Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President, & the crises he faced

Bill Federer

A wedding took place in the White House, JUNE 2, 1886.

One of three Presidents to marry in office and the only President to wed on White House grounds, Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom and together they had five children.

Grover Cleveland was a direct descendant of Moses Cleveland, the founder of Cleveland, Ohio.

His ancestors came from England to Massachusetts in 1635; and he was the son of a Presbyterian minister, Richard Falley Cleveland, who pastored churches in New Jersey and New York, in addition to being the district secretary of the American Home Mission Society.

Grover Cleveland's father died when he was sixteen.

He went on to be:

  • a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind, 1853;

  • admitted to the bar, 1859;

  • Sheriff of Erie County, 1870-73;

  • Mayor of Buffalo, N.Y., 1881-82; and

  • Governor of New York, 1882-85.

Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President - the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms, 1885-1889 and 1893-1897.

Secretary of State James Gillespie Blaine would have been elected President in 1884 instead of Grover Cleveland if he would have received just 1000 more votes in the State of New York.

James G. Blaine wrote in Columbus and Columbia, a Pictorial History of the Man and the Nation (1892):

"No proverb ever supplanted the patience of Job or the wisdom of Solomon ... Moses has never been surpassed in statesmanship.

A scientific theology is pointing out the footprints of the Creator to common sense. The brotherhood of man, the Fatherhood of God, is becoming the cornerstone of religion, as revealed in Christ, and as clearly traced in human history."

On December 8, 1885, President Cleveland defended natural marriage between one man and one woman, stating in his First Annual Message:

"In the Territory of Utah the law of the United States passed for suppression of polygamy has been energetically and faithfully executed during the past year ...

The strength, the perpetuity, and the destiny of the nation rest upon our homes, established by the law of God, guarded by parental care, regulated by parental authority, and sanctified by parental love. These are not the homes of polygamy.

The mothers of our land, who rule the nation as they mold the characters and guide the actions of their sons, live according to God's holy ordinances, and each, secure and happy in the exclusive love of the father of her children, sheds the warm light of true womanhood, unperverted and unpolluted, upon all within her pure and wholesome family circle.

These are not the cheerless, crushed, and unwomanly mothers of polygamy."

In his 2nd Inaugural, March 4, 1893, Grover Cleveland stated:

"It can not be doubted that our stupendous achievements as a people and our country's robust strength have given rise to heedlessness of those laws governing our national health which we can no more evade than human life can escape the laws of God and nature ...

Above all, I know there is a Supreme Being who rules the affairs of men and whose goodness and mercy have always followed the American people, and I know He will not turn from us now if we humbly and reverently seek His powerful aid."

Cleveland acknowledged God in his National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, October 25, 1887:

"The goodness and the mercy of God, which have followed the American people during all the days of the past year, claim their grateful recognition and humble acknowledgment ...

by His omnipotent power He has protected us from war and pestilence and from every national calamity; by His gracious favor the earth has yielded a generous return ...

by His loving kindness the hearts of our people have been replenished ... and by His unerring guidance we have been directed in the way of national prosperity ..."

He added that "secular work" should be suspended for prayer:

"To the end that we may with one accord testify our gratitude for all these blessings, I, Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, do hereby designate and set apart ... a day of thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by all the people of the land.

On that day let all secular work and employment be suspended, and let our people assemble in their accustomed places of worship and with prayer and songs of praise give thanks to our Heavenly Father for all that He has done for us, while we humbly implore the forgiveness of our sins and a continuance of His mercy."

Grover Cleveland was the first Democrat elected President after the Civil War. When Frederick Douglass resigned his position as recorded of deeds in Washington, D.C., Cleveland replaced him with another black man, James Campbell Matthews, a former New York judge.

Being pro-business, he insisted on lower taxes and currency "redeemable in gold on demand."

He fought political corruption and sent in the army to put down striking union members during the Pullman Railroad Strike of 1894.

He championed a strong military, sent troops to remove encroaching settlers off of Indian lands.

On July 13, 1887, at a centennial celebration in Clinton, New York,

President Grover Cleveland detailed:

"Tthe sovereignty of sixty millions of free people, is, to my mind ... the working out ... of the divine right of man to govern himself and a manifestation of God's plan concerning the human race."

On December 3, 1888, in his Fourth Annual Message, President Cleveland stated:

"Our success in accomplishing the work God has given the American people to do, require of those intrusted with the making and execution of our laws perfect devotion ...

This devotion will lead us to strongly resist all impatience with constitutional limitations of Federal power and to persistently check the increasing tendency to extend the scope of Federal legislation into the domain of the State and local jurisdiction."

President Cleveland was against Federal welfare, as he stated in his veto of the Texas Seed Bill in 1887:

"I do not believe that the power ... of the general (Federal) government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering ...

A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power ... should ... be steadfastly resisted ...

Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.

Charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly ... demonstrated ..."

He continued:

"Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents ... among our people of that kindly sentiment ... which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood."

Cleveland condemn racism against Jews. In his 1895 State of the Union address he criticized:

"... the practice of Russian consuls ... to interrogate citizens as to their race and religious faith, and upon ascertainment thereof to deny to Jews authentication of passports or legal documents for use in Russia."

One of the international incidents which occurred during Grover Cleveland's time as President was the treatment of the Christians in Armenia by the Muslim Ottoman Turks.

President Grover Cleveland condemned fundamentalist Islamic jihad in a message to Congress, December 2, 1895:

"Reported massacres of Christians in Armenia and the development there and in other districts of a spirit of fanatic hostility to Christian influences naturally excited apprehension for the safety of the devoted men and women who, as dependents of the foreign missionary societies in the United States, reside in Turkey ..."

Cleveland continued:

"Several of the most powerful European powers have secured a right ... not only in behalf of their own citizens ... but as agents of the Christian world ... to enforce such conduct of Turkish government as will refrain fanatical brutality ... as have shocked civilization."

The next year, President Grover Cleveland stated, December 7, 1896:

"The rage of mad bigotry and cruel fanaticism ... wanton destruction of homes and the bloody butchery of men, women, and children, made martyrs to their profession of Christian faith ...

Our citizens in Turkey ... in the midst of dreadful scenes of danger, their safety ... is by no means assured ... The outbreaks of blind fury which lead to murder and pillage in Turkey occur suddenly and without notice ..."

Cleveland concluded:

"I do not believe that the present somber prospect in Turkey will be long permitted to offend the sight of Christendom. It so mars the humane and enlightened civilization that belongs to the close of the 19th century that it seems hardly possible that the earnest demand of good people throughout the Christian world for its corrective treatment will remain unanswered."

At this same time, 1897-1898, a young British soldier named Winston Churchill fought in northwest India, Egypt and Sudan, serving under the command of British General Herbert Kitchener.

Churchill entered the British Parliament and went on to become Britain's Prime Minister. He wrote in his two-volume work, The (Nile) River War:

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! ... The fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog ...

Insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live ... A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity."

Churchill continued:

"The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities ... but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it."

Churchill concluded:

"No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.

It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step;

and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

As First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill convinced the British Navy to modernize from using coal to oil from Iran.

The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was formed, which later became British Petroleum (BP).

In 1938, Standard Oil Company discovered oil in Saudi Arabia, which led to the forming of the Arabian-American Oil Company (Aramco).

Within a generation, Saudi Arabia went from the poorest Muslim country to the richest, becoming a magnet pulling Middle East countries toward its extremist wahhabi version of Islam.

In 1938, Hilaire Belloc, the President of the Oxford Union who had been a member of the British Parliament, wrote in The Great Heresies (1938):

"Mohammedism was a perversion of Christian doctrine ... He eliminated the Trinity ... He was content to accept all that appealed to him...and to reject all that seemed to him too complicated ...

He was born a pagan, living among pagans, and never baptized. He adopted Christian doctrines ... and dropped those that did not suit him ... The success of Mohammedanism ... was an extreme simplicity which pleased the unintelligent masses ..."

Continuing his 1938 book, The Great Heresies, Hilaire Belloc ended with an almost prophetic warning:

"... Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Mohammedan world which will shake off the domination of Europeans - still nominally Christian - and reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization? ...

The future always comes as a surprise but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be.

And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam ...

In view of this, anyone with a knowledge of history is bound to ask himself whether we shall not see in the future a revival of Mohammedan political power, and the renewal of the old pressure of Islam upon Christendom;

yet over and over again they have suddenly united under a leader and accomplished the greatest things ..."

Hilaire Belloc concluded:

"... Now it is probable enough that on these lines - unity under a leader - the return of Islam may arrive.

There is no leader as yet, but enthusiasm might bring one and there are signs enough in the political heavens today of what we may have to expect from the revolt of Islam at some future date perhaps not far distant."

President Grover Cleveland issued a Proclamation of a National Day of Prayer, November 4, 1895,

"That we may with thankful hearts unite in extolling the loving care of our Heavenly Father, I, Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart ... a day of ... prayer to be kept and observed by all our people.

On that day let us forego our usual occupations and in our accustomed places of worship join in rendering thanks to the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift ...

Let us humbly beseech the Lord to so incline the hearts of our people unto Him that He will not leave us nor forsake us as a nation, but will continue to us His mercy and protecting care."