The Kansas City Public Library continued its year of incredible programming on Wednesday with “The President is a Sick Man” presented by Matthew Algeo, a writer who enjoys writing about obscure events in American history. His new book, The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth (longest title ever!) was released recently.
It’s the story of President Grover Cleveland undergoing risky, serious surgery on a friend’s yacht out in the waters of Long Island Sound, so no one would know. I haven’t read it yet, thought I did buy a copy of the book, but here’s some interesting facts about Cleveland that I learned from Matthew. Since he’s not exactly Washington or Lincoln, you might not know most of these:
- He’s the only President to get married in the White House (two others got married while they were President but not in the White House)
- That marriage was to a 21 year old woman (he was 49), the grieving daughter of a friend of Cleveland’s.
- He was the only Democrat elected President in the 50 year period between Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson
- He’s the only President to serve non-consecutive terms. After losing the 1889 election to Benjamin Harrison, he left the White House, only to return four years later after defeating Harrison in the 1893 election.
- Because of that, Cleveland is the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Though we’ve had 44 Presidents, only 43 men have actually taken the oath of office.
- He was the first President to come to Kansas City, arriving in 1887 for the National Agricultural Exposition and staying at the Coates House Hotel, which still stands at 10th & Broadway.
- He vetoed more bills than all the previous Presidents combined. He’s still #2 in that regard, being surpassed only by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served three terms.
Check out the book; I can’t wait to read it, just gotta get through 1,600 more pages of Teddy Roosevelt history that I’m in the middle of! And please, please check out the Kansas City Public Library’s event schedule; they put on great lectures, presentations and events almost every day of the week and are an incredible asset to our city.