Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Terms: 1885-1889, 1893-1897
Nickname: Big Steve, Uncle Jumbo
Stephen Grover Cleveland went by Grover, probably because Stephen Cleveland sounds funny. Say it out loud. Now five times fast. Ok, now that you’ve embarrassed yourself, I’ll tell you about this man that was not a Sesame Street character, but a president.
Cleveland is one of the very few presidents that was a Democrat during the late 1800s, the other being Andrew Johnson. Cleveland was another honest president who wanted to make the presidency honorable again, and wanted to take the power back from the legislative branch. Cleveland was a smart man, and that was apparent in most of his decisions. He blocked civil war pensions that he suspected were fraudulent, vetoed anything that was against his view of limited government, and supported the gold standard as the only currency for the United States. Cleveland also favored lowering tariffs, something that the Republicans vehemently opposed. The issue of tariffs eventually cost him the election of 1888.
Cleveland came back after Benjamin Harrison served one term and served again, being the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. His second term was far less sunny. A new party had emerged, the People’s Party, which was basically for the workers. Cleveland’s innate conservatism made him generally unsympathetic to the worker’s cause. He lost support when he vetoed a bill that would give 10,000 dollars in aid to drought stricken farmers, and from his heavy handed response to the Pullman strike of 1894. People were also hoping for a silver standard, which went against Cleveland’s gold standard hopes.
Cleveland was one of the smarted presidents of the time, but proved to be unpopular with the working class in his second term. Cleveland though, held a very strong presidency. He took power back from Congress and vetoed more bills than all presidents before him combined. Cleveland is also considered the most influential of the presidents after Lincoln and before Theodore Roosevelt.