Archive for the ‘Anders Zorn’ Tag

Portraits: Grover Cleveland   Leave a comment

The painter of this portrait, Swedish artist Anders Zorn, drew his loose brushwork and preference for natural lighting from French impressionism. Cleveland was quite pleased with Zorn's likeness, declaring to a correspondent, "As for my ugly mug, I think the artist has 'struck it off' in great shape."

The painter of this portrait, Swedish artist Anders Zorn, drew his loose brushwork and preference for natural lighting from French impressionism. Cleveland was quite pleased with Zorn’s likeness, declaring to a correspondent, “As for my ugly mug, I think the artist has ‘struck it off’ in great shape.”

Grover Cleveland (1837 – 1908)

The 22nd President of the United States, 1885 – 1889

The 24th President of the United States, 1893 – 1897

AKA: His Obstinancy,  The Stuffed Prophet, The Elephantine Economist, Uncle Jumbo, The Guardian President

From: New Jersey, New York

College: One of 8 US Presidents that did not attend college

Married to: Frances Folsom

Children: Ruth, Esther, Marion, Richard, Francis

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Clerk, teacher, assistant district attorney, county sheriff, lawyer, Mayor of Buffalo, Governor of New York

In His Words:  “The laboring classes constitute the main part of our population. They should be protected in their efforts peaceably to assert their rights when endangered by aggregated capital, and all statutes on this subject should recognize the care of the State for honest toil, and be framed with a view of improving the condition of the workingman.”

“I have tried so hard to do the right.”

“The wants and needs of the employers and the employed shall alike be subserved and the prosperity of the country, the common heritage of both, be advanced.”

“He mocks the people who proposes that the Government shall protect the rich and that they in turn will care for the laboring poor.”

“The United States, in aiming to maintain itself as one of the most enlightened nations, would do its citizens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any other than a high standard of honor and morality.”

“What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?”

Not true: Charles Lachman wrote A Secret Life, chronicling the events surrounding a child that may, or may not, have been the product of Grover Cleveland’s so-called date rape of Maria Halpin, a 38-year old sales clerk and mother of 2. This affair was a smarmy sex scandal involving a bachelor … who would later run for governor, and then for President. At the time, newspapers pounced on the scandal, and Cleveland steadfastly clung to “the truth:” that Halpin had affairs with more than one man, including Cleveland’s law partner.  Cleveland took responsibility for the boy … and had the mother committed to an asylum when her drinking became a problem.

What’s true here? We don’t know. But can an author in 2011 really know definitively what happened in 1873? I think not. It is true the scandal was investigated in its day, and that Cleveland won two elections to the highest office in the land after the affair was widely known and investigated while the participants were all still living.

True: He is also the only President to have had his wedding inside the White House. He married his law partner’s ward, 24 years his junior, that he claimed to have fallen in love with when he first saw her as a baby.

Grover Cleveland is the only president to serve 2 terms separated by another President.

Utah was admitted as the 45th state during Cleveland’s Presidency.

He kept a mockingbird and several canaries as pets while President.

Cleveland paid a man $150 to serve in the Civil War in his stead (which was legal at the time).

He believed the President should be the executor of the nation’s laws … and not the creator of public policy. He believed that it was Congress’ job to make the laws, and he sought to avoid that task.

The Official Portrait: Eastman Johnson painted Grover Cleveland’s portrait in 1891; he also painted Benjamin Harrison’s portrait. Those two are the last portraits officially painted for the White House collection in the 19th century.

Grover Cleveland, Official White House Portrait

Grover Cleveland Signature


Big Mo

Portraits: William Howard Taft   Leave a comment

William Howard Taft (1857 – 1930)

Taft was not a small man.

Taft was not a small man.

The 27th President of the United States, 1909 – 1913

AKA: Big Lub, Big Chief

From: Ohio

College: Yale University, University of Cincinnati College Of Law

Married to: Helen Herron

Children: Robert, Helen, Charles

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: Journalist, lawyer, Collector of Internal Revenue, Superior Court Judge, US Solicitor General, US Court of Appeals Judge, Governor-General of the Philippines, Secretary of War, Provisional Governor of Cuba, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court (after his Presidential term)

In His Words: “The welfare of the farmer is vital to that of the whole country.”

“The diplomacy of the present administration has sought to respond to modern ideas of commercial intercourse. This policy has been characterized as substituting dollars for bullets. It is one that appeals alike to idealistic humanitarian sentiments, to the dictates of sound policy and strategy, and to legitimate commercial aims.”

“The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress.”

“We are all imperfect. We can not expect perfect government.”

“Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.”

“Socialism proposes no adequate substitute for the motive of enlightened selfishness that to-day is at the basis of all human labor and effort, enterprise and new activity.”

“Enthusiasm for a cause sometimes warps judgment.”

Not true: Many accounts credit Taft with the creation of baseball’s “seventh inning stretch,” but this is not proven.  Indeed, the practice is described as early as 1869, well before Taft’s supposed 1910 stretching of his legs at a Washington Senators game.

True: William Howard Taft started the tradition of the President throwing out the first ball at the beginning of baseball season.

He was the first President to take up golf, which was thought by some to be indecent if not immoral. His love for the sport did help spur an increase in the number of golfers in the nation, doubling the number of players on public courses. As with all Presidents, Taft’s affection for a recreational pastime caused political problems when critics suggested he should work more and play less.

Blame Taft: under his watch, the 16th Amendment was passed, legalizing the income tax.  No wonder he’s viewed poorly by many Presidential scholars.

Taft was the fattest President, tipping the scale at over 300 pounds.

After getting stuck in the White House bath tub, he had a very large bathtub installed, supposedly large enough for four men.

His close friend Teddy Roosevelt offered him a Supreme Court nomination many times, but Taft always refused because of unfinished work (principally while he was Governor-General of the Philippines).

His later break with Roosevelt (who felt he was not Progressive enough) led Roosevelt to oppose Taft’s re-election and found the Bull Moose party for the 1912 election.  The three-party election was won easily by the Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

Taft is the only President to also serve as the Supreme Court Chief Justice, where he initiated many reforms and administrative efficiencies.

Taft is the last President to have facial hair.

The Official Portrait: Painted in the White House Blue Room by Anders Zorn.  The portrait still hangs in this room.

William Taft, Official Presidential Portrait


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