Stephen Grover Cleveland [22nd and 24th President] was a man who knew how to say “no.” During his two terms in office he issued more than six hundred vetoes, four hundred and thirteen of them in his first term alone. This was more than the combined vetoes of all the twenty-one Presidents before him and more than any other President except Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Cleveland was quite proud of his record… [Presidential Temperament]
Grover Cleveland, Supervisor Guardian, coming from a modest background and having to help support his family when his father died, he took a clerical job in a law firm, then began to read the law. Cleveland later took a clerkship with the firm and was admitted to the bar in 1859. He starting his political life as he was elected Sheriff of Erie. Then later he was elected Mayor of Buffalo.
His ability to say no was the continuation of a pattern begun during his tenure as Mayor of Buffalo, New York. He had there been dubbed “the Veto Mayor” as he turned down measure after measure proposed by the corrupt politicians of that city. Once he had achieved the presidency Cleveland took great pleasure in using the veto to put a stop not just to corruption, but also to eliminate as much as he could of the legislative “foolishness” of the Congress. He thereby continued the struggle undertaken earlier by Rutherford B. Hayes to make the White House something other than a rubber stamp for the Congress, which it had been, with rare exceptions, for most of the country’s history.
Cleveland was a very large but handsome man whose bearing exuded dignity and power (and whose girth led his youngest relatives to call him “Uncle Jumbo”). He spoke, said Governor La Follette, with “splendid diction and rather lofty eloquence.” But, added La Follette in a telling afterthought about the Monitor [Supervisor or Inspector] Cleveland, “I do not remember a suggestion of humor.”
It has been written that Cleveland was the only man since George Washington to have achieved the presidency through sheer character alone. Cleveland was also one of those rarities in American politics: a man who was elected to office (in 1884), defeated in his campaign for re-election (in 1888), and then re-elected to the same office (in 1892). If we accept the association with Washington then it should not surprise us that both men were Guardians. They were both Monitors whose utter commitment to duty and whose integrity were indisputably above reproach. [Presidential Temperament]
The famous statement that “public office is a public trust” is attributed to Grover Cleveland and reflects the accountability in which Guardians take so much pride. Though it is a paraphrase of his own words, it summarizes his view beautifully, and he persistently lived up to the demands of his own Guardian credo. Considered to be the hardest working man in Washington, he often stayed at his desk until 3 a.m. plowing through his day’s work, firmly resolved that he would get it all done. His industriousness was such that his life could be encompassed by the observation that “he eats and works, eats and works, and works and eats.” Grover Cleveland modeled almost too well the stubbornly duty-bound character of the Monitor Guardian, the moral, no-nonsense, hard-working, and totally incorruptible caretaker and overseer.
Guardians® (SJs) are the cornerstone of society, for they are the temperament given to serving and preserving our most important social institutions. Guardians have natural talent in managing goods and services–from supervision to maintenance and supply — and they use all their skills to keep things running smoothly in their families, communities, schools, churches, hospitals, and businesses.
Biographer Allan Nevins wrote: “in Grover Cleveland the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities. He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have. He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense. But he possessed them to a degree other men do not.”
Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans. His crusade for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era. Cleveland won praise for his honesty, self-reliance, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. He relentlessly fought political corruption, patronage and bossism. Indeed, as a reformer his prestige was so strong that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party, called “Mugwumps”, largely bolted the GOP presidential ticket and swung to his support in the 1884 election.
Supervisors are highly social and community-minded, with many rising to positions of responsibility in their school, church, industry, or civic groups. Supervisors are generous with their time and energy, and very often belong to a variety of service clubs, lodges, and associations, supporting them through steady attendance, but also taking an outspoken leadership role. Supervisors like to take charge of groups and are comfortable issuing orders. They are cooperative with their own superiors, and they would like cooperation from the people working under them. Rank, they believe, has its obligations, but it also has its privileges. [Please Understand Me II]
Soon after taking office, Cleveland was faced with the task of filling all the government jobs for which the president had the power of appointment. These jobs were typically filled under the spoils system, but Cleveland announced that he would not fire any Republican who was doing his job well, and would not appoint anyone solely on the basis of party service. He also used his appointment powers to reduce the number of federal employees, as many departments had become bloated with political time-servers. Later in his term, as his fellow Democrats chafed at being excluded from the spoils, Cleveland began to replace more of the partisan Republican officeholders with Democrats.; this was especially the case with policy making positions. While some of his decisions were influenced by party concerns, more of Cleveland’s appointments were decided by merit alone than was the case in his predecessors’ administrations.
Part Solution, Part Problem
If Grover Cleveland had a truly major fault it is to be found in his narrow approach to issues. He was a President whose action was typically “against”: he was against corruption, against waste, against immorality. But he was not a man who had much vision of what could be, and he seldom worked for anything. Early in his second term in office, for example, there occurred the financial Panic of 1893, which was followed throughout the United States by widespread unemployment and the terrible and prolonged misery associated with it. So difficult was the Panic that only the Great Depression four decades later overshadowed this appalling period. But Cleveland was unable to comprehend the social and economic realities of his time. He was in fact totally baffled by the complaints which reached his ears about the misery in which so many people found themselves. Through his own ignorance as well as his tendency to say “no” rather than to have a goal about which to say “yes,” he failed to take any constructive action. Perhaps his failure to witness firsthand the suffering that so many people were enduring kept him from being able to apprehend the full impact of its grinding misery.
The ability and the intention to maintain traditions and customs is of course better developed in the Guardian than in any other character structure. But difficulty in envisioning the possible, such as divergent or non-traditional courses of action, is perhaps their greatest shortcoming. Cleveland was a strong supporter of a gold standard, of the rule that all paper money be backed by gold held in reserve by the federal government. But federal reserves had dwindled to almost nothing by 1896, and Cleveland’s administration therefore contracted with the incredibly wealthy J. P. Morgan for a loan to the government. Morgan received federal bonds in return, upon which he soon made a very healthy profit. Cleveland, unwilling to depart from the rules he had already established, made Morgan even more money.
In spite of the difficulties and dangers involved, and typical of the Monitors, Cleveland had remained wedded to custom and divorced from strategic planning. The continuation of the terrible economic conditions of the times and Cleveland’s failure to respond to them with some show of compassionate concern, or with any sign of creative or long-range vision, was immensely damaging to his popularity—especially since he had inadvertently enriched the publicly detested J. P. Morgan. Cleveland finished his second term of office one of the most unpopular men in the country. [Presidential Temperament]