Grover Cleveland stands alone in American history as the only President to serve non-consecutive terms. On the anniversary of his birth, here’s a look at one of most fascinating White House occupants.
On March 18, 1837, the future President was born in Caldwell, N.J. Cleveland passed away in Princeton, N.J., at the age of 71. He had been out of politics after an unsuccessful run at the Democratic presidential nomination in 1896.
Officially, Cleveland is known as the 22nd President and the 24th President, after his wins in the 1884 and 1892 general elections. But he lost the 1888 to his Republican foe, Benjamin Harrison.
Here is a look at the very interesting and unique political career of the only double President.
1. Cleveland’s real first name was Stephen, not Grover. He used the name Grover as an adult; maybe he tired of using the name “Stephen Cleveland” in grade school?
2. Yes, he’s a distant relative of the guy they named the city after. But Grover didn’t grow up in Ohio. He was born in New Jersey and later moved to New York state.
3. Cleveland was a big guy. He wasn’t called Big Steve, as one of his political nicknames, for nothing. At 250 pounds, he was the second-heaviest President after William Howard Taft. Fitness Magazine named him as the least-healthiest President, because of his penchant for beer drinking and cigar smoking.
4. His first career was as a teacher. Cleveland was a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in Manhattan before deciding to pursue a law career.
5. Cleveland ran for office in Buffalo and New York state as a reformer. He gained quite a reputation as a fresh-faced politician who fought corruption and patronage. In 1881, he became Buffalo’s mayor and in 1882 he became New York’s governor.
6. What’s the deal with the alleged illegitimate kid? Republicans accused him of fathering an illegitimate child in 1874. Cleveland admitted it was possible, but his law partner, Oscar Folsom, may have also been the father. Cleveland’s honesty helped to blunt the scandal’s impact.
7. Cleveland won the first presidential election by the narrowest of margins. It was a win by just 1,200 votes in his adopted home state of New York that swung the 1884 election.
8. Cleveland actually won his second election in the popular vote. Big spending by the Republicans swing the electoral vote in New York state away from Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison took the Electoral College vote, and the presidency.
9. A third party helped Cleveland get his second term. The Populist Party took 8 percent of the popular vote, and Cleveland easily defeated Harrison in the 1892 rematch, by a 277-145 margin in the Electoral College.
10. Cleveland gets mixed grades as a President. Historians rank Cleveland as an average President at best, in the same category as Chester Alan Arthur and Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland gets credit for restoring the power of the presidency in the 1880s, but Cleveland’s misunderstandings about political systems and an economic depression in 1893 saw Cleveland’s Democrats lose power quickly and his political career end.
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