“All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purest patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship.”
- Grover Cleveland
The son of a Presbyterian minister, Cleveland attended Sunday school and multiple services in his father’s church each Sunday. He would remain a member of the Presbyterian Church his entire life.
There is little evidence that Cleveland attended church with any frequency while living in Buffalo, N.Y., as a young man; he reportedly preferred to frequent the city’s saloons and inns. But his private correspondence indicates that he maintained his faith and that his religious upbringing remained important to him even though he may not have felt compelled to attend church.
In a letter accepting his nomination to run for president in 1884, Cleveland promised to rely “upon the favor and support of the Supreme Being Who, I believe, will always bless honest human endeavor in the conscientious discharge of public duty.” He became more visibly religious while in the White House and attended the First Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., throughout his time as president.
Following the death of his daughter Ruth in 1904, Cleveland questioned the existence of heaven: “I had a season of great trouble in keeping out of my mind the idea that Ruth was in the cold, cheerless grave instead of in the arms of her Savior.” His questioning eventually led him back to God. He wrote in his diary on Jan. 15, 1904, “God has come to my help and I am able to adjust my thought to dear Ruth’s death with as much comfort as selfish humanity will permit.”