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Cleveland was the son of Richard Falley Cleveland an itinerant Presbyterian minister and Ann Neal The death of Grover Clevelands father in 1853 forced him to abandon school in order to support his mother and sisters After clerking in a law firm in Buffalo New York he was admitted to the bar in 1859 and soon entered politics as a member of the Democratic Party During the Civil War he was drafted but hired a substitute so that he could care for his mother--an altogether legal procedure but one that would make him vulnerable to political attack in the future In 1863 he became assistant district attorney of Erie county New York and in 1870-73 he served as county sheriff With this slight political background and only modest success as a lawyer the apparently unambitious Buffalo attorney launched perhaps the most meteoric rise in American politicsIn 1881 eight years after stepping down as sheriff Cleveland was nominated for mayor by Buffalo Democrats who remembered his honest and efficient service in that office He won the election easily As Buffalos chief executive he became known as the veto mayor for his rejection of spending measures he considered to be wasteful and corrupt In 1882 without the support of the Tammany Hall Democratic machine in New York City Cleveland received his partys nomination for governor and he went on to crush his Republican opponent by more than 200000 votesAs governor of New York Cleveland again used the veto frequently even to turn down measures that enjoyed wide public support His devotion to principle and his unstinting opposition to Tammany Hall soon earned him a national reputation--particularly among Americans disgusted with the frequent scandals of Gilded Age politicsIn 1884 the Democrats sought a presidential candidate who would contrast sharply with Republican nominee James G Blaine a longtime Washington insider whose reputation for dishonesty and financial impropriety prompted the Republican Mugwump faction to bolt their party Clevelands image was
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