U.S. Presidents / Grover Cleveland

Portrait of Grover Cleveland

1837 - 1908

Grover Cleveland

It is a plain dictate of honesty and good government that public expenditures should be limited by public necessity, and that this should be measured by the rules of strict economy; Second Inaugural Address


Stephen Grover Cleveland fell into politics without really trying. In 1881, local businessmen asked Cleveland, then a young lawyer, to run for mayor of Buffalo, New York. He agreed and won the Democratic nomination and the election. As mayor, Cleveland exposed city corruption and earned such a reputation for honesty and hard work that he won the New York gubernatorial race in 1882. Governor Cleveland used his power to take on the Tammany Hall, the political machine based in New York City, even though it had supported him in the election. Within a year, the Democrats were looking to Cleveland as an important new face and pragmatic reformer who might win the presidency in 1884.

Fast Facts

Grover Cleveland
Caldwell, New Jersey
Some common school; Read law (1855–1859)
"Big Steve", "Uncle Jumbo"
June 2, 1886, to Frances Folsom (1864–1947)
Ruth (1891–1904), Esther (1893–1980), Marion (1895–1977), Richard Folsom (1897–1974), Francis Grover (1903–1995)
Princeton, New Jersey
Henry F. Graff

Chicago Style

Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “Grover Cleveland.” Accessed February 27, 2017. https://millercenter.org/president/cleveland.

Henry F. Graff

Professor Graff is a professor emeritus of history at Columbia University.

Featured Insights

First Year logo

Professor Bob Bruner looks at how presidents including Grover Cleveland handled economic crises in this essay for the First Year Project

By the Book: Grover Cleveland

Miller Center experts choose the best books on Grover Cleveland

Clarence Lusane

Clarence Lusane, an associate professor of political science at American University, talks about his book, The Black History of the White House  

First Words: Grover Cleveland

A look at President Cleveland’s first Inaugural Address