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Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Forgotten Conservative: Re-Discovering Grover Cleveland by John M. Pafford

Published by Regnery History in May of 2013

Grover Cleveland. Quick! Name me any fact about Grover Cleveland that you can think of!

Was he the one that was so fat that he got stuck in the bathtub? No, that was Taft.

Is he on the Mount Rushmore? No, those are Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and T. Roosevelt.

Was he a famous Civil War general that became president?

No, that was Grant, Garfield, Hayes and Harrison.

Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President
Was he the president who was elected, got beat running for his second term but ran again and then won so that you have to learn his name twice if your teacher makes you learn the presidents? Yes. That's him.

But, as John M. Pafford demonstrates in The Forgotten Conservative, Grover Cleveland was a man  of contradictions. He was a uniquely principled man who was also mired in a sex scandal (the famous taunt went: "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?"  "Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!"). His presidency is tucked in among all sorts of men who made their reputations in Civil War while he paid for a substitute because he was the breadwinner for his family. While the Progressive movement led by William Jennings Bryan was sweeping over the Democrat Party, Cleveland stood firm to his beliefs about sound money and the proper role of government and was the last Democrat who was also a true Conservative.  He also vetoed more than twice as many bills as all of the presidents that preceded him combined because he took his political principles seriously.

This biography is an overview of his life. If you are looking for an exhaustive re-telling of his life, this is not your book. But, let's face it, how many people want to read a thousand page tome about Cleveland? For me, this filled a relatively empty spot in my knowledge of American history and did a solid job of telling the story of his life, his presidency and explaining  the political movements that made him the last of the Conservative Democrats.

This biography also includes several full color political cartoons. Displaying them as they were meant to be seen is a nice touch.

Note: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I rate this biography 4 out of 5 stars.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland

Reviewed on June 2, 2013

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your review, I appreciate your insightful thoughts on Cleveland and his era. I doubt I would have sought a Cleveland biography to top my reading list--thus I am grateful for your feedback on what sounds like a worthy read.