t’s been a good couple of years for Grover.
A new book, “The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland,” by John M. Pafford, lays out Cleveland’s life and makes the case that the two-term president – in nonconsecutive periods, as 22nd and 24th of our chief executives – was both a deeply Christian man and a more conservative president than he is given credit for.
After all, as Pafford points out, Cleveland vetoed more legislation in his terms than all of the men who held the office before him – combined.
That follows on the heels of a recent book by Matthew Algeo that related the story of the top-secret surgery that Cleveland had aboard a ship in 1893 to remove a cancerous growth from his mouth. Algeo came to Buffalo in 2011 to speak about his book.
Both books shine a little more light on the talented and multifaceted man who came to Buffalo early in his life, and spent a good portion of his early political career in local office.
Buffalo has connections to a few presidents – William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and Millard Fillmore among them – but Grover Cleveland’s striking life story makes him a unique reflection of Buffalo in some key ways.
He lived a portion of his life here, starting with his arrival in the city as a young man.
He built a law career here, and began his political activity in Erie County and the City of Buffalo.
Then there’s the not unimportant fact that he fell in love with – then married, and had five children with – a Buffalo woman who still wins praise as one of the best hostesses ever to occupy the Executive Mansion.
Cleveland is all this – and a colorful personality, too.
“Cleveland’s capacity for work was impressive,” writes Pafford, at one point in the new book. “After a full day in the office, he could work through the night, take a bath, drink some coffee, and be back in the office at eight o’clock the next morning.”
At the same time, Pafford notes, Cleveland “could play as hard as he worked” – and spent a good deal of time in the city’s raucous taverns and beer halls.
So if Grover Cleveland is having a bit of a heyday?
Good for him.
We can take part in it, a little, by upping our knowledge of the former mayor of Buffalo – who went on to even bigger things.
Here are 15 Grover Cleveland-themed quiz questions, with answers drawn from the recent Cleveland books:
1. What was Cleveland’s full name?
a. Grover William Cleveland
b. Stephen Grover Cleveland
c. Grover Washington Cleveland
d. Samuel Grover Cleveland
2. Where was Cleveland born?
b. Washington, D.C.
c. New Jersey
3. Cleveland first arrived in Buffalo in the 1850s to visit an:
b. eligible young woman who became his wife
c. associate from school
d. old friend
4. When Cleveland ran for Erie County district attorney in 1865 – a race he lost – he did so as a:
5. Cleveland would go on to marry a local woman who was the daughter of one of his early:
a. drinking buddies
b. political enemies
c. law partners
6. Cleveland took office as mayor of Buffalo in:
7. Buffalonian Frances Folsom, who in 1886 became the bride of Grover Cleveland at age 21 in a small White House ceremony, changed her first name as a young woman from her original given name, which was:
8. The lapse of time between Cleveland’s assuming the mayor’s office in Buffalo and his taking on the position of New York’s governor was:
a. Six months
b. Twelve years
c. Six years
d. One year
9. While in office in the nation’s capital as president, Cleveland and his wife, Frances, spent their down time living at a home on 23 acres of land in outlying Washington called by both a formal name and a casual one, as:
a. Maple Hill, or “the Lair”
b. Rosecliff, or “Camp David”
c. Oak View, or “Red Top” (for the red roofs of the place)
d. Summersdale, or “The Retreat”
10. Cleveland died at age:
11. In his first inaugural address, Cleveland vowed to do all of the following as president except:
a. Protect the Indians
b. Hold the country to a gold standard for currency
c. End polygamy in the country
d. Expand railroads to all states in the Union
12. According to Algeo, the tumor-plagued Cleveland disappeared from public view in 1893 for a secret surgery-at-sea on a boat in Long Island Sound that kept him away from office for:
a. Three weeks
b. Five days
c. Six months
d. Twelve hours
13. In religion, Cleveland was a:
a. Roman Catholic
14. Cleveland’s two terms as president were interrupted by the four years in office of:
a. Benjamin Harrison
b. Chester Arthur
c. William McKinley
d. James Garfield
15. First lady Frances Cleveland, 27 years younger than her husband, became the first presidential widow to:
a. Relocate overseas
b. Hold political office in her own right
c. Switch party affiliation after her husband’s death
1.) b., 2.) c.; 3.) a.; 4.) d.; 5.) c.; 6.) b.; 7.) a.; 8.) d.; 9.) c.; 10.) a.; 11.) d.; 12.) b.; 13.) c.; 14.) a.; 15.) d.