Grover Cleveland Quote Page
"We love him for the enemies he has made."
The patriot must all ways be prepared to defend
his country from his government.
- Ed Abbey
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
- African Proverb
Give me a lever and place to stand,
and I will move the world.
"If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States
to deliver a post card in Chicago . . . that card will be delivered."
(During railroad strike in Chicago)
"After an existence of nearly twenty years of almost
innocuous desuetude, these laws are brought forth."
(Message in March 1886 after 20 years of GOP Rule)
"Every citizen owes to the country a vigilant watch and
close scrutiny of its public servants and affairs and a
reasonable estimate of their fidelity and usefulness."
"He who takes the oath today to preserve, protect, and
defend the Constitution of the United States only
assumes the solemn obligation which every patriotic
citizen . . . should share with him. . . . Your every voter,
as surely as your Chief Magistrate, under the same high
sanction, though in a different sphere, exercises a public trust."
The fact that they are citizens entitles them to all the rights due to that relation and
charges them with all its duties, obligations, and responsibilities.
Grover Cleveland, Wednesday, 4 March 1885
"A man is known by the company he keeps, and also
by the company from which he is kept out."
"It is a condition which confronts us—not a theory."
(Annual Message, 1887)
I shall to the best of my ability and within my sphere of duty
preserve the Constitution by loyally protecting every grant of
Federal power it contains, by defending all its restraints when
attacked by impatience and restlessness, and by enforcing its
limitations and reservations in favor of the States and of the
In the discharge of my official duty I shall endeavor to be
guided by a just and unstrained construction of the Constitution,
a careful observance of the distinction between the powers
granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the
states or to the people, and by a cautious appreciation of
those functions which by the Constitution and laws have been
especially assigned to the executive branch.
Under our scheme of government the waste of public money is a
crime against the citizen...
Manifestly nothing is more vital to...the beneficient purposes of
our Government than a sound and stable currency.
It is better to be defeated standing for a high
principle than to win by committing subterfuge.
"The ship of democracy which has weathered all storms,
may sink through the mutiny of those aboard."
"I must go to dinner, . . . but I wish it was to eat a pickled
herring a Swiss cheese and a chop at Louis' instead of
the French stuff I shall find."
"What is the use of being elected or reelected, unless you
stand for something?"
Loyalty to the principles upon which our Government rests
positively demands that the equality before the law which
it guarantees to every citizen should be justly and in good
faith conceded in all parts of the land.
[The U.S. is] a government pledged to do equal and exact
justice to all men...
I can find no warrant for such an appropriation [federal aid to drought-stricken
Texas farmers] in the Constitution, and I do not believe
that the power and duty of the General Government
ought to be extended to the relief of individual
suffering which is in no manner properly related to
the public service or benefit...
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can
always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens
in misfortune...Federal aid in such cases encourages
the expectation of paternal care on the part of the
government and weakens the sturdiness of our national
character, while it prevents the indulgence among our
people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which
strengthen the bond of a common brotherhood...
[T]hough the people support the Government, the
Government should not support the people.”
My little man, I am making a strange wish for you.
It is that you may never be president of the
Cleveland to FDR (age 5) while visiting the
"Once the coffers of the federal government are opened
to the public, there will be no shutting them again."
"The lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned and
the better lesson taught that while the people should
patriotically and cheerfully support their Government its
functions do not include the support of the people."
"Party honesty is party expediency."
(Interview in New York Commercial Advertiser, September 1889)
"I am honest and sincere in my desire to do well, but
the question is whether I know enough to accomplish
what I desire."
"Honor lies in honest toil."
"The admitted right of a government to prevent the influx
of elements hostile to its internal peace and security may
not be questioned, even where there is not treaty
stipulation on the subject." (On immigration)
"I mistake the American people if they favor the odious
doctrine that there is no such thing as international
morality; that there is one law for a strong nation and
another for a weak one."
"The truly American sentiment recognizes the dignity of labor
and the fact that honor lies in natural toil."
Local Vs National Interest
[Constitutional government requires] a patriotic disregard of
such local and selfish claims as are unreasonable and reckless
of the welfare of the entire country.
"The best results in the operation of a government wherein
every citizen has a share largely depend upon a proper
limitation of the purely partisan zeal and effort and a
correct appreciation of the time when the heat of the
partisan should be merged in the patriotism of the citizen. ...
At this hour the animosities of political strife,
the bitterness of partisan defeat, and the exultation of
partisan triumph should be supplanted by an ungrudging
acquiescence in the popular will and a sober, conscientious
concern for the general weal. ... Public extravagance
begets extravagance among the people."
Source: First Inaugural Address, 1885
"This dreadful, damnable office-seeking hangs over me
and surrounds me—and makes me feel like resigning."
"This office-seeking is a disease—I am entirely satisfied
of that. It is ever catching. Men get it, and they lose the
proper balance of their minds. I've known men to come
here to Washington on other business, with no thought
of office, but when they had been here a couple of weeks
they had caught it." (1885)
"I have considered the pension list of the republic a
roll of honor." (Veto of Dependent Pension Bill, July 1888)
Private Vs Common Interest
If [adhering to the Constitution] involves the surrender of
postponement of private interests and the abandonment of
local advantages, compensation will be found in the assurance
that the common interest is subserved and the general welfare
Protecting The Rich
"He mocks the people who proposes that the government
shall protect the rich and that they in turn will care for the
Our citizens have the right to protection from the incompetency
of public employees...
Officeholders are the agents of the people, not their masters.
"They have proved themselves offensive partisans and
unscrupulous manipulators of local party management."
"I have tried so hard to do right."
(His last words as he died of heart failure)
Read Cleveland's Obituary
...danger confronts us...the prevalence of a popular disposition
to expect from the operation of the Government especial and direct
Spirit Of The Law
No man has ever yet been hanged for breaking the spirit of a law.
"It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their
government. I is not the responsibility of the government
to support its citizens."
When we consider that the theory of our institutions
guarantees to every citizen the full enjoyment of
all the fruits of his industry and enterprise,
with only such deduction as may be his share toward
the careful and economical maintenance of the
Government which protects him, It is plain that the
exaction of more than this is indefensible extortion
and culpable betrayal of American fairness and
justice. This wrong inflicted upon those who bear
the burden of national taxation, like other wrongs,
multiplies a brood of evil consequences.
When more of the people's sustenance is
exacted through the form of taxation
than is necessary to meet the just
obligations of government and expenses
of its economical administration, such
exaction becomes ruthless extortion and
a violation of the fundamental
principles of free government.
Source: Second Annual Message, December 1886
The simple and plain duty which we owe the people is to
reduce taxation to the necessary expenses of an economical
operation of the Government and to restore to the business
of the country the money which we hold in the Treasury
through the perversion of governmental powers.... unnecessary
and extravagant appropriations... besides the demoralization
of all just conceptions of public duty which it entails,
stimulates a habit of reckless improvidence not in the least
consistent with the mission of our people or of the high and
beneficent purposes of our Government.
If in lifting burdens from the daily life of our people we reduce inordinate
and unequal advantages too long enjoyed, this is but a necessary incident
of our return to right and justice…. When we proclaim that the necessity
for revenue to support the Government furnishes the only justification for
taxing the people, we announce a truth so plain that its denial would seem
to indicate the extent to which judgment may be influenced by familiarity
with perversions of the taxing power.
Grover Cleveland, Saturday, 4 March 1893
"At times like the present, when the evils of
unsound finance threaten us, the speculator may anticipate
a harvest gathered from the misfortune of others, the
capitalist may protect himself by hoarding or may even
find profit from the fluctuations of values, but the
wage earner - the first to be injured by a depreciated
currency - is practically defenseless."
...the lesson should be constantly enforced that though
the people support the Government, Government should not
support the people...
Mrs. Cleveland's Prediction
Quote at the inauguration of the 23rd president
"Take good care ... of the house ... we are coming
back just four years from today."
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