Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Presidents: Grover Cleveland v 2.0

    Since 2010 on President's Day we talked about how no one cared about it, I thought that this year we would talk about a President that no one cared about, but then I realized that someone has to care about every President, right?  I mean, somewhere out there must be someone who has dedicated their life's work, or even just a masters thesis, to the life and presidency of Franklin Pierce, right?  So I decided that what I would do instead would be to pick out a President at random and talk about them, on what is going to I guess become an annual tradition for the next 50 years or so.  Great.
Handsome devil, isn't he?
     Let's start with Grover Cleveland, the second time around.  We will call him Grover Cleveland v 2.0, even though his real name was Stephen Grover Cleveland, because he has the honorable distinction of being the only person to serve two non-consecutive terms as President of the United States.  That means that somewhere between his turns as President someone else got a turn, in this case Benjamin Harrison.  But we will get to him later.  His second term lasted from March 4, 1893 until March 4, 1897, which means that he won the 1892 election, in both the popular vote and electoral college.  Interestingly enough he was the only Democrat elected to the Presidency between 1860 and 1912, which my NASA computers tell me was a span of over 22 years.  His Vice President during his second term was Adlai E. Stevenson, after whose son a lot of shit in Illinois is named.  Or after him.  Or his grandson.  They all had the same name.
     So what did he do, and more specifically what did he do in his second term?  Not a whole lot.  While he was known as a pretty honest guy, he was unable to reverse the Panic of 1893, which was a very nasty economic downturn that fucked shit up all around the country and world.  This failure badly hurt the Democratic Party which contributed to Republican landslides for the next few cycles and ushered in the Progressive Era, which I guess you could say is a pretty neat sort of thing, to usher in an era.
     Let's see, what else did he do?  Oh, he sent in the Army and US Marshalls to break up the Pullman Strike of 1894 on the railroads, which pissed a lot of people off.  But what was he supposed to do?  Railroad traffic was at a standstill all around the nation, and people needed to get places and northerners needed their grapefruit.  He heavily supported the gold standard over the silver standard, which pissed a lot of people off, because he apparently didn't know that we wouldn't be on either standard by the 1970s.  That was a bad decision.
Here he is as a young man.
      He was able to lower some tariffs during his second term, which I suppose was okay, although they weren't lowered very much.  A group called Coxey's Army marched on Washington during his term, but disbanded when they were arrested for walking on the grass at the US Capitol, I thought that was pretty hilarious.  They took grass awfully seriously back then.  He refused to annex Hawaii and also refused to reinstate the recently deposed Queen Liliuokalani, ultimately recognizing and beginning relations with something called the Republic of Hawaii that you have probably never heard of before.  He also got into a dispute with the British over Venezuela, which is about absurd as it sounds on the surface, but was able to sort of make both sides happy in the whole affair.
     Grover Cleveland v 2.0 had cancer, I bet you didn't know that.  He had it like on the roof of his mouth; it was of a type that is commonly known as Snuff Dipper's Cancer.  It looks gross to be honest, from the pictures I looked up online.  He was diagnosed in secret, and had it removed in secret.  How cool is that?  Oh, and he admitted one state to the Union: Utah.  This enabled the Jazz to have somewhere to move and John Stockton and Karl Malone to run countless pick and roll plays.
Grover Cleveland was on the $1000 bill.
How many bills have you been on?
     So that is that, I guess.  It is President's Day today, Company, and Grover Cleveland v 2.0 is just one of the many exciting and interesting people that you should be celebrating by doing what American's do on President's Day: buying mattresses and forgetting that the Post Office is closed.

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