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In keeping with our Presidential visits to Rochester series (BELOW), on June 10th, 1884, New York Governor Grover Cleveland spoke at the Semi-Centennial. Cleveland’s address itself — mainly praising New York State — was relatively short and undistinguished.
About a month later, Cleveland won the Democratic presidential nomination. In November, he narrowly defeated the Republican James G. Blaine who visited the city on September 25th, 1884.
Cleveland was the first Democrat president elected following the Civil War and the end of Reconstuction.
New York determined the election. Cleveland lost Monroe County, but beat Blaine overall in the state by 0.10 %.
In 1888, Cleveland won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College to Benjamin Harrison. In 1892, Cleveland won in a rematch. On Memorial Day 1892, Harrison would dedicate the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in Washington Square Park.
After FDR — who won the popular vote in four straight elections — only Cleveland and Andrew Jackson (1824, 1828 and 1832) won three straight popular votes as a presidential candidates. George H. W Bush and Al Gore also won the popular vote in three straight national elections: Bush as vice president in 1980, 1984 and president in 1988; Gore as vice president in 1992 and 1996 and president in 2000.
Cleveland is one of four New York State Governors to become President: Martin Van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.