Grover Cleveland, the only president to serve two discontinuous terms. After fathering an illegitimate child early in his life, he embraced qualities instilled in him by his Presbyterian - minister father, and they helped to make him the staunch political and social conservative that he was.
During the Civil War, Cleveland was an assistant district attorney for Erie County, N.Y., and in the early 1870s, he served as sheriff of Buffalo. He was elected mayor in 1881, making good on his promise to veto measures that wasted city funds.
In 1882, Cleveland was elected governor of New York, the largest state in the Union, by a landslide. He defeated the corrupt political bosses of Tammany Hall as his courage grew.
At the 1884 Democrat Convention, he was nominated on the second ballot. He was elected president by the smallest popular - vote margin in U.S. history - 23,000 votes - and served as the first Democrat in the White House since the Civil War. He made a point of not meddling in legislation, and most of the important laws passed during his term - such as the Interstate Commerce Act and the Dawes Severalty Act, which invested Indians with U.S. citizenship - bore little more than his signature.
In the 1888 election, he received 100,000 more popular votes than his opponent but lost in the electoral college.