This Day in History: March 18
- Published: Mar 18, 2016, 5 AM
Grover Cleveland is the only American president to serve two nonconsecutive terms.
Cleveland, the first Democratic candidate elected after the Civil War, was born on March 18, 1837.
One of nine children of a Presbyterian minister, Cleveland was born in New Jersey and raised in upstate New York. As a lawyer in Buffalo, he became notable for his single-minded concentration.
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Running as a reformer, he was elected mayor of Buffalo in 1881 and later, governor of New York. He won the presidency in 1884 thanks to the “Mugwumps,” Democrats and reform Republicans who joined together to support his candidacy.
Cleveland was the only president married at the White House, taking the hand of 21-year-old Frances Folsom in June 1886.
According to the United States Mint, “As the 22nd President, Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. He also vetoed many private pension bills to Civil War veterans whose claims were fraudulent.”
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Cleveland also angered the railroads by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by government grant, forcing them to return 81,000,000 acres.
Cleveland is also remembered for the Interstate Commerce Act, the first law attempting federal regulation of the railroads. Running for re-election in 1888, he won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote and the presidency to his Republican opponent, Benjamin Harrison.
After losing the presidency to Harrison in 1888, he was returned to office in 1892, just in time for the economic depression of 1893.
Cleveland dealt directly with the financial crisis rather than with business failures, farm mortgage foreclosures and unemployment. He secured the repeal of the mildly inflationary Sherman Silver Purchase Act and with the aid of Wall Street, maintained the Treasury Department’s gold reserve.
According to the U.S. Mint, “When railroad strikers in Chicago violated an injunction, Cleveland sent federal troops to enforce it. His blunt treatment of the railroad strikers stirred the pride of many Americans, as did the vigorous way he forced Great Britain to accept arbitration of a disputed boundary in Venezuela.”
Cleveland’s policies were not well-received, and he did not receive the nomination in 1896 as his party instead nominated William Jennings Bryan.
After leaving the White House the second time, Cleveland lived in retirement in Princeton, N.J., and died in 1908.
Cleveland is the subject of two circulating Presidential dollar coins, issued in 2012 to mark his distinct terms in office.
He is also the subject of a $1,000 gold certificate, which is seen in circulation about as infrequently as the dollar coins.
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