Grover Cleveland was the only president to be elected to two non-consecutive
terms. A staunch political and social conservative, Grover Cleveland
was known for his integrity and reformist activities. When he was
elected governor of New York in 1882, he went after the corrupt
Democratic political machine of Tammany Hall, courageously defying
the "Bosses" who controlled the party. Nominated on the second ballot
at the 1884 Democratic convention, Cleveland won election by the
smallest popular margin in American history.
The first Democratic president since the Civil War, Cleveland appointed
Southerners to a number of posts. For the most part, he believed
in a "hands off" presidency, avoiding involvement in proposed legislation,
but quickly rejecting congressional actions he disapproved of. In
fact, Cleveland vetoed more legislation than any president before
him, gaining him the nickname "Old Veto." During his first term
in office, Cleveland married 21-year old Francis Folsom. Twenty-eight
years his junior, the young and beautiful First Lady became very
popular with the public.
Cleveland lost the 1888 election over his proposal to reduce tariffs
on foreign goods, but was reelected in 1893 on a platform of economy
in government--and tariff reduction. Soon after his reelection,
the country suffered a severe economic depression, the Panic of
1893; despite the suffering of the unemployed, Cleveland stayed
true to his "hands off" government policy and would not intervene.
However, when Pullman railroad workers went on strike over a pay
cut in 1894, interfering with the delivery of the U.S. mail, Cleveland
sent in federal troops to break it up. Cleveland did better with
foreign affairs, citing the Monroe Doctrine to force arbitration
of a boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana.