Grover Cleveland holds several firsts in Presidential history. (1) He was the first Democrat elected to the office of President after the Civil War. In fact, he was the only Democrat elected to the Presidency between the years 1860–1912. (2) He was (and is) the first President to serve two non-consecutive terms. His first term was 1885-1889. His second term was 1893-1897. Thus, Cleveland is the only President counted twice in the numbering of the Presidents. (3) He was the first President to be married in the White House. John Tyler was the first to get married while in office (it was a second marriage for this widower). However, Cleveland was the first and only President to be married in the White House. It was a first marriage for this bachelor. His bride Frances Folsom (daughter of his previous law partner) became the youngest-ever First Lady (She was twenty-one. He was forty-nine). (4) Esther Cleveland, their child, was the first child of a President to be born in the White House (though, not the first child born in the White House. This honor goes to James Madison Randolph, son of Martha Jefferson Randolph, who was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson).
Our lesson concerns Grover Cleveland and his 1884 run for the White House. A scandal threatened his run. Republicans discovered that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child (Oscar Folsom Cleveland) by Maria Crofts Halpin in 1874, while Cleveland was a lawyer in Buffalo, N.Y. Cleveland did not marry Halpin, but did provide child support. Halpin was soon committed to an asylum for alcoholism. Cleveland paid for the child’s keep in an orphanage. Halpin sobered up and Cleveland gave her money to start a business in Niagara Falls. The child was not restored to her. Instead, the child was adopted by a childless couple. The Republicans now chanted, “Ma! Ma! Where’s my pa?”
When the scandal surfaced, “A local Buffalo editor suggested Cleveland name his late law partner, John Folsom as the child’s real father … ‘is this man crazy,’ asked an exasperated Cleveland, ‘is he fool enough to support for a moment … that I would permit my dead friend’s memory to suffer for my sake?’ Cleveland refused to any such thing. He immediately admitted to fathering the child. Memorably, he instructed his campaign aids to ‘tell the truth’” (William J. Bennet, America: The Last Best Hope, Vol. 1, p. 442).
“When Democrats brought him evidence that Mrs. Blaine (his opponent’s wife B.H.) had been pregnant before the Blaine’s marriage, Cleveland grabbed the papers, ripped them up, and threw them in the fire. ‘The other site can have the monopoly on all dirt in this campaign’ he told them’” (ibid.).
1. Do we have the determination to be honest? “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’” (Eph. 4:25).
2. Do we abide by “The Golden Rule?” “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt. 7:12).
Mr. Hodge; I ask that you correct your article impugning the character of my great-great grandmother, Maria Halpin. If you ever trouble to look deeply into the matter, you will find that she was “a modest, retiring woman, disinclined to go into society, particular as to her associates, and disposed to avoid rather than seek the society of gentlemen.” When warned by a friend who thought Cleveland intended to ruin her, Maria couldn’t believe it possible. The same woman who warned Maria was “confident Mr. Cleveland was the only man with whom she associated, and that she was unquestionably a good and pure woman up to the date of his intimacy with her.” The Buffalo clergy who investigated Cleveland emphatically stated that any stories that Maria Halpin was shared as a sexual plaything with Cleveland’s friends were “undoubtedly false as to Maria Halpin,” but were true as to another young widow, whose name was known to them.
After 128 years of this smearing and dishonest cover-up, I had thought that the emergence of the 2011 book, “A Secret Life” would eliminate these miserable and poorly sourced denigrations. Apparently this will take more time; meanwhile, in all fairness to an outrageously abused Christian woman, and in the interests of accuracy, I wish you to remove this Cleveland “story”.
Very truly yours,
Jeffrey Alan Hawkins, Esq.
I have edited my article. My intention was not to impugn your great-great grandmother`s character. I was simply setting forth a moral lesson based on the facts as I understood them. I do not claim to be an expert on Cleveland or Halpin. My information to which you objected came from numerous internet sites. I have not found conflicting information. I have not read the book which you refer. The portion to which you object is not essential to the main point of my article. Therefore, I have edited it out of the article.
I admire your care for your great-great grandmother. Thanks for your comments. I hope you will continue to visit this site.
Best wishes, Bryan Hodge
Thank you for your kind and caring response. I understand your purpose and of course I will continue to visit your site. It is because I respect what you are trying to do that I requested the edit. In seeking to recognize how God moves, I have come to believe we must look backward and forward. So it comes about that out of past misfortune, you and I communicate in the present. God wastes nothing.