Stephen Grover Cleveland
(March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908) was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States
. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885–1889 and 1893–1897) and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents. He was the winner of the popular vote
for president three times—in 1884
, and 1892
—and was the only Democrat
elected to the presidency in the era of Republican
political domination that lasted from 1860 to 1912.
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 battles for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives. Cleveland won praise for his honesty, independence, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. As a reformer he worked indefatigably against political corruption, patronage, and bossism. His second term coincided with the Panic of 1893, a severe national depression that Cleveland was unable to reverse. It ruined his Democratic party, opening the way for Republican landslides in 1894 and 1896, and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of his 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.
Cleveland took strong positions and in turn took heavy criticism. His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions nationwide and angered the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party. Furthermore, critics complained that he had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation's economic disasters—depressions and strikes—in his second term. Even so, his reputation for honesty and good character survived the troubles of his second term. Biographer Allan Nevins wrote, "in 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."