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“He was a great president, not because he was a great lawyer, not because he was a brilliant orator, not because he was a statesman of profound learning, but because he was a patriot with the highest sense of public duty; because he was a statesman of clear perceptions, of the utmost courage of his convictions, and of great plainness of speech; because he was a man of the highest character, a father and husband of the best type, and because throughout his political life he showed those rugged virtues of the public servant and citizen.” — William Howard Taft, about Grover Cleveland, in Troy Senik’s new book, A Man of Iron
From the beginning of Troy Senik’s book, I was enthralled with the story of Grover Cleveland. As a man and as President, Cleveland had his struggles, enemies, and critics, but what I most admired about him was his commitment to virtue. As Troy said—
But the defining features of Cleveland’s greatness—a virulent opposition to corruption in all its forms; the willingness to follow principle regardless of the political consequences; the conviction, as he famously put it, that ‘a public office is a public trust’—have nothing sectarian about them. One does not have to share his politics to admire his character.
Over the years, it’s become more and more difficult to find men or women in the public sphere who will do the right thing despite the condemnations of others; people who are prepared to take on adversaries because integrity and hard work are of primary importance; people who repeatedly take unpopular stands because it is the virtuous thing to do.
I hope that Troy’s book brings more attention to the service of Grover Cleveland. It seems nearly impossible to find people we can admire and revere, beyond George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
May Grover Cleveland play a more illustrious role among the Presidents who set examples of indomitability, honor and courage.
Is there a person, in U.S. history or in your own life, who demonstrates virtue and whom you admire?Published in