The Guardian President: Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837, in Caldwell, New Jersey, to Ann Neal and Richard Falley Cleveland, a Presbyterian minister. Grover Cleveland was a tough opponent of political corruption who fiercely guarded the integrity of the offices in which he served. The first Democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later. The fifth of nine children, Cleveland was born in New Jersey, but was raised in upstate New York. The family moved several times around central New York State for his father’s posts, but the reverend died when Grover was only 16, and the teen had to forgo finishing his education to go to work to support the family. Cleveland worked with his older brother at the New York Institute for Special Education, which would become an abiding concern, and then as a clerk and part-time law student while in Buffalo.
The knowledge he gained from these experiences helped him pass the bar exam in 1858 without any structured formal study. Grover Cleveland, he dropped his first name as an adult, perhaps because he had been called "Big Steve” by friends, due to his girth, at over 250 pounds, basically went with the flow of his career rather than holding any specific ambitions. He did evade military service in the Civil War by paying a substitute $300, which was not an uncommon practice at the time. Passing the bar exam led to a position as district attorney for Erie County, then sheriff, mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York from 1882 to 1884, when he became known “Uncle Jumbo.”
As a lawyer in Buffalo, he became notable for his single-minded concentration upon whatever task faced him. At 44, he emerged into a political prominence that carried him to the White House in three years. Running as a reformer, he was elected Mayor of Buffalo in 1881, and later, Governor of New York. Cleveland won the...
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