Grover Cleveland's grave

Grover Cleveland

In Dead Presidents, Presidential Gravesites by Brady Carlson0 Comments

Grover Cleveland's grave

Buried: Princeton, New Jersey

Died: June 24, 1908

See him: After wrapping up his second term in the White House, Grover Cleveland and family moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where he served on the board of the Ivy League university. (At one point while Cleveland was on the board, Princeton’s president was none other than Woodrow Wilson, the next Democrat after Cleveland to win the White House. Small world.) Cleveland died in Princeton, and unsurprisingly ended up in the lovely Princeton Cemetery, which is, among other functions, the final resting place for a who’s who of Princeton leaders – many of the university’s presidents are buried in a semi-enclosed area – and staff, including Albert Einstein’s personal assistant. And Aaron Burr – yes, the same Aaron Burr who became the first sitting vice president wanted for murder.

Cleveland’s grave is near the west edge of the cemetery, not far from downtown Princeton, which is, of course, quite lovely itself. You may notice pennies, shells or beads on top of the grave marker. The pennies I cannot as of yet explain, but the beads come from Hawaii. Cleveland, it turns out, was a big supporter of Hawaiian independence – his successor in the White House, Benjamin Harrison, had pushed for a treaty to annex Hawaii, but when Cleveland won the office back, he withdrew the treaty, on the grounds that America’s just character would be impugned “if a feeble but friendly state is in danger of being robbed of its independence and its sovereignty by the misuse of the name and power of the United States.”

William McKinley re-reversed course after Cleveland retired, but native Hawaiians never forgot the gesture (and clearly didn’t hold a grudge about the “feeble” designation). So each year a group from the Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center adorns the grave with traditional beads and leis, to say thanks.

Note how they visit the grave on nonconsecutive occasions. It’s Grover Cleveland, you have to do it that way.

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