Scramblin' thru... the U.S. Presidents
"The Hangman of Buffalo"
"The Beast of Buffalo"
"The Elephantine Economist"
Level: middle school
(Attended school from age 11 until 16)
Biological Kids: 5
Illegitimate Kids: 1 (w/Maria Halpin)
Election of 1884
Election of 1888
Election of 1892
A Presidential Life in Review
Grover Cleveland, who served as the 22nd and 24th U.S. President, was known as a political reformer. He is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms, which he did from 1885 to 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897 (thanks to his loss to Benjamin Harrison in the Election of 1888). Cleveland worked as a lawyer, the Mayor of Buffalo, and Governor of New York before becoming President. His record in the Oval Office was mixed. Not regarded as an original thinker, Cleveland considered himself a watchdog over Congress rather than an initiator. In his second term, he angered many of his original supporters and seemed overwhelmed by the Panic of 1893 and the economic depression that followed. He declined to run for a third term and retired to his home in New Jersey where he served as a trustee of Princeton University from 1901 until his death in 1908. Source: The History Channel
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Grover Cleveland Fun Facts
Cleveland is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms, having been defeated after his first term by Benjamin Harrison... whom he later defeated to win a second term. As a result, Cleveland is both the 22nd and 24th President. After winning the Election of 1884 by just 57,579 votes, Cleveland lost the Election of 1888 despite getting 90,596 more Popular Votes than his challenger, Benjamin Harrison. (Harrison won the Electoral Vote 233-168, and, as such, became President.) In a rematch four years later, Cleveland won the Election of 1892 by taking the Electoral Vote 277-145 and the Popular Vote by 380,810 votes.
Cleveland ran for an unprecidented third term as President (before the 22nd Amendment forbade such a thing due to the four successful elections of FDR). However, he lost the Democratic Party's nomination to William Jennings Bryan, which means Bryan (and not Cleveland) ran against William McKinley in the Election of 1896. McKinley won in one of the most dramatic and complex races in American history.
Cleveland reportedly sexually assaulted a woman 12 years before being elected to his first term as President. As the story (that's been well buried over the years) goes, on the evening of December 15, 1873, Maria Halpin, a 38-year-old sales clerk working at a department store in Buffalo, New York, was on her way to a friend's birthday party when she ran into the 37-year-old bachelor Cleveland. He had been trying to "woo" Halpin for several months and they exchanged greetings. Cleveland invited her to dinner, Halping agreed, and their meal together was a pleasant one. Cleveland escorted Halpin back to her room at a downtown boarding house. What happened next, according to Halpin's affidavit, would, in another era, be classified as date rape. When she threatened to notify the authorities, Cleveland "told me he was determined to ruin me if it cost him $10,000, if he was hanged by the neck for it." Six weeks later, Maria became aware that she was pregnant. The boy was born on September 14, 1874, in a hospital for unwed mothers in Buffalo. He was named Oscar Folsom Cleveland, after Cleveland's best friend. (Cleveland would later marry his best friend's daughter despite a 27-year difference in age, but that's another "Fun Fact" for later...) Cleveland arranged to have the child forcibly removed from his mother and placed in the Buffalo Orphan Asylum. Maria was thrown into the Providence Lunatic Asylum, although the facility's medical director quickly released her after an evaluation, concluding that she was not insane and that her incarceration was the result of an abuse of power by political elites. Once Cleveland was nominated to run for President, it didn't take long for the media to expose the existence of his illegitimate son. Cleveland's PR people got the word out that Halpin was a "sexual plaything who drank to excess and was intimate with at least three married men, all of them cronies of Cleveland". Cleveland, it was said, took responsibility for the child's conception because he was the only bachelor among Maria's gentlemen callers. Cleveland saw the matter through in the most "courageous way", the PR spin went, explaining that his indifference to the boy was due to "doubts about his fatherhood". Maria Halpin died in 1902 at age 66, with $200 to her name, forever linked to scandal and shame. Cleveland, meanwhile, was elected President... twice.
Cleveland discovered a cancerous growth on the roof of his mouth in the middle of the economic crisis of 1893. So that his illness would not cause a greater panic, he and several doctors snuck aboard a pleasure boat and removed the growth. The public thought he was on a fishing trip and never knew the truth until 1917.
While sheriff of Erie County, New York, Cleveland was also the public executioner and personally hanged two murderers, earning him the nickname "The Hangman of Buffalo".
Cleveland was the first executive movie star. In 1895, Alexander Black came to Washington, D.C. and asked Cleveland to appear in "A Capital Courtship", his photoplay. He agreed to be filmed while signing a bill into law. "A Capital Courtship" proved to be a big hit.
Because Cleveland was the sole supporter of his family during the Civil War, he paid his way out of service, hiring a substitute to take his place in the ranks of the U.S. Army.
Not old enough to vote (because the 26th Amendment that dropped the voting age from 21 to 18 wasn't ratified until 1971), Cleveland was 19 when he worked on Democrat James Buchanan's successful bid for President in 1856. Cleveland probably would have been shocked at the time to learn that the next Democrat to win the White House would be himself, 28 years later, in 1884.
Cleveland made sure that he always answered the White House phone himself. (The first White House phone had been installed in 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes was President.)
Cleveland had a huge beer belly... because he used to drink beer daily. [Insert your own joke about how if he'd just drank on non-consecutive days he could've lost weight here.] During one minor election early in his political career (you know, that all-important 1870 race for District Attorney in Erie County, New York), he and his opponent agreed to only drink four glasses of beer each day... so they could stay "clear-headed" for their race. (Yea, that's lucid.) After a few days, they decided that was too harsh and they were going to take the cap off... and drink however much they both wanted.
Cleveland vetoed 414 bills in his first term, more than double the 204 vetoes cast by every President that served before him! Cleveland used his veto powers 170 times during his second term. His 584 vetoes is the second most of any President. (FDR used his veto powers 635 times.)
Cleveland named his favorite hunting rifle "Death and Destruction".
Cleveland entered the White House as a bachelor. His sister, Rose Cleveland, moved into the White House and acted as hostess for the first two years of his Administration.
At age 27, Cleveland met his future wife... when she was born. (Go ahead... read that sentence again.) His bride-to-be, Frances Folsom, was the daughter of his best friend, Oscar Folsom. He took a keen interest in the child, buying her a baby carriage and doting on her as she grew up. When Oscar died in a carriage accident in 1875 (and without having written a will), the courts appointed Cleveland administrator of his estate. This brought Cleveland into still more contact with Frances, who was 11 at the time. Sometime while she was in college, Cleveland's feelings for her took a romantic turn. He proposed by letter in August 1885, soon after her graduation. They did not announce their engagement, however, until just five days before the wedding. Frances, age 21, married Cleveland, age 49, on June 2, 1886, at the White House. At 21, Frances remains the youngest First Lady. Their age disparity of 27 years is the second largest of any Presidential marriage. (The greatest age-difference was John Tyler, when the 54-year-old widower married his second wife, 24-year-old Julia.) Cleveland was the only President to be married in the White House. (Tyler married Julia while he was President in 1844 but did so in New York City).
Cleveland's daughter, Esther, was the only child of a President to be born in the White House.
Contrary to popular belief, the Baby Ruth candy bar was NOT named after Cleveland's baby daughter, Ruth. The renaming of the candy bar took place in 1921, 30 years after Ruth Cleveland's birth and 17 years after her death at the age of 12. That same year (1921), legendary baseball player Babe Ruth was nearing the top of his popularity, having just broken the single-season home run record. The candy bar's creator, the Curtiss Candy Company, never admitted to what looks like an obvious connection – especially since Ruth hit 54 homeruns the year before the first Baby Ruth was devoured. Had it done so, Curtiss would have had to compensate Ruth for using his name. Instead, the company insisted that their inspiration was "Baby Ruth" Cleveland. Riiiiiight. Well played Curtiss Candy Company. Well played.