Hours: T, W, TH 10a-3p or by appointment
Questions? 315.637.6374 x318
Linda Ryan, Local History Librarian
Grover Cleveland’s ‘Firmest and Pleasantest Memory’
|This is an
online exhibit, created by Amy Gratz as an internship project in 2007,
of some of the materials collected by the Fayetteville Free Library
relating to Grover Cleveland, who spent most of his formative years,
from ages 4 to 17, in the Village of Fayetteville. All the items on
display here are housed in the Fayetteville Free Library’s
History Room. Biographical details are drawn from “Grover
Cleveland: Fayetteville’s Hometown Boy”, written by
Rivette, Fayetteville Village Historian.|
Stephen Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell, New Jersey, on March 19, 1837 to Reverend Richard Cleveland and his wife Ann. The family moved to Fayetteville in 1841, when Grover was 4 years old, and Rev. Cleveland became pastor of the Presbyterian Church. They remained in Fayetteville until 1850, when they moved to the village of Clinton, near Utica. Grover returned to Fayetteville two years later, however, to clerk in John McViccar’s store. Grover’s father died just one year later, in 1853, leaving Grover and his two brothers to support their mother and 5 younger children.
Grover left Fayetteville at the age of 17, working in New York City with his brother at the New York Institute For the Blind. Only two years later, he moved to Buffalo, where he began to study law while working for his uncle. Shortly after finishing his studies, he started becoming active in politics, eventually leading, in 1881, to his election as mayor of Buffalo, and then Governor of New York in 1883.
He became the 22nd President of the United States in 1885, the first Democrat to take the office in 28 years. On June 2nd, 1886, he married Frances Folsom, making him the only President ever to be married in the White House. The new Mrs. Cleveland was not quite 22 years old, while Grover was 49.
President Cleveland finally came back to Fayetteville in 1887, when he paid a brief visit on July 19th. The President made a short speech, fondly recalling his boyhood in Fayetteville, from a platform in Clinton Park, now renamed Cleveland Park in his honor, between Clinton Street and Orchard Street. He also visited Manlius that day, before continuing on with a tour of Upstate New York and several cities in the mid-western and southern states.
In the 1888 presidential campaign, Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison, who won more votes in the Electoral College, although Cleveland won the popular vote. Four years later, however, Cleveland won the presidential election again, becoming the 24th President of the United States in 1893. This second term was difficult for President Cleveland, as he had always made a habit of speaking honestly, without regard for the political ramifications. He was unpopular when he left office at the end of his term, although he was remembered fondly in later years for defending American ideals and values.
After leaving office in 1897, Grover Cleveland lived in Princeton, New Jersey with his wife and five children, the eldest of which, Ruth, died in 1904 of diphtheria. He died there at the age of 71 on June 24th, 1908.
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