister, removed with his family to Fayetteville, near Syracuse, N. Y., and afterwards to Clinton, N. Y., in the schools of which places Grover Cleveland was a scholar. The death of his father in 1853 obliged him to earn his own living, and the first position that he held was that of a teacher in the New York Institution for the Blind. A little later he started for Cleveland, Ohio, where he expected to study and practice law. While passing through Buffalo, however, he was induced to remain there by his uncle, Lewis F. Allen, who secured for him a position with a prominent law firm. He was admitted to practice in 1859; became assistant district attorney for Erie County in 1863; was the Democratic candidate for district attorney in 1865, but was defeated at the polls; and in 1870 was elected sheriff of the county. At the conclusion of his term of office of three years, he resumed the practice of law, with marked success. In November, 1881, he was nominated as Democratic candidate for Mayor of Buffalo. The city was strongly Republican, but long-continued tenure of office had engendered flagrant corruption, and good men of all parties joined to uproot it. Cleveland, being elected by a handsome majority, reorganized the departments under his charge on business principles, overcame corrupt combinations, and promptly vetoed all measures that savored of extravagance or dishonesty. His notable service in that office was recognized in 1882, when he received the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York. His opponent was Charles J. Folger (q.v.), then Secretary of the Treasury under President Arthur. The Republican Party in the State was divided, and among the independent voters there was strong dissatisfaction with the methods that had secured Mr. Folger's nomination. Mr. Cleveland's reputation as a reformer was strongly in his favor, and he was elected by the extraordinary plurality of 192,854. His conduct as Governor was marked by integrity, independence, and good judgment, and he was early spoken of as a candidate for the Presidency. At the Democratic National Convention, July, 1884, he was the leading candidate on the first ballot, and in spite of a zealous minority of delegates from his own State, secured the necessary two-thirds of all the votes on the second ballot. A large body of Independent Republicans declared themselves in his favor; but the accession of this new element was partly offset by the defection of many Democrats. Cleveland received 219 electoral votes against 182 for his opponent, James G. Blaine. Besides the Southern States, he carried Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Indiana. He was inaugurated March 4, 1885. On June 2 of the following year he married Miss Frances Folsom. His term was characterized mainly by his bold advocacy of a reduction of tariff duties, and by his opposition to what he considered unworthy bills. During his term he vetoed or ‘pocketed’ 413 bills, 297 of which were private pension bills. During the first session of Congress he directly antagonized the Senate by refusing to give to that body his reasons for removing certain officers, or to deliver up the papers ordering such removals; on the ground that, under the Constitution, the President is not amenable to Congress for such acts, and that the papers were not official documents. His supporters maintain that, considering the immense difficulties surrounding such an undertaking, his civil-service reform pledges were carried out as consistently as possible. He was renominated for the Presidency at Saint Louis, June 7, 1888, but was defeated, receiving only 168 electoral votes to Harrison's 233, though his popular vote exceeded by more than 100,000 that of his opponent. On the expiration of his term of office he resumed in New York City the practice of law, but still kept in touch with the political interests of his party. At the National Democratic Convention of June, 1892, although opposed by the delegation from his own State, he was nominated for the Presidency on the first ballot, and in November was elected, receiving 277 electoral votes against 145 for Harrison (Republican) and 22 for Weaver (Populist). During his second term, in the face of the violent opposition of the mass of his own party, he exerted himself unflinchingly for the maintenance of the gold standard. To this end he called an extra session of Congress in the summer of 1893, and secured the repeal of the Sherman Act of 1890, requiring the Government to make large purchases of silver bullion. He maintained the gold reserve by successive issues of Government bonds. When the Democratic majority of Congress passed a tariff act, he allowed it to become a law without his signature, considering it inadequate in many of its provisions. During the great railroad strike at Chicago in 1894 he ordered out the United States troops to “prevent the obstruction of the mails,” although Governor Altgeld, of Illinois, who had not asked for the troops, protested vigorously against the measure. In the domain of foreign affairs, Mr. Cleveland's second administration was signalized by his withdrawal from the Senate of the Hawaiian Annexation Treaty negotiated by President Harrison; the upholding and advancement of the Monroe Doctrine by his vigorous and successful insistence upon the submission to arbitration of the long-standing boundary dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela; and the promulgation of the Bering Sea arbitration award. In consequence mainly of Mr. Cleveland's position on the currency question, his administration was not indorsed by the Democratic National Convention of 1896. In the ensuing Presidential campaign he supported General Palmer, the candidate of the Sound-Money Democrats. Since his retirement he has lived at Princeton, N. J. He has of late delivered, at Princeton University, two lectures annually on questions of public policy, which have been printed. Consult: Whittle, Grover Cleveland (London and New York, 1896); and an appreciation in Peck, The Personal Equation (New York, 1897).