MAN OF SECRETS: 8 Facts about Grover Cleveland — President of Labor Day
By BRADY JONES
Editor, Co-founder of The Whiteboard Society
It’s safe to say Americans associate Labor Day with doorbuster sales and the end of summer much more than the workers’ rights movement it was created to honor.
So on this day of half-priced mattresses and last runs to the lake, here are 8 interesting things about the commander in chief who’s signature made this holiday official: Grover Cleveland.
- FIRST NAME BLUES —
President Cleveland’s first name is actually Stephen, not Grover, and he was born on March 18, 1837, to Ann (Neal) and Richard Cleveland, a Congregational Presbyterian minister in Caldwell, N.J.
- WHAT’S IN A NAME —
No, Cleveland, Ohio, wasn’t named after the president. But it was named after a distant relative, Gen. Moses Cleveland, who founded the city while he was surveying the area in 1796.
- EYE FOR THE LAW —
Cleveland became a New York lawyer in 1859 while he was clerking for the same Buffalo law firm President Millard Fillmore had worked previously. After a few years, he started his own practice.
- NO FIGHTER —
During the Civil War, like many well-to-do Americans, Cleveland paid a 32-year-old Polish immigrant named George Benninsky $150 to take his place in the fighting.
- THE PRESIDENTIAL PAUSE —
Cleveland, a Democrat, is the only U.S. president to serve two non-consecutive terms. He won the election of 1884 in a squeaker, then promptly lost to Benjamin Harrison (grandson of President William Henry Harrison) in 1888. The new third-party Populist Party weakened incumbent Ben’s reelection chances and gave the White House back to Big Steve — one of his nicknames given to him because of his large stature — in 1892.
(SIDENOTE: Though he lost the Electoral College to Harrison in the 1888 campaign, Cleveland actually won the popular vote.)
- SECRET №1: BABY DADDY —
In the 1884 campaign, Republicans accused Cleveland of fathering an illegitimate child when he was younger. Cleveland admitted the boy was likely his, and historians believe his honesty helped blunt the scandal.’
- SECRET No2: QUICK TRIP —
In July 1893, Cleveland climbed aboard a friend’s yacht where a team of doctors performed secret oral surgery to remove a tumor from the left side of his mouth. The administration felt the whole thing should be on the downlow to quell any financial fears or public panic.
- WEDDING BELLS —
Cleveland is the only president to get married in the White House. He wed Frances Folsom on June 2, 1886. She was 21-years-old, making her the youngest First Lady in presidential history, and Cleveland had been her caretaker since her father had died when she was a young girl.
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