What Did Grover Cleveland Do Between Terms?


Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. He was first elected in 1884, coming off a successful stint as Governor of New York. Then in 1888, thanks to a shady election and controversy over tariffs, Cleveland lost reelection to Benjamin Harrison.

By all accounts, Cleveland really thought he was done with government after that. But his wife may have thought otherwise, as she supposedly said to a servant upon leaving the White House, "Now, Jerry, I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again… four years from today."

The couple moved back to New York City. They lived in a hotel while searching for the perfect house and the ex-president considered various lucrative job offers in the private sector, eventually accepting a position with a prestigious law firm that is still around today. The Clevelands were in huge demand socially, although Grover seemed less thrilled with their situation than his wife, writing to a friend that Henry Watterson’s comment that after leaving office the President should be taken out back and shot was “worthy of attention.”

During those four years his wife also gave birth to their first child, Ruth, who contrary to legend was not the namesake of the Baby Ruth candy bar. Regardless, her birth attracted more attention to the former president.

Back in the Game

Cleveland had refrained from making any public comments on his successor’s policies for three years. But when the tariff issue became hot again one year before the 1892 election, Cleveland was invited to speak about it, and about the free coinage of silver, at a men’s club. While he declined the invitation, he did send a letter outlining his views that managed to take a complex issue and make it understandable to the average voter. And with that, he was back in the running for the Presidency.

This post originally appeared in 2012.