President Grover Cleveland

Grover was a horrible a horrible president if you were an immigrant not from Europe, a Black American or a woman.

Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Although a reformer, Cleveland used patronage and party organization to win elections. He stood with his party in opposition to temperance, thus winning the support of others who opposed it—including the Irish, Germans, and East Europeans who had migrated to the United States by the tens of thousands in the 1880s. On the issue of race, he agreed with white southerners in their reluctance to treat African Americans as social and political equals, and made special efforts to reach out to Democrats and former Confederates in the South to assure them that they had a friend in the White House. He also opposed integrated schools in New York and saw African Americans as essentially inferior. In believing that government should not interfere with what he regarded as a social problem, he opposed efforts to protect the suffrage of African Americans.

In his first term as President, Cleveland condemned the “outrages” being committed against the Chinese on the nation’s west coast. He soon concluded, however, that prejudice towards the Chinese in the region was so deep and their culture so alien that America could not absorb this immigrant group. Thereafter, he worked to limit Chinese immigration and to prohibit those who had left the United States to visit relatives in China from returning. The principal difference between Chinese and European immigrants, he believed, was the unwillingness of the former to assimilate into American society.

When Cleveland took office, 204,000 Native Americans were scattered among 171 reservations on 135 million acres of land. In Cleveland’s view, the Native Americans were wards of the nation, like wayward but promising children in need of a guardian. Regarding himself as an Indian reformer, Cleveland sought to persuade Native Americans to forego their old tribal ways. He sought to be assimilate them into white society by means of education, private land ownership, and parental guidance from the federal government. Though he did not campaign for the bill, he eagerly supported and signed into law the Dawes Act of 1887, which empowered the President to allot land within the reservations to individual Indians—with all surplus land reverting to the public domain. It was a disastrous policy that robbed Native Americans of much of their land and did little to improve their way of life.

Women’s Rights

Cleveland was mostly silent on the issue of women’s suffrage. He understood the value of women’s clubs and political organizations in drumming up the vote of husbands and fathers, and was careful not to alienate either group by speaking out against female suffrage. Neither, however, did he speak in favor of it. His one stance in support of women’s rights was to criticize polygamy.

To read more about President Cleveland’s viewpoints, policies, etc; click the link below.

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