• Grover Cleveland was born in New Jersey and grew up in central New York. He never attended college, but he studied law and became a lawyer in New York City.
• Cleveland paid a substitute in order to avoid serving in the Civil War, and spent the war years as assistant district attorney for Erie County. After the war, Cleveland was elected sheriff of Erie County, then mayor of Buffalo.
• He was a hard worker and impressed many with his work as mayor, leading to his election as governor of New York. This position led to his being nationally recognized, and he was elected president of the United States in 1884.
How he defined the office
• Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.
• He used the full power of the presidency to his advantage. He vetoed more bills in just his first term in office than all previous presidents had combined.
Successes and failures
• Cleveland believed the government should not interfere in social problems. He did not support racially integrated schools and refused to see African-Americans as equal to white people, he took no stand on women’s suffrage, and he believed Native Americans should be assimilated into American culture and give up their traditional ways.
• During his two terms in office Cleveland negotiated disputes in Samoa, Hawaii and Venezuela. In regards to Venezuela, Cleveland threatened to go to war with England over the presence of British warships in the area before peaceful negotiations happened. This was significant because of Cleveland’s enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine.
• Cleveland’s second term began with a severe depression and high unemployment. Cleveland replenished the country’s gold reserves with the help of investment banker J.P. Morgan, but because banks profited from the deal, public opinion turned againsst him, and he was an unpopular president by the time his second term came to an end.
• “A government for the people must depend for its success on the intelligence, the morality, the justice, and the interest of the people themselves.”