Presidencies of Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland was the president of the United States first from March 4, 1885, to March 4, 1889, and then from March 4, 1893, to March 4, 1897. The first Democrat elected after the Civil War, Cleveland is the only US president to leave office after one term and later return for a second term. His presidencies were the nation's 22nd and 24th.[lower-alpha 1] Cleveland defeated James G. Blaine of Maine in 1884, lost to Benjamin Harrison of Indiana in 1888, and then defeated President Harrison in 1892.

Presidencies of Grover Cleveland
PartyDemocratic
SeatWhite House

First term

March 4, 1885  March 4, 1889
CabinetSee list
Election1884

Second term

March 4, 1893  March 4, 1897
CabinetSee list
Election1892


Seal of the President
(1894–1945)

Cleveland won the 1884 election with the support of a reform-minded group of Republicans known as Mugwumps, and he expanded the number of government positions that were protected by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. He also vetoed several bills designed to provide pensions and other benefits to various regions and individuals. In response to anti-competitive practices by railroads, Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, which established the first independent federal agency. During his first term, he unsuccessfully sought the repeal of the Bland–Allison Act and a lowering of the tariff. The Samoan crisis was the major foreign policy event of Cleveland's first term, and that crisis ended with a tripartite protectorate in the Samoan Islands.

As his second presidency began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression. Cleveland presided over the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, striking a blow against the Free Silver movement, and also lowered tariff rates by allowing the Wilson–Gorman Tariff Act to become law. He also ordered federal soldiers to crush the Pullman Strike and promoted efforts to roll back federal civil rights protections for African-Americans. In foreign policy, Cleveland resisted the annexation of Hawaii and an American intervention in Cuba. He also sought to uphold the Monroe Doctrine and forced Great Britain to agree to arbitrate a border dispute with Venezuela. In the midterm elections of 1894, Cleveland's Democratic Party suffered a massive defeat that opened the way for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party.

The 1896 Democratic National Convention repudiated Cleveland and nominated silverite William Jennings Bryan, but Bryan was defeated by Republican William McKinley in the 1896 presidential election. Cleveland left office extremely unpopular, but his reputation was eventually rehabilitated in the 1930s by scholars led by Allan Nevins. More recent historians and biographers have taken a more ambivalent view of Cleveland, but many note Cleveland's role in re-asserting the power of the presidency. In rankings of American presidents by historians and political scientists, Cleveland is generally ranked as an average or above-average president.


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