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Later that year, Cleveland's brother William was hired as a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in New York City, and William obtained a place for Cleveland as an assistant teacher.He returned home to Holland Patent at the end of 1854, where an elder in his church offered to pay for his college education if he would promise to become a minister.
As biographer Allan Nevins wrote, "Probably no man in the country, on March 4, 1881, had less thought than this limited, simple, sturdy attorney of Buffalo that four years later he would be standing in Washington and taking the oath as President of the United States." It was during this period that Cleveland began a relationship with a widow, Maria Crofts Halpin, and later assumed responsibility for supporting her and a child born at the time.As his second administration began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression, which Cleveland was unable to reverse.It ruined his Democratic Party, opening the way for a Republican landslide in 1894 and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party in 1896.Cleveland declined, and in 1855 he decided to move west.During this time, Cleveland assumed a lifestyle of simplicity, taking residence in a plain boarding house; Cleveland dedicated his growing income instead to the support of his mother and younger sisters.His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions nationwide in addition to the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party.
Even so, his reputation for probity and good character survived the troubles of his second term.
He relentlessly fought political corruption, patronage, and bossism.
As a reformer Cleveland had such prestige that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party, called "Mugwumps", largely bolted the GOP presidential ticket and swung to his support in the 1884 election.
Biographer Allan Nevins wrote, "[I]n Grover Cleveland, the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities.
He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have.
Cleveland's service as sheriff was unremarkable; biographer Rexford Tugwell described the time in office as a waste for Cleveland politically.