Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tribute to Grover Cleveland.

March 01, 1937

My dear Dr. Finley:

It gives me great pleasure to join you and your associates in paying tribute to the memory of Grover Cleveland. If we seek the elements in Grover Cleveland's character which make him, decade by decade, a more commanding figure in the fight to perpetuate the honesty of democracy in our national life we shall find that the dominant force in his life was courage. Among the factors which had given form and pattern to his character long before he became a national figure was courage- the courage which never yields principle to expediency or compromises with truth in any circumstances.

With courage Cleveland had a strong sense of rectitude—an inheritance, no doubt, from the rural New Jersey parsonage in which he first saw the light of day, one of those typical homes of plain living and high thinking whence so many American boys have fared forth to do battle with destiny. One of his admirers, in seconding his first nomination for the presidency epitomized his character when he declared in a phrase often quoted: "We love him for the enemies he has made." To the end of his days Cleveland made friends through his enemies.

And now, as we approach the centenary of his birth, we are able to view in proper perspective the definite contributions which he made to democracy in America. Honesty in government had been at low ebb, but Grover Cleveland made it his affair to restore integrity and impartiality in the conduct of the public business. Simple honesty was part of his creed. He fought unceasingly against dishonorable practices. He startled the jingoes by making conscience his guiding star in foreign affairs. With iron fortitude he maintained the independence of the Executive in those things for which the Executive was responsible and ever strove to make his official acts square with eternal principles.

History does not record a more eventful period than the time that has elapsed since he passed away. But in that period nothing has occurred that obscures the memory of one who was a very great American. He will always be venerated as an unselfish statesman whose career was conspicuously marked by unswerving courage, industry and faith. It is those qualities which he manifested in such high degree that are essential to the maintenance of our political and social institutions.

Very sincerely yours,

Dr. John H. Finley,

The New York Times,

New York, N. Y.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Tribute to Grover Cleveland. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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