Skip to comments.Grover Cleveland and the Democrats Who Saved Conservatism
Posted on 08/28/2019 11:13:49 AM PDT by NRx
Known at the moment for its full-throated acceptance of socialism, its worth noting that the Democratic Party once represented the most conservative elements of American politics. The memory of those long-gone Democrats can serve conservatives very well at a moment when it seems like everything is up in the air.
From 1861 to 1913, only one Democrat, Grover Cleveland, took office as president of the United States. Best known for his non-consecutive terms (1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897), Cleveland was a staunch conservative and an honest man who punctuated all those years of radical Republican rule. During a period of unprecedented political corruption, his success was unlikely. Yet his political and personal virtues were a product of the group of conservative Democrats he led and from which he originated.
The erstwhile governor of New York, Cleveland was the most successful member of a cohort, dubbed the Bourbon Democrats by their Republican enemies. The critics intended the name to suggest Southern sympathies and counter-revolutionary pieties. The Bourbons were a curious coalition of New Yorkers and Southerners. They saved the Democratic Partyand American conservatismin the years immediately after the Civil War. Defenders of states rights, republican liberty, and economic temperance, they opposed military Reconstruction, direct democracy, and redistributive measures.
Unsurprisingly, they have been slandered as reactionary racists for their opposition to plans like those of Grant and Sherman to transform the South. The Bourbons were the reputed heirs to the notorious Doughfaces, those Northern Democrats like Buchanan and Pierce who tried to be judicious in handling the sectional crises of the 1840s and 50s. Despite all this maligning, they were remarkably successful at winning the support of voters and protecting the tradition of American conservatism in what Kirk might have called a rear guard action.
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I had a great-uncle, born in 1885, whose middle name was Cleveland. His father was a Democrat.
Good general background on Cleveland...
In November 1882, Cleveland was mayor of Buffalo. In March of 1885, he was President of the United State. In between, he was Governor of New York. Compare THAT to the trajectory of YOUR career.
As many of you probably know, there was a big league pitcher by the name of Grover Cleveland Alexander. Born in 1887. Hall of Famer. He has the unique distinction of being the only person who was named after one president, and played by another (future) president in a movie. Now, THERE’S a record that will never be broken.
Blaine! Blaine! James G. Blaine.
The Continental Liar from the State of Maine!
Maw! Maw! Where's my Paw?
Gone to the White House! Haw haw haw!
The latter referred to Grover's fathering a child out of wedlock.
Jingles were a very important part of political campaigns back around this time - when my grandparents were born. Some would be set to a tune and published as single pages of sheet music, with little artistic embellishments around the edges.
The R R & R quote wasn't really a jingle. It was one line in a longwinded bloviation by one of the after-dinner speakers at a NYC fundraiser. Blaine & the other Republicans had had their brains so thoroughly numbed by the boring speech that they didn't hear the slur on Catholics, or else they would have certainly repudiated it right there, as they knew how important Catholic sensitivities were to keeping NY State in the GOP column to counteract the Solid South. But a member of the MSM ("newspaper reporter" in those days) was listening intently for anything that might be used to bring down the GOP. And he certainly found it. Huge headlines everywhere the next day.
He was also the only president to have ever personally hanged two convicted murderers. As sheriff of Buffalo, he could have delegated the task, but chose not to do so in order to set an example of duty.
Grover Cleveland was still a bachelor when he was elected but married during his first term. Supposedly the Baby Ruth candy bar was named in honor of his daughter Ruth.
Good for him!
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