Stephen Grover Cleveland
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Princeton, New Jersey
June 12, 2004 9th Visited

Grover Cleveland, the lone U.S.
president to serve two non-
consecutive terms, is interred in
Princeton, New Jersey, between
First Lady Frances Cleveland
and their daughter, Ruth.

Cleveland's blockish monument
is topped with a decorative urn
and has an hourglass and a palm
frond carved into its face. The
grave is occasionally draped with
shell necklaces and leis left by
Hawaiian visitors who honor the
president's opposition to their
homeland's annexation and his
support of its sovereign monarchy.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Rose Elizabeth Cleveland (1885-1886)
    Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland Preston (1886-1889; 1893-1897)
- Spouse: Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland Preston (m. 1886-1908)

- Political Party: Democratic Party

- Term: 1885-1889; 1893-1897
- Vice President: Thomas Andrews Hendricks (1885)
   Adlai Ewing Stevenson I (1893-1897)

- Born: March 18, 1837

- Died: June 24, 1908

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Heart Failure

- Last Words: "I have tried so hard to do right."

Cemetery: Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, New Jersey
- GPS Coordinates: 40°21'10.4"N 74°39'38.9"W

* * * Background on Grover Cleveland * * *

* Richard and Ann Cleveland named their fifth child Stephen Grover Cleveland, but, as they did with most of their offspring, they typically referred to him by his middle name. Grover’s father, a Presbyterian minister, died in 1853 when his son was sixteen years old. Grover soon left school to find work to provide for his mother and siblings. The teenager held a few odd jobs before he became a law office clerk in Buffalo, New York. He later began to study law and passed the bar exam in 1859, after which he opened his own practice. Cleveland was twenty-five years old when Congress passed the Enrollment Act of 1863, which drafted American men between the ages of twenty and forty-five into the Union Army - with mental and physical impairments functioning as two of the few exemptions. That summer, the non-exempt Cleveland paid Polish immigrant George Beniski to serve as his conscription substitute, which was allowed under the legislation’s provisions. Cleveland continued to practice law and served as assistant district attorney before he was elected Sheriff of Buffalo County in 1870. He rose to serve as mayor of Buffalo briefly in 1882 before he was elected New York’s governor that November.

* In his various political posts, Cleveland built a reputation for himself as a reformer who cleaned up corrupt government. Unlike many other officials, he was not afraid to take on New York’s Democratic political machine, Tammany Hall. His actions earned him the nickname “Grover the Good,” and conservative Democrats viewed the Buffalonian as someone who could possibly win both northern and southern states in the 1884 presidential election. It took only two ballots for party delegates to select Cleveland as their nominee at the July convention. The 1884 campaign was filled with unscrupulous mudslinging, with much of it orchestrated by supporters of Cleveland’s opponent, former Secretary of State James G. Blaine. Mere days after Cleveland was nominated, the Buffalo Evening Telegraph published a story that alleged “Grover the Good,” a bachelor, had fathered an illegitimate child with widow Maria Halpin a decade prior. In keeping with his typical honesty, Cleveland strove to tell the truth. Though he did not affirm the child was his, he admitted to the affair and financially supporting the boy. Cleveland’s accountability counteracted the negativity that followed him in Republican newspapers, and he defeated Blaine in the general election, becoming the first Democrat since James Buchanan in 1856 to win the presidency. Before his victory, Cleveland’s opponents derided him with chants of “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” After November 4th, his supporters retorted, “Gone to the White House, ha ha ha.”

* Before Cleveland entered office, Ulysses S. Grant held the record for presidential vetoes – ninety-three total. “Grover the Good” blew past Grant by issuing 414 vetoes in his first term. Apart from tackling corruption, as governor, Cleveland had been known for his conservatism toward government spending. Once he was in the White House, he used his veto power to reject bills that he felt unnecessarily taxed the U.S. Treasury, including those pertaining to pensions for disabled veterans. Cleveland had benefited from the votes of dissatisfied Republicans in the 1884 election, but his actions as president repelled Republicans – including Union veterans – four years later. Though the incumbent received a plurality of popular votes, the electoral college went to former Senator Benjamin Harrison of Indiana. Cleveland was jettisoned from the presidency, but ran against Harrison again in 1892. His primary campaign promise was to reduce the Republican-supported McKinley Tariff, the highest import tax in U.S. history, which had led to dramatic price increases for consumer products and further enabled the rise of monopolies. Cleveland defeated Harrison in an electoral landslide, and when he was sworn in on March 4, 1893, he became the first U.S. president to serve non-consecutive terms. The month after Cleveland was sworn back into office, he was faced with one of the worst economic depressions in U.S. history. Whereas many Americans were increasingly interested in the federal government having a more hands-on approach to their welfare, this philosophy conflicted with the president’s credo. He opposed direct relief legislation and instead focused on repealing the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, which he believed diminished confidence in the nation’s monetary system. Cleveland favored basing U.S. currency on the gold standard that industrialists also preferred, thereby making it appear as though the president was under their influence. This contributed to his diminishing popularity, as did the economy’s continued struggles even after the Sherman Act’s repeal. The divided Democrats rebuked Cleveland at their 1896 convention, and he left office for good in 1897. He returned to his birth state of New Jersey, where he became a trustee of Princeton University in 1901.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

"February 11, 1887: Veto of Military Pension Legislation." Miller Center. Accessed July 17, 2019. legislation.

Gould, Lewis L. "Grover Cleveland." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 256-66. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

"Grover Cleveland Birthplace." Accessed July 16, 2019.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

"Life Portrait of Grover Cleveland." C-SPAN video, 2:37:48. August 13, 1999. 151466-1/life-portrait-grover-cleveland.

"May 8, 1886: Veto of Military Pension Legislation." Miller Center. Accessed July 17, 2019.

Meier, Michael T. "Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments." Prologue Magazine 26, no. 4 (Winter 1994).

"Presidential Vetoes." Last updated April 4, 2019.

The Presidents. "Cleveland to Taft (1885-1913)." History Channel, 2005.

Serratore, Angela. "President Cleveland's Problem Child.", September 26, 2013.

The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents. "Executive Retreat 1865-1901." History Channel, 2013.

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