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Louis Picone – Presentation at Grover Cleveland’s Birthday Ceremony, March 18, 2019

Louis Picone – a presidential author, scholar, faculty member of William Paterson University.and Trustee of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association gives a presentation to commemorate the 182nd anniversary of president Grover Cleveland’s birth. Photo by Janet Markman

Remarks delivered by Louis L. Picone at  Grover Cleveland’s Birthday Ceremony, March 18, 2019 in Caldwell, New Jersey

Today we gather to commemorate the 182nd anniversary of President Grover Cleveland’s birth. On March 18, 1837, two midwives delivered baby Stephen Grover Cleveland in the back room of this home. Before he died in Princeton in 1908, he had celebrated 71 birthdays. He spent his first three birthdays right here in Caldwell, New Jersey. By his fourth the young boy had moved to Fayetteville, New York.[1]

Over the following years he celebrated his birthdays, first as the young boy Stephen Grover, and later as the ambitious, hard-working man, simply known as “Grover.” By his fifteenth birthday he had left school to work at a grocery store to help support his family. He welcomed his 17th year as a teacher for the New York Institute for the Blind. On his 19th birthday he was a clerk in a law office in Buffalo and by his 23rd he was a lawyer and still sending a portion of his paycheck home to support his younger brothers and sisters. By his 26th birthday he was the assistant district attorney of Erie County, and by his 34th, the Sheriff of Erie County.[2]

Soon each birthday marked a giant leap on his meteoric rise to the stratosphere of American politics. In 1882 he celebrated his 45th birthday as the Mayor of Buffalo. In 1883 he celebrated his 46th birthday as the Governor of New York. By his 47th birthday in 1884, his reputation for honesty made “Grover the Good” a leading Democratic candidate for President. The next year, his 48th birthday, Grover Cleveland was the 22nd President of the United States of America. The boy born in Caldwell, New Jersey had become the second youngest president ever elected behind Ulysses S. Grant. While much can be said about his presidency, I would rather speak about the man and his character and how he treated, and how he spoke to others.

On his first birthday as president, he worked all day and the newspapers announced, “Cleveland’s Birthday: No Preparations made for its celebration.”[3] But during his busy schedule he took time to accept “Many happy returns of the day” from friends and well-wishers. He also received a bouquet of violets. It came from a young girl, to whom the newspapers claimed, the President “had been particularly kind to a few days earlier.”[4] The reporter also noted her flowers were the only gift from the public that day, but I suspect Grover Cleveland was just fine with that

Four years later, on his 52nd birthday, Grover Cleveland was again a proud citizen, having lost his re-election bid to Benjamin Harrison.  On his first birthday out of office, Cleveland began a 10-day tour with former cabinet members. That day he awoke in New York City and after breakfast with his wife, he boarded a train for Tampa, Florida, before sailing on to Cuba.[5] During a brief stop in Washington, DC to pick up friends, a reporter noted the fit Cleveland and prophetically wrote, “he is destined to become more of a political force out of office than in office.”[6] Well, the reporter was partially correct. Cleveland would remain a political force indeed, but his destiny was not to do so out of office.

Two weeks earlier, upon leaving the White House the First Lady confidently remarked to a servant, “We are coming back just four years from today.” And just as the First Lady promised, Grover Cleveland celebrated his 56th birthday in 1893 back in the White House. President again. Grover Cleveland became the only man to ever win the presidency, lose it, and then win again. And they called Bill Clinton the comeback kid!

In 1897, Grover Cleveland was again a public citizen. Fifty years earlier, Grover Cleveland left New Jersey, but now he was back as he retired to Princeton. Gone from office, but he was not forgotten. On his birthday in 1899, a group of young girls from Ellendale, South Dakota, who called themselves the Young Misses Conversation Club wrote the former President. Grover Cleveland took time to reply with words of kindness and wisdom, but not condensation. “My dear little Friend: I have received your letter, and am very much flattered to learn that . . . [you have] . . . decided to have a banquet on my birthday. It is a very good thing for children to come together to learn how to talk and think, but I would not be willing to have them do so much of that as to prevent them from enjoying of play. The times for play will soon pass away, and I think children ought to have their full share of romp and frolic and fun while it lasts. . ..  I hope your club will be useful and prosperous, and that you will all have lots of fun at your banquet, and in every day of your lives afterwards. Your friend, GROVER CLEVELAND.”[7]

On his 70th birthday in 1907, flags were unfurled in his honor in Maysville, Kentucky.[8] Closer to home, students from Princeton University paraded to his house, just like they had done every year since he had retired there. That day they gave him a gift, a silver loving cup. Cleveland thanked them and said, “I feel young at seventy, because I have here breathed the atmosphere of vigorous youth.”[9]

The following year, 1908, Grover Cleveland celebrated his 71st birthday in Lakewood, New Jersey. Two weeks earlier, Cleveland, who suffered from multiple medical ailments, checked in to the Lakewood Hotel to recuperate. That day he took a long walk and was in excellent spirits. “l have not felt so well in many a day,” he told a reporter, “I took a longer walk than I have taken in months. I feel fine. In fact, I believe I am in much better physical condition than I have been for a long, long time.”[10]

This was his last birthday. He was a kind-hearted optimist to the end. Perhaps we can best judge Grover Cleveland by what others said about him when he passed away on June 24, 1908. President Theodore Roosevelt praised, “Since his retirement from the presidency he has continued to serve his countrymen by the simplicity, dignity and uprightness of his private life.”[11] But perhaps William Howard Taft delivered the most fitting eulogy in an impromptu aside during a speech at Yale University the night Cleveland died, “He was a great man and a great president. He had the highest civic ideals, a rugged honesty, a high courage. These things will now make him happy in death. As he leaves the world he is revered, loved and respected by his countrymen.”[12]

 

 

[1] “President’s Birthday,” Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, March 18, 1896.

[2] The Graphic Story of the American Presidents by David C. Whitney (Chicago: J. G. Ferguson Publishing Company, 1973), 232-235.

[3] “Cleveland’s Birthday,” Savannah Morning News, March 18, 1885.

[4] “President Cleveland’s Birthday,” Portland Daily Press (Portland, ME), March 19, 1885.

[5] “A Cabinet for Cuba,” Pittsburg Dispatch, March 19, 1889.

[6] “The Ex-President on a Tour,” Rock Island Daily Argus, March 19, 1889.

[7] “A Letter from Cleveland,” State Democrat (Aberdeen, South Dakota), March 17, 1899.

[8] “By Order of Mayor McClellan all the National state and city flags were unfurled in honor ofGrover Cleveland’s birthday last Monday,” Daily Public Ledger (Maysville, KY), March 243, 1907.

[9] “Cleveland, Grover: From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978),” Princeton University, Accessed March 9, 2019.  http://etcweb.princeton.edu/CampusWWW/Companion/cleveland_grover.html.

[10] “His Health Improving,” Bemidji Daily Pioneer (Bemidji, MN), March 19, 1908.

[11] “Cleveland’s Funeral 5 Tomorrow Afternoon,” News-Democrat, June 25, 1908.

[12] “Tribute of Roosevelt,” Patterson Press, June 25, 1908.

Week of March 18th – Grover Cleveland Week in Caldwell NJ

Grover Cleveland Birthplace Caretaker Sharon Farrell, From the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association – Trustee Beverly Crifasi, Vice president Bunny Jenkins and President Dave Cowell accept the Proclamation proclaiming the week of March 18, 2019 as Grover Cleveland Week in the Borough of Caldwell from Mayor John Kelley (at back) and Caldwell Councilman Lace (at right). photo by Janet Markman

The Mayor and Caldwell Council proclaim the week of March 18, 2019 as Grover Cleveland Week in the Borough of Caldwell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The public is invited in New Jersey, and nationwide, to take part in GROVER CLEVELAND WEEK,  a celebration taking place during the week of March 18th, officially proclaimed by the Borough of Caldwell’s Mayor and Council to help mark the 182nd birthday of U.S. President, Stephen Grover Cleveland.
Representatives from Cleveland’s native home-town of Caldwell New Jersey, encourage gestures nationwide that reflect Cleveland’s childhood, as well as his later career. Celebrate with some of Cleveland’s favorite foods and beverages. Or, to honor his terms as President, take time to study our Nation’s founding documents and our notable doctrines.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Honor his mother, Ann Neal Cleveland, by visiting the home where he was born at 207 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell, NJ. Cleveland wrote of his mother, “I have always thought her prayers had much to do with my success…” Weather permitting, on Monday, March 18th, we will be open in honor of Cleveland’s birthday from 1-4. Then at 4pm, a short memorial ceremony will take place, with a talk by Louis Picone, a presidential author and scholar and faculty member of William Paterson University. Or visit on another day, since the site is OPEN Wednesday through Sunday year round. Call ahead to confirm accessibility during winter months. 973-226-0001

2. Enjoy some apple-based treats or beverages, and recall local Caldwell hero, Phebe Crane. In 1840, at thirteen years old, she rescued Grover Cleveland from a moving vehicle on Bloomfield Avenue. An ox-drawn wagon heavily loaded with local apples (world-famous for making delicious “Newark Cyder”) nearly ended the future president’s life when he was barely more than a toddler.

3. Read the Constitution, and the Monroe Doctrine. Pocket sized copies of the Constitution will be given to visitors to the Birthplace on March 18th from 1-4 while supplies last. And on March 20th, 7pm, Councilman Jonathan Lace, contact: jlace@caldwell-nj.com , will share round-table style several of President Cleveland’s more famous writings at Rock’n Joe’s in Caldwell. Some of which refer to excerpts from the Constitution. Cleveland vetoed more measures than all the presidents before him combined, multiplied by two, and then some. These numerous vetoes often included detailed explanations of why he was rejecting the proposed legislation, repeatedly citing sections of the Constitution, or explaining that he could find nothing in the Constitution to warrant the bill. He invoked the Monroe Doctrine in foreign relations; during an intensifying border dispute between Venezuela and Great Britain, during the Cuban Insurrection against Spain, and referenced it in his message to Congress in his analysis of the U.S.’s military dealings in Hawaii.

4. Eat corned beef and cabbage! It was one of Cleveland’s favorites. He told the tale of how the scent of corned beef and cabbage from the White House servants’ dinner once caused him to trade his meal cooked by the White House’s French Chef, for a plate of theirs instead.  He declared, “And I had the best dinner I had had for months … Boeufe corne’ au cabeau!”

 5. Teach a child to help with household chores, a definite part of his and his eight siblings’ upbringing. Family stories mention such things as “Grover” doing laundry with his mother, or rocking his younger siblings to sleep. He recalled, “Often and often as a boy, I was compelled to get out of my warm bed at night to hang up a hat or other garment I had left on the floor.”

6. Drink a pint, and sing! Your local pub would substitute nicely for the German beer gardens and Irish pubs of Buffalo that could attest to the twenty-something to thirty-something future president who enjoyed both beer and singing, and frequently. Karaoke anyone?

7. Get outdoors at Essex County’s Grover Cleveland Park, or drive to a rural trail in the country, and get in nature. Cleveland loved the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, and just walking. He wrote often of how the outdoors was a great benefit to health and well-being.

8. Sing together at home. The Cleveland children sang together every night with their parents.

9. Guide, or substantially help, a family member struggling to save for college. At fifteen years old, Cleveland’s meager earnings as a clerk at a general store helped to fund the college education of his older brothers. As a young adult he supported the education of his younger sisters, and in his old age, that of his nieces. At sixteen, since Cleveland took on being provider to his widowed mother and younger siblings, he never had the time or money to attend college, but he always valued higher education. To his last days, he would speak of how he had wished he could have had the means or time. It is interesting that at about sixteen years old, Cleveland was offered a full scholarship by a neighbor, but the condition that Cleveland must use his education to become a minister, caused him to decline the generous but entangled offer. He had all intentions of becoming a lawyer.

10. Spend time reading or studying a subject you love. Cleveland enjoyed poetry, historical biography and never forgetting his religious upbringing, regularly read the Bible. Cleveland became a lawyer by “reading for the law.”  He had the gift of memorization from a very young age. A story in his law firm went that his dear friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom, relied heavily on Cleveland’s ability to recite precedents from memory. At one point, Cleveland retorted, “Go look it up, and then you’ll remember what you learn.” Folsom replied, “I want you to know, that I practice law by ear, not by note!” then turned on his heel and walked away.

11. Attend a live stage play as a family. Especially during his post-presidency years, Cleveland and his family loved the theater, attending Broadway shows regularly. Later, his youngest son would become an actor, and help co-found a summer theater in New Hampshire.

12. Have your life insurance in order as a tribute to Cleveland’s dedication to trustworthy life insurance policies. He labored long hard hours in his late years stabilizing a major company in the life insurance industry at a time when he said, “its policyholders were distressed with fear and gloomy forebodings” from which he eventually corrected the, “breach of trust….pending its reformation.”  He continued as a strong advocate of life insurance during his twilight years.

13. And last, but not least: Consider entering politics as a public service. Cleveland felt his time serving in assorted public offices was his personal sacrifice and offering to his community and his country. He encouraged others who had the energy, honesty and intelligence to do the same.

Contact us: 973-226-0001, gcmuseum@gmail.compresidentcleveland.org, https://www.facebook.com/ClevelandBirthplaceAsso

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February 18th is Presidents Day!

 
The site will be open in honor Presidents Day  from 1pm – 4pm. (weather permitting)
 
 
Grover Cleveland was a proponent of governance as defined in the U.S. Constitution, and Presidents’ Day is a perfect time to re-visit how the Constitution created the title of the U.S. President in 1787, and how it laid out the associated responsibilities of the office.
 
Complimentary copies of Article 2 in the Constitution’s original phrases, as well as their accompanying amendments, will be available for visitors to take home. Contained in Article 2 of the Constitution, visitors will learn the titles associated with the office, explore details such as a candidate’s age requirements, election by electors, reasons for removal, invested powers, as well as limitations of power, residency requirements, and more.
During the winter months, it is recommended that visitors call the site ahead of time to confirm that snow or ice hasn’t impacted our hours.
 

The Museum and Gift Shop are staffed and open Wed -Sat: 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm. Open Sundays 1pm – 4pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Parking: a ten-car lot is available on site, however, please call to confirm today’s status of parking availability, or alternatives. 973-226-0001

“Historic Site Features Holiday Open House – December 27th through January 6th”

 

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CALDWELL – The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Historic Site at 207 Bloomfield Avenue will be open for public tours during the holiday season. Hours are Wed, Th. and Fri 10-12 and 1-4.  Two special weekends will have an added hour on Saturday. During 12/29-30 and 1/5-6 Saturday’s hours will be from 10-4. Sunday’s hours are 1-4. Visitors will receive a special take-away holiday treat during both weekends while supplies last. Local residents are invited to visit solo, or bring along family and friends, to set their own pace through the museum. The self-guided tour starts with three 1830s historically themed rooms; a kitchen, rear parlor, and bedroom chock full of artifacts and the stories they tell. Then two galleries and a gift shop allow a quick glance, or a self-paced in depth look, into Cleveland’s life, private, and political. Outside on the two-acre lawn, weather permitting, visitors are encouraged to try their hand at reproduction 1830s era lawn games. Admission is free, donations gladly accepted. For more details and hours, call 973-226-0001

Presidential Inaugural Ball Features Marvelous Music and 19th Century Pageantry

David Chan Musical Director of the Montclair Orchestra

Article Submitted by Jessica Levin

The Montclair Orchestra recreates a musical experience spanning centuries .
Caldwell, NJ — The Grover Cleveland Memorial Association and The Montclair Orchestra present a once in a lifetime event, a reenactment of President Grover Cleveland’s 1893 inauguration, on November 10th at the Women’s Club of Upper Montclair.  The formal event benefiting both organizations honors the spirit of the original ball where Cleveland took office as the first and only President to serve a non-consecutive term.

Led by Music Director David Chan, The Montclair Orchestra will regale guests with a performance including selections from Mozart Symphony 29 and Grieg’s “Holberg” Suite.  Chan, the concertmaster of the renowned Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and his musicians will kick off the gala with a rendition of Hail to the Chief and other period pieces, played at the 1893 ball. Their music will also serve as the background for dancing during the night.

“Education is key to the mission of The Montclair Orchestra.  Partnering with The Grover Cleveland Memorial Association for a fundraiser that supports opportunities to learn while performing historical music is a win for us.  We appreciate the chance to be a part of this unique event,” noted Andre Weker, Executive Director of The Montclair Orchestra.

In addition to the musical component, a memorable culinary experience awaits guests. A carefully crafted menu has been designed to replicate the cuisine of the period. To top off the gastronomic gaiety, Chef and author Roland Mesnier will serve as auctioneer and keynote speaker.  Mesnier spent twenty-five years in the White House as Executive Pastry Chef, preparing French-inspired sweets for five US Presidents.  Joined on stage by John Elliott of CBS, Mesnier will delight attendees with humor and tales from the kitchen of the most famous house in the country. He has also graciously donated presidential memorabilia to fundraiser’s auction including a chef’s coat that bears the official White House seal.

Beyond the melodious performances and delicious delicacies, the event is truly about remembering history.  To tell the story properly, George Cleveland, grandson, and doppelganger of Grover assumes the role of the President. Miss New Jersey, Jaime Gialloreto will play first Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland.  Joining George will be his nephew and Grover Cleveland’s great-grandson US Ambassador Thomas Robertson IV as Vice President Adlai Stevenson. John Elliott’s wife, Mary Ellen, steps into the role of Mrs. Adlai Stevenson.

Relive the romance of the late 19th Century and support the Grover Cleveland Birthplace and The Montclair Orchestra and the education they provide. Purchase tickets for $300 per person or $500 for Patrons who receive a copy of Chef Mesnier’s book and preferred ballroom seating.  Sponsorship opportunities are also available, and all proceeds benefit the Grover Cleveland Birthplace and The Montclair Orchestra. To purchase tickets   Click Here or for more information call or contact 973-226-0001.

About the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association

The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association (GCBMA) is a conservancy and advocacy group dedicated to preserving the home and legacy of President Cleveland, the only U.S. President born in New Jersey. Through volunteer-based initiatives, our goal is to increase awareness and support of the Grover Cleveland birthplace and its heritage. The GCBMA activities include fundraising in support of educational programs and lectures, interpretation and preservation of the birthplace and its collection of historic objects, and history-themed social activities which engage the public. Working in partnership with the State of New Jersey, we look forward to implementation of our plan to build a Visitor Center on site, providing state of the art space for educational and programming activities, as well as to display historically significant artifacts and exhibitions related to Grover Cleveland and his Presidency.

 About The Montclair Orchestra

The Montclair Orchestra is a unique training orchestra that offers fellowship playing positions to students from some of the most recognizable music schools in the world, including The Juilliard School, Cali School of Music, Mannes School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Mason-Gross School for the Arts. Playing alongside the student fellows are professional ‘mentors’, including some of the world’s best orchestral musicians. Players from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St Luke’s, and other NYC-area orchestras play alongside the student fellows for an unforgettable experience for both musicians and audience. Leading the orchestra in its second season is Music Director David Chan, the concertmaster for the prestigious Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

2017 Annual 4th of July Ice Cream Social


The State Shut Down is over  –  The July 4th Ice Cream Social will be at the birthplace!


2017 Annual 4th of July Ice Cream Social

1-4 pm, July 4, 2017

Grover Cleveland Birthplace

207 Bloomfield Avenue

Caldwell, NJ  07006

 For a Map of  Ice Cream Social Venue – Click Here

Celebrate our Nation’s birthday at the birthplace of the only U.S. President born in New Jersey, President Grover Cleveland.

Spend the afternoon on the grounds of the birthplace where you can enjoy music, dancing, lemonade, traditional lawn games of the 1830’s, history demonstrations, tours of the Birthplace, and free ICE CREAM! Learn about the history of our 22nd and 24th President!

  Guests are invited to bring chairs and blankets. In the event of inclement weather, check our website for update and alternate location.

This event is sponsored by the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association, in cooperation with St. Aloysius Church.

Grover Cleveland: Unique and a President of “Firsts”, A Great Way to Study American History

 

Trustee Paul Maloney holding up a copy of “Grover Cleveland Again”, by filmmaker Ken Burns. Photograph by: Janet Markman

By the Grover Cleveland Birthplace
Memorial Association Trustees,
Compiled by Paul Maloney

 

As a second year “Trustee” for the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association, I asked our Board Members for anything which was a “first” or “unique” about Grover Cleveland.  It is hoped that these “Grover Tidbits” will help one make connections between Grover Cleveland and many other areas of history.

 

From Dr. David Cowell:

He is the only one rescued from under an apple cart (right in Caldwell, N.J.).  (We have a display about the incident in the future Visitor’s Center.)

Cleveland was the only President born in New Jersey, (in Caldwell, N.J.)

He is the only “President” who was a member of the Princeton Board of Trustees.

He was the only “President” to invite the Queen of Hawaii to visit the White House.  Our birthplace is a frequent stop for people visiting from Hawaii.

Cleveland was the second President to use federal troops against striking workers (Pullman Strike).  (Andrew Jackson was the first.)

Cleveland gave a dedication speech at the opening of the Statue of Liberty.

During Cleveland’s presidency, the first electric lights were put on a Christmas tree in the White House.

During Cleveland’s presidency, he had secret mouth cancer surgery, (held on a friend’s yacht) .

Cleveland liked snicker doodles.

He was the only sitting President not endorsed by his party convention (1896).

Known as the “Veto King”, Cleveland did not always have an easy relationship with Congress.

Cleveland went from Mayor of Buffalo to Governor of New York to President of the United States in Three Years.

Cleveland was the first Democrat elected since the Civil War.

It’s quite possible that Cleveland was the only one President born in a “Manse”.

Cleveland won three by popular votes but elected only twice.

 

From Alice Gibson:

The Dawes Commission, known formally as the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, was appointed by President Grover Cleveland in 1893 and headed by Henry L. Dawes to negotiate land with the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes.
Tribe members were allotted land in return for abolishing tribal governments and recognizing Federal laws. In order to receive the land, individual tribal members first had to apply and be deemed eligible by the Commission.

 

From Rhonda DeStefano:

Grover Cleveland was the only president to officially serve as an executioner (hangman).  As the sheriff of Erie County, New York, he performed the role twice and earned the nickname “Buffalo Hangman”.

 

From Connie Shick:

Cleveland was a member of the Democrat political party.  He was the only president to be married in the White House.  The wedding took place on June 2, 1886.  She was 21 years old and became the youngest first lady.  Parts of Wedding Cake and its knife still exist and are on display at the “Birthplace”.

 

From Dr. Beverly Crifasi:

Cleveland had a substitute during the Civil War but later on he was the Commander in Chief of the New York National Guard then governor and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Military then President.

 

From Bruce White:

 Cleveland was not a fan of “serious” music but he really enjoyed Gilbert and Sullivan operettas attending many performances of their various plays in D.C. theatres.

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In a recent book for students, “Grover Cleveland Again”, by filmmaker Ken Burns, it’s reported that Cleveland was one of the first Presidents to use the telephone in the White House.  Cleveland actually answered the telephone himself.  (Burns mentions that there are presently 14 operators answering 4,000 calls today.)

 

So with the help with the Board, I only scratched the surface about Cleveland’s “uniqueness”.  His “tidbits” might be a good way to study Caldwell N.J. History, Hawaiian History, Labor Unions in the United States, Christmas History, Health Status of Presidents, White House History, Native American History, the Civil War, the history of the Draft in the U.S., Immigration issues, and many more areas.  More importantly, it’s a way to study the Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch, and especially the Executive Branch.  Be sure to stop by to visit our Birthplace.  It’s a great way to study American History!