Grover Cleveland: 22nd and 24th President: Served Twice

Updated on December 11, 2019
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

Official Portrait of Grover Cleveland


Early Years and the Mugwumps

Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th United States President, was the only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms in office.

In 1837, he was born as one of nine children to a Presbyterian minister in New Jersey. He was later raised in New York, where he became a lawyer in Buffalo. Then he served Erie County's sheriff in New York, where he exposed many dishonest people, which got him recognition and in 1881, became the Mayor of Buffalo, then eventually a New York governor.

Many felt he was a man of great integrity, due to his honesty and willingness to say "no" to politicians, although it also caused him to gain many enemies. Fortunately, both Democrats and reform Republicans, known as the "Mugwumps," backed him in the candidacy. He won against his opponent James G. Blaine from Maine and became the first Democratic President in 25 years since the Civil War.

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His First Term As the 22nd President

He began his Presidency as a bachelor. In 1886, during his first term, he married Frances Folsom, who was the 22-year old daughter of his former law partner. The event was greatly celebrated and softened his rough image. He remains the only President to have gotten married in the White House.

Cleveland was noted for his work ethic, as he often stayed up working until 2:00 in the morning. If he felt things were dishonest, he fought against them. He even denied Civil War pensions that he suspected to be fraudulent. After the Grand Army of the Republic pressured Congress to pass a bill that gave pensions to veterans who had disabilities unrelated to their military service, Cleveland vetoed it. He felt that this was not proper use of the money.

He even ordered an investigation of railroads that were held by the Government grant. When he learned that things were not legitimate, he forced the railroad companies to give back 81 million acres of Western land. As a result, he signed the Interstate Commerce Act, which attempted to regulate the railroads federally.

Cleveland was strongly opposed to the government financially supporting any economic group, which was evident when he vetoed a bill that would have given Texan farmers, who were suffering due to a severe drought, $10,000 in seed grain. In response, he wrote, "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character... "

Congress became tired of his constant conflicts with them. At one point, when he pressed Congress to decrease the high protective tariffs, they told him that he was giving the Republicans a very effective campaign for the next election. He argued, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?" A year later, during the 1888 election, the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison gained more electoral votes, despite Cleveland receiving the larger popular vote. Unfortunately, he lost the election. His wife is rumored to tell the White House staff to "Take care of the furniture... We'll be coming back in four years." Sure enough, they did.

His Second Term As the 24th President

His second term was not as successful as the first term due to the Panic of 1897, where hundreds of banks and businesses failed, leaving millions unemployed. He was able to maintain the gold reserve because he repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act that caused mild inflation. Unfortunately, he did not address the unemployment issues, farm mortgage foreclosures, nor business failures.

His policies became very unpopular, even within his political party, but he did boost the American morale with a few powerful moves. Cleveland sent Federal troops to address railroad strikers in Chicago that violated a direct order. To make his point more clear, he declared, "If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States to deliver a postcard in Chicago, that card will be delivered." With the same enthusiasm, he compelled Great Britain to accept an agreement of where the Venezuelan boundary should be, despite Great Britain's strong defiance.

When he left office, he retired to Princeton, New Jersey. Supposedly, his last words were, "I have tried so hard to do right." He died in 1908.

First Lady; Mrs. Frances Cleveland


Fun Facts

  • He was the only president to serve two terms four years apart from one another.
  • He was a bachelor when he became president and was the first and only president to have a White House ceremony to his bride Frances Folsom on June 2, 1886.
  • He was known for staying up as late as 2:00 in the morning, working as president.
  • He was nicknamed "Uncle Jumbo" because of his large stature. He weighed 260 pounds.

Exerpt from History Channel

Basic Facts

March 18, 1837 - New Jersey
President Number
22nd and 24th
Military Service
Wars Served
Age at Beginning of Presidency
48 years old (first term) 56 years old (second term)
Term of Office
March 4, 1885 - March 3, 1889 (first term) March 4, 1893 - March 3, 1897 (second term)
How Long Served as President
8 years
Adlai Stevenson I
Age and Year of Death
June 24, 1908 (aged 71)
Cause of Death
heart attack

Caricature "I'm Going to Paint the Town Red"

Democracy is portrayed as the devil, holding a can of paint called, "Bourbon Principles," the paintbrush is a caricature of Grover Cleveland. The devil is standing over a wall facing Washington D.C.
Democracy is portrayed as the devil, holding a can of paint called, "Bourbon Principles," the paintbrush is a caricature of Grover Cleveland. The devil is standing over a wall facing Washington D.C. | Source

List of the United States Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump


  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). Grover Cleveland 22. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Angela Michelle Schultz


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