New Jersey’s Presidents
Tomorrow we celebrate the birthdays of Presidents Washington and Lincoln. But hey, let’s not forget the two presidents who called New Jersey “home.” The two Presidents closely associated with The Garden State are Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson.
Here’s some info I dug up about the past Commanders in Chief.
Grover Cleveland is actually the only President who was born in New Jersey. He was born on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell in 1837. He used his middle name as his first name. His full name was Stephen Grover Cleveland. Perhaps it would have been appropriate if he changed his name to “Grover Caldwell.”
Seriously, Cleveland is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms. He is our 22nd and 24th President. Cleveland’s terms were 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897. Cleveland lost the 1888 election to Benjamin Harrison.
Grover’s parents were busy people. He had, count ’em, eight brothers and sisters! To help support his large family, Cleveland practiced law in Buffalo, New York.
Eventually Cleveland entered politics and in 1881 was elected Mayor of Buffalo. Just a couple of years later, the Democrat became Governor of New York.
Here’s a sweet tidbit. Between his two terms in office, his wife gave birth to a girl. Her name was Ruth. I checked several sources and found that the “Baby Ruth” candy bar was named after his daughter.
After his second term in office, Grover Cleveland returned to his roots. He moved to Princeton and lived there until he died in 1908.
The second President associated with New Jersey is Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, born in Virginia, coincidentally like President Cleveland, had close ties with Princeton.
As a young man, Woodrow moved up to Jersey to attend Princeton University. Eventually he earned a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. I mention that because Wilson is the only President to earn a Ph.D.
After college Wilson worked as a professor and eventually became president of Princeton University in 1902.
Several years later Woodrow Wilson served as Governor of New Jersey. While in the Governor’s seat Wilson ran for President defeating Republican incumbent, William Howard Taft. He wound up serving two terms in The White House.
During his tenure as President, Wilson vacationed at his New Jersey “Summer White House” in West Long Branch. Years later the structure burned to the ground. The site is on the campus of beautiful Monmouth University. The building that is the centerpiece of the institution is named “Woodrow Wilson Hall.”
Following World War One, Wilson would help form the “League of Nations” and eventually win The Nobel Peace Prize.
Woodrow Wilson retired in Washington D.C. and passed away in 1924.
So, there you go. Sometime soon visit Monmouth University and while you’re there snack on a “Baby Ruth.”