Presidencies of Grover Cleveland
The presidencies of Grover Cleveland lasted from March 4, 1885 to March 4, 1889, and from March 4, 1893 to March 4, 1897. The first Democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland is the only President of the United States to leave office after one term and later return for a second term. His presidencies were the nation's 22nd and 24th.[a] Cleveland defeated James G. Blaine of Maine in 1884, lost to Benjamin Harrison of Indiana in 1888, and then defeated President Harrison in 1892.
Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans. As a reformer Cleveland had such prestige that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party called "Mugwumps", largely bolted the GOP presidential ticket and swung to his support in the 1884 election. After taking office, Cleveland emphasized merit more than partisan affiliation in making appointments, though he did replace some Republican officeholders with Democrats. During hsi first term, he also signed the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 to regulate railroads, frequently vetoed pension bills passed by Congress, and unsuccessfully sought the repeal of the Bland–Allison Act and a lowering of the tariff.
As his second presidency began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression. Cleveland presided over the repeal of portions of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, striking a blow against Free Silver, and also lowered tariff rates by signing the Wilson–Gorman Tariff Act. He ordered federal soldiers to crush the Pullman Strike and promoted efforts to roll back federal civil rights protections for African-Americans. In the midterm elections of 1894, Cleveland's failure to deal with the depression instigated the greatest realignment of voters since the Civil War. It also opened the way for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party and the election of Republican William McKinley as president in the 1896 presidential election.
Cleveland was a formidable policymaker, and he also drew corresponding criticism. His intervention in the Pullman Strike angered labor unions nationwide in addition to the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party. Critics complained that Cleveland had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation's economic disasters of his second term. Even so, his reputation for probity and good character survived the troubles of his second term. Biographer Allan Nevins wrote: "[I]n Grover Cleveland the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities. He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have. He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense. But he possessed them to a degree other men do not." Today, Cleveland is considered by most historians to have been a successful leader, generally ranked among the second quartile of American presidents.
- 1 Election of 1884
- 2 First presidency (1885–1889)
- 3 Election of 1892
- 4 Second presidency (1893–1897)
- 5 States admitted to the Union
- 6 Legacy and evaluation
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Election of 1884
Cleveland had risen to prominence as an advocate of civil service reform, and he was widely viewed as a presidential contender after his victory in the 1882 New York gubernatorial election. Samuel J. Tilden, the party's nominee in 1876, was the initial front-runner, but he declined to run due to poor health. Cleveland, Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, Allen G. Thurman of Ohio, Samuel Freeman Miller of Iowa, and Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts each had considerable followings entering the 1884 Democratic National Convention. Each of the other candidates had hindrances to his nomination: Bayard had spoken in favor of secession in 1861, making him unacceptable to Northerners; Butler, conversely, was reviled throughout the South for his actions during the Civil War; Thurman was generally well liked, but was growing old and infirm, and his views on the silver question were uncertain. Cleveland, too, had detractors—the Tammany Hall political machine opposed him—but the nature of his enemies made him still more friends. Cleveland led on the convention's first ballot and clinched the nomination on the second ballot Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana was selected as his running mate. The 1884 Republican National Convention nominated former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine of Maine for president; Blaine's nomination alienated many Republicans who viewed Blaine as ambitious and immoral.
Corruption in politics was the central issue in 1884 ,and Blaine had over the span of his career been involved in several questionable deals. Cleveland's reputation as an opponent of corruption proved the Democrats' strongest asset. William C. Hudson created Cleveland's contextual campaign slogan "A public office is a public trust." Reform-minded Republicans called "Mugwumps" denounced Blaine as corrupt and flocked to Cleveland. The Mugwumps, including such men as Carl Schurz and Henry Ward Beecher, were more concerned with morality than with party, and felt Cleveland was a kindred soul who would promote civil service reform and fight for efficiency in government. At the same time the Democrats gained support from the Mugwumps, they lost some blue-collar workers to the Greenback-Labor party, led by Benjamin Butler. In general, Cleveland abided by the precedent of minimizing presidential campaign travel and speechmaking; Blaine became one of the first to break with that tradition.
As expected, Cleveland carried the Solid South, while Blaine carried most of New England and the Midwest. The electoral votes of closely contested New York, New Jersey, Indiana, and Connecticut determined the election. After the votes were counted, Cleveland narrowly won all four of the swing states; he won his home state of New York by a margin of 0.1%, which amounted to just 1200 votes. Cleveland won the nationwide popular vote by one-quarter of a percent, while he won the electoral vote by a majority of 219–182. Cleveland's victory made him the first victorious Democratic presidential nominee since the start of the Civil War.
First presidency (1885–1889)
Administration and Cabinet
|The First Cleveland Cabinet|
|Vice President||Thomas A. Hendricks||1885|
|Secretary of State||Thomas F. Bayard||1885–1889|
|Secretary of Treasury||Daniel Manning||1885–1887|
|Charles S. Fairchild||1887–1889|
|Secretary of War||William C. Endicott||1885–1889|
|Attorney General||Augustus H. Garland||1885–1889|
|Postmaster General||William F. Vilas||1885–1888|
|Donald M. Dickinson||1888–1889|
|Secretary of the Navy||William C. Whitney||1885–1889|
|Secretary of the Interior||Lucius Q. C. Lamar||1885–1888|
|William F. Vilas||1888–1889|
|Secretary of Agriculture||Norman Jay Coleman||1889|
Cleveland faced the challenge of putting together the first Democratic cabinet since the 1850s, and none of his cabinet appointees had served in the cabinet of another administration. Senator Bayard, Cleveland's strongest rival for the 1884 nomination, accepted the position of Secretary of State. Daniel Manning, a key New York adviser for Cleveland as well as a close ally of Samuel Tilden, became the Secretary of the Treasury. Another New Yorker, the prominent financier William C. Whitney, was appointed Secretary of the Navy. For the position of Secretary of War, Cleveland appointed William C. Endicott, a prominent Massachusetts judge with ties to the Mugwumps. Cleveland chose two Southerners for his cabinet: Lucius Q. C. Lamar of Mississippi as Secretary of the Interior, and Augustus H. Garland of Arkansas as Attorney General. Postmaster General William F. Vilas of Wisconsin represented the lone Westerner in the cabinet. Daniel S. Lamont served as Cleveland's private secretary, becoming one of the most important individuals in the administration.
Soon after taking office, Cleveland was faced with the task of filling all the government jobs for which the president had the power of appointment. These jobs were typically filled under the spoils system, but Cleveland announced that he would not fire any Republican who was doing his job well, and would not appoint anyone solely on the basis of party service. He also used his appointment powers to reduce the number of federal employees, as many departments had become bloated with political time-servers. Later in his term, as his fellow Democrats chafed at being excluded from the spoils, Cleveland began to replace more of the partisan Republican officeholders with Democrats; this was especially the case with policy-making positions. While some of his decisions were influenced by party concerns, more of Cleveland's appointments were decided by merit alone than was the case in his predecessors' administrations.
Cleveland also reformed other parts of the government. In 1887, he signed the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, which created the Interstate Commerce Commission. He and Secretary of the Navy Whitney undertook to modernize the navy and canceled construction contracts that had resulted in inferior ships. In 1889, Cleveland signed into law a bill that elevated the Department of Agriculture to the Cabinet level, and Norman Jay Coleman became the first United States Secretary of Agriculture. Cleveland angered railroad investors by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by government grant. Secretary of the Interior Lamar charged that the rights of way for this land must be returned to the public because the railroads failed to extend their lines according to agreements. The lands were forfeited, resulting in the return of approximately 81,000,000 acres (330,000 km2).
Cleveland was the first Democratic President subject to the Tenure of Office Act which originated in 1867; the act purported to require the Senate to approve the dismissal of any presidential appointee who was originally subject to its advice and consent. Cleveland objected to the act in principle and his steadfast refusal to abide by it prompted its fall into disfavor and led to its ultimate repeal in 1887. In the 1920s, the principles of the Tenure of Office Act would be ruled unconstitutional in the Supreme Court case of Myers v. United States.
Cleveland used the veto far more often than any president up to that time. He vetoed hundreds of private pension bills for Civil War veterans, believing that if their pensions requests had already been rejected by the Pension Bureau, Congress should not attempt to override that decision. When Congress, pressured by the Grand Army of the Republic, passed a bill granting pensions for disabilities not caused by military service, Cleveland also vetoed that. In 1887, Cleveland issued his most well-known veto, that of the Texas Seed Bill. After a drought had ruined crops in several Texas counties, Congress appropriated $10,000 to purchase seed grain for farmers there. Cleveland vetoed the expenditure. In his veto message, he espoused a theory of limited government:
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.
One of the most volatile issues of the 1880s was whether the currency should be backed by gold and silver, or by gold alone. The issue cut across party lines, with western Republicans and southern Democrats joining together in the call for the free coinage of silver, and both parties' representatives in the northeast holding firm for the gold standard. Because silver was worth less than its legal equivalent in gold, taxpayers paid their government bills in silver, while international creditors demanded payment in gold, resulting in a depletion of the nation's gold supply.
Cleveland and Treasury Secretary Manning stood firmly on the side of the gold standard, and tried to reduce the amount of silver that the government was required to coin under the Bland-Allison Act of 1878. Cleveland unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to repeal this law before he was inaugurated. Angered Westerners and Southerners advocated for cheap money to help their poorer constituents. In reply, one of the foremost silverites, Richard P. Bland, introduced a bill in 1886 that would require the government to coin unlimited amounts of silver, inflating the then-deflating currency. While Bland's bill was defeated, so was a bill the administration favored that would repeal any silver coinage requirement. The result was a retention of the status quo, and a postponement of the resolution of the Free Silver issue.
|"When we consider that the theory of our institutions guarantees to every citizen the full enjoyment of all the fruits of his industry and enterprise, with only such deduction as may be his share toward the careful and economical maintenance of the Government which protects him, it is plain that the exaction of more than this is indefensible extortion and a culpable betrayal of American fairness and justice ... The public Treasury, which should only exist as a conduit conveying the people's tribute to its legitimate objects of expenditure, becomes a hoarding place for money needlessly withdrawn from trade and the people's use, thus crippling our national energies, suspending our country's development, preventing investment in productive enterprise, threatening financial disturbance, and inviting schemes of public plunder."|
|Cleveland's third annual message to Congress,
December 6, 1887.
Another contentious financial issue at the time was the protective tariff. American tariffs had been high since the Civil War, and by the 1880s the tariff brought in so much revenue that the government was running a surplus. Cleveland had not campaigned on the tariff in the 1884 election, but his cabinet, like most Democrats, were sympathetic to calls for lower tariffs. Republicans, by contrast, generally favored a high tariff to protect American industries. By 1887, reduction of the tariff had become a central plank of Cleveland's policy proposals, and his annual message to Congress was devoted entirely to the subject. In his message, Cleveland highlighted the injustice of taking more money from the people than the government needed to pay its operating expenses.
Despite Cleveland's advocacy, no major tariff bill passed during Cleveland's first presidency. In 1886, a bill to reduce the tariff was narrowly defeated in the House. The tariff issue was emphasized in the Congressional elections that year, and the forces of protectionism increased their numbers in the Congress, but Cleveland continued to advocate tariff reform. As the surplus grew, Cleveland and the reformers called for a tariff for revenue only. Republicans, as well as protectionist northern Democrats like Samuel J. Randall, believed that American industries would fail absent high tariffs, and continued to fight reform efforts. Roger Q. Mills, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, proposed a bill to reduce the tariff from about 47% to about 40%. After significant exertions by Cleveland and his allies, the bill passed the House. The Republican Senate failed to come to agreement with the Democratic House, and the bill died in the conference committee. Dispute over the tariff persisted into the 1888 presidential election.
Foreign policy, 1885–1889
Cleveland was a committed non-interventionist who had campaigned in opposition to expansion and imperialism. He refused to promote the previous administration's Nicaragua canal treaty, and generally was less of an expansionist in foreign relations. Secretary of State Bayard negotiated with Joseph Chamberlain of the United Kingdom over fishing rights in the waters off Canada, and struck a conciliatory note, despite the opposition of New England's Republican Senators. Cleveland also withdrew from Senate consideration the Berlin Conference treaty which guaranteed an open door for U.S. interests in the Congo. Cleveland's presidency saw the start of the Samoan crisis between the U.S., Germany, and United Kingdom, as the U.S. acted to maintain the autonomy of the Samoan Islands.
Military policy, 1885–1889
Cleveland's military policy emphasized self-defense and modernization. In 1885 Cleveland established the Board of Fortifications under Secretary of War Endicott to recommend a new coastal fortification system for the United States. No improvements to U.S. coastal defenses had been made since the late 1870s. The Board's 1886 report recommended a massive $127 million construction program at 29 harbors and river estuaries, to include new breech-loading rifled guns, mortars, and naval minefields. Most of the Board's recommendations were implemented, and by 1910, 27 locations were defended by over 70 forts. Many of the weapons remained in place until scrapped in World War II as they were replaced with new defenses. Endicott also proposed to Congress a system of examinations for Army officer promotions.
Secretary of the Navy Whitney promoted the modernization of the Navy, although no ships were constructed that could match the best European warships. Construction of the four steel-hulled warships that begun under the Arthur administration was delayed due to a corruption investigation and subsequent bankruptcy of their building yard, but these ships were completed in a timely manner once the investigation was over. Sixteen additional steel-hulled warships were ordered by the end of 1888; these ships later proved vital in the Spanish–American War of 1898, and many served in World War I. These ships included the "second-class battleships" Maine and Texas, designed to match modern armored ships recently acquired by South American countries from Europe. Eleven protected cruisers (including Olympia), one armored cruiser, and one monitor were also ordered, along with the experimental cruiser Vesuvius.
Civil rights and immigration
Cleveland, like a growing number of Northerners (and nearly all white Southerners) saw Reconstruction as a failed experiment, and was reluctant to use federal power to enforce the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed voting rights to African-Americans. Though Cleveland appointed no black Americans to patronage jobs, he allowed Frederick Douglass to continue in his post as recorder of deeds in Washington, D.C. and appointed another black man to replace Douglass upon his resignation.
Although Cleveland had condemned the "outrages" against Chinese immigrants, he believed that Chinese immigrants were unwilling to assimilate into white society. Secretary of State Bayard negotiated an extension to the Chinese Exclusion Act, and Cleveland lobbied the Congress to pass the Scott Act, written by Congressman William Lawrence Scott, which prevented the return of Chinese immigrants who left the United States. The Scott Act easily passed both houses of Congress, and Cleveland signed it into law on October 1, 1888.
Cleveland viewed Native Americans as wards of the state, saying in his first inaugural address that "[t]his guardianship involves, on our part, efforts for the improvement of their condition and enforcement of their rights." He encouraged the idea of cultural assimilation, pushing for the passage of the Dawes Act, which provided for distribution of Indian lands to individual members of tribes, rather than having them continued to be held in trust for the tribes by the federal government. While a conference of Native leaders endorsed the act, in practice the majority of Native Americans disapproved of it. Cleveland believed the Dawes Act would lift Native Americans out of poverty and encourage their assimilation into white society. It ultimately weakened the tribal governments and allowed individual Indians to sell land and keep the money.
In the month before Cleveland's 1885 inauguration, President Arthur opened four million acres of Winnebago and Crow Creek Indian lands in the Dakota Territory to white settlement by executive order. Tens of thousands of settlers gathered at the border of these lands and prepared to take possession of them. Cleveland believed Arthur's order to be in violation of treaties with the tribes, and rescinded it on April 17 of that year, ordering the settlers out of the territory. Cleveland sent in eighteen companies of Army troops to enforce the treaties and ordered General Philip Sheridan, at the time Commanding General of the U.S. Army, to investigate the matter.
Marriage and children
Cleveland entered the White House as a bachelor, and his sister Rose Cleveland acted as hostess for the first two years of his administration. On June 2, 1886, Cleveland married Frances Folsom in the Blue Room at the White House. He was the second president to wed while in office, after John Tyler. Though Cleveland had supervised Frances's upbringing after her father's death, the public took no exception to the match. At 21 years, Frances Folsom Cleveland was the youngest First Lady in history, and the public soon warmed to her beauty and warm personality.
During his first term, Cleveland successfully nominated two justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. His first appointee, Lucius Q.C. Lamar, was a former Mississippi Senator who served as Cleveland's Interior Secretary. When William Burnham Woods died, Cleveland nominated Lamar to his seat in late 1887. While Lamar had been well liked as a Senator, his service under the Confederacy two decades earlier caused many Republicans to vote against him. Lamar's nomination was confirmed by the narrow margin of 32 to 28.
Chief Justice Morrison Waite died in March 1888, and Cleveland nominated Melville Fuller to fill his seat. Though Fuller had previously declined Cleveland's nomination to the Civil Service Commission, he accepted the nomination to the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee spent several months examining the little-known nominee, before the Senate confirmed the nomination 41 to 20. Fuller served as Chief Justice until 1910, presiding over a court that inaugurated the Lochner era.
Election of 1888
With little opposition, Cleveland won re-nomination at the 1888 Democratic National Convention, making him the first Democrat to win re-nomination since Martin Van Buren in 1840. Vice President Hendricks having died in 1885, the Democrats chose Allen G. Thurman of Ohio to be Cleveland's new running mate. The Republicans nominated Benjamin Harrison of Indiana for President and Levi P. Morton of New York for Vice President. The Republicans gained the upper hand in the campaign, as Cleveland's campaign was poorly managed by Calvin S. Brice and William H. Barnum, whereas Harrison had engaged more aggressive fundraisers and tacticians in Matt Quay and John Wanamaker. The Republicans campaigned heavily on the tariff issue, turning out protectionist voters in the important industrial states of the North. Further, the Democrats in New York were divided over the gubernatorial candidacy of David B. Hill, weakening Cleveland's support in that swing state.
As in 1884, the election focused on the swing states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Indiana. Cleveland won every state he had carried in 1884 except for Indiana and his home state of New York, both of which were narrowly won by Harrison. Though Cleveland won the nationwide popular vote by a margin of 0.8%, the loss of his home state's 36 electoral votes denied him re-election. His loss made him the first incumbent president since Van Buren to be defeated in the general election.
Election of 1892
After his loss in the 1888 election, Cleveland returned to New York, where he resumed his legal career. Cleveland's enduring reputation as chief executive and his recent pronouncements on the monetary issues made him a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in 1892. His chief opponent for the nomination was David B. Hill, now a Senator for New York. Hill united the anti-Cleveland elements of the Democratic party—silverites, protectionists, and Tammany Hall—but was unable to create a coalition large enough to deny Cleveland the nomination, and Cleveland was nominated on the first ballot of the convention. For vice president, the Democrats chose to balance the ticket with Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, a silverite. Although the Cleveland forces preferred Isaac P. Gray of Indiana for vice president, they accepted the convention favorite. As a supporter of greenbacks and Free Silver to inflate the currency and alleviate economic distress in the rural districts, Stevenson balanced the otherwise hard-money, gold-standard ticket headed by Cleveland. The Republicans re-nominated President Harrison, making the 1892 election a rematch of the one four years earlier.
The issue of the tariff worked to the Republicans' advantage in 1888. The legislative revisions of the past four years had made imported goods so expensive that many voters favored tariff reform and were skeptical of big business. Many Westerners, traditionally Republican voters, defected to James Weaver, the candidate of the new Populist Party. Weaver promised Free Silver, generous veterans' pensions, and an eight-hour work day. The Tammany Hall Democrats adhered to the national ticket, allowing a united Democratic Party to carry New York. At the campaign's end, many Populists and labor supporters endorsed Cleveland after an attempt by the Carnegie Corporation to break the union during the Homestead Strike in Pittsburgh and after a similar conflict between big business and labor at the Tennessee Coal and Iron Co.
Cleveland won 46% of the popular vote and 62.4% of the electoral vote, becoming the first (and so far only) person to win non-consecutive presidential terms. Harrison won 43% of the popular vote and 32.7% of the electoral vote, while Weaver won 8.5% of the popular vote and the votes of several presidential electors from Western states. In the concurrent congressional elections, Democrats retained control of the House and won control of the Senate, giving the party unified control of Congress and the presidency for the first time since the Civil War.
Second presidency (1893–1897)
Administration and cabinet
|The Second Cleveland Cabinet|
|Vice President||Adlai E. Stevenson||1893–1897|
|Secretary of State||Walter Q. Gresham||1893–1895|
|Secretary of Treasury||John G. Carlisle||1893–1897|
|Secretary of War||Daniel S. Lamont||1893–1897|
|Attorney General||Richard Olney||1893–1895|
|Postmaster General||Wilson S. Bissell||1893–1895|
|William L. Wilson||1895–1897|
|Secretary of the Navy||Hilary A. Herbert||1893–1897|
|Secretary of the Interior||M. Hoke Smith||1893–1896|
|David R. Francis||1896–1897|
|Secretary of Agriculture||Julius S. Morton||1893–1897|
In assembling his second cabinet, Cleveland avoided re-appointing the cabinet members of his first term. Two long-time Cleveland loyalists, Daniel S. Lamont and Wilson S. Bissell, joined the cabinet as Secretary of War and Postmaster General, respectively. Walter Q. Gresham, a former Republican who had served in President Arthur's cabinet, became Secretary of State. Richard Olney of Massachusetts was appointed as Attorney General, and he succeeded Gresham as Secretary of State after the latter's death. Former Speaker of the House John G. Carlisle of Kentucky became the Secretary of the Treasury.
Economic panic and the silver issue
Shortly after Cleveland's second term began, the Panic of 1893 struck the stock market, and the Cleveland administration faced an acute economic depression. The panic was worsened by the acute shortage of gold that resulted from the increased coinage of silver, and Cleveland called Congress into special session to deal with the problem. Cleveland believed that bimetallism encouraged the hoarding of gold, and he argued that adopting the gold standard would alleviate the economic crisis by providing a hard currency. The debate over the coinage was as heated as ever, and the effects of the panic had driven more moderates to support repealing the coinage provisions of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. Even so, the silverites rallied their following at a convention in Chicago, and the House of Representatives debated for fifteen weeks before passing the repeal by a considerable margin. In the Senate, the repeal of silver coinage was equally contentious. Cleveland, forced against his better judgment to lobby the Congress for repeal, cajoled several Senate Democrats to support repeal. Along with several eastern Republicans, the Democratic Senate voted 48–37 majority to repeal the coinage provisions. Depletion of the Treasury's gold reserves continued, at a lesser rate, and subsequent bond issues replenished supplies of gold. At the time the repeal seemed a minor setback to silverites, but it marked the beginning of the end of silver as a basis for American currency.
The economic panic caused a drastic reduction in government revenue. In 1894, with the government in danger of being unable to meet its expenditures, Cleveland convinced a group led by financier J. P. Morgan to purchase sixty million dollars in U.S. bonds. The deal resulted in an infusion of gold into the economy, allowing for the continuation of the gold standard, but Cleveland was widely criticized for relying on Wall Street bankers to keep the government running.
Having succeeded in reversing the Harrison administration's silver policy, Cleveland sought next to reverse the effects of the McKinley tariff, one of the highest tariffs in U.S. history. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act was introduced by West Virginian Representative William L. Wilson in December 1893. After lengthy debate, the bill passed the House by a considerable margin. The bill proposed moderate downward revisions in the tariff, especially on raw materials. The shortfall in revenue was to be made up by an income tax of two percent on income above $4,000, equivalent to $107,000 today.
The bill was next considered in the Senate, where it faced stronger opposition from key Democrats led by Arthur Pue Gorman of Maryland, who insisted on more protection for their states' industries than the Wilson bill allowed. The bill passed the Senate with more than 600 amendments attached that nullified most of the reforms. The Sugar Trust in particular lobbied for changes that favored it at the expense of the consumer. Cleveland was outraged with the final bill, and denounced it as a disgraceful product of the control of the Senate by trusts and business interests. Even so, he believed it was an improvement over the McKinley tariff and allowed it to become law without his signature. The income tax included in the tariff was struck down by the Supreme Court in the 1895 case, Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co..
In 1892, Cleveland had campaigned against the Lodge Bill, which would have strengthened voting rights protections through the appointing of federal supervisors of congressional elections upon a petition from the citizens of any district. The Enforcement Act of 1871 had provided for a detailed federal overseeing of the electoral process, from registration to the certification of returns. Cleveland succeeded in ushering in the 1894 repeal of this law. Cleveland approved of the 1896 Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, which recognized the constitutionality of racial segregation under the "separate but equal doctrine. With the Supreme Court and the federal government both unwilling to intervene to protect the suffrage of African-Americans, Southern states continued to pass numerous Jim Crow laws, effectively denying suffrage to many African Americans through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency and record-keeping requirements.
The Panic of 1893 had damaged labor conditions across the United States, and the victory of anti-silver legislation worsened the mood of western laborers. A group of workingmen led by Jacob S. Coxey began to march east toward Washington, D.C. to protest Cleveland's policies. This group, known as Coxey's Army, agitated in favor of a national roads program to give jobs to workingmen, and a weakened currency to help farmers pay their debts. By the time they reached Washington, only a few hundred remained, and when they were arrested the next day for walking on the lawn of the United States Capitol, the group scattered. Even though Coxey's Army may not have been a threat to the government, it signaled a growing dissatisfaction in the West with Eastern monetary policies.
The Pullman Strike had a significantly greater impact than Coxey's Army. A strike began against the Pullman Company over low wages and twelve-hour workdays, and sympathy strikes, led by American Railway Union leader Eugene V. Debs, soon followed. By June 1894, 125,000 railroad workers were on strike, paralyzing the nation's commerce. Because the railroads carried the mail, and because several of the affected lines were in federal receivership, Cleveland believed a federal solution was appropriate. Cleveland obtained an injunction in federal court, and when the strikers refused to obey it, he sent federal troops into Chicago and 20 other rail centers. "If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States to deliver a postcard in Chicago", he proclaimed, "that card will be delivered." Most governors supported Cleveland except Democrat John P. Altgeld of Illinois, who became his bitter foe in 1896. Leading newspapers of both parties applauded Cleveland's actions, but the use of troops hardened the attitude of organized labor toward his administration. The outcome of the Pullman strike, combined with the administration's weak anti-trust prosecution against the American Sugar Refining Company, made many believe that Cleveland was a tool of big business.
Just before the 1894 election, Cleveland was warned by Francis Lynde Stetson, an advisor:
- "We are on the eve of [a] very dark night, unless a return of commercial prosperity relieves popular discontent with what they believe [is] Democratic incompetence to make laws, and consequently [discontent] with Democratic Administrations anywhere and everywhere."
The warning was appropriate, for in the Congressional elections, Republicans won their biggest landslide in decades, taking full control of the House, while the Populists lost most of their support. Cleveland's factional enemies gained control of the Democratic Party in state after state, including full control in Illinois and Michigan, and made major gains in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and other states. Wisconsin and Massachusetts were two of the few states that remained under the control of Cleveland's allies. The Democratic opposition were close to controlling two-thirds of the vote at the 1896 national convention, which they needed to nominate their own candidate. They failed for lack of unity and a national leader, as Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld had been born in Germany and was ineligible to be nominated for President.
Foreign policy, 1893–1897
|"I suppose that right and justice should determine the path to be followed in treating this subject. If national honesty is to be disregarded and a desire for territorial expansion or dissatisfaction with a form of government not our own ought to regulate our conduct, I have entirely misapprehended the mission and character of our government and the behavior which the conscience of the people demands of their public servants."|
|Cleveland's message to Congress on the Hawaiian question, December 18, 1893.|
When Cleveland took office he faced the question of Hawaiian annexation. In his first term, he had supported free trade with Hawai'i and accepted an amendment that gave the United States a coaling and naval station in Pearl Harbor. In the intervening four years, Honolulu businessmen of European and American ancestry had denounced Queen Liliuokalani as a tyrant who rejected constitutional government. In early 1893 they overthrew her, set up a republican government under Sanford B. Dole, and sought to join the United States. The Harrison administration had quickly agreed with representatives of the new government on a treaty of annexation and submitted it to the Senate for approval. Five days after taking office on March 9, 1893, Cleveland withdrew the treaty from the Senate and sent former Congressman James Henderson Blount to Hawai'i to investigate the conditions there.
Cleveland agreed with Blount's report, which found the populace to be opposed to annexation. Liliuokalani initially refused to grant amnesty as a condition of her reinstatement, saying that she would either execute or banish the current government in Honolulu, but Dole's government refused to yield their position. By December 1893, the matter was still unresolved, and Cleveland referred the issue to Congress. In his message to Congress, Cleveland rejected the idea of annexation and encouraged the Congress to continue the American tradition of non-intervention. The Senate, under Democratic control but opposed to Cleveland, commissioned and produced the Morgan Report, which contradicted Blount's findings and found the overthrow was a completely internal affair. Cleveland dropped all talk of reinstating the Queen, and went on to recognize and maintain diplomatic relations with the new Republic of Hawaii. The United States would annex Hawaii in 1898.
Closer to home, Cleveland adopted a broad interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine that not only prohibited new European colonies, but also declared an American national interest in any matter of substance within the hemisphere. When Britain and Venezuela disagreed over the boundary between Venezuela and the colony of British Guiana, Cleveland and Secretary of State Olney protested. British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury and the British ambassador to Washington, Julian Pauncefote, misjudged how important successful resolution of the dispute was to the American government, having prolonged the crisis before ultimately accepting the American demand for arbitration. A tribunal convened in Paris in 1898 to decide the matter, and in 1899 awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana. But by standing with a Latin American nation against the encroachment of a colonial power, Cleveland improved relations with the United States' southern neighbors, and at the same time, the cordial manner in which the negotiations were conducted also made for good relations with Britain.
The Cuban War of Independence began late in Cleveland's presidency. Cleveland urged the United States to stay out of the conflict, and argued against those who wanted the U.S. to declare against Spain. After Cleveland left office, the two countries would go to war in the Spanish–American War.
Military policy, 1893–1897
The second Cleveland administration was as committed to military modernization as the first, and ordered the first ships of a navy capable of offensive action. Construction continued on the Endicott program of coastal fortifications begun under Cleveland's first administration. The adoption of the Krag–Jørgensen rifle, the U.S. Army's first bolt-action repeating rifle, was finalized. In 1895–96 Secretary of the Navy Hilary A. Herbert, having recently adopted the aggressive naval strategy advocated by Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, successfully proposed ordering five battleships (the Kearsarge and Illinois classes) and sixteen torpedo boats. Completion of these ships nearly doubled the Navy's battleships and created a new torpedo boat force, which previously had only two boats. However, the battleships and seven of the torpedo boats were not completed until 1899–1901, after the Spanish–American War.
In 1893, Cleveland underwent oral surgery to remove a tumor. Cleveland decided to have surgery secretly, to avoid further panic that might worsen the financial depression. The surgery occurred on July 1, to give Cleveland time to make a full recovery in time for the upcoming Congressional session. The surgeons operated aboard the Oneida, a yacht owned by Cleveland's friend E. C. Benedict, as it sailed off Long Island. The surgery was conducted through the President's mouth, to avoid any scars or other signs of surgery. The size of the tumor and the extent of the operation left Cleveland's mouth disfigured. During another surgery, Cleveland was fitted with a hard rubber dental prosthesis that corrected his speech and restored his appearance. A cover story about the removal of two bad teeth kept the suspicious press placated. Cleveland enjoyed many years of life after the tumor was removed, and there was some debate as to whether it was actually malignant. Several doctors, including Dr. Keen, stated after Cleveland's death that the tumor was a carcinoma.Keen, William W. (1917). The Surgical Operations on President Cleveland in 1893. G. W. Jacobs & Co.
Cleveland's trouble with the Senate hindered the success of his nominations to the Supreme Court in his second term. In 1893, after the death of Samuel Blatchford, Cleveland nominated William B. Hornblower to the Court. Hornblower, the head of a New York City law firm, was thought to be a qualified appointee, but his campaign against a New York machine politician had made Senator David B. Hill his enemy. Further, Cleveland had not consulted the Senators before naming his appointee, leaving many who were already opposed to Cleveland on other grounds even more aggrieved. The Senate rejected Hornblower's nomination on January 15, 1894, by a vote of 30 to 24.
Cleveland continued to defy the Senate by next nominating Wheeler Hazard Peckham, another New York attorney who had opposed Hill's machine. Hill used all of his influence to block Peckham's confirmation, and on February 16, 1894, the Senate rejected the nomination by a vote of 32 to 41. Reformers urged Cleveland to continue the fight against Hill and to nominate Frederic R. Coudert, but Cleveland acquiesced in an inoffensive choice, that of Senator Edward Douglass White of Louisiana, whose nomination was accepted unanimously. Later, in 1896, another vacancy on the Court led Cleveland to consider Hornblower again, but he declined to be nominated. Instead, Cleveland nominated Rufus Wheeler Peckham, the brother of Wheeler Hazard Peckham, and the Senate confirmed the second Peckham easily.
Election of 1896
Cleveland's agrarian and silverite enemies won control of the 1896 Democratic National Convention, repudiated Cleveland's administration and the gold standard, and nominated William Jennings Bryan on a Silver Platform. With much of their platform having been appropriated, the Populists also nominated Bryan for president. Cleveland silently supported the Gold Democrats' third-party ticket that promised to defend the gold standard, limit government, and oppose high tariffs, but he declined the splinter group's offer to run for a third term. William McKinley, the Republican nominee, hoped to please both farmers and business interests by not taking a clear position on monetary issues. In the 1896 presidential election, McKinley won a decisive victory over Bryan, taking 51% of the popular vote and 60.6% of the electoral vote. John Palmer, the candidate of the Gold Democrats, took just under one percent of the popular vote. Despite Palmer's loss, Cleveland was pleased by the election outcome, as he strongly preferred McKinley to Bryan and saw the former's victory as vindication for the gold standard.
States admitted to the Union
During the period 1877–1888, Congress consistently rejected applications from territories in the west for statehood. Denial of statehood was largely due to a concern that the lack of a northern transcontinental railroad connection would interfere in the effective governance of Oregon as a state. More significantly, the legislators hesitated to disturb the delicate balance of Democrats and Republicans in Congress by creating additional states. Finally, in the closing weeks of Cleveland's first term (February 22, 1889), Congress passed a statute that enabled North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington to draft constitutions and form state governments and to request admission to the Union. All four did, and each officially became states in November 1889, during the first year of Benjamin Harrison's administration.
Midway through his second term, July 16, 1894, the 53rd United States Congress passed an act that permitted Utah form a constitution and state government, and to apply for statehood. On January 4, 1896, Cleveland proclaimed Utah a state on an equal footing with the other states of the Union.
Legacy and evaluation
According to historian Henry Graff, Cleveland reasserted the power of the executive branch, but his lack of a clear vision for the country marked his presidency as pre-modern. Graff also notes that Cleveland helped establish Democratic dominance in the Solid South through policies of reconciliation while at the same time revitalizing his party in the North by embracing civil service reform. Polls of historians and political scientists generally rank Cleveland among the second quartile of American presidents.
- A presidency is defined as an uninterrupted period of time in office served by one person. For example, George Washington's two consecutive terms constitute one presidency, and he is counted as the 1st president (not the first and second). Grover Cleveland's two non-consecutive terms constitute separate presidencies, and he is counted as both the 22nd president and the 24th president.
- McFarland, 11–56
- "Grover Cleveland: Domestic Affairs". Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
- Tugwell, 220–249
- Nevins, 4
- Graff, 31-33
- Nevins, 146–147
- Nevins, 147
- Nevins, 152–153; Graff, 51–53
- Nevins, 153-154; Graff, 53–54
- Nevins, 185–186; Jeffers, 96–97
- Tugwell, 80
- Summers, passim; Grossman, 31
- Tugwell, 84
- Nevins, 156–159; Graff, 55
- Nevins, 187–188
- Tugwell, 93
- Welch, 33
- Leip, David. "1884 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved January 27, 2008., "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
- Graff, 68-71
- Nevins, 208–211
- Nevins, 214–217
- Graff, 83
- Tugwell, 100
- Nevins, 238–241; Welch, 59–60
- Nevins, 354–357; Graff, 85
- Nevins, 217–223; Graff, 77
- Glass, Andrew (11 February 2011). "Dept. of Agriculture gets Cabinet status, Feb. 11, 1889". Politico. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
- Nevins, 223–228
- Tugwell, 130–134
- Graff, 85
- Nevins, 326–328; Graff, 83–84
- Nevins, 300–331; Graff, 83
- Nevins, 331–332; Graff, 85
- "Cleveland's Veto of the Texas Seed Bill". The Writings and Speeches of Grover Cleveland. New York: Cassell Publishing Co. 1892. p. 450. ISBN 0-217-89899-8.
- Jeffers, 157–158
- Nevins, 201–205; Graff, 102–103
- Nevins, 269
- Tugwell, 110
- Nevins, 268
- Nevins, 273
- Nevins, 277–279
- The Writings and Speeches of Grover Cleveland. New York: Cassell Publishing Co. 1892. pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-217-89899-8.
- Nevins, 286–287
- Graff, 85-87
- Nevins, 280–282, Reitano, 46–62
- Nevins, 379–381
- Nevins, 287–288
- Nevins, 290–296; Graff, 87–88
- Nevins, 370–371
- Nevins, 383–385
- Graff, 88–89
- Graff, 88
- Nevins, 205; 404–405
- Nevins, 404–413
- Zakaria, 80
- Graff, 95-96
- Berhow, pp. 9–10
- Endicott and Taft Boards at the Coast Defense Study Group website
- Berhow, p. 8
- Civil War and 1870s defenses at the Coast Defense Study Group website
- Berhow, pp. 201–226
- List of all US coastal forts and batteries at the Coast Defense Study Group website
- William Crowninshield Endicott, from Bell, William Gardner (1992), Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army, Center of Military History, US Army
- Bauer and Roberts, p. 141
- Bauer and Roberts, p. 102
- Bauer and Roberts, pp. 101, 133, 141–147
- Welch, 65–66
- Welch, 72
- Welch, 73
- Welch, 70; Nevins, 358–359
- Graff, 206–207
- Brodsky, 141–142; Nevins, 228–229
- Brodsky, 158; Jeffers, 149
- Graff, 79
- Jeffers, 170–176; Graff, 78–81; Nevins, 302–308; Welch, 51
- Graff, 80–81
- Daniel J. Meador, "Lamar to the Court: Last Step to National Reunion" Supreme Court Historical Society Yearbook 1986: 27–47. ISSN 0362-5249
- Willard L. King, Melville Weston Fuller—Chief Justice of the United States 1888–1910 (1950)
- Nevins, 445–450
- Ely, James W. (2003). The Fuller Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. ABC-CLIO. pp. 26–31. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- Graff, 90–91
- Tugwell, 166
- Nevins, 418–420
- Nevins, 423–427
- Leip, David. "1888 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved February 18, 2008., "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved February 18, 2008.
- Graff, 98-99
- Nevins, 468–469
- Nevins, 470–473
- Tugwell, 182
- Graff, 105; Nevins, 492–493
- William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997
- "U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Adlai Ewing Stevenson, 23rd Vice President (1893–1897)". Senate.gov. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
- Nevins, 499
- Graff, 106–107; Nevins, 505–506
- Graff, 108
- Tugwell, 184–185
- Leip, David. "1892 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved February 22, 2008., "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
- Graff, 109-110
- Graff, 113-114
- Graff, 114
- Nevins, 526–528
- Nevins, 524–528, 537–540. The vote was 239 to 108.
- Tugwell, 192–195
- Welch, 126–127
- Timberlake, Richard H. (1993). Monetary Policy in the United States: An Intellectual and Institutional History. University of Chicago Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-226-80384-8.
- Graff, 114-115
- Graff, 100
- Festus P. Summers, William L. Wilson and Tariff Reform: A Biography (1974)
- Nevins, 567; the vote was 204 to 140
- Nevins, 564–566; Jeffers, 285–287
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
- Lambert, 213–15
- Nevins, 577–578
- Nevins, 585–587; Jeffers, 288–289
- Nevins, 564–588; Jeffers, 285–289
- Graff, 117
- James B. Hedges (1940), "North America", in William L. Langer, ed., An Encyclopedia of World History, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Part V, Section G, Subsection 1c, p. 794.
- Congressional Research Service (2004), The Constitution of the United States: Analysis and Interpretation—Analysis of Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of the United States to June 28, 2002, Washington: Government Printing Office, "Fifteenth Amendment", "Congressional Enforcement", "Federal Remedial Legislation", p. 2058.
- "Grover Cleveland: A Powerful Advocate of White Supremacy". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 31: 53–54. Spring 2001.
- Michael Perman.Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888–1908. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001, Introduction
- Nevins, 568
- Graff, 117–118; Nevins, 603–605
- Graff, 118; Jeffers, 280–281
- Nevins, 611–613
- Nevins, 614
- Nevins, 614–618; Graff, 118–119; Jeffers, 296–297
- Nevins, 619–623; Jeffers, 298–302. See also In re Debs.
- Nevins, 628
- Nevins, 624–628; Jeffers, 304–305; Graff, 120
- Graff, 120, 123
- Francis Lynde Stetson to Cleveland, October 7, 1894 in Allan Nevins, ed. Letters of Grover Cleveland, 1850–1908 (1933) p. 369
- Richard J. Jensen, The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888–96 (1971) pp 229–230
- Nevins, 560
- Nevins, 549–552; Graff 121–122
- Nevins, 552–554; Graff, 122
- Nevins, 558–559
- Welch, 174
- McWilliams, 25–36
- Graff, 123
- Zakaria, 145–146
- Graff, 123–125; Nevins, 633–642
- Paul Gibb, "Unmasterly Inactivity? Sir Julian Pauncefote, Lord Salisbury, and the Venezuela Boundary Dispute", Diplomacy & Statecraft, Mar 2005, Vol. 16 Issue 1, pp 23–55
- Nelson M. Blake, "Background of Cleveland's Venezuelan Policy", American Historical Review, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Jan. 1942), pp. 259–277 in JSTOR
- Graff, 123–25
- Nevins, 550, 633–648
- Graff, 126, 130
- Bruce N. Canfield "The Foreign Rifle: U.S. Krag–Jørgensen" American Rifleman October 2010 pp.86–89,126&129
- Hanevik, Karl Egil (1998). Norske Militærgeværer etter 1867
- Friedman, pp. 35–38
- Bauer and Roberts, pp. 162–165
- Bauer and Roberts, pp. 102–104, 162–165
- Nevins, 528–529; Graff, 115–116
- Nevins, 531–533
- Nevins, 529
- Nevins, 530–531
- Nevins, 532–533
- Nevins, 533; Graff, 116
- Keen, William W. (1917). The Surgical Operations on President Cleveland in 1893. G. W. Jacobs & Co. The lump was preserved and is on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia
- Nevins, 569–570
- Nevins, 570–571
- Nevins, 572
- Nevins, 684–693
- R. Hal Williams, Years of Decision: American Politics in the 1890s (1993)
- Graff, 128
- Graff, 128–129
- Graff, 126–127
- Leip, David. "1896 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved February 23, 2008.
- Graff, 129
- "Today in History: November 11". loc.gov. Library of Congress.
- "Today in History: November 2". loc.gov. Library of Congress.
- Timberlake, Richard H. (1993). Monetary Policy in the United States: An Intellectual and Institutional History. University of Chicago Press. p. 77. ISBN 0-226-80384-8.
- Thatcher, Linda Thatcher (2016). "Struggle For Statehood Chronology". historytogo.utah.gov. State of Utah.
- Graff, Henry F. "GROVER CLEVELAND: IMPACT AND LEGACY". Miller Center. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
Letters and Speeches
- Text of a number of Cleveland's speeches at the Miller Center of Public Affairs
- Finding Aid to the Grover Cleveland Manuscripts, 1867–1908 at the New York State Library, accessed May 11, 2016
- 10 letters written by Grover Cleveland in 1884–86
- Grover Cleveland: A Resource Guide, Library of Congress
- Grover Cleveland: A bibliography by The Buffalo History Museum
- Grover Cleveland Sites in Buffalo, NY: A Google Map developed by The Buffalo History Museum
- Index to the Grover Cleveland Papers at the Library of Congress
- Essay on Cleveland and each member of his cabinet and First Lady, Miller Center of Public Affairs
- "Life Portrait of Grover Cleveland", from C-SPAN's American Presidents: Life Portraits, August 13, 1999
- Interview with H. Paul Jeffers on An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland, Booknotes (2000)
- Works by Grover Cleveland at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Grover Cleveland at Internet Archive
|U.S. Presidential Administrations|
|1st Cleveland Presidency
|2nd Cleveland Presidency