Born Stephen Grover Cleveland in Caldwell, the future President of the United States was the son of the Rev. Richard Falley Cleveland, a Presbyterian minister. When he was a child, Cleveland’s family moved to New York as his father took over another congregation. His father died in 1853, and the 16-year-old Cleveland quit school to work with his older brother at the New York Institute for Special Education to support their mother and seven siblings. Cleveland never finished his formal education but moved to Buffalo in 1855 to live with his uncle; in 1859, he studied law and became an attorney. His meteoric rise in politics began when he was elected as the Mayor of Buffalo in 1882. His reputation as an anti-corruption crusader propelled him to be elected Governor as Governor of New York, where he served from 1883 to 1885. While Governor, he also earned the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1884. He was inaugurated as the 22nd President in 1885. The only bachelor elected as President, Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom while in office. They had five children.

During his first term, Cleveland presided over the dedication of the Statue of Liberty and oversaw two important pieces of legislation in 1887. The first was the Interstate Commerce Act, which established the Interstate Commerce Commission with the purpose of regulating interstate railroad rates. Secondly, the Dawes Severalty Act granted citizenship and title to reservation land for Native Americans who renounced their tribal allegiance.

After losing to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, Cleveland beat the incumbent in 1892 to become the 24th President of the United States, the only man to have served two non-consecutive terms. Cleveland was a vigilant watchdog of Congress. He exercised his veto power 584 times — the highest of any president except Franklin D. Roosevelt. After he left the White House, Cleveland and his family returned to New Jersey, where he became a lecturer and member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University. Cleveland died on June 24, 1908, at the age of 71, at the family’s home in Princeton.

NJHOF Trivia

The Baby Ruth bar was named for his first daughter, Ruth, born between his first and second terms. It was not named for New York Yankees icon Babe Ruth, as many have long speculated.

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