American Presidents

Chester Arthur American Presidents Teacher Guide

The 2nd Administration and Later Life of President Grover Cleveland
August 13, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level

"Grover Cleveland is the only president elected two times but non-consecutively. The following lesson is appropriate for United States history students. The lesson will focus on President Cleveland's second administration. Domestic issues and the role of the executive branch of government will be featured. See also the lesson plan for Grover Cleveland as 22nd president of the United States." - Martha L. Dailey


  • Videotape of C-SPAN's American Presidents featuring Grover Cleveland

  • C-SPAN's American President's web site

  • A United States history text

  • The United States Constitution

Before Viewing American Presidents
Tell students they will be taking notes on President Grover Cleveland's life in office during his second administration and thereafter. Questions (which you may duplicate and distribute) to accompany student viewing are divided in two study outline parts:

Part 1 - Domestic Issues of Grover Cleveland's second administration

Part 2 - The executive branch in the latter 19th century & rising foreign policy concerns

Divide the class into two sections and assign Part 1 to one group and Part 2 the other. Instruct students to answer questions for their assigned study outline.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Answer the questions from either Part 1 or Part 2 with information from C-SPAN's American Presidents video and web site. Students can use other print and electronic sources to complete all the questions.

Part 1 -Domestic Issues of Grover Cleveland's second administration

1. Grover Cleveland was the incumbent candidate in the 1888 election and lost; who was the incumbent in the 1892 election which Grover Cleveland won? Define the word incumbent.

2. What issues did the presidential candidates campaign on in the 1892 election and how did they differ from those of the 1884 election?

3. Grover Cleveland declared himself against the "free coinage of silver." Explain. Why did that irritate western and southern Democrats?

4. Why was Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois chosen to be Grover Cleveland's vice president on the 1892 Democratic ticket?

5. How did William McKinley set the stage in 1892 for his own presidential campaign four years later?

6. Why did the campaign end abruptly in October of 1892?

7. Who was the third party Populist candidate? What was the party platform focus?

8. What significance did the Populist party play in this election?

Part 2-The executive branch in the latter 19th century & rising foreign policy concerns

1. Grover Cleveland's two administrations defined what came to be known as a "custodial" presidency; i.e., he accepted the dominance of Congress. What was the executive power he used most to make Congress accountable? Of all the presidents in the last half century, which one might be designated "custodial"? Why?

2. Grover Cleveland would not support needy farmers after a crop failure in Texas; he said, " Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people." How has this philosophy changed over the last century?

3. Consult the United States Constitution and locate the executive power over foreign affairs; name the Article and Section. Find in the United States Constitution the power of the Senate to ratify treaties; name the Article and Section. Grover Cleveland withdrew from Senate consideration a treaty submitted by his predecessor, President Benjamin Harrison, to annex Hawaii. How was this action an example of Constitutional "checks and balances." When was Hawaii annexed?

4. In 1894, Jacob Coxey organized a march on Washington to petition the government for relief for the unemployed in the wake of the depression of the early 1890's. What was President Grover Cleveland's response?

5. Why did President Cleveland call a special session of Congress in 1893?

6. After repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and maintenance of the gold standard, what other measures did President Cleveland take with Wall Street bankers to secure a stable currency?

7. President Cleveland maintained his commitment to lowering tariffs; when the Wilson-Gorman Act of 1894 passed Congress with a goal of lowering tariff rates, President Cleveland let it become legislation without his signature. Why?

8. The Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890 was passed to regulate the trusts and destroy monopolies but was used in the Grover Cleveland administration against labor unions because capitalists viewed them as a restraint on trade. In 1894, President Cleveland secured an injunction against Eugene Debs, leader of the Pullman Strike. What was the decision of the Supreme Court on Debs and the American Railway Union vs. the Pullman Company? What happened to Eugene Debs?

9. Up to the last quarter of the 19th century, American foreign policy was largely based on George Washington's admonition to the nation "to avoid entangling alliances." In the administrations of Grover Cleveland and other late 19th century presidents, US foreign policy was a rising concern and it became apparent the US could no longer remain indifferent to international affairs. Foreign policy innovators set the groundwork for the US position in world affairs in the next century. Describe these events in the Grover Cleveland administration:

  • Americans and the overthrow of Hawaii's Queen Liliuokalani

  • Venezuela and Great Britain boundary dispute and President Cleveland's role in settlement
10. What did President Grover Cleveland do in his retirement?

11. When did he die and where is he buried?

After Viewing American Presidents
Allowing research time, students should complete questions from their assigned topic from the previous activity before proceeding to this section.

Think-pair-share Activity
1. Think: Choose three items of interest from your study outline. Reflect for two or three minutes on how you will explain those items to another student in the class who has not prepared this part of the assignment.

2. Pair: Find a student in the class who has completed the other part of the assignment.

3. Share: You will then use two or three minutes to share your insights with that student. Afterward, your partner will share insights with you.

4. The teacher will then ask several students what they have learned from this exercise, drawing connections between the domestic and foreign policy issues of Grover Cleveland's second administration, and the impact he had on the power and roles of the executive branch.

A Geography Activity
1. Access maps to the gravesite for President Grover Cleveland through links on C-SPAN's web site.

2. Using electronic zoom selections, view and print out the directions to Princeton, New Jersey cemetery, the location of the gravesite for President Grover Cleveland.

3. Study the maps, paying attention to cardinal directions.

4. Write a clearly stated description of how to drive by car from your home city or town to Princeton, New Jersey and then the street directions to Grover Cleveland's gravesite at Princeton Cemetery.

5. Review your directions with an adult in your family. Ask the person if the directions are clearly provided. If they are not, revise your work.

6. Turn in to the teacher, a one page, typed set of directions.

Research Applications
1. Conduct research on the writings of Henry Demarest Lloyd, especially on the Standard Oil monopoly; evaluate the influence of his works on Congressional passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

2. Conduct research on Eugene Debs and his quest for the presidency.

3. Conduct research on the evolution of the diplomatic service at the turn of the century and its influence on international affairs.

4. Find and read the following documents and analyze their relation to changing foreign policy goals of the late 19th century:

  • 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner's Significance of the Frontier in American


  • 1885 Josiah Strong's Our Country

  • 1897 Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan's Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future

A Performance
1. Choose favorite passages from President Grover Cleveland's First and Second Inaugural Addresses, posted in their entirety on C-SPAN's web site. Compare and contrast the substance of the two speeches by your selection process.

2. Prepare a dramatic reading of parts of both addresses

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