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The Bay State Monthly — Volume 2, No. 2, November, 1884   By:

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[Illustration: Engraved by Geo. E. Perine, New York. Grover Cleveland]

THE

BAY STATE MONTHLY.

A Massachusetts Magazine .

VOL. II.

NOVEMBER, 1884.

No. 2.

GROVER CLEVELAND.

By HENRY H. METCALF.

Save only that of Ulysses S. Grant, no name in America has come from comparative obscurity into national eminence in so short a time as that of GROVER CLEVELAND.

The fame of Grant was wrought out through the exigencies of a great civil war, in which the unity of the Republic was the issue involved. The distinction which Cleveland has achieved comes of valiant service in another field of conflict, wherein the issue involves the perpetuity and dominance of the great principles which constitute the framework and fibre of republican government itself. Under ordinary circumstances, probably, neither Grant nor Cleveland would have risen above the plane of every day life. The same, too, might perhaps justly be said even of Washington. In the history of human progress it will be seen that every great crisis involving the triumph of the principles and tendencies which make for the moral, social, or political advancement of mankind has developed a leader endowed with the special qualities demanded by the occasion.

The brilliant and self assertive men who press forward to leadership in ordinary times, whether impelled by mere love of notoriety, personal ambition, or an honest desire to promote the welfare of their fellow men, seldom become masters of the situation when a supreme emergency arises. They may set in motion great contending forces; they may precipitate conflicts whose ultimate outcome brings inestimable benefit to mankind; but other hands and other minds are required to direct the issue and shape the result. The master spirit of the occasion is born thereof. Ulysses S. Grant had absolutely no part in bringing about that great conflict of ideas and systems which culminated in the war of the rebellion; nor had he even figured prominently in the field of military achievement until long after hostilities were commenced, and the struggle had assumed proportions entirely unforeseen by, and actually appalling to, not only the people themselves, but those In control of active operations in the field. But the emergency developed the man required to meet it, and Grant came to the front.

So, too, in this later and greater conflict, which is to test the virtue and determine the durability of popular government whose outcome is to decide whether political parties are to be the mere instruments through which the people express their will, and whose relations can be changed as the public good may seem to require, or whether the government itself shall be subordinated to party, and its functions prostituted for the perpetuation of party ascendency and the aggrandizement of corrupt and selfish individuals the leader in whom the hopes of those who contend for the supremacy of the popular will, the surbordination of party power to public welfare, and the administration of the government in the interests of the whole people, are now thoroughly centred, is one who has gained no distinction in shaping partisan contests, and won no laurels in the halls of legislation or the forum of public debate. He is, simply, the man who, in the last few years, first in one, and then in another still more important position of official responsibility, has demonstrated more emphatically than any other in recent times (possibly because circumstances have more generally drawn attention in his direction) his thorough devotion to the doctrine that public office is a public trust; and has, therefore, been selected as the best representative and exponent of the popular idea in the great political conflict about to be brought to an issue.

The purpose and scope of this brief article permit no detailed account of the private life or public career of Grover Cleveland... Continue reading book >>


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