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who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

who was the only u.s. president to marry in t
who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

James Buchanan Jr. (/bʌˈkænən/ buh-CAN-nən; April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 15th president of the United States from 1857 to 1861. He previously served as secretary of state from 1845 to 1849 and represented Pennsylvania in both houses of the U.S. Congress. He was a states’ rights advocate, and minimized the role of the federal government in the nation’s final years of slavery.

Buchanan was a prominent lawyer in Pennsylvania and won his first election to the state’s House of Representatives as a Federalist. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1820 and retained that post for 11 years, aligning with Andrew Jackson’s Democratic Party. Buchanan served as Jackson’s minister to Russia (1832). He won election in 1834 as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and also held that position for 11 years. Buchanan was appointed to serve as President James K. Polk’s secretary of state in 1845, and eight years later was named as President Franklin Pierce’s minister to the United Kingdom. In 1846, Buchanan was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society.[3]

Beginning in 1844, Buchanan became a regular contender for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. He was finally nominated in 1856, defeating incumbent Franklin Pierce and Senator Stephen A. Douglas at the Democratic National Convention; he benefited from the fact that he had been out of the country (as ambassador in London) and thus had not been involved in slavery issues. Buchanan and running mate John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky carried every slave state except Maryland, defeating anti-slavery Republican John C. Frémont and Know-Nothing former president Millard Fillmore to win the 1856 presidential election.

As President, Buchanan intervened in the Supreme Court to gather majority support of the pro-slavery and anti-black decision in the Dred Scott case. He did what Southern leaders wanted in attempting to engineer Kansas coming into the Union as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution. He thereby angered not only the Republicans but also many Northern Democrats. Buchanan honored his pledge to serve only one term, and supported Breckinridge’s unsuccessful candidacy in the 1860 presidential election. He failed to reconcile the fractured Democratic party due to a simmering grudge against Stephen Douglas, leading to a four-way electoral split and the election of Republican and former Congressman Abraham Lincoln.

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Just weeks after Lincoln was elected as Buchanan’s successor, Southern states began seceding from the Union, precipitating the American Civil War. Buchanan’s bumbling leadership during his lame duck period was widely criticized. He simultaneously angered the North by not stopping secession, and the South by not acceding to their secession. He supported the ill-fated Corwin Amendment in an attempt to reconcile the country, but it was too little too late. He made an unsuccessful attempt to reinforce the defenders of Fort Sumter, but otherwise refrained from taking any action to prepare the military. His failure to forestall the Civil War has been described alternatively as incompetent inaction, or passive acceptance of the South. Many contemporaries blamed him for the war, and he was much reviled after his presidency. He spent his last years defending his reputation. In his personal life, Buchanan never married and as of 2021, he is the only U.S. president to remain a lifelong bachelor. Biographers have variously suggested that he was celibate, homosexual, or asexual. Buchanan died of respiratory failure in 1868, and was buried in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he had lived for nearly 60 years. Modern historians and critics condemn him for not addressing the issue of slavery or forestalling the secession of the Southern states over it. Historians and scholars consistently rank Buchanan as one of the country’s worst presidents.

James Buchanan Jr. was born April 23, 1791, in a log cabin in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, to James Buchanan Sr. (1761–1821) and Elizabeth Speer (1767–1833).[4] His parents were both of Ulster Scot descent; his father emigrated from Ramelton, Ireland in 1783. Shortly after Buchanan’s birth the family moved to a farm near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and in 1794 the family moved into the town. His father became the wealthiest resident there, as a merchant, farmer, and real estate investor.[5]

Buchanan attended the Old Stone Academy and then Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.[6] He was nearly expelled for bad behavior, but pleaded for a second chance and ultimately graduated with honors on September 19, 1809.[7] Later that year he moved to the state capital at Lancaster. James Hopkins, a leading lawyer there, accepted Buchanan as an apprentice, and in 1812 he was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar. Many other lawyers moved to Harrisburg when it became the state capital in 1812, but Buchanan made Lancaster his lifelong home. His income rapidly rose after he established his practice, and by 1821 he was earning over $11,000 per year (equivalent to $210,000 in 2020). He handled various types of cases, including a much-publicized impeachment trial, where he successfully defended Pennsylvania Judge Walter Franklin.[8]

Buchanan began his political career as a member of the Federalist Party, and was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1814–1816).[9] The legislature met for only three months a year, but Buchanan’s service helped him acquire more clients.[10] Politically, he supported federally-funded internal improvements, a high tariff, and a national bank. He became a strong critic of Democratic-Republican President James Madison during the War of 1812.[11]

He was a Freemason, and served as the Master of Masonic Lodge No. 43 in Lancaster, and as a District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.[12]

When the British invaded neighboring Maryland in 1814, he served in the defense of Baltimore as a private in Henry Shippen’s Company, 1st Brigade, 4th Division, Pennsylvania Militia, a unit of yagers.[13] Buchanan is the only president with military experience who was not an officer.[14] He is also the last president who served in the War of 1812.[citation needed]

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  • In 1820 Buchanan ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and won, though his Federalist Party was waning. During his tenure in Congress, he became a supporter of Andrew Jackson and an avid defender of states’ rights. After the 1824 presidential election, he helped organize Jackson’s followers into the Democratic Party, and he became a prominent Pennsylvania Democrat. In Washington, he was personally close with many southern Congressmen, and viewed some New England Congressmen as dangerous radicals. He was appointed to the Committee of Agriculture in his first year, and he eventually became Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. He declined re-nomination to a sixth term, and briefly returned to private life.[15]

    After Jackson was re-elected in 1832, he offered Buchanan the position of United States Ambassador to Russia. Buchanan was reluctant to leave the country but ultimately agreed. He served as ambassador for 18 months, during which time he learned French, the trade language of diplomacy in the nineteenth century. He helped negotiate commercial and maritime treaties with the Russian Empire.[16]

    Buchanan returned home and was elected by the Pennsylvania state legislature to succeed William Wilkins in the U.S. Senate. Wilkins in turn replaced Buchanan as the ambassador to Russia. The Jacksonian Buchanan, who was re-elected in 1836 and 1842, opposed the re-chartering of the Second Bank of the United States and sought to expunge a congressional censure of Jackson stemming from the Bank War.[17]

    Buchanan also opposed a gag rule sponsored by John C. Calhoun that would have suppressed anti-slavery petitions. He joined the majority in blocking the rule, with most senators of the belief that it would have the reverse effect of strengthening the abolitionists.[18] He said, “We have just as little right to interfere with slavery in the South, as we have to touch the right of petition.”[19] Buchanan thought that the issue of slavery was the domain of the states, and he faulted abolitionists for exciting passions over the issue.[20]

    His support of states’ rights was matched by his support for Manifest Destiny, and he opposed the Webster–Ashburton Treaty for its “surrender” of lands to the United Kingdom. Buchanan also argued for the annexation of both Texas and the Oregon Country. In the lead-up to the 1844 Democratic National Convention, Buchanan positioned himself as a potential alternative to former President Martin Van Buren, but the nomination went to James K. Polk, who won the election.[20]

    Buchanan was offered the position of Secretary of State in the Polk administration, as well as the alternative of serving on the Supreme Court. He accepted the State Department post and served for the duration of Polk’s single term in office. He and Polk nearly doubled the territory of the United States through the Oregon Treaty and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which included territory that is now Texas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.[21] In negotiations with Britain over Oregon, Buchanan at first favored a compromise, but later advocated for annexation of the entire territory. Eventually, he agreed to a division at the 49th parallel. After the outbreak of the Mexican–American War, he advised Polk against taking territory south of the Rio Grande River and New Mexico. However, as the war came to an end, Buchanan argued for the annexation of further territory, and Polk began to suspect that Buchanan was primarily angling to become president. Buchanan did quietly seek the nomination at the 1848 Democratic National Convention, as Polk had promised to serve only one term, but Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan was nominated.[22]

    With the 1848 election of Whig Zachary Taylor, Buchanan returned to private life. He bought the house of Wheatland on the outskirts of Lancaster and entertained various visitors, while monitoring political events.[23] In 1852, he was named president of the Board of Trustees of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, and he served in this capacity until 1866.[24] He quietly campaigned for the 1852 Democratic presidential nomination, writing a public letter that deplored the Wilmot Proviso, which proposed to ban slavery in new territories. He became known as a “doughface” due to his sympathy towards the South. At the 1852 Democratic National Convention, he won the support of many southern delegates but failed to win the two-thirds support needed for the presidential nomination, which went to Franklin Pierce. Buchanan declined to serve as the vice presidential nominee, and the convention instead nominated his close friend, William King. Pierce won the 1852 election, and Buchanan accepted the position of United States Minister to the United Kingdom.[25]

    Buchanan sailed for England in the summer of 1853, and he remained abroad for the next three years. In 1850, the United States and Great Britain had signed the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty, which committed both countries to joint control of any future canal that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through Central America. Buchanan met repeatedly with Lord Clarendon, the British foreign minister, in hopes of pressuring the British to withdraw from Central America. He also focussed on the potential annexation of Cuba, which had long interested him.[26] At Pierce’s prompting, Buchanan met in Ostend, Belgium with U.S. Ambassador to Spain Pierre Soulé and U.S. Ambassador to France John Mason. A memorandum draft resulted, called the Ostend Manifesto, which proposed the purchase of Cuba from Spain, then in the midst of revolution and near bankruptcy. The document declared the island “as necessary to the North American republic as any of its present … family of states”. Against Buchanan’s recommendation, the final draft of the manifesto suggested that “wresting it from Spain”, if Spain refused to sell, would be justified “by every law, human and Divine”.[27] The manifesto, generally considered a blunder, was never acted upon, and weakened the Pierce administration and reduced support for Manifest Destiny.[27][28]

    Buchanan’s service abroad allowed him to conveniently avoid the debate over the Kansas–Nebraska Act then roiling the country in the slavery dispute.[29] While he did not overtly seek the presidency, he assented to the movement on his behalf.[30] The 1856 Democratic National Convention met in June 1856, producing a platform that reflected his views, including support for the Fugitive Slave Law, which required the return of escaped slaves. The platform also called for an end to anti-slavery agitation, and U.S. “ascendancy in the Gulf of Mexico”.[31] President Pierce hoped for re-nomination, while Senator Stephen A. Douglas also loomed as a strong candidate. Buchanan led on the first ballot, boosted by the support of powerful Senators John Slidell, Jesse Bright, and Thomas F. Bayard, who presented Buchanan as an experienced leader appealing to the North and South. He won the nomination after seventeen ballots. He was joined on the ticket by John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, in order to placate supporters of Pierce and Douglas, with whom Breckinridge had been allied.[32]

    Buchanan faced two candidates in the general election: former Whig President Millard Fillmore ran as the American Party (or “Know-Nothing”) candidate, while John C. Frémont ran as the Republican nominee. Buchanan did not actively campaign, but he wrote letters and pledged to uphold the Democratic platform. In the election, he carried every slave state except for Maryland, as well as five slavery-free states, including his home state of Pennsylvania.[32] He won 45 percent of the popular vote and decisively won the electoral vote, taking 174 of 296 votes. His election made him the first president from Pennsylvania. In a combative victory speech, Buchanan denounced Republicans, calling them a “dangerous” and “geographical” party that had unfairly attacked the South.[33] He also declared, “the object of my administration will be to destroy sectional party, North or South, and to restore harmony to the Union under a national and conservative government.”[34] He set about this initially by feigning a sectional balance in his cabinet appointments.[35]

    Buchanan was inaugurated on March 4, 1857, taking the oath of office from Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. In his inaugural address, Buchanan committed himself to serving only one term, as his predecessor had done. He expressed an abhorrence for the growing divisions over slavery and its status in the territories, while saying that Congress should play no role in determining the status of slavery in the states or territories.[36] He also declared his support for popular sovereignty. Buchanan recommended that a federal slave code be enacted to protect the rights of slave-owners in federal territories. He alluded to a then-pending Supreme Court case, Dred Scott v. Sandford, which he said would permanently settle the issue of slavery. Dred Scott was a slave who was temporarily taken from a slave state to a free territory by his owner, John Sanford (the court misspelled his name). After Scott returned to the slave state, he filed a petition for his freedom based on his time in the free territory. The Dred Scott decision, rendered after Buchanan’s speech, denied Scott’s petition in favor of his owner.[36]

    As his inauguration approached, Buchanan sought to establish an obedient, harmonious cabinet, to avoid the in-fighting that had plagued Andrew Jackson’s administration.[37] He chose four Southerners and three Northerners, the latter of whom were all considered to be doughfaces (Southern sympathizers).[38] His objective was to dominate the cabinet, and he chose men who would agree with his views.[39] Concentrating on foreign policy, he appointed the aging Lewis Cass as Secretary of State. Buchanan’s appointment of Southerners and their allies alienated many in the North, and his failure to appoint any followers of Stephen A. Douglas divided the party.[35] Outside of the cabinet, he left in place many of Pierce’s appointments, but removed a disproportionate number of Northerners who had ties to Democrat opponents Pierce or Douglas. In that vein, he soon alienated their ally, and his vice president, Breckinridge; the latter therefore played little role in the administration.[40]

    Buchanan appointed one Justice, Nathan Clifford, to the Supreme Court of the United States.[41] He appointed seven other federal judges to United States district courts. He also appointed two judges to the United States Court of Claims.[42]

    Two days after Buchanan’s inauguration, Chief Justice Taney delivered the Dred Scott decision, denying the enslaved petitioner’s request for freedom. The ruling broadly asserted that Congress had no constitutional power to exclude slavery in the territories.[43] Prior to his inauguration, Buchanan had written to Justice John Catron in January 1857, inquired about the outcome of the case, and suggested that a broader decision, beyond the specifics of the case, would be more prudent.[44] Buchanan hoped that a broad decision protecting slavery in the territories could lay the issue to rest, allowing him to focus on other issues.[45]

    Catron, who was from Tennessee, replied on February 10, saying that the Supreme Court’s Southern majority would decide against Scott, but would likely have to publish the decision on narrow grounds unless Buchanan could convince his fellow Pennsylvanian, Justice Robert Cooper Grier, to join the majority of the court.[46] Buchanan then wrote to Grier and prevailed upon him, providing the majority leverage to issue a broad-ranging decision, sufficient to render the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional.[47][48] Buchanan’s letters were not then public; he was, however, seen at his inauguration in whispered conversation with the Chief Justice. When the decision was issued, Republicans began spreading word that Taney had revealed to Buchanan the forthcoming result. Rather than destroying the Republican platform as Buchanan had hoped, the decision outraged Northerners who denounced it.[49]

    The Panic of 1857 began in the summer of that year, ushered in by the collapse of 1,400 state banks and 5,000 businesses. While the South escaped largely unscathed, numerous northern cities experienced drastic increases in unemployment. Buchanan agreed with the southerners who attributed the economic collapse to overspeculation.[50]

    Reflecting his Jacksonian background, Buchanan’s response was “reform not relief”. While the government was “without the power to extend relief,”[50] it would continue to pay its debts in specie, and while it would not curtail public works, none would be added. In hopes of reducing paper money supplies and inflation, he urged the states to restrict the banks to a credit level of $3 to $1 of specie and discouraged the use of federal or state bonds as security for bank note issues. The economy recovered in several years, though many Americans suffered as a result of the panic.[51] Buchanan had hoped to reduce the deficit, but by the time he left office the federal deficit stood at $17 million.[50]

    The Utah territory, settled in preceding decades by the Latter-day Saints and their leader Brigham Young, had grown increasingly hostile to federal intervention. Young harassed federal officers and discouraged outsiders from settling in the Salt Lake City area. In September 1857, the Utah Territorial Militia, associated with the Latter-day Saints, perpetrated the Mountain Meadows massacre against Arkansans headed for California. Buchanan was offended by the militarism and polygamous behavior of Young.[52]

    Believing the Latter-day Saints to be in open rebellion, Buchanan in July 1857 sent Alfred Cumming, accompanied by the army, to replace Young as governor. While the Latter-day Saints had frequently defied federal authority, some historians consider Buchanan’s action was an inappropriate response to uncorroborated reports.[43] Complicating matters, Young’s notice of his replacement was not delivered because the Pierce administration had annulled the Utah mail contract.[43] Young reacted to the military action by mustering a two-week expedition, destroying wagon trains, oxen, and other Army property. Buchanan then dispatched Thomas L. Kane as a private agent to negotiate peace. The mission succeeded, the new governor took office, and the Utah War ended. The President granted amnesty to inhabitants affirming loyalty to the government, and placed the federal troops at a peaceable distance for the balance of his administration.[53]

    The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the Kansas Territory and allowed the settlers there to decide whether to allow slavery. This resulted in violence between “Free-Soil” (antislavery) and pro-slavery settlers, which developed into the “Bleeding Kansas” period. The antislavery settlers, with the help of Northern abolitionists, organized a government in Topeka. The more numerous proslavery settlers, many from the neighboring slave state Missouri, established a government in Lecompton, giving the Territory two different governments for a time, with two distinct constitutions, each claiming legitimacy.

    The admission of Kansas as a state required a constitution be submitted to Congress with the approval of a majority of its residents. Under President Pierce, a series of violent confrontations escalated over who had the right to vote in Kansas. The situation drew national attention, and some in Georgia and Mississippi advocated secession should Kansas be admitted as a free state. Buchanan chose to endorse the pro-slavery Lecompton government.[54]

    Buchanan appointed Robert J. Walker to replace John W. Geary as Territorial Governor, with the expectation he would assist the proslavery faction in gaining approval of a new constitution.[55] However, Walker wavered on the slavery question, and there ensued conflicting referendums from Topeka and Lecompton, where election fraud occurred. In October 1857, the Lecompton government framed the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution and sent it to Buchanan without a referendum. Buchanan reluctantly rejected it, and he dispatched federal agents to arrange a compromise. The Lecompton government agreed to a referendum limited solely to the slavery question.[56]

    Despite the protests of Walker and two former Kansas governors, Buchanan decided to accept the Lecompton Constitution. In a December 1857 meeting with Stephen Douglas, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories, Buchanan demanded that all Democrats support the administration’s position of admitting Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. On February 2, he transmitted the Lecompton Constitution to Congress. He also transmitted a message that attacked the “revolutionary government” in Topeka, conflating them with the Mormons in Utah. Buchanan made every effort to secure congressional approval, offering favors, patronage appointments, and even cash for votes. The Lecompton Constitution won the approval of the Senate in March, but a combination of Know-Nothings, Republicans, and northern Democrats defeated the bill in the House. Rather than accepting defeat, Buchanan backed the 1858 English Bill, which offered Kansans immediate statehood and vast public lands in exchange for accepting the Lecompton Constitution. In August 1858, Kansans by referendum strongly rejected the Lecompton Constitution.[57]

    The dispute over Kansas became the battlefront for control of the Democratic Party. On one side were Buchanan, most Southern Democrats, and the “doughfaces”. On the other side were Douglas and most northern Democrats plus a few Southerners. Douglas’s faction continued to support the doctrine of popular sovereignty, while Buchanan insisted that Democrats respect the Dred Scott decision and its repudiation of federal interference with slavery in the territories.[58] The struggle ended only with Buchanan’s presidency. In the interim he used his patronage powers to remove Douglas sympathizers in Illinois and Washington, D.C., and installed pro-administration Democrats, including postmasters.[59]

    Douglas’s Senate term was coming to an end in 1859, with the Illinois legislature, elected in 1858, determining whether Douglas would win re-election. The Senate seat was the primary issue of the legislative election, marked by the famous debates between Douglas and his Republican opponent for the seat, Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan, working through federal patronage appointees in Illinois, ran candidates for the legislature in competition with both the Republicans and the Douglas Democrats. This could easily have thrown the election to the Republicans, and showed the depth of Buchanan’s animosity toward Douglas.[60] In the end, Douglas Democrats won the legislative election and Douglas was re-elected to the Senate. In that year’s elections, Douglas forces took control throughout the North, except in Buchanan’s home state of Pennsylvania. Buchanan’s support was otherwise reduced to a narrow base of southerners.[55][61]

    The division between northern and southern Democrats allowed the Republicans to win a plurality of the House in the 1858 elections, and allowed them to block most of Buchanan’s agenda. Buchanan, in turn, added to the hostility with his veto of six substantial pieces of Republican legislation.[62] Among these measures were the Homestead Act, which would have given 160 acres of public land to settlers who remained on the land for five years, and the Morrill Act, which would have granted public lands to establish land-grant colleges. Buchanan argued that these acts were unconstitutional.[63]

    Buchanan took office with an ambitious foreign policy, designed to establish U.S. hegemony over Central America at the expense of Great Britain.[64] He hoped to re-negotiate the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty, which he thought limited U.S. influence in the region. He also sought to establish American protectorates over the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora, and most importantly, he hoped to achieve his long-term goal of acquiring Cuba. After long negotiations with the British, he convinced them to cede the Bay Islands to Honduras and the Mosquito Coast to Nicaragua. However, Buchanan’s ambitions in Cuba and Mexico were largely blocked by the House of Representatives.[65]

    Buchanan also considered buying Alaska from the Russian Empire, as a colony for Mormon settlers, but he and the Russians were unable to agree upon a price. In China, the administration won trade concessions in the Treaty of Tientsin.[66] In 1858, Buchanan ordered the Paraguay expedition to punish Paraguay for firing on the USS Water Witch, and the expedition resulted in a Paraguayan apology and payment of an indemnity.[65] The chiefs of Raiatea and Tahaa in the South Pacific, refusing to accept the rule of King Tamatoa V, unsuccessfully petitioned the United States to accept the islands under a protectorate in June 1858.[67]

    Buchanan was offered a herd of elephants by King Rama IV of Siam, though the letter arrived after Buchanan’s departure from office. As Buchanan’s successor, Lincoln declined the King’s offer, citing the unsuitable climate.[68] Other presidential pets included a pair of bald eagles and a Newfoundland dog.[69]

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    In March 1860, the House impaneled the Covode Committee to investigate the administration for alleged impeachable offenses, such as bribery and extortion of representatives. The committee, three Republicans and two Democrats, was accused by Buchanan’s supporters of being nakedly partisan; they charged its chairman, Republican Rep. John Covode, with acting on a personal grudge from a disputed land grant designed to benefit Covode’s railroad company.[70] The Democratic committee members, as well as Democratic witnesses, were enthusiastic in their condemnation of Buchanan.[71][72]

    The committee was unable to establish grounds for impeaching Buchanan; however, the majority report issued on June 17 alleged corruption and abuse of power among members of his cabinet. The report also included accusations from Republicans that Buchanan had attempted to bribe members of Congress, in connection with the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution of Kansas. The Democrats pointed out that evidence was scarce, but did not refute the allegations; one of the Democratic members, Rep. James Robinson, stated that he agreed with the Republicans, though he did not sign it.[72]

    Buchanan claimed to have “passed triumphantly through this ordeal” with complete vindication. Republican operatives distributed thousands of copies of the Covode Committee report throughout the nation as campaign material in that year’s presidential election.[73][74]

    As he had promised in his inaugural address, Buchanan did not seek re-election. He went so far as to tell his ultimate successor, “If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland [his estate near Lancaster, Pennsylvania], you are a happy man.”[75]

    The 1860 Democratic National Convention convened in April of that year and, though Douglas led after every ballot, he was unable to win the two-thirds majority required. The convention adjourned after 53 ballots, and re-convened in Baltimore in June. After Douglas finally won the nomination, several Southerners refused to accept the outcome, and nominated Vice President Breckinridge as their own candidate. Douglas and Breckinridge agreed on most issues except the protection of slavery. Buchanan, nursing a grudge against Douglas, failed to reconcile the party, and tepidly supported Breckinridge. With the splintering of the Democratic Party, Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln won a four-way election that also included John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party. Lincoln’s support in the North was enough to give him an Electoral College majority. Buchanan became the last Democrat to win a presidential election until Grover Cleveland in 1884.[76]

    As early as October, the army’s Commanding General, Winfield Scott, an opponent of Buchanan, warned him that Lincoln’s election would likely cause at least seven states to secede from the union. He recommended that massive amounts of federal troops and artillery be deployed to those states to protect federal property, although he also warned that few reinforcements were available. Since 1857 Congress had failed to heed calls for a stronger militia and allowed the army to fall into deplorable condition.[77] Buchanan distrusted Scott and ignored his recommendations.[78] After Lincoln’s election, Buchanan directed War Secretary Floyd to reinforce southern forts with such provisions, arms, and men as were available; however, Floyd persuaded him to revoke the order.[77]

    With Lincoln’s victory, talk of secession and disunion reached a boiling point, putting the burden on Buchanan to address it in his final speech to Congress on December 10. In his message, which was anticipated by both factions, Buchanan denied the right of states to secede but maintained the federal government was without power to prevent them. He placed the blame for the crisis solely on “intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States,” and suggested that if they did not “repeal their unconstitutional and obnoxious enactments … the injured States, after having first used all peaceful and constitutional means to obtain redress, would be justified in revolutionary resistance to the Government of the Union.”[79][80] Buchanan’s only suggestion to solve the crisis was “an explanatory amendment” affirming the constitutionality of slavery in the states, the fugitive slave laws, and popular sovereignty in the territories.[79] His address was sharply criticized both by the North, for its refusal to stop secession, and the South, for denying its right to secede.[81] Five days after the address was delivered, Treasury Secretary Howell Cobb resigned, as his views had become irreconcilable with the President’s.[82]

    South Carolina, long the most radical Southern state, seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. However, Unionist sentiment remained strong among many in the South, and Buchanan sought to appeal to the Southern moderates who might prevent secession in other states. He proposed passage of constitutional amendments protecting slavery in the states and territories. He also met with South Carolinian commissioners in an attempt to resolve the situation at Fort Sumter, which federal forces remained in control of despite its location in Charleston, South Carolina. He refused to dismiss Interior Secretary Jacob Thompson after the latter was chosen as Mississippi’s agent to discuss secession, and he refused to fire Secretary of War John B. Floyd despite an embezzlement scandal. Floyd ended up resigning, but not before sending numerous firearms to Southern states, where they eventually fell into the hands of the Confederacy. Despite Floyd’s resignation, Buchanan continued to seek the advice of counselors from the Deep South, including Jefferson Davis and William Henry Trescot.[83]

    Efforts were made in vain by Sen. John J. Crittenden, Rep. Thomas Corwin, and former president John Tyler to negotiate a compromise to stop secession, with Buchanan’s support. Failed attempts were also made by a group of governors meeting in New York. Buchanan secretly asked President-elect Lincoln to call for a national referendum on the issue of slavery, but Lincoln declined.[84]

    Despite the efforts of Buchanan and others, six more slave states seceded by the end of January 1861. Buchanan replaced the departed Southern cabinet members with John Adams Dix, Edwin M. Stanton, and Joseph Holt, all of whom were committed to preserving the Union. When Buchanan considered surrendering Fort Sumter, the new cabinet members threatened to resign, and Buchanan relented. On January 5, Buchanan decided to reinforce Fort Sumter, sending the Star of the West with 250 men and supplies. However, he failed to ask Major Robert Anderson to provide covering fire for the ship, and it was forced to return North without delivering troops or supplies. Buchanan chose not to respond to this act of war, and instead sought to find a compromise to avoid secession. He received a March 3 message from Anderson, that supplies were running low, but the response became Lincoln’s to make, as the latter succeeded to the presidency the next day.[85]

    On March 2, 1861, Congress approved an amendment to the United States Constitution that would shield “domestic institutions” of the states, including slavery, from the constitutional amendment process and from abolition or interference by Congress. The proposed amendment was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification. Commonly known as the Corwin Amendment, it was never ratified by the requisite number of states.

    Three new states were admitted to the Union while Buchanan was in office:

    The Civil War erupted within two months of Buchanan’s retirement. He supported the Union, writing to former colleagues that, “the assault upon Sumter was the commencement of war by the Confederate states, and no alternative was left but to prosecute it with vigor on our part.”[88] He also wrote a letter to his fellow Pennsylvania Democrats, urging them to “join the many thousands of brave & patriotic volunteers who are already in the field.”[88]

    Buchanan was dedicated to defending his actions prior to the Civil War, which was referred to by some as “Buchanan’s War”.[88] He received threatening letters daily, and stores displayed Buchanan’s likeness with the eyes inked red, a noose drawn around his neck and the word “TRAITOR” written across his forehead. The Senate proposed a resolution of condemnation which ultimately failed, and newspapers accused him of colluding with the Confederacy. His former cabinet members, five of whom had been given jobs in the Lincoln administration, refused to defend Buchanan publicly.[89]

    Buchanan became distraught by the vitriolic attacks levied against him, and fell sick and depressed. In October 1862, he defended himself in an exchange of letters with Winfield Scott, published in the National Intelligencer.[90] He soon began writing his fullest public defense, in the form of his memoir Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of Rebellion, which was published in 1866.[91]

    Soon after the publication of the memoir, Buchanan caught a cold in May 1868, which quickly worsened due to his advanced age. He died on June 1, 1868, of respiratory failure at the age of 77 at his home at Wheatland. He was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster.[91]

    Buchanan was often considered by anti-slavery northerners a “doughface”, a northern man with pro-southern principles.[92] Shortly after his election, he said that the “great object” of his administration was “to arrest, if possible, the agitation of the Slavery question in the North and to destroy sectional parties”.[92] Buchanan believed the abolitionists were preventing the solution to the slavery problem. He stated, “Before [the abolitionists] commenced this agitation, a very large and growing party existed in several of the slave states in favor of the gradual abolition of slavery; and now not a voice is heard there in support of such a measure. The abolitionists have postponed the emancipation of the slaves in three or four states for at least half a century.”[93] In deference to the intentions of the typical slaveholder, he was willing to provide the benefit of the doubt. In his third annual message to Congress, the president claimed that the slaves were “treated with kindness and humanity. … Both the philanthropy and the self-interest of the master have combined to produce this humane result.”[94]

    Buchanan thought restraint was the essence of good self-government. He believed the constitution comprised “… restraints, imposed not by arbitrary authority, but by the people upon themselves and their representatives. … In an enlarged view, the people’s interests may seem identical, but to the eye of local and sectional prejudice, they always appear to be conflicting … and the jealousies that will perpetually arise can be repressed only by the mutual forbearance which pervades the constitution.”[95] Regarding slavery and the Constitution, he stated: “Although in Pennsylvania we are all opposed to slavery in the abstract, we can never violate the constitutional compact we have with our sister states. Their rights will be held sacred by us. Under the constitution it is their own question; and there let it remain.”[93]

    One of the prominent issues of the day was tariffs.[96] Buchanan was conflicted by free trade as well as prohibitive tariffs, since either would benefit one section of the country to the detriment of the other. As a senator from Pennsylvania, he said: “I am viewed as the strongest advocate of protection in other states, whilst I am denounced as its enemy in Pennsylvania.”[97]

    Buchanan was also torn between his desire to expand the country for the general welfare of the nation, and to guarantee the rights of the people settling particular areas. On territorial expansion, he said, “What, sir? Prevent the people from crossing the Rocky Mountains? You might just as well command the Niagara not to flow. We must fulfill our destiny.”[98] On the resulting spread of slavery, through unconditional expansion, he stated: “I feel a strong repugnance by any act of mine to extend the present limits of the Union over a new slave-holding territory.” For instance, he hoped the acquisition of Texas would “be the means of limiting, not enlarging, the dominion of slavery.”[98]

    In 1818, Buchanan met Anne Caroline Coleman at a grand ball in Lancaster, and the two began courting. Anne was the daughter of wealthy iron manufacturer Robert Coleman. She was also the sister-in-law of Philadelphia judge Joseph Hemphill, one of Buchanan’s colleagues. By 1819, the two were engaged, but spent little time together. Buchanan was busy with his law firm and political projects during the Panic of 1819, which took him away from Coleman for weeks at a time. Rumors abounded, as some suggested that he was marrying her only for money; others said he was involved with other (unidentified) women. Letters from Coleman revealed she was aware of several rumors.[99] She broke off the engagement, and soon afterward, on December 9, 1819, suddenly died.[100] Buchanan wrote to her father for permission to attend the funeral, which was refused.[101]

    After Coleman’s death, Buchanan never courted another woman. At the time of her funeral, he said that, “I feel happiness has fled from me forever.”[102] During his presidency, an orphaned niece, Harriet Lane, whom he had adopted, served as official White House hostess.[103] There was an unfounded rumor that he had an affair with President Polk’s widow, Sarah Childress Polk.[104]

    Buchanan’s lifelong bachelorhood after Anne Coleman’s death has drawn interest and speculation.[105] Some conjecture that Anne’s death merely served to deflect questions about Buchanan’s sexuality and bachelorhood.[102] Several writers have surmised that he was homosexual, including James W. Loewen,[106] Robert P. Watson, and Shelley Ross.[107][108] One of his biographers, Jean Baker, suggests that Buchanan was celibate, if not asexual.[109]

    Buchanan had a close relationship with William Rufus King, which became a popular target of gossip. King was an Alabama politician who briefly served as vice president under Franklin Pierce. Buchanan and King lived together in a Washington boardinghouse and attended social functions together, from 1834 until 1844. Such a living arrangement was then common, though King once referred to the relationship as a “communion”.[104] Andrew Jackson called King “Miss Nancy” and prominent Democrat Aaron V. Brown referred to King as Buchanan’s “better half”, “wife”, and “Aunt Fancy”.[110][111][112] Loewen indicated that Buchanan late in life wrote a letter acknowledging that he might marry a woman who could accept his “lack of ardent or romantic affection”.[113][114] Catherine Thompson, the wife of cabinet member Jacob Thompson, later noted that “there was something unhealthy in the president’s attitude.”[104] King died of tuberculosis shortly after Pierce’s inauguration, four years before Buchanan became president. Buchanan described him as “among the best, the purest and most consistent public men I have known”.[104] Biographer Baker opines that both men’s nieces may have destroyed correspondence between the two men. However, she believes that their surviving letters illustrate only “the affection of a special friendship”.[105]

    Though Buchanan predicted that “history will vindicate my memory,”[115] historians have criticized Buchanan for his unwillingness or inability to act in the face of secession. Historical rankings of presidents of the United States without exception place Buchanan among the least successful presidents. When scholars are surveyed, he ranks at or near the bottom in terms of vision/agenda-setting, domestic leadership, foreign policy leadership, moral authority, and positive historical significance of their legacy.[116]

    Buchanan biographer Philip Klein focuses upon challenges Buchanan faced:

    Buchanan assumed leadership … when an unprecedented wave of angry passion was sweeping over the nation. That he held the hostile sections in check during these revolutionary times was in itself a remarkable achievement. His weaknesses in the stormy years of his presidency were magnified by enraged partisans of the North and South. His many talents, which in a quieter era might have gained for him a place among the great presidents, were quickly overshadowed by the cataclysmic events of civil war and by the towering Abraham Lincoln.[117]

    Biographer Jean Baker is less charitable to Buchanan, saying in 2004:

    Americans have conveniently misled themselves about the presidency of James Buchanan, preferring to classify him as indecisive and inactive … In fact Buchanan’s failing during the crisis over the Union was not inactivity, but rather his partiality for the South, a favoritism that bordered on disloyalty in an officer pledged to defend all the United States. He was that most dangerous of chief executives, a stubborn, mistaken ideologue whose principles held no room for compromise. His experience in government had only rendered him too self-confident to consider other views. In his betrayal of the national trust, Buchanan came closer to committing treason than any other president in American history.[118]

    A bronze and granite memorial near the southeast corner of Washington, D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park was designed by architect William Gorden Beecher and sculpted by Maryland artist Hans Schuler. It was commissioned in 1916 but not approved by the U.S. Congress until 1918, and not completed and unveiled until June 26, 1930. The memorial features a statue of Buchanan, bookended by male and female classical figures representing law and diplomacy, with engraved text reading: “The incorruptible statesman whose walk was upon the mountain ranges of the law,” a quote from a member of Buchanan’s cabinet, Jeremiah S. Black.[119]

    An earlier monument was constructed in 1907–08 and dedicated in 1911, on the site of Buchanan’s birthplace in Stony Batter, Pennsylvania. Part of the original 18.5-acre (75,000 m2) memorial site is a 250-ton pyramid structure that stands on the site of the original cabin where Buchanan was born. The monument was designed to show the original weathered surface of the native rubble and mortar.[120]

    Three counties are named in his honor, in Iowa, Missouri, and Virginia. Another in Texas was christened in 1858 but renamed Stephens County, after the newly elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America, Alexander Stephens, in 1861.[121] The city of Buchanan, Michigan, was also named after him.[122] Several other communities are named after him: the unincorporated community of Buchanan, Indiana, the city of Buchanan, Georgia, the town of Buchanan, Wisconsin, and the townships of Buchanan Township, Michigan, and Buchanan, Missouri.

    James Buchanan High School is a small, rural high school located on the outskirts of his childhood hometown, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.

    Buchanan and his legacy are central to the film Raising Buchanan (2019). He is portrayed by René Auberjonois.[123]

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    James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States (1857-1861), served immediately prior to the American Civil War. He remains the only President to be elected from Pennsylvania and to remain a lifelong bachelor.

    Tall, stately, stiffly formal in the high stock he wore around his jowls, James Buchanan was the only President who never married.

    who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

    Presiding over a rapidly dividing Nation, Buchanan grasped inadequately the political realities of the time. Relying on constitutional doctrines to close the widening rift over slavery, he failed to understand that the North would not accept constitutional arguments which favored the South. Nor could he realize how sectionalism had realigned political parties: the Democrats split; the Whigs were destroyed, giving rise to the Republicans.

    Born into a well-to-do Pennsylvania family in 1791, Buchanan, a graduate of Dickinson College, was gifted as a debater and learned in the law.

    He was elected five times to the House of Representatives; then, after an interlude as Minister to Russia, served for a decade in the Senate. He became Polk’s Secretary of State and Pierce’s Minister to Great Britain. Service abroad helped to bring him the Democratic nomination in 1856 because it had exempted him from involvement in bitter domestic controversies.

    As President-elect, Buchanan thought the crisis would disappear if he maintained a sectional balance in his appointments and could persuade the people to accept constitutional law as the Supreme Court interpreted it. The Court was considering the legality of restricting slavery in the territories, and two justices hinted to Buchanan what the decision would be.

    Thus, in his Inaugural the President referred to the territorial question as “happily, a matter of but little practical importance” since the Supreme Court was about to settle it “speedily and finally.”

    Two days later Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the Dred Scott decision, asserting that Congress had no constitutional power to deprive persons of their property rights in slaves in the territories. Southerners were delighted, but the decision created a furor in the North.

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  • Buchanan decided to end the troubles in Kansas by urging the admission of the territory as a slave state. Although he directed his Presidential authority to this goal, he further angered the Republicans and alienated members of his own party. Kansas remained a territory.

    When Republicans won a plurality in the House in 1858, every significant bill they passed fell before southern votes in the Senate or a Presidential veto. The Federal Government reached a stalemate.

    Sectional strife rose to such a pitch in 1860 that the Democratic Party split into northern and southern wings, each nominating its own candidate for the Presidency. Consequently, when the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, it was a foregone conclusion that he would be elected even though his name appeared on no southern ballot. Rather than accept a Republican administration, the southern “fire-eaters” advocated secession.

    President Buchanan, dismayed and hesitant, denied the legal right of states to secede but held that the Federal Government legally could not prevent them. He hoped for compromise, but secessionist leaders did not want compromise.

    Then Buchanan took a more militant tack. As several Cabinet members resigned, he appointed northerners, and sent the Star of the West to carry reinforcements to Fort Sumter. On January 9, 1861, the vessel was far away.

    Buchanan reverted to a policy of inactivity that continued until he left office. In March 1861 he retired to his Pennsylvania home Wheatland–where he died seven years later–leaving his successor to resolve the frightful issue facing the Nation.

    The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel  and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.

    Learn more about James Buchanan’s niece who served as First Lady, Harriet Lane.

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    The first Democrat elected after the Civil War in 1885, our 22nd and 24th President Grover Cleveland was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later (1885-1889 and 1893-1897). 

    The First Democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later.

    who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

    One of nine children of a Presbyterian minister, Cleveland was born in New Jersey in 1837. He was raised in upstate New York. As a lawyer in Buffalo, he became notable for his single-minded concentration upon whatever task faced him.

    At 44, he emerged into a political prominence that carried him to the White House in three years. Running as a reformer, he was elected Mayor of Buffalo in 1881, and later, Governor of New York.

    Cleveland won the Presidency with the combined support of Democrats and reform Republicans, the “Mugwumps,” who disliked the record of his opponent James G. Blaine of Maine.

    A bachelor, Cleveland was ill at ease at first with all the comforts of the White House. “I must go to dinner,” he wrote a friend, “but I wish it was to eat a pickled herring a Swiss cheese and a chop at Louis’ instead of the French stuff I shall find.” In June 1886 Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom; he was the only President married in the White House.

    Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: “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. . . . “

    He also vetoed many private pension bills to Civil War veterans whose claims were fraudulent. When Congress, pressured by the Grand Army of the Republic, passed a bill granting pensions for disabilities not caused by military service, Cleveland vetoed it, too.

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  • He angered the railroads by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by Government grant. He forced them to return 81,000,000 acres. He also signed the Interstate Commerce Act, the first law attempting Federal regulation of the railroads.

    In December 1887 he called on Congress to reduce high protective tariffs. Told that he had given Republicans an effective issue for the campaign of 1888, he retorted, “What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?” But Cleveland was defeated in 1888; although he won a larger popular majority than the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, he received fewer electoral votes.

    Elected again in 1892, Cleveland faced an acute depression. He dealt directly with the Treasury crisis rather than with business failures, farm mortgage foreclosures, and unemployment. He obtained repeal of the mildly inflationary Sherman Silver Purchase Act and, with the aid of Wall Street, maintained the Treasury’s gold reserve.

    When railroad strikers in Chicago violated an injunction, Cleveland sent Federal troops to enforce it. “If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States to deliver a post card in Chicago,” he thundered, “that card will be delivered.”

    Cleveland’s blunt treatment of the railroad strikers stirred the pride of many Americans. So did the vigorous way in which he forced Great Britain to accept arbitration of a disputed boundary in Venezuela. But his policies during the depression were generally unpopular. His party deserted him and nominated William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

    After leaving the White House, Cleveland lived in retirement in Princeton, New Jersey. He died in 1908.

    The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.


    Learn more about Grover Cleveland ‘s spouse, Frances Folsom Cleveland.


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    In many regards, people expect for the President of the United States to be married. However, there is one case where one of the United States presidents never married. Some say that this particular President enjoyed being a flirt and didn’t want to settle down. Others say that he chose not to marry for a variety of personal reasons. In any case, the 15th President of the United States James Buchanan was the only president who never married.

    No one know for sure why Buchanan never married; however, there are possible causes including:

    Some claim that Buchanan was a flirt and like the company of different women, making it difficult for him to maintain a steady relationship.

    Another possible cause for his decision to remain a bachelor could have been a broken heart. It was said that Buchanan was engaged to Ann Caroline Coleman who was the daughter of a well to do iron businessman. Although he was engaged to this young women, he rarely spent time with her because he was too busy with his political aspirations and law firm to court Miss Coleman properly. There were speculations that Buchanan only proposed to Coleman because of her prestigious background and was courting other women while engaged to her.

    When Coleman became aware through others that he may only be interested in her for status and money and his possible infidelity she confronted him, but he denied it.

    who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

    Coleman broke off the engagement after discovering that Buchanan visited the wife of a friend. Later Coleman would die of an overdose of the substance laudanum. Upon hearing the news, Buchanan was said to be grief stricken and vowed never to marry because he only wanted to be with Coleman and no other woman would do.

    There is speculation that President James Buchanan was homosexual, and this is the reason that he never married.

    Prior to his presidency Buchanan lived for 15 years with William Rufus King the Senator of Alabama. The closeness of the relationship was regarded as unusual during those times and Andrew Jackson even referred to the two as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy.”

    The nieces of Buchanan and King burned all the letters that the two wrote each other, causing further speculation about Buchanan’s sexuality. Because Buchanan was single and chose not to marry, he had an adopted orphaned niece act as First Lady.

    There are several interesting facts about James Buchanan besides his martial status.

    Because President Buchanan wanted the Supreme Court to make the final decision about the issue of slavery in the states, many people felt he used the Supreme Court to indirectly achieve the his goal of maintaining slave owners rights.

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  • There were many people that were not particularly pleased with Buchanan as a president. In fact, the displeasure with the way in which he led the United States became such an issue that Buchanan had problems getting anything passed through Congress. It has even been noted that Buchanan vetoed a bill passed by Congress to create more colleges because he personally felt that, “there were already too many educated people.”

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    President Grover Cleveland becomes the first sitting president to marry in the White House on June 2, 1886.

    Cleveland entered the White House as a bachelor and left a married man and father of two. His new wife was a young woman 27 years his junior named Frances Folsom. Frances was the daughter of a former law partner and Cleveland’s legal ward; Cleveland had literally known her since she was born. When she was 11, Frances’ father died and Cleveland became her legal guardian, remaining close friends with her mother. His pet name for Frances was Frank. Observers thought Cleveland would marry his friend’s widow and were completely surprised when, instead, he married Frances as soon as she turned 21.

    In another White House first, Frances and Cleveland’s second daughter Esther became the first child born to a president in a White House bedroom.

    Grover Cleveland gets married in the White House

    who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

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    The role of the United States’ first lady traditionally goes to the president’s spouse, but in instances where the chief executive was a bachelor or widower, it has occasionally fallen to children, sisters or other close family members. Over a dozen of these “first hostesses” have served in some capacity, including a few who made a significant mark on the White House.

    A portrait by painter Thomas Sully of Martha Jefferson Randolph, the daughter of President Thomas Jefferson, Washington DC, circa 1805. (Credit: Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

    When Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as president in 1801, he had already been a widower for nearly two decades. For most of his administration, the role of White House hostess was either neglected entirely or filled by the wives of cabinet members, including future first lady Dolley Madison. The only notable exceptions came during the social seasons of 1802-03 and 1805-06, when Jefferson’s daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph joined him in Washington. While the duties of the first lady were still not clearly defined at the time, “Patsy,” as her father called her, often acted as Jefferson’s social organizer and took the lead in welcoming guests at presidential receptions. In 1806, she also gave birth to a son named James—the first child to be born in the White House.

    Painted portrait of Emily Donelson, the niece of U.S. President Andrew Jackson. (Credit: Science History Images/Alamy Stock Photo)

    Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel died of a heart attack in December 1828, just a few months before her husband’s inauguration as the seventh president. In her absence, the role of “Old Hickory’s” first lady fell to Emily Donelson, her 21-year-old niece. Following a brief period of mourning, Donelson presided over numerous presidential parties and helped assist in a luxurious renovation of the White House. Though generally well liked, the young Tennessee native also played a role in the early controversies of Jackson’s administration. When the wives of the cabinet members ostracized the Secretary of War’s spouse Margaret “Peggy” Eaton over rumors that she had engaged in an extramarital affair, Donelson reportedly joined in, much to Jackson’s dismay. The so-called “Petticoat Affair” led to a falling out between the two, and Donelson withdrew from her duties prior to succumbing to tuberculosis in 1836. Jackson’s daughter-in-law Sarah Yorke Jackson later took over as White House hostess for the remainder of his administration.

    who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

    Painted portrait of Angelica Singleton Van Buren. Original Artwork by Henry Inman, 1842. (Credit: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

    Graceful, cultured and well-educated, Angelica Singleton took over the duties of first lady in 1838, just a few weeks after she married the son of widower President Martin Van Buren. Though barely 21—younger than almost any first lady in history—the South Carolina socialite proved a natural in the role, winning praise for her elegant teas, dinner parties and balls. The Boston Post called Singleton “universally admired,” but a lone blight on her tenure came in 1840, when she returned from a tour of Britain and France and naively tried to recreate some of Europe’s court customs at the White House, including receiving guests while seated on a platform. Singleton abandoned the courtly ritual following a public backlash, but Van Buren’s critics later latched onto it as an example of the perceived extravagance of his administration.

    Engraved portrait of Priscilla Cooper Tyler, circa 1843. Original artwork by H B Hall. (Credit: Archive Photos/Getty Images)

    “Here I am actually living in and what is more, presiding at the White House,” Priscilla Cooper Tyler gushed in an 1841 letter to her sister, “and I look at myself like the little old woman and exclaim ‘can this be I?’” A former stage actress and the wife of one of John Tyler’s sons, Priscilla had stepped into the role of presidential hostess after first lady Letitia Tyler was sidelined by a stroke. The outgoing beauty continued to serve following Letitia’s death in 1842, winning rave reviews for her lavish dinner parties and White House receptions. Among other accomplishments, she initiated a tradition of hosting Marine Band concerts on the White House lawn. In 1843, meanwhile, she became the first acting first lady to travel with the president as part of his official entourage. Despite her apparent fondness for the job, Priscilla left her post as White House hostess in 1844 after she and her husband moved to Philadelphia. Tyler’s daughters later shared the responsibilities until that June, when the president remarried.

    Harriet Lane, niece of James Buchanan; acted as First Lady during his term as President. (Credit: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo)

    Prior to Jackie Kennedy, few first ladies captured the public imagination like Harriet Lane. The niece of James Buchanan—America’s only lifelong bachelor president—Lane took up residence in the White House in 1857 and immediately won legions of admirers for her magnetic personality and youthful good looks. Women eagerly copied her inauguration gown—a low-cut affair featuring a garland of flowers—and she inspired everything from baby names to popular songs. During a period when the United States was teetering on the brink of civil war, the so-called “Democratic Queen” livened up the Buchanan administration by redecorating the White House and hosting popular dinner parties. Like many modern first ladies, she also adopted an outreach project by working to improve the conditions on Indian reservations. Lane would remain socially active even after her uncle left office in 1861. Among other philanthropic works, she helped found a children’s clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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  • Engraved portrait of Martha Johnson Patterson, the eldest daughter of the 17th President of the U.S., Andrew Johnson. Original Artwork by J.C. Buttre. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    President Andrew Johnson’s wife Eliza was the official first lady of his embattled administration, but she was so publicity shy and sickly that she designated most of her duties to her eldest daughter, Martha Johnson Patterson. In keeping with the somber mood that prevailed in the years after the Civil War and the Lincoln assassination, Martha adopted an air of modesty and restraint during her stint as White House hostess. “We are plain folks from Tennessee, called here by a national calamity,” she said in 1865. “I hope not too much will be expected of us.” Along with managing the president’s social receptions, Martha installed milk cows on the White House lawn and helped lead a tasteful redecoration of the mansion’s interior. She was also responsible for compiling several paintings of past presidents into a portrait gallery. One staff member would later describe the president’s daughter as the “real mistress of the White House…She made no pretenses of any sort, but was always honest and direct.”

    Mary Arthur McElroy, White House hostess for President Chester Arthur. (Credit: John Sartain/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

    One of American history’s more obscure first ladies, Mary Arthur McElroy, took the reins as executive hostess in 1881, after her widower brother Chester A. Arthur was elevated to the presidency by the assassination of James A. Garfield. Although she confessed that she was “absolutely unfamiliar with the customs and formalities” of the White House upon her arrival, the middle-aged mother of four eventually settled into the role and became known for her New Year’s galas and weekly open-house dinner receptions. In planning some of her larger events, she enlisted former first ladies Julia Tyler and Harriet Lane to serve as co-hostesses.

    Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, President Grover Cleveland’s sister and White House hostess. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

    Even before she took over as the acting first lady, President Grover Cleveland’s sister Rose already had an impressive résumé. A graduate of a New York seminary, the 38-year-old was a veteran professor, lecturer and writer who had penned a volume of literary criticism. When her bachelor brother was inaugurated as president in 1885, “Libbie,” as she was known, briefly set aside her intellectual pursuits and moved to Washington to serve as his White House hostess. While she won praise for her charm and wit, she was reportedly uninterested in political schmoozing. She once even admitted that she fought off boredom at presidential receptions by conjugating Greek verbs in her head. When Grover Cleveland later married 21-year-old Frances Folsom in 1886, Rose gladly stepped down as first lady and resumed her career as a scholar. Along with publishing novels and criticism, she later worked as the editor of a literary magazine before settling in Italy.

    Photograph of Margaret Wilson, the daughter of Woodrow Wilson. (Credit: Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

    The most recent first lady pinch-hitter was Woodrow Wilson’s daughter Margaret, who assumed the role of White House hostess after her mother’s death in 1914. The free-spirited 28-year-old only held the post for a few months, but she reportedly chafed at its social demands, preferring instead to pursue training as a soprano vocalist. When President Wilson became engaged to his second wife Edith in 1915, Margaret eagerly stepped aside and embarked on a career as a singer, even traveling to Europe to perform for Allied troops serving in World War I. She later worked in advertising and lobbied for various social causes, but she is perhaps best known for her fascination with Eastern philosophy and Hinduism. Prior to her death in 1944, she became so enamored with the work of a guru named Sri Aurobindo that she relocated to India to live at his ashram.

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    Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897. Cleveland is the only president in American history to serve two nonconsecutive terms in office.[b] He won the popular vote for three presidential elections—in 1884, 1888, and 1892—and was one of two Democrats (followed by Woodrow Wilson in 1912) to be elected president during the era of Republican presidential domination dating from 1861 to 1933.

    Born to a Presbyterian minister and his wife, Cleveland grew up in upstate New York. In 1881, he was elected mayor of Buffalo and later, governor of New York. Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs; Free Silver; inflation; imperialism; and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans. His crusade for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era.[1] Cleveland won praise for his honesty, self-reliance, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism.[2] He fought political corruption, patronage, and bossism. As a reformer, Cleveland had such prestige that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party, called “Mugwumps”, largely bolted the GOP presidential ticket and swung to his support in the 1884 election.[3] As his second administration began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression. It ruined his Democratic Party, opening the way for a Republican landslide in 1894 and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party in 1896. The result was a political realignment that ended the Third Party System and launched the Fourth Party System and the Progressive Era.[4]

    Cleveland was a formidable policymaker, and he also drew corresponding criticism. His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions nationwide in addition to the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party.[5] Critics complained that Cleveland had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation’s economic disasters—depressions and strikes—in his second term.[5] Even so, his reputation for probity and good character survived the troubles of his second term. Biographer Allan Nevins wrote, “[I]n Grover Cleveland, the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities. He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have. He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense. But he possessed them to a degree other men do not.”[6] By the end of his second term, public perception showed him to be one of the most unpopular U.S. presidents, and he was by then rejected even by most Democrats.[7] Today, Cleveland is considered by most historians to have been a successful leader, and has been praised for honesty, integrity, adherence to his morals and defying party boundaries, and effective leadership. He is generally ranked among the upper-mid tier of American presidents.

    Stephen Grover Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837, in Caldwell, New Jersey, to Ann (née Neal) and Richard Falley Cleveland.[8] Cleveland’s father was a Congregational and Presbyterian minister who was originally from Connecticut.[9] His mother was from Baltimore and was the daughter of a bookseller.[10] On his father’s side, Cleveland was descended from English ancestors, the first of the family having emigrated to Massachusetts from Cleveland, England in 1635.[11] His father’s maternal grandfather, Richard Falley Jr., fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and was the son of an immigrant from Guernsey. On his mother’s side, Cleveland was descended from Anglo-Irish Protestants and German Quakers from Philadelphia.[12] Cleveland was distantly related to General Moses Cleaveland, after whom the city of Cleveland, Ohio, was named.[13]

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    Cleveland, the fifth of nine children, was named Stephen Grover in honor of the first pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Caldwell, where his father was pastor at the time. He became known as Grover in his adult life.[14] In 1841, the Cleveland family moved to Fayetteville, New York, where Grover spent much of his childhood.[15] Neighbors later described him as “full of fun and inclined to play pranks,”[16] and fond of outdoor sports.[17]

    In 1850, Cleveland’s father Richard moved his family to Clinton, New York, to work as district secretary for the American Home Missionary Society.[18] Despite his father’s dedication to his missionary work, his income was insufficient for the large family. Financial conditions forced him to remove Grover from school and place him in a two-year mercantile apprenticeship in Fayetteville. The experience was valuable and brief, and the living conditions quite austere. Grover returned to Clinton and his schooling at the completion of the apprentice contract.[19] In 1853, when missionary work began to take a toll on the health of Cleveland’s father, he took an assignment in Holland Patent, New York (near Utica) and moved his family again.[20] Shortly after, he died from a gastric ulcer. The younger Cleveland was said to have learned about his father’s death from a boy selling newspapers.[20]

    Cleveland received his elementary education at the Fayetteville Academy and the Clinton Liberal Academy.[21] After his father died in 1853, he again left school to help support his family. Later that year, Cleveland’s brother William was hired as a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in New York City, and William obtained a place for Cleveland as an assistant teacher. Cleveland returned home to Holland Patent at the end of 1854, where an elder in his church offered to pay for his college education if he would promise to become a minister. Cleveland declined, and in 1855 he decided to move west.[22]

    He stopped first in Buffalo, New York, where his uncle, Lewis F. Allen, gave him a clerical job.[23] Allen was an important man in Buffalo, and he introduced his nephew to influential men there, including the partners in the law firm of Rogers, Bowen, and Rogers.[24] Millard Fillmore, the 13th president of the United States, had previously worked for the partnership.[25] Cleveland later took a clerkship with the firm, began to read the law with them, and was admitted to the New York bar in 1859.[26]

    Cleveland worked for the Rogers firm for three years before leaving in 1862 to start his own practice.[27] In January 1863, he was appointed assistant district attorney of Erie County.[28] With the American Civil War raging, Congress passed the Conscription Act of 1863, requiring able-bodied men to serve in the army if called upon, or else to hire a substitute.[26] Cleveland chose the latter course, paying $150 (equivalent to $3,153 in 2020) to George Benninsky, a thirty-two-year-old Polish immigrant, to serve in his place.[29] Benninsky survived the war.[26]

    As a lawyer, Cleveland became known for his single-minded concentration and dedication to hard work.[30] In 1866, he successfully defended some participants in the Fenian raid, working on a pro bono basis (free of charge).[31] In 1868, Cleveland attracted professional attention for his winning defense of a libel suit against the editor of Buffalo’s Commercial Advertiser.[32] During this time, Cleveland assumed a lifestyle of simplicity, taking residence in a plain boarding house. He devoted his growing income instead to the support of his mother and younger sisters.[33] While his personal quarters were austere, Cleveland enjoyed an active social life and “the easy-going sociability of hotel-lobbies and saloons.”[34] He shunned the circles of higher society of Buffalo in which his uncle’s family traveled.[35]

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  • From his earliest involvement in politics, Cleveland aligned with the Democratic Party.[36] He had a decided aversion to Republicans John Fremont and Abraham Lincoln, and the heads of the Rogers law firm were solid Democrats.[37] In 1865, he ran for District Attorney, losing narrowly to his friend and roommate, Lyman K. Bass, the Republican nominee.[30]

    In 1870, with the help of friend Oscar Folsom, Cleveland secured the Democratic nomination for Sheriff of Erie County, New York.[38] He won the election by a 303-vote margin and took office on January 1, 1871 at age 33.[39][40] While this new career took him away from the practice of law, it was rewarding in other ways: the fees were said to yield up to $40,000 (equivalent to $864,111 in 2020) over the two-year term.[38]

    Cleveland’s service as sheriff was unremarkable; biographer Rexford Tugwell described the time in office as a waste for Cleveland politically. Cleveland was aware of graft in the sheriff’s office during his tenure and chose not to confront it.[41] A notable incident of his term took place on September 6, 1872, when Patrick Morrissey was executed. He had been convicted of murdering his mother.[42] As sheriff, Cleveland was responsible for either personally carrying out the execution or paying a deputy $10 to perform the task.[42] In spite of reservations about the hanging, Cleveland executed Morrissey himself.[42] He hanged another murderer, John Gaffney, on February 14, 1873.[43]

    After his term as sheriff ended, Cleveland returned to his law practice, opening a firm with his friends Lyman K. Bass and Wilson S. Bissell.[44] Elected to Congress in 1872, Bass did not spend much time at the firm, but Cleveland and Bissell soon rose to the top of Buffalo’s legal community.[45] Up to that point, Cleveland’s political career had been honorable and unexceptional. As biographer Allan Nevins wrote, “Probably no man in the country, on March 4, 1881, had less thought than this limited, simple, sturdy attorney of Buffalo that four years later he would be standing in Washington and taking the oath as President of the United States.”[46]

    It was during this period that Cleveland began courting a widow, Maria Halpin. She later accused him of raping her.[47][48] He accused her of being an alcoholic and consorting with men. In an attempt to discredit her, he had her institutionalized and had their child taken away and raised by his friends. The institution quickly realized that she did not belong there and released her.[49] The illegitimate child became a campaign issue for the GOP in Cleveland’s first presidential campaign.[50]

    In the 1870s, the municipal government in Buffalo had grown increasingly corrupt, with Democratic and Republican political machines cooperating to share the spoils of political office.[51] In 1881 the Republicans nominated a slate of particularly disreputable machine politicians; the Democrats saw the opportunity to gain the votes of disaffected Republicans by nominating a more honest candidate.[52] The party leaders approached Cleveland, and he agreed to run for Mayor of Buffalo, provided that the rest of the ticket was to his liking.[53] When the more notorious politicians were left off the Democratic ticket, Cleveland accepted the nomination.[53] Cleveland was elected mayor with 15,120 votes, as against 11,528 for Milton C. Beebe, his opponent.[54] He took office January 2, 1882.

    Cleveland’s term as mayor was spent fighting the entrenched interests of the party machines.[55] Among the acts that established his reputation was a veto of the street-cleaning bill passed by the Common Council.[56] The street-cleaning contract had been competed for bidding, and the Council selected the highest bidder at $422,000, rather than the lowest of $100,000 less, because of the political connections of the bidder.[56] While this sort of bipartisan graft had previously been tolerated in Buffalo, Mayor Cleveland would have none of it. His veto message said, “I regard it as the culmination of a most bare-faced, impudent, and shameless scheme to betray the interests of the people, and to worse than squander the public money.”[57] The Council reversed itself and awarded the contract to the lowest bidder.[58] Cleveland also asked the state legislature to form a Commission to develop a plan to improve the sewer system in Buffalo at a much lower cost than previously proposed locally; this plan was successfully adopted.[59] For this, and other actions safeguarding public funds, Cleveland began to gain a reputation beyond Erie County as a leader willing to purge government corruption.[60]

    New York Democratic party officials began to consider Cleveland a possible nominee for governor.[61] Daniel Manning, a party insider who admired Cleveland’s record, was instrumental in his candidacy.[62] With a split in the state Republican party in 1882, the Democratic party was considered to be at an advantage; several men contended for that party’s nomination.[61] The two leading Democratic candidates were Roswell P. Flower and Henry W. Slocum. Their factions deadlocked, and the convention could not agree on a nominee.[63] Cleveland, in third place on the first ballot, picked up support in subsequent votes and emerged as the compromise choice.[64] The Republican party remained divided, and in the general election Cleveland emerged the victor, with 535,318 votes to Republican nominee Charles J. Folger’s 342,464.[65] Cleveland’s margin of victory was, at the time, the largest in a contested New York election; the Democrats also picked up seats in both houses of the New York State Legislature.[66]

    Cleveland brought his opposition to needless spending to the governor’s office; he promptly sent the legislature eight vetos in his first two months in office.[67] The first to attract attention was his veto of a bill to reduce the fares on New York City elevated trains to five cents.[68] The bill had broad support because the trains’ owner, Jay Gould, was unpopular, and his fare increases were widely denounced.[69] Cleveland, however, saw the bill as unjust—Gould had taken over the railroads when they were failing and had made the system solvent again.[70] Moreover, Cleveland believed that altering Gould’s franchise would violate the Contract Clause of the federal Constitution.[70] Despite the initial popularity of the fare-reduction bill, the newspapers praised Cleveland’s veto.[70] Theodore Roosevelt, then a member of the Assembly, had reluctantly voted for the bill to which Cleveland objected, in a desire to punish the unscrupulous railroad barons.[71] After the veto, Roosevelt reversed himself, as did many legislators, and the veto was sustained.[71]

    Cleveland’s defiance of political corruption won him popular acclaim, and the enmity of the influential Tammany Hall organization in New York City.[72] Tammany, under its boss, John Kelly, had disapproved of Cleveland’s nomination as governor, and their resistance intensified after Cleveland openly opposed and prevented the re-election of Thomas F. Grady, their point man in the State Senate.[73] Cleveland also steadfastly opposed nominees of the Tammanyites, as well as bills passed as a result of their deal-making.[74] The loss of Tammany’s support was offset by the support of Theodore Roosevelt and other reform-minded Republicans who helped Cleveland to pass several laws reforming municipal governments.[75]

    The Republicans convened in Chicago and nominated former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine of Maine for president on the fourth ballot. Blaine’s nomination alienated many Republicans who viewed Blaine as ambitious and immoral.[76] The GOP standard-bearer was weakened by alienating the Mugwumps, and the Conkling faction, recently disenfranchised by President Chester Arthur.[77] Democratic party leaders believed the Republicans’ choice gave them an opportunity to win the White House for the first time since 1856 if the right candidate could be found.[76]

    Among the Democrats, Samuel J. Tilden was the initial front-runner, having been the party’s nominee in the contested election of 1876.[78] After Tilden declined a nomination due to his poor health, his supporters shifted to several other contenders.[78] Cleveland was among the leaders in early support, and Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, Allen G. Thurman of Ohio, Samuel Freeman Miller of Iowa, and Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts also had considerable followings, along with various favorite sons.[78] Each of the other candidates had hindrances to his nomination: Bayard had spoken in favor of secession in 1861, making him unacceptable to Northerners; Butler, conversely, was reviled throughout the South for his actions during the Civil War; Thurman was generally well-liked, but was growing old and infirm, and his views on the silver question were uncertain.[79]

    Cleveland, too, had detractors—Tammany remained opposed to him—but the nature of his enemies made him still more friends.[80] Cleveland led on the first ballot, with 392 votes out of 820.[81] On the second ballot, Tammany threw its support behind Butler, but the rest of the delegates shifted to Cleveland, who won.[82] Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana was selected as his running mate.[82]

    Corruption in politics was the central issue in 1884; Blaine had over the span of his career been involved in several questionable deals.[83] Cleveland’s reputation as an opponent of corruption proved the Democrats’ strongest asset.[84] William C. Hudson created Cleveland’s contextual campaign slogan “A public office is a public trust.”[85] Reform-minded Republicans called “Mugwumps” denounced Blaine as corrupt and flocked to Cleveland.[86] The Mugwumps, including such men as Carl Schurz and Henry Ward Beecher, were more concerned with morality than with party, and felt Cleveland was a kindred soul who would promote civil service reform and fight for efficiency in government.[86] At the same time that the Democrats gained support from the Mugwumps, they lost some blue-collar workers to the Greenback-Labor party, led by ex-Democrat Benjamin Butler.[87] In general, Cleveland abided by the precedent of minimizing presidential campaign travel and speechmaking; Blaine became one of the first to break with that tradition.[88]

    The campaign focused on the candidates’ moral standards, as each side cast aspersions on their opponents. Cleveland’s supporters rehashed the old allegations that Blaine had corruptly influenced legislation in favor of the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad and the Union Pacific Railway, later profiting on the sale of bonds he owned in both companies.[89] Although the stories of Blaine’s favors to the railroads had made the rounds eight years earlier, this time Blaine’s correspondence was discovered, making his earlier denials less plausible.[89] On some of the most damaging correspondence, Blaine had written “Burn this letter”, giving Democrats the last line to their rallying cry: “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the state of Maine, ‘Burn this letter!'”[90]

    Regarding Cleveland, commentator Jeff Jacoby notes that, “Not since George Washington had a candidate for President been so renowned for his rectitude.”[91] But the Republicans found a refutation buried in Cleveland’s past. Aided by the sermons of Reverend George H. Ball, a minister from Buffalo, they made public the allegation that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child while he was a lawyer there,[92] and their rallies soon included the chant “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”.[93] When confronted with the scandal, Cleveland immediately instructed his supporters to “Above all, tell the truth.”[50] Cleveland admitted to paying child support in 1874 to Maria Crofts Halpin, the woman who asserted he had fathered her son Oscar Folsom Cleveland and he assumed responsibility.[50] Shortly before the 1884 election, the Republican media published an affidavit from Halpin in which she stated that until she met Cleveland, her “life was pure and spotless”, and “there is not, and never was, a doubt as to the paternity of our child, and the attempt of Grover Cleveland, or his friends, to couple the name of Oscar Folsom, or any one else, with that boy, for that purpose is simply infamous and false.”[94]

    The electoral votes of closely contested New York, New Jersey, Indiana, and Connecticut would determine the election.[95] In New York, the Tammany Democrats decided that they would gain more from supporting a Democrat they disliked than a Republican who would do nothing for them.[96] Blaine hoped that he would have more support from Irish Americans than Republicans typically did; while the Irish were mainly a Democratic constituency in the 19th century, Blaine’s mother was Irish Catholic, and he had been supportive of the Irish National Land League while he was Secretary of State.[97] The Irish, a significant group in three of the swing states, did appear inclined to support Blaine until a Republican, Samuel D. Burchard, gave a speech pivotal for the Democrats, denouncing them as the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”.[98] The Democrats spread the word of this implied Catholic insult on the eve of the election. They also blistered Blaine for attending a banquet with some of New York City’s wealthiest men.[99]

    After the votes were counted, Cleveland narrowly won all four of the swing states, including New York by 1200 votes.[100] While the popular vote total was close, with Cleveland winning by just one-quarter of a percent, the electoral votes gave Cleveland a majority of 219–182.[100] Following the electoral victory, the “Ma, Ma …” attack phrase gained a classic riposte: “Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!”[101]

    Soon after taking office, Cleveland was faced with the task of filling all the government jobs for which the president had the power of appointment. These jobs were typically filled under the spoils system, but Cleveland announced that he would not fire any Republican who was doing his job well, and would not appoint anyone solely on the basis of party service.[102] He also used his appointment powers to reduce the number of federal employees, as many departments had become bloated with political time-servers.[103] Later in his term, as his fellow Democrats chafed at being excluded from the spoils, Cleveland began to replace more of the partisan Republican officeholders with Democrats;[104] this was especially the case with policymaking positions.[105] While some of his decisions were influenced by party concerns, more of Cleveland’s appointments were decided by merit alone than was the case in his predecessors’ administrations.[106]

    Cleveland also reformed other parts of the government. In 1887, he signed an act creating the Interstate Commerce Commission.[107] He and Secretary of the Navy William C. Whitney undertook to modernize the navy and canceled construction contracts that had resulted in inferior ships.[108] Cleveland angered railroad investors by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by government grant.[109] Secretary of the Interior Lucius Q. C. Lamar charged that the rights of way for this land must be returned to the public because the railroads failed to extend their lines according to agreements.[109] The lands were forfeited, resulting in the return of approximately 81,000,000 acres (330,000 km2).[109]

    Cleveland was the first Democratic president subject to the Tenure of Office Act which originated in 1867; the act purported to require the Senate to approve the dismissal of any presidential appointee who was originally subject to its advice and consent. Cleveland objected to the act in principle and his steadfast refusal to abide by it prompted its fall into disfavor and led to its ultimate repeal in 1887.[110]

    Cleveland faced a Republican Senate and often resorted to using his veto powers.[111] He vetoed hundreds of private pension bills for American Civil War veterans, believing that if their pensions requests had already been rejected by the Pension Bureau, Congress should not attempt to override that decision.[112] When Congress, pressured by the Grand Army of the Republic, passed a bill granting pensions for disabilities not caused by military service, Cleveland also vetoed that.[113] Cleveland used the veto far more often than any president up to that time.[114] In 1887, Cleveland issued his most well-known veto, that of the Texas Seed Bill.[115] After a drought had ruined crops in several Texas counties, Congress appropriated $100,000 (equivalent to $2,880,370 in 2020) to purchase seed grain for farmers there.[115] Cleveland vetoed the expenditure. In his veto message, he espoused a theory of limited government:

    I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. 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 the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.[116]

    One of the most volatile issues of the 1880s was whether the currency should be backed by gold and silver, or by gold alone.[117] The issue cut across party lines, with western Republicans and southern Democrats joining together in the call for the free coinage of silver, and both parties’ representatives in the northeast holding firm for the gold standard.[118] Because silver was worth less than its legal equivalent in gold, taxpayers paid their government bills in silver, while international creditors demanded payment in gold, resulting in a depletion of the nation’s gold supply.[118]

    Cleveland and Treasury Secretary Daniel Manning stood firmly on the side of the gold standard, and tried to reduce the amount of silver that the government was required to coin under the Bland–Allison Act of 1878.[119] Cleveland unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to repeal this law before he was inaugurated.[120] Angered Westerners and Southerners advocated for cheap money to help their poorer constituents.[121] In reply, one of the foremost silverites, Richard P. Bland, introduced a bill in 1886 that would require the government to coin unlimited amounts of silver, inflating the then-deflating currency.[122] While Bland’s bill was defeated, so was a bill the administration favored that would repeal any silver coinage requirement.[122] The result was a retention of the status quo, and a postponement of the resolution of the Free Silver issue.[123]

    Another contentious financial issue at the time was the protective tariff. These tariffs had been implemented as a temporary measure during the civil war to protect American industrial interests but remained in place after the war.[125] While it had not been a central point in his campaign, Cleveland’s opinion on the tariff was that of most Democrats: that the tariff ought to be reduced.[126] Republicans generally favored a high tariff to protect American industries.[126] American tariffs had been high since the Civil War, and by the 1880s the tariff brought in so much revenue that the government was running a surplus.[127]

    In 1886, a bill to reduce the tariff was narrowly defeated in the House.[128] The tariff issue was emphasized in the Congressional elections that year, and the forces of protectionism increased their numbers in the Congress, but Cleveland continued to advocate tariff reform.[129] As the surplus grew, Cleveland and the reformers called for a tariff for revenue only.[130] His message to Congress in 1887 (quoted at right) highlighted the injustice of taking more money from the people than the government needed to pay its operating expenses.[131] Republicans, as well as protectionist northern Democrats like Samuel J. Randall, believed that American industries would fail without high tariffs, and they continued to fight reform efforts.[132] Roger Q. Mills, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, proposed a bill to reduce the tariff from about 47% to about 40%.[133] After significant exertions by Cleveland and his allies, the bill passed the House.[133] The Republican Senate failed to come to an agreement with the Democratic House, and the bill died in the conference committee. Dispute over the tariff persisted into the 1888 presidential election.

    Cleveland was a committed non-interventionist who had campaigned in opposition to expansion and imperialism. He refused to promote the previous administration’s Nicaragua canal treaty, and generally was less of an expansionist in foreign relations.[134] Cleveland’s Secretary of State, Thomas F. Bayard, negotiated with Joseph Chamberlain of the United Kingdom over fishing rights in the waters off Canada, and struck a conciliatory note, despite the opposition of New England’s Republican Senators.[135] Cleveland also withdrew from Senate consideration the Berlin Conference treaty which guaranteed an open door for U.S. interests in the Congo.[136]

    Cleveland’s military policy emphasized self-defense and modernization. In 1885 Cleveland appointed the Board of Fortifications under Secretary of War William C. Endicott to recommend a new coastal fortification system for the United States.[137][138] No improvements to US coastal defenses had been made since the late 1870s.[139][140] The Board’s 1886 report recommended a massive $127 million construction program (equivalent to $3.7 billion in 2020) at 29 harbors and river estuaries, to include new breech-loading rifled guns, mortars, and naval minefields. The Board and the program are usually called the Endicott Board and the Endicott Program. Most of the Board’s recommendations were implemented, and by 1910, 27 locations were defended by over 70 forts.[141][142] Many of the weapons remained in place until scrapped in World War II as they were replaced with new defenses. Endicott also proposed to Congress a system of examinations for Army officer promotions.[143] For the Navy, the Cleveland administration spearheaded by Secretary of the Navy William Collins Whitney moved towards modernization, although no ships were constructed that could match the best European warships. Although completion of the four steel-hulled warships begun under the previous administration was delayed due to a corruption investigation and subsequent bankruptcy of their building yard, these ships were completed in a timely manner in naval shipyards once the investigation was over.[144] Sixteen additional steel-hulled warships were ordered by the end of 1888; these ships later proved vital in the Spanish–American War of 1898, and many served in World War I. These ships included the “second-class battleships” Maine and Texas, designed to match modern armored ships recently acquired by South American countries from Europe, such as the Brazilian battleship Riachuelo.[145] Eleven protected cruisers (including the famous Olympia), one armored cruiser, and one monitor were also ordered, along with the experimental cruiser Vesuvius.[146]

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    Cleveland, like a growing number of Northerners (and nearly all white Southerners) saw Reconstruction as a failed experiment, and was reluctant to use federal power to enforce the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed voting rights to African Americans.[147] Though Cleveland appointed no black Americans to patronage jobs, he allowed Frederick Douglass to continue in his post as recorder of deeds in Washington, D.C. and appointed another black man (James Campbell Matthews, a former New York judge) to replace Douglass upon his resignation.[147] His decision to replace Douglass with a black man was met with outrage, but Cleveland claimed to have known Matthews personally.[148]

    Although Cleveland had condemned the “outrages” against Chinese immigrants, he believed that Chinese immigrants were unwilling to assimilate into white society.[149] Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard negotiated an extension to the Chinese Exclusion Act, and Cleveland lobbied the Congress to pass the Scott Act, written by Congressman William Lawrence Scott, which prevented the return of Chinese immigrants who left the United States.[150] The Scott Act easily passed both houses of Congress, and Cleveland signed it into law on October 1, 1888.[150]

    Cleveland viewed Native Americans as wards of the state, saying in his first inaugural address that “[t]his guardianship involves, on our part, efforts for the improvement of their condition and enforcement of their rights.”[151] He encouraged the idea of cultural assimilation, pushing for the passage of the Dawes Act, which provided for the distribution of Indian lands to individual members of tribes, rather than having them continued to be held in trust for the tribes by the federal government.[151] While a conference of Native leaders endorsed the act, in practice the majority of Native Americans disapproved of it.[152] Cleveland believed the Dawes Act would lift Native Americans out of poverty and encourage their assimilation into white society. It ultimately weakened the tribal governments and allowed individual Indians to sell land and keep the money.[151]

    In the month before Cleveland’s 1885 inauguration, President Arthur opened four million acres of Winnebago and Crow Creek Indian lands in the Dakota Territory to white settlement by executive order.[153] Tens of thousands of settlers gathered at the border of these lands and prepared to take possession of them.[153] Cleveland believed Arthur’s order to be in violation of treaties with the tribes, and rescinded it on April 17 of that year, ordering the settlers out of the territory.[153] Cleveland sent in eighteen companies of Army troops to enforce the treaties and ordered General Philip Sheridan, at the time Commanding General of the U. S. Army, to investigate the matter.[153]

    Cleveland was 47 years old when he entered the White House as a bachelor. His sister Rose Cleveland joined him, acting as hostess for the first two years of his administration.[154] Unlike the previous bachelor president James Buchanan, Cleveland did not remain a bachelor for long. In 1885 the daughter of Cleveland’s friend Oscar Folsom visited him in Washington.[155] Frances Folsom was a student at Wells College. When she returned to school, President Cleveland received her mother’s permission to correspond with her, and they were soon engaged to be married.[155] The wedding occurred on June 2, 1886, in the Blue Room at the White House. Cleveland was 49 years old at the time; Frances was 21.[156] He was the second president to wed while in office,[c] and remains the only president to marry in the White House. This marriage was unusual because Cleveland was the executor of Oscar Folsom’s estate and had supervised Frances’s upbringing after her father’s death; nevertheless, the public took no exception to the match.[157] At 21 years, Frances Folsom Cleveland was the youngest First Lady in history, and soon became popular for her warm personality.[158]

    The Clevelands had five children: Ruth (1891–1904), Esther (1893–1980), Marion (1895–1977), Richard (1897–1974), and Francis (1903–1995). British philosopher Philippa Foot (1920–2010) was their granddaughter.[159]

    Cleveland also claimed paternity of an additional child named Oscar Folsom Cleveland with Maria Crofts Halpin.[160]

    During his first term, Cleveland successfully nominated two justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. The first, Lucius Q. C. Lamar, was a former Mississippi senator who served in Cleveland’s Cabinet as Interior Secretary. When William Burnham Woods died, Cleveland nominated Lamar to his seat in late 1887. While Lamar had been well-liked as a senator, his service under the Confederacy two decades earlier caused many Republicans to vote against him. Lamar’s nomination was confirmed by the narrow margin of 32 to 28.[161]

    Chief Justice Morrison Waite died a few months later, and Cleveland nominated Melville Fuller to fill his seat on April 30, 1888. Fuller accepted. He had previously declined Cleveland’s nomination to the Civil Service Commission, preferring his Chicago law practice. The Senate Judiciary Committee spent several months examining the little-known nominee, before the Senate confirmed the nomination 41 to 20.[162][163]

    Cleveland nominated 41 lower federal court judges in addition to his four Supreme Court justices. These included two judges to the United States circuit courts, nine judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, and 30 judges to the United States district courts. Because Cleveland served terms both before and after Congress eliminated the circuit courts in favor of the Courts of Appeals, he is one of only two presidents to have appointed judges to both bodies. The other, Benjamin Harrison, was in office at the time that the change was made. Thus, all of Cleveland’s appointments to the circuit courts were made in his first term, and all of his appointments to the Courts of Appeals were made in his second.

    The Republicans nominated Benjamin Harrison, the former U.S. Senator from Indiana for president and Levi P. Morton of New York for vice president. Cleveland was renominated at the Democratic convention in St. Louis.[164] Following Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks death in 1885, the Democrats chose Allen G. Thurman of Ohio to be Cleveland’s new running mate.[164]

    The Republicans gained the upper hand in the campaign, as Cleveland’s campaign was poorly managed by Calvin S. Brice and William H. Barnum, whereas Harrison had engaged more aggressive fundraisers and tacticians in Matt Quay and John Wanamaker.[165]

    The Republicans campaigned heavily on the tariff issue, turning out protectionist voters in the important industrial states of the North.[166] Further, the Democrats in New York were divided over the gubernatorial candidacy of David B. Hill, weakening Cleveland’s support in that swing state.[167] A letter from the British ambassador supporting Cleveland caused a scandal that cost Cleveland votes in New York.

    As in 1884, the election focused on the swing states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Indiana. But unlike that year, when Cleveland had triumphed in all four, in 1888 he won only two, losing his home state of New York by 14,373 votes. Cleveland won a plurality of the popular vote – 48.6 percent vs. 47.8 percent for Harrison – but Harrison won the Electoral College vote easily, 233–168. [168] The Republicans won Indiana, largely as the result of a fraudulent voting practice known as Blocks of Five.[169] Cleveland continued his duties diligently until the end of the term and began to look forward to returning to private life.[170]

    As Frances Cleveland left the White House, she told a staff member, “Now, Jerry, I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again.” When asked when she would return, she responded, “We are coming back four years from today.”[171] In the meantime, the Clevelands moved to New York City, where Cleveland took a position with the law firm of Bangs, Stetson, Tracy, and MacVeigh. This affiliation was more of an office-sharing arrangement, though quite compatible. Cleveland’s law practice brought only a moderate income, perhaps because Cleveland spent considerable time at the couple’s vacation home Gray Gables at Buzzard Bay, where fishing became his obsession.[172] While they lived in New York, the Clevelands’ first child, Ruth, was born in 1891.[173]

    The Harrison administration worked with Congress to pass the McKinley Tariff, an aggressively protectionist measure, and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which increased money backed by silver;[174] these were among policies Cleveland deplored as dangerous to the nation’s financial health.[175] At first he refrained from criticizing his successor, but by 1891 Cleveland felt compelled to speak out, addressing his concerns in an open letter to a meeting of reformers in New York.[176] The “silver letter” thrust Cleveland’s name back into the spotlight just as the 1892 election was approaching.[177]

    Cleveland’s enduring reputation as chief executive and his recent pronouncements on the monetary issues made him a leading contender for the Democratic nomination.[178] His leading opponent was David B. Hill, a Senator for New York.[179] Hill united the anti-Cleveland elements of the Democratic party—silverites, protectionists, and Tammany Hall—but was unable to create a coalition large enough to deny Cleveland the nomination.[179] Despite some desperate maneuvering by Hill, Cleveland was nominated on the first ballot at the convention in Chicago.[180] For vice president, the Democrats chose to balance the ticket with Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, a silverite.[181] Although the Cleveland forces preferred Isaac P. Gray of Indiana for vice president, they accepted the convention favorite.[182] As a supporter of greenbacks and Free Silver to inflate the currency and alleviate economic distress in the rural districts, Stevenson balanced the otherwise hard-money, gold-standard ticket headed by Cleveland.[183]

    The Republicans re-nominated President Harrison, making the 1892 election a rematch of the one four years earlier. Unlike the turbulent and controversial elections of 1876, 1884, and 1888, the 1892 election was, according to Cleveland biographer Allan Nevins, “the cleanest, quietest, and most creditable in the memory of the post-war generation”,[184] in part because Harrison’s wife, Caroline, was dying of tuberculosis.[185] Harrison did not personally campaign at all. Following Caroline Harrison’s death on October 25, two weeks before the national election, Cleveland and all of the other candidates stopped campaigning, thus making Election Day a somber and quiet event for the whole country as well as the candidates.

    The issue of the tariff had worked to the Republicans’ advantage in 1888. Now, however, the legislative revisions of the past four years had made imported goods so expensive that by 1892 many voters favored tariff reform and were skeptical of big business.[186] Many Westerners, traditionally Republican voters, defected to James Weaver, the candidate of the new Populist Party. Weaver promised Free Silver, generous veterans’ pensions, and an eight-hour work day.[187] The Tammany Hall Democrats adhered to the national ticket, allowing a united Democratic party to carry New York.[188] At the campaign’s end, many Populists and labor supporters endorsed Cleveland after an attempt by the Carnegie Corporation to break the union during the Homestead strike in Pittsburgh and after a similar conflict between big business and labor at the Tennessee Coal and Iron Co.[189] The final result was a victory for Cleveland by wide margins in both the popular and electoral votes, and it was Cleveland’s third consecutive popular vote plurality.[190]

    Shortly after Cleveland’s second term began, the Panic of 1893 struck the stock market, and he soon faced an acute economic depression.[191] The panic was worsened by the acute shortage of gold that resulted from the increased coinage of silver, and Cleveland called Congress into special session to deal with the problem.[192] The debate over the coinage was as heated as ever, and the effects of the panic had driven more moderates to support repealing the coinage provisions of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.[192] Even so, the silverites rallied their following at a convention in Chicago, and the House of Representatives debated for fifteen weeks before passing the repeal by a considerable margin.[193] In the Senate, the repeal of silver coinage was equally contentious. Cleveland, forced against his better judgment to lobby the Congress for repeal, convinced enough Democrats – and along with eastern Republicans, they formed a 48–37 majority for repeal.[194] Depletion of the Treasury’s gold reserves continued, at a lesser rate, and subsequent bond issues replenished supplies of gold.[195] At the time the repeal seemed a minor setback to silverites, but it marked the beginning of the end of silver as a basis for American currency.[196]

    Having succeeded in reversing the Harrison administration’s silver policy, Cleveland sought next to reverse the effects of the McKinley Tariff. The Wilson–Gorman Tariff Act was introduced by West Virginian Representative William L. Wilson in December 1893.[197] After lengthy debate, the bill passed the House by a considerable margin.[198] The bill proposed moderate downward revisions in the tariff, especially on raw materials.[199] The shortfall in revenue was to be made up by an income tax of two percent on income above $4,000 (equivalent to $115,215 in 2020).[199]

    The bill was next considered in the Senate, where it faced stronger opposition from key Democrats led by Arthur Pue Gorman of Maryland, who insisted on more protection for their states’ industries than the Wilson bill allowed.[200] The bill passed the Senate with more than 600 amendments attached that nullified most of the reforms.[201] The Sugar Trust in particular lobbied for changes that favored it at the expense of the consumer.[202] Cleveland was outraged with the final bill, and denounced it as a disgraceful product of the control of the Senate by trusts and business interests.[203] Even so, he believed it was an improvement over the McKinley tariff and allowed it to become law without his signature.[204]

    In 1892, Cleveland had campaigned against the Lodge Bill,[205] which would have strengthened voting rights protections through the appointing of federal supervisors of congressional elections upon a petition from the citizens of any district. The Enforcement Act of 1871 had provided for a detailed federal overseeing of the electoral process, from registration to the certification of returns. Cleveland succeeded in ushering in the 1894 repeal of this law (ch. 25, 28 Stat. 36).[206] The pendulum thus swung from stronger attempts to protect voting rights to the repealing of voting rights protections; this in turn led to unsuccessful attempts to have the federal courts protect voting rights in Giles v. Harris, 189 U.S. 475 (1903), and Giles v. Teasley, 193 U.S. 146 (1904).

    The Panic of 1893 had damaged labor conditions across the United States, and the victory of anti-silver legislation worsened the mood of western laborers.[208] A group of workingmen led by Jacob S. Coxey began to march east toward Washington, D.C. to protest Cleveland’s policies.[208] This group, known as Coxey’s Army, agitated in favor of a national roads program to give jobs to workingmen, and a weakened currency to help farmers pay their debts.[208] By the time they reached Washington, only a few hundred remained, and when they were arrested the next day for walking on the lawn of the United States Capitol, the group scattered.[208] Even though Coxey’s Army may not have been a threat to the government, it signaled a growing dissatisfaction in the West with Eastern monetary policies.[209]

    The Pullman Strike had a significantly greater impact than Coxey’s Army. A strike began against the Pullman Company over low wages and twelve-hour workdays, and sympathy strikes, led by American Railway Union leader Eugene V. Debs, soon followed.[210] By June 1894, 125,000 railroad workers were on strike, paralyzing the nation’s commerce.[211] Because the railroads carried the mail, and because several of the affected lines were in federal receivership, Cleveland believed a federal solution was appropriate.[212] Cleveland obtained an injunction in federal court, and when the strikers refused to obey it, he sent federal troops into Chicago and 20 other rail centers.[213] “If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States to deliver a postcard in Chicago”, he proclaimed, “that card will be delivered.”[214] Most governors supported Cleveland except Democrat John P. Altgeld of Illinois, who became his bitter foe in 1896. Leading newspapers of both parties applauded Cleveland’s actions, but the use of troops hardened the attitude of organized labor toward his administration.[215]

    Just before the 1894 election, Cleveland was warned by Francis Lynde Stetson, an advisor:

    The warning was appropriate, for in the Congressional elections, Republicans won their biggest landslide in decades, taking full control of the House, while the Populists lost most of their support. Cleveland’s factional enemies gained control of the Democratic Party in state after state, including full control in Illinois and Michigan, and made major gains in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and other states. Wisconsin and Massachusetts were two of the few states that remained under the control of Cleveland’s allies. The Democratic opposition were close to controlling two-thirds of the vote at the 1896 national convention, which they needed to nominate their own candidate. They failed for lack of unity and a national leader, as Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld had been born in Germany and was ineligible to be nominated for president.[217]

    When Cleveland took office he faced the question of Hawaiian annexation. In his first term, he had supported free trade with Hawai’i and accepted an amendment that gave the United States a coaling and naval station in Pearl Harbor.[136] In the intervening four years, Honolulu businessmen of European and American ancestry had denounced Queen Liliuokalani as a tyrant who rejected constitutional government. In early 1893 they overthrew her, set up a republican government under Sanford B. Dole, and sought to join the United States.[219] The Harrison administration had quickly agreed with representatives of the new government on a treaty of annexation and submitted it to the Senate for approval.[219] Five days after taking office on March 9, 1893, Cleveland withdrew the treaty from the Senate and sent former Congressman James Henderson Blount to Hawai’i to investigate the conditions there.[220]

    Cleveland agreed with Blount’s report, which found the populace to be opposed to annexation.[220] Liliuokalani initially refused to grant amnesty as a condition of her reinstatement, saying that she would either execute or banish the current government in Honolulu, but Dole’s government refused to yield their position.[221] By December 1893, the matter was still unresolved, and Cleveland referred the issue to Congress.[221] In his message to Congress, Cleveland rejected the idea of annexation and encouraged the Congress to continue the American tradition of non-intervention (see excerpt at right).[218] The Senate, under Democratic control but opposed to Cleveland, commissioned and produced the Morgan Report, which contradicted Blount’s findings and found the overthrow was a completely internal affair.[222] Cleveland dropped all talk of reinstating the Queen, and went on to recognize and maintain diplomatic relations with the new Republic of Hawaii.[223]

    Closer to home, Cleveland adopted a broad interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine that not only prohibited new European colonies, but also declared an American national interest in any matter of substance within the hemisphere.[224] When Britain and Venezuela disagreed over the boundary between Venezuela and the colony of British Guiana, Cleveland and Secretary of State Richard Olney protested.[225] British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury and the British ambassador to Washington, Julian Pauncefote, misjudged how important successful resolution of the dispute was to the American government, having prolonged the crisis before ultimately accepting the American demand for arbitration.[226][227] A tribunal convened in Paris in 1898 to decide the matter, and in 1899 awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana.[228] But by standing with a Latin American nation against the encroachment of a colonial power, Cleveland improved relations with the United States’ southern neighbors, and at the same time, the cordial manner in which the negotiations were conducted also made for good relations with Britain.[229]

    The second Cleveland administration was as committed to military modernization as the first, and ordered the first ships of a navy capable of offensive action. Construction continued on the Endicott program of coastal fortifications begun under Cleveland’s first administration.[137][138] The adoption of the Krag–Jørgensen rifle, the US Army’s first bolt-action repeating rifle, was finalized.[230][231] In 1895–96 Secretary of the Navy Hilary A. Herbert, having recently adopted the aggressive naval strategy advocated by Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, successfully proposed ordering five battleships (the Kearsarge and Illinois classes) and sixteen torpedo boats.[232][233] Completion of these ships nearly doubled the Navy’s battleships and created a new torpedo boat force, which previously had only two boats. The battleships and seven of the torpedo boats were not completed until 1899–1901, after the Spanish–American War.[234]

    In the midst of the fight for repeal of Free Silver coinage in 1893, Cleveland sought the advice of the White House doctor, Dr. O’Reilly, about soreness on the roof of his mouth and a crater-like edge ulcer with a granulated surface on the left side of Cleveland’s hard palate. Clinical samples were sent anonymously to the Army Medical Museum; the diagnosis was an epithelioma, rather than a malignant cancer.[235]

    Cleveland decided to have surgery secretly, to avoid further panic that might worsen the financial depression.[236] The surgery occurred on July 1, to give Cleveland time to make a full recovery in time for the upcoming Congressional session.[237] Under the guise of a vacation cruise, Cleveland and his surgeon, Dr. Joseph Bryant, left for New York. The surgeons operated aboard the Oneida, a yacht owned by Cleveland’s friend E. C. Benedict, as it sailed off Long Island.[238] The surgery was conducted through the President’s mouth, to avoid any scars or other signs of surgery.[239] The team, sedating Cleveland with nitrous oxide and ether, successfully removed parts of his upper left jaw and hard palate.[239] The size of the tumor and the extent of the operation left Cleveland’s mouth disfigured.[240] During another surgery, Cleveland was fitted with a hard rubber dental prosthesis that corrected his speech and restored his appearance.[240] A cover story about the removal of two bad teeth kept the suspicious press placated.[241] Even when a newspaper story appeared giving details of the actual operation, the participating surgeons discounted the severity of what transpired during Cleveland’s vacation.[240] In 1917, one of the surgeons present on the Oneida, Dr. William W. Keen, wrote an article detailing the operation.[242]

    Cleveland enjoyed many years of life after the tumor was removed, and there was some debate as to whether it was actually malignant. Several doctors, including Dr. Keen, stated after Cleveland’s death that the tumor was a carcinoma.[242]
    Other suggestions included ameloblastoma[243] or a benign salivary mixed tumor (also known as a pleomorphic adenoma).[244]
    In the 1980s, analysis of the specimen finally confirmed the tumor to be verrucous carcinoma,[245] a low-grade epithelial cancer with a low potential for metastasis.[235]

    Cleveland’s trouble with the Senate hindered the success of his nominations to the Supreme Court in his second term. In 1893, after the death of Samuel Blatchford, Cleveland nominated William B. Hornblower to the Court.[246] Hornblower, the head of a New York City law firm, was thought to be a qualified appointee, but his campaign against a New York machine politician had made Senator David B. Hill his enemy.[246] Further, Cleveland had not consulted the Senators before naming his appointee, leaving many who were already opposed to Cleveland on other grounds even more aggrieved.[246] The Senate rejected Hornblower’s nomination on January 15, 1894, by a vote of 30 to 24.[246]

    Cleveland continued to defy the Senate by next appointing Wheeler Hazard Peckham another New York attorney who had opposed Hill’s machine in that state.[247] Hill used all of his influence to block Peckham’s confirmation, and on February 16, 1894, the Senate rejected the nomination by a vote of 32 to 41.[247] Reformers urged Cleveland to continue the fight against Hill and to nominate Frederic R. Coudert, but Cleveland acquiesced in an inoffensive choice, that of Senator Edward Douglass White of Louisiana, whose nomination was accepted unanimously.[247] Later, in 1896, another vacancy on the Court led Cleveland to consider Hornblower again, but he declined to be nominated.[248] Instead, Cleveland nominated Rufus Wheeler Peckham, the brother of Wheeler Hazard Peckham, and the Senate confirmed the second Peckham easily.[248]

    No new states were admitted to the Union during Cleveland’s first term. On February 22, 1889, 10 days before leaving office, the 50th Congress passed the Enabling Act of 1889, authorizing North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington to form state governments and to gain admission to the Union. All four officially became states in November 1889, during the first year of Benjamin Harrison’s administration.[249][250] During his second term, the 53rd United States Congress passed an Enabling Act that permitted Utah to apply for statehood. Cleveland signed it on July 16, 1894.[251][252] Utah joined the Union as the 45th state on January 4, 1896.

    Cleveland’s agrarian and silverite enemies gained control of the Democratic party in 1896, repudiated his administration and the gold standard, and nominated William Jennings Bryan on a Silver Platform.[253][254] Cleveland silently supported the Gold Democrats’ third-party ticket that promised to defend the gold standard, limit government and oppose high tariffs, but he declined their nomination for a third term.[255] The party won only 100,000 votes in the general election, and William McKinley, the Republican nominee, triumphed easily over Bryan.[256] Agrarians nominated Bryan again in 1900. In 1904 the conservatives, with Cleveland’s support, regained control of the Democratic Party and nominated Alton B. Parker.[257]

    After leaving the White House on March 4, 1897, Cleveland lived in retirement at his estate, Westland Mansion, in Princeton, New Jersey.[258] For a time he was a trustee of Princeton University, and was one of the majority of trustees who preferred Dean West’s plans for the Graduate School and undergraduate living over those of Woodrow Wilson, then president of the university.[259] Cleveland consulted occasionally with President Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909), but was financially unable to accept the chairmanship of the commission handling the Coal Strike of 1902.[260] Cleveland still made his views known in political matters. In a 1905 article in The Ladies Home Journal, Cleveland weighed in on the women’s suffrage movement, writing that “sensible and responsible women do not want to vote. The relative positions to be assumed by men and women in the working out of our civilization were assigned long ago by a higher intelligence.”[261]

    In 1906, a group of New Jersey Democrats promoted Cleveland as a possible candidate for the United States Senate. The incumbent, John F. Dryden, was not seeking re-election, and some Democrats felt that the former president could attract the votes of some disaffected Republican legislators who might be drawn to Cleveland’s statesmanship and conservatism.[262]


    Cleveland’s health had been declining for several years, and in the autumn of 1907 he fell seriously ill.[263] In 1908, he suffered a heart attack and died on June 24 at age 71 in his Princeton residence.[263][264] His last words were, “I have tried so hard to do right.”[265] He is buried in the Princeton Cemetery of the Nassau Presbyterian Church.[266]

    In his first term in office, Cleveland sought a summer house to escape the heat and smells of Washington, D.C., near enough the capital. He secretly bought a farmhouse, Oak View (or Oak Hill), in a rural upland part of the District of Columbia, in 1886, and remodeled it into a Queen Anne style summer estate. He sold Oak View upon losing his bid for re-election in 1888. Not long thereafter, suburban residential development reached the area, which came to be known as Oak View, and then Cleveland Heights, and eventually Cleveland Park.[267] The Clevelands are depicted in local murals.[268]

    Grover Cleveland Hall at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, New York is named after Cleveland. Cleveland Hall houses the offices of the college president, vice presidents, and other administrative functions and student services. Cleveland was a member of the first board of directors of the then Buffalo Normal School.[269] Grover Cleveland Middle School in his birthplace, Caldwell, New Jersey, was named for him, as is Grover Cleveland High School in Buffalo, New York, and the town of Cleveland, Mississippi. Mount Cleveland, a volcano in Alaska, is also named after him.[270] In 1895 he became the first U.S. president who was filmed.[271]

    The first U.S. postage stamp to honor Cleveland appeared in 1923. This twelve-cent issue accompanied a thirteen-cent stamp in the same definitive series that depicted his old rival, Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland’s only two subsequent stamp appearances have been in issues devoted to the full roster of U.S. Presidents, released, respectively, in 1938 and 1986.

    Cleveland’s portrait was on the U.S. $1000 bill of series 1928 and series 1934. He also appeared on the first few issues of the $20 Federal Reserve Notes from 1914. Since he was both the 22nd and 24th president, he was featured on two separate dollar coins released in 2012 as part of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005.

    In 2013, Cleveland was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

    $1000 Gold Certificate (1934) depicting Grover Cleveland

    Cleveland postage stamp issued in 1923

    Informational notes

    Citations

    Official

    Letters and speeches

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    Ever since Lindsey Graham announced his candidacy this Monday, there has been speculation as to what would happen if a single, unmarried man is elected president. What will happen if there’s no first spouse working diligently by Graham’s side? Well, there’s actually precedent for this, as two historic U.S. presidents were unmarried when they were elected. Although he’s single and has never been married, Graham has previously been quoted on multiple occasions as saying that he still has a family and that his own self-acceptance should make his bachelor status a non-issue. Graham said in an interview with the Boston Herald:

    Even in Graham’s presidential campaign announcement, he makes mention of the strong bond he has with his family as well as their continued support. Although he is single, he says he isn’t a self-made man. So, is it possible for Graham to secure the presidency without a partner? History says yes. Two previous presidents were sworn in without a partner. James Buchanan stands as the only president to never marry, while Grover Cleveland became president while unmarried and later tied the knot in the White House. Four other presidents took office as widowers, while three more lost their spouses while serving as commander in chief.

    James Buchanan has been called one of the country’s worst presidents by many, including the BBC and Nate Silver. Buchanan served just one term from 1857 to 1861, and his legacy was marked by high tensions leading up to the Civil War in which Buchanan appeared generally pro-slavery and found the issue to be a matter of state’s rights over federal oversight. According to Biography.com, Buchanan also felt that, “while the states had no legal right to secede, the federal government had no right to prevent them.” Even his official White House biography alludes to Buchanan appearing to give up after the foreshadowing of the Civil War gave a glimpse of what was to come.

    who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

    Buchanan was engaged once but never married. His engagement to Ann Coleman in 1819 lasted less than a year. He was 28 at the time; Coleman died rather suddenly that same year. It was never revealed why Buchanan broke off the engagement, and Coleman’s death is just ambiguous, though some speculate it was a suicide, according to Encyclopædia Britannica.

    According to the History Channel, Cleveland is the only president to have his wedding ceremony in the White House. Cleveland served as president after Chester Arthur, a Republican who sadly lost his wife while in office. Cleveland’s first term was 1885 to 1889, and it showcased the lengths he’d go to prevent government spending, a platform he’d established as governor of New York. It’s a stance echoed by current candidate Graham, who tends to err on the frugal side when it comes to spending. Cleveland managed to snag a second presidential term in 1893 during a particularly severe economic depression. He was single for just one year of his presidency, marrying France Folsom in 1886.

    Folsom was more than two decades younger than Cleveland. She had known him all her life due to her legal ward having worked with Cleveland. Folsom’s father died when she was just 11, and her mother, Emma, was still alive and far closer in age to Cleveland than her 21-year-old daughter, thus she initially thought the proposal was meant for her. Cleveland showed his dedication to Francis over Emma by inviting the younger Folsom on a lengthy tour of Europe. Cleveland proposed in 1885, and they were married in the White House’s Blue Room the very next year.

    It’s entirely possible for Graham to remain unmarried and enter the White House. For those curious about what Graham may do to fill the FLOTUS role without a partner, keep in mind that James Buchanan called upon his niece, Harriet Lane, for White House hosting duties, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile on her. Graham continues to emphasize his close bond with his family, thus he is very likely to do the same if elected, perhaps calling upon his only sister, Darline Graham Nordone. His single status might even give Graham an upper hand when it comes to committing to a grueling campaigning schedule that requires being away from home for extended periods. Graham has no spousal or childcare obligations, thus his availability could spin the bachelor issue into a positive attribute — though why people are so concerned about spouses or no spouses is beyond me.

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    There has never been an openly gay president of the United States, but some historians have argued that James Buchanan, the only president who never shared the White House with a first lady, may have had feelings for a member of the same sex.


    The nation’s 15th president is the nation’s only bachelor president.

    Buchanan had been engaged to a woman named Ann Coleman long before he became president, but Coleman died before the two could wed. It would not have been unusual, nor would it have proved Buchanan not to have been gay, if they had married; history is filled with homosexual men who married straight women.

    While he remained unmarried his entire life, Buchanan had a very close relationship with William Rufus De Vane King, a diplomat who served as U.S. senator and the nation’s 13th vice president—coincidentally, the only vice president never to have married.

    Buchanan and King lived together for more than two decades. It was a relatively common practice in the 1800s. Historians note, however, that the couple’s contemporaries in Washington reportedly described King as effeminate, calling him “Miss Nancy” and Buchanan’s “better half.”

    who was the only u.s. president to marry in t

    They also cite letters written by Buchanan about the man he described as his soul mate. After King left the United States to become the minister to France, Buchanan wrote to a friend:

    King showed his own affection for Buchanan at his departure by writing to him: “I am selfish enough to hope you will not be able to procure an associate who will cause you to feel no regret at our separation.”

    James Loewen, a prominent American sociologist and historian, has been outspoken in his claims that Buchanan was the first gay president, writing in a 2012 essay:

    Loewen has argued that Buchanan’s homosexuality is not often discussed in modern times because Americans do not want to believe that society was more tolerant of gay relationships in the 19th century than they are now.

    The closest the nation has come to having a bachelor president since Buchanan was when Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina sought the party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

    When asked who would be his first lady, Graham said the position would be “rotating.” He also joked that his sister could play the role, if necessary.

  • how long have frogs been on earth?
  • While Grover Cleveland entered the White House a bachelor in 1885, the 49-year-old was married a year later to 21-year-old Frances Folsom.

    Although it has long been rumored that Richard Nixon had a homosexual affair with his close friend Bebe Rebozo, Buchanan is still the most likely candidate for first, and only, gay American president.

    Thanks to his vocal support of gay marriage, President Barack Obama did earn the title briefly, albeit symbolically, in a May 2012 Newsweek magazine article, written by Andrew Sullivan.

    Tina Brown, editor-in-chief for Newsweek at the time, explained the term and the cover photo of Obama with a rainbow halo superimposed over his head by telling news site Politico, “If President Clinton was the ‘first black president’ then Obama earns every stripe in that ‘gaylo’ with last week’s gay marriage proclamation.”

    In his article, Sullivan himself pointed out that the claim was not meant to be taken literally (Obama is married, with two daughters). “It’s obviously a play on Clinton being the first black president. I am aware that James Buchanan (and maybe Abraham Lincoln) have been in the Oval Office before.” 

    Lincoln has come under speculation as well as having had gay or bisexual affections, but he did marry and father four children. He also was known to have courted women before his marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln.

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