Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Rose Elizabeth Cleveland 1848 ~ 1918


Rose Elizabeth Cleveland

It was a curious coincidence that President Cleveland, President Arthur's successor, was, like Mr. Arthur, a bachelor and had to depend upon someone other than a wife to preside over the White House during his first administration. His choice was his sister, Miss Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, a young woman of fine culture, high attainments and superior character, who was destined to fill the position with infinite credit to herself and the women of the nation. Miss Cleveland was the daughter and granddaughter of New England ministers; a sister and sister-in-law of ministers and missionaries. She was the youngest of the nine children of Richard Falley and Anne Neal Cleveland. She was born in Fayetteville, New York. Her parents subsequently removed to Clinton, New York, and she became a student in Hamilton College. From Clinton her father removed to Utica to become the pastor of a church in that city. He did not; however, long survive. Miss Cleveland was too young to appreciate the full measure of this calamity. As the family were poor, they had to give up the parsonage, but the friends of her husband presented Mrs. Cleveland with a small cottage, where she resided until her death. During their life in the cottage the family had a desperate struggle, but through the dignity of character, economy and discretion of their mother, their slender means were eked out so wisely that the children were able to pursue their studies. Mrs. Cleveland was a southerner and had been born and raised in luxury in the city of Baltimore, where Mr. Cleveland was employed as a teacher, and after graduating in the theological department of Princeton College they were married. The young bride little realized the self-denial and self-sacrifice that she must practice as the wife of a young minister, but she loved her husband and during her whole life was an uncomplaining, devoted wife and mother.

Rose, the youngest child, was a studious girl and took advantage of every opportunity to acquire an education. After finishing school, Miss Cleveland went as a teacher to Houghton Seminary, when she remained for two years, at the end of which time she accepted the position of principal of the Collegiate Institute at Lafayette, Indiana, after which she taught in private families. When, later, it became necessary for her to remain with her mother, she conceived the idea of lecturing, proposing it to the principal of Houghton Seminary, who accepted the idea with much enthusiasm. Miss Cleveland prepared a course of historical lectures, which were very successful. Her mother died m the summer of 1882. Miss Cleveland was earnestly urged by her brothers and sisters to choose a home among them but remained in Holland Patent, the old home, except when on lecturing tours, until she was invited by her brother Grover to become mistress of the White House. Miss Cleveland was very reserved in manner, thoughtful and dignified, but most cordial in her reception of people in the White House.

She came into the White House heralded as an intellectual, cold woman but proved herself to be a most attractive, womanly woman, thoroughly under-standing human nature and what was due the callers at White House. She gave many beautiful entertainments, especially for the house guests, of whom she had many. It is said that she was Mr. Cleveland's best adviser during his first term as President, and while she never presumed to express her opinions on official matters publicly, she was prone to council with her brother privately and freely express her opinions on political questions. She had no ambition to become a social leader or to dictate in frivolous affairs, but she was so affable and agreeable and intellectual that she was greatly admired and will be long remembered as one of the most gracious women who presided over the White House.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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