Cake’s Presidential Quickies: Grover Cleveland

Today’s chief executive is Grover Cleveland, the 22nd AND 24th President of the United States. Cleveland is the only president ever that the people said “Hey, how about we elect that guy we had before?”
Cleveland was born in western New York; his birth name was Stephen Grover Cleveland, but being a man of the “Era of Stupid First Names,” he went with Grover. He went into politics at an early age and got a reputation as a reformer; he rose quickly and became governor of New York at 45. Governor of NY is a good stepping-stone to the Presidency; Cleveland, Fillmore and both Roosevelts were guvs of NY.

Cleveland also got a reputation as a horndog; he was dogged through his Presidential campaigns by charges that he had an illegitimate child. The charges were true, and he was roasted in the famous jingle “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?” and the equally famous reply, “Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!.”

One of just three presidents who were unmarried when he took office, Cleveland (49 at the time) married 21-year-old Frances Folsom in 1886. Frances Cleveland remains the youngest First Lady in history, and will likely hold that distinction forever. 

As a President, Cleveland was pretty good; he continued the civil-service reforms that had been begun under his predecessors. He worked to keep the country on the gold standard and keep the currency stable, and he built up the military around the world. He was the first president to have cancer surgery, having a tumor secretly removed from the roof of his mouth aboard a friend’s yacht early in 1893; he lived another 15 years.

Even as President, he never lost the common touch; presented with a fancy French meal on his first night in the White House, Cleveland told the waiter to take it to the kitchen staff and to bring him the corned beef and cabbage that members of the staff were cooking for their own meal.

Cleveland died in 1908 in New Jersey. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Ruth; this little girl was supposedly the inspiration for the “Baby Ruth” bar, and certainly NOT Babe Ruth who was still alive and could still sue people when the candy bar came out in 1921.

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