The Gilded Age
|Digital History ID 3120|
He was the first Democratic president elected after the Civil War and the only person ever to be elected to non-consecutive terms in office. A bachelor when he was elected to his first term, he became the first president to be married in the White House when he wed Frances Folsom, a former ward 27 years his junior. He became the first president to have children while in office. The Baby Ruth candy bar was named after one of his offspring.
When confronted with a charge that he had fathered a child out of wedlock, Cleveland immediately acknowledged the truth. He also admitted that he had avoided military service in the Civil War by paying a substitute to take his place.
When warned that his fight for lower tariffs might cost him the 1888 election, he replied: "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something." Cleveland was defeated by Benjamin Harrison in the Electoral College even though he won the popular count by more than 90,000 votes. He lost the election because he failed to carry his home state of New York.
In 1892, his supporters urged him to seek accommodations with western Democrats who wanted unlimited coinage of silver. His response was, "I am supposed to be the leader of my party. If any world of mine can check these dangerous fallacies, it is my duty to give that word, whatever the cost may be to me."
As president, he signed the Indian Emancipation Act, established the Departments of Agriculture and of Labor, lowered tariffs, and successfully defended the gold standard.