Career Cleveland worked as a lawyer early on, gaining a reputation as a solid attorney. Cleveland served as sheriff of of Erie County 1871- 1873 Cleveland was mayor of Buffalo briefly before moving on to become governor of New York in 1882. Cleveland was known to be honest and above the corruption that was common in New York. He especially became an enemy of Tammany Hall.
Tough Election To win the presidency Cleveland had to defeat James G. Blaine. Blaine was thought by many to be corrupt, especially regarding a scandal in which he profited from the building of two western railroads. Many reform minded Republicans, called Mugwumps, supported Cleveland for his known honesty. Blaine’s campaign accused Cleveland of having a child out of wedlock. Cleveland admitted paternity, although the woman was known to have several lovers, and paternity could not be proven. People respected his honesty.
As President Cleveland supported the maintenance of the gold standard. Cleveland believed in lowering tariffs and fought to get this done. In the end this cost him re-election the first time, as it angered business interests and skilled working men. Cleveland did not intervene in international matters, and felt the U.S. should not do so. Hawaii was annexed on his watch though, due to misleading reports presented to the Senate.
Presidency Continued During his second term Cleveland tried to reform the McKinley Tariff passed while he was out of office. He succeeded, but the victory was limited. Cleveland put down labor unrest using federal troops, most notably during the Pullman Strike, in which Railroad workers were striking. Cleveland dealt with the Panic of 1893 by repealing the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. While he repealed the Silver Purchase Act, J.P. Morgan arranged a huge loan of $62 billion to reinforce the gold reserves. Cleveland demanded arbitration between Great Britain and Venezuela over a territorial dispute, earning him supporters in Latin America and the U.K.
Conservative Beliefs “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. 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, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood”
Marriage Cleveland married Frances Folsom while she was a student at Wells College, and he was in his first term. She was just 21 years old, and is still the youngest First Lady ever. They had a baby in the White House named Ruth, who became the darling of reporters. While people at first rejected the marriage due to age differences, they eventually came to like Frances and Baby Ruth.
Legacy Cleveland is thought by many to be one of the most conservative presidents in U.S. History. He was a staunch supporter of the constitution, and used his veto power a record 414 times in one term, to protect what he thought were it’s principles. Cleveland was against imperialism when most Western leaders supported it. Over all Cleveland was an honest, if not fantastic president, as he was unable to heal all of the problems of the Panic of 1893. Cleveland has also come to be seen as hostile to the labor movement.
Illness and Death Cleveland battled cancer while he was president, and he did so in secret. He died in 1908 of a heart attack.