#22 & #24 Grover Cleveland
Though it's a bit early, it's
really never too early to start planning for President's Day. And this year, here at the HGP we're celebrating the life
and times of Grover Cleveland, who could always count on the Ohio Muppet vote. He was born on March 18, 1837, and died
June 24, 1908. He was president from March 4, 1885 to March 3, 1889, and then again from March 4, 1893 to March 3, 1897.
OK. Enough already with
the name jokes. Grover Cleveland was a genuinely nice, decent, honest man, though most of that is probably redundant,
or at least should be.
He won the popular vote for president three times, which isn’t something many people other that Franklyn D.
Roosevelt can say, and, according to many prominent conspiracy theorists, probably should’ve won all three terms.
But if that would’ve been the case, he wouldn’t have the distinction of being the only president to serve two
terms, but not back to back. In 1884 he beat some guy named Blaine from Maine (no kidding). Then, trying for his
second term, he lost the presidency in 1888 to William Harrison, even though he won the popular vote. He then ran again
against Harrison in 1892, only this time he won by a landslide.
While campaigning for his first term, it was revealed that Cleveland could possibly be
the father of a child born to Maria Halpin, who named the boy Oscar Folsom Cleveland. (OK, Oscar and Grover are
really stretching the name thing.) There were apparently two other men who could’ve been the father (that must’ve
been one helluva party), but she chose Cleveland (and his name… somewhat) in hopes that he would marry her. He
didn’t. But Cleveland never denied it, mostly because the other two men were already married. And he provided
somewhat for the child’s care, though not like he ever let him use the front door. When the scandal broke, Cleveland
chose a controversial strategy: He told the truth. And, surprisingly, it worked. Like I said, he was a nice
guy, or a firm believer in the Guy Code.
Oscar Folsom, by the way, was the name of one of the other men that Miss Halpin was involved with.
He was also the father of Francis Folsom, whom Grover married in 1886, during his first term when she was just 21. Do
the math. Grover was 49 at the time. Of course, given the times, this didn’t cause too much of a scandal
in itself. What did cause a scandal, though, was that he was his wife’s godfather, which means that he wasn’t
related to her at all, but still… I mean… just what does that mean?
It means that they went on to have five children: three
daughters and two sons. Their first daughter, Ruth, is supposedly who Baby Ruth candy bars are named after. Of
course, when the Curtiss Candy Company chose that name, it was 17 years after the Clevelands’ daughter died
(tragically young), but coincidentally at the peak of the famous baseball player’s popularity. The candy
company even managed to sue (and win against) another company that was selling a Babe Ruth candy bar that Babe Ruth actually
endorsed, because Babe Ruth’s actual name was too close to Baby Ruth. Is this a great country or what?
Cleveland’s first term
went swimmingly... well, after he put all that sex stuff behind him. And by “well,” we mean that he
really didn’t do anything memorable. I mean, really, what did he do? He was Ulysses S. Grant’s
sixth cousin, but that was something he could’ve done without becoming president. He was the only president ever
married in the White House, but that’s not a skill you would study for. As president, he holds the Guinness
Book of World Records in vetoing bills, at least at that time. He vetoed more bills than the first 21 presidents
combined. And how much difference would any of those bills have made? He made the railroads give back a bunch
of land they really would’ve rather kept, and he passed the Interstate Commerce Act, which was the first Federal attempt
at regulating the railroads. That’s good, but other than that, he is known for… what? And let’s
be serious, though I am not doubting the importance of regulating the railroads, other presidents have done a lot cooler stuff.
Just look at Teddy Roosevelt. But then, maybe having a really boring president has its points. And he had two
terms to do it in. The only thing memorable about his second term is that the economy went all to hell, as it is wont
to do, and then it no longer mattered to the public how much of a nice, decent man Cleveland was.
He never tried for a fourth term,
back when such things were allowed. He retired from politics after leaving the White House in 1897. He found retirement
to be quite unsatisfactory, and died in 1908.