While most historians do not rank Grover Cleveland highly among our Presidents, he is believed to have achieved some average results during his two terms that we believe noteworthy in today’s environment. He was born on this day in 1837 and served as our 22nd and 24th President.
Most notable was his restoration of the power and privilege of the office of the Presidency and the Executive branch, collectively. Cleveland’s utilization of executive privilege in declining to release department documents to Congress in a quarrel over presidential appointments, as well as his astounding use of the presidential veto enabled him to rebuild the symmetry between the executive and legislative branches. He set precedents in the power of the Presidency during peacetime that would not be seen again until the Nixon administration.
Grover Cleveland would be nicknamed “Ugly Honest” for his tough, rugged appearance and perceived integrity. Although generally regarded as lacking much vision for the nation amid economic depression and Robber Barons running rampant, we can still learn from his minor achievements, mistakes, and his especially his words.
“Interest yourself in public affairs as a duty of citizenship, but do not surrender your faith to those who discredit and debase politics by scoffing at sentiment and principle, and whose political activity consists in attempts to gain popular support by cunning devices and shrewd manipulation.” – Grover Cleveland
“I know that I am honest and sincere in my desire to do well; but the question is whether I know enough to accomplish what I desire.” – Grover Cleveland
Happy Birthday, Ugly Honest.