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“THERE are three questions," said the father of con
stitutional Democracy in America, Thomas Jefferson, “ that I would ask of every candidate for public office: Is he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful to the Constitution?"
The pages which follow tell briefly the story of the life of Grover Cleveland, Governor of the State of New York, and the candidate of the Democratic party for the office of President of the United States. There has been little in that life that is dramatic or sensational. Its incidents, though not without interest and not without their significance, will not be told in the language of eulogy, and do not gain by rhetorical embellishment. The story is simply that of an American citizen, endowed from boyhood with the power to do much hard work, and to do it well, animated by honest and honorable motives, and gifted with statesmanlike ability, which study, experience and elevation to administrative positions of great responsibility, have fully developed.
In his youth and early manhood he encountered and overcame no obstacles which any strong-willed, energetic and upright boy or young man in the United States may not also meet and hope to overcome. In his profession, the rank he won came with persevering study and the improvement of every opportunity. In political life, the great distinctions he has attained have followed each upon the faithful discharge of the duties of the positions to which he had been called before, and upon the confidence in him which his just administration of government inspired.
Many of the details of his early life, which are given in the following pages, have been related by Grover Cleveland to the writer at different times during the year and a half of his residence at Albany, as Governor of the State of New York. Their value, like the value, indeed, of the biography of any man, lies in the consistent development of character they prove. The boy who “tends shop" honestly and faithfully will not always work behind another man's counter. One day he will own a store himself. There are few honors to which, in this country, the young law student may not aspire, who stays up all night to read Blackstone. It does not take the keen-sighted, enterprising American people, who know worth when they see it, long to discover an upright and inflexible mayor, and make a governor of a great State out of him.
Through forty-seven years of an active, earnest life these pages follow Grover Cleveland. In his own home, in the city of Buffalo, and in the State of New York, he is known. Popular approval, in the form of unprecedented majorities, has demonstrated that, in the opinion of the citizens of his municipality and of his own commonwealth, he meets fully the Jeffersonian standard. If what is related here of his public and private life shall give to those who do not know him well some conception of his honesty, his capacity, and his fidelity to the great principles on which government by the people is founded, these pages will have fulfilled their purpose.
BELIEVE in an open and sturdy partisan
ship, which secures the legitimate advantages of party supremacy; but parties were made for the people, and I am unwilling, knowingly, to give my assent to measures purely partisan, which will sacrifice or endanger their interests.