Stephen Grover Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837, in Caldwell, New Jersey to Richard Falley Cleveland and Ann Neal Cleveland. Cleveland's father was a Presbyterian minister, originally from Connecticut. His mother was from Baltimore, the daughter of a bookseller On his father's side, Cleveland was descended from English ancestors, the first Cleveland having emigrated to Massachusetts from northeastern England in 1635. On his mother's side, Cleveland was descended from Anglo-Irish Protestants and German Quakers. He was distantly related to Moses Cleaveland after whom the city of Cleveland, Ohio was named.
|Caldwell Parsonage, Birthplace of Cleveland|
Cleveland, the fifth of nine children, was named Stephen Grover in honor of the first pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Caldwell, where his father was pastor at the time, but he did not use the name Stephen in his adult life. In 1841, the Cleveland family moved to Fayetteville, New York, where Grover spent much of his childhood. Neighbors would later describe him as "full of fun and inclined to play pranks", and fond of outdoor sports. In 1850, Cleveland's father took a pastorate in Clinton, New York, and the family relocated there.
They moved again in 1853 to Holland Patent, New York. Not long after the family arrived in Holland Patent, Cleveland's father died, when Grover was 16 years old. He left school and helped to support his family. Later that year, Cleveland's brother William was hired as a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in New York City, and William obtained a place for Cleveland as an assistant teacher.
He returned home to Holland Patent at the end of 1854. An elder in his church offered to pay for his college education if he would promise to become a minister, but Cleveland declined. Instead, in 1855 Cleveland decided to move west. He stopped first in Buffalo, New York, where his uncle, Lewis W. Allen gave him a clerical job. Allen was an important man in Buffalo, and he introduced his nephew to influential men there, including the partners in the law firm of Rogers, Bowen, and Rogers.
Grover Cleveland was 24 years old when the Civil War began.
|Grover Cleveland as a young man|
After his term as sheriff ended, Cleveland returned to private practice, opening a law firm with his friends Lyman K. Bass and Wilson S. Bissell. Bass did not spend much time at the firm, being elected to Congress in 1873, but Cleveland and Bissell soon found themselves at the top of Buffalo's legal community.
To counter Cleveland's image of superior morality, Republicans discovered reports that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child while he was a lawyer in Buffalo, and chanted "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?". When confronted with the emerging scandal, Cleveland's instructions to his campaign staff were: "Tell the truth."
|Maria Crofts Halpin|
Cleveland admitted to paying child support in 1874 to Maria Crofts Halpin, the woman who claimed he fathered her child, named Oscar Folsom Cleveland. Halpin was involved with several men at the time, including Cleveland's friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom, for whom the child was also named. Cleveland did not know which man was the father, and is believed to have assumed responsibility because he was the only bachelor among them.
Cleveland narrowly won all four of the swing states, including New York by just over one thousand votes. While the popular vote total was close, with Cleveland winning by just one-quarter of a percent, the electoral votes gave Cleveland a majority of 219–182. Following the electoral victory, the "Ma, Ma ...Where's My Pa?" attack phrase gained a classic rejoinder: "Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!"
|"I want my pa!"|
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.
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 would prevent Chinese immigrants who left the United States from returning. 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. Cleveland believed the Dawes Act would lift Native Americans out of poverty and encourage their assimilation into white society, but its ultimate effect was to weaken the tribal governments and allow individual Indians to sell land and keep the money.
|Roxe Cleveland, Grover's Sister|
|Frances Folsom Cleveland|
|The Cleveland Wedding in the White House|
|1888 Campaign Poster|
In the meantime, the Clevelands moved to New York City where Cleveland took a position with the law firm of Bangs, Stetson, Tracy, and MacVeigh.
While they lived in New York, the Clevelands' first child, Ruth, was born in 1891.
|Panic of 1893 - Wall Street|
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 grass of the United States Capitol, the group scattered. Coxey's Army was never a threat to the government, but it showed a growing dissatisfaction in the West with Eastern monetary policies.
|Strike-breaking Troops in Chicago|
|Eugene V. Debs|
|Cleveland at McKinley's Inauguration|
Cleveland's health had been declining for several years, and in the autumn of 1907 he fell seriously ill. In 1908, he suffered a heart attack and died. His last words were "I have tried so hard to do right."
Apparently the child was adopted by a well-to-do doctor in Buffalo and his family, and raised as their own.
|James E. King, Jr.|