In between his two terms in office, President Grover Cleveland helped start the Sullivan Foundation
Most Americans have at least heard of President Grover Cleveland. Many are probably aware that he served as both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States—the only holder of that office ever to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Fewer still know that he presided over the admission of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington into the union as states or that he is the only president ever to be married while in office, inside the White House.
What even fewer know about Cleveland is the tiny footnote to his story that he was among the 77 men on the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Memorial Committee.
Cleveland, a Democrat, won his first term in 1884, defeating Republican James G. Blaine. In his 1888 reelection campaign, however, he lost the electoral college to Benjamin Harrison (though he can lay claim to popular vote victories in all three of his presidential runs). Upon leaving the White House, First Lady (and Cleveland’s still-new wife) Frances Cleveland said to a staff member, “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.” When asked when she would return, she responded, “We are coming back four years from today.”
Frances Cleveland was right. Cleveland won his second term in 1892, defeating Harrison handily in both the popular vote and the electoral college. But what does a president, expecting to return to office after a four-year hiatus, do with his brief stint as a private citizen?
According to history, the answer for Cleveland is a little bit of private law practice, a great deal of fishing, and serving, beginning in 1890, on the Sullivan Memorial Committee, the forerunner to what is now known as the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation.
Time well spent.