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Councilman Jonathan Lace speaks at Grover Cleveland’s Birthday celebration

Jonathon Lace holding the proclamation declaring the week of March 18, 2018 Grover Cleveland week in the borough of Caldwell. Photograph by Janet Markman

Caldwell Councilman Jonathan Lace presents a proclamation and speaks at Grover Cleveland’s birthday celebration on March 18, 2018, which was Grover Cleveland’s 181 birthday.  To see the proclamation click here.  For those who could not attend below is the transcript of Jonathan Lace’s speech.

 

Thank you to the Board of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association for inviting me to say a few words today about the significance of President Cleveland for Caldwell. Today, at the beginning of Grover Cleveland Week as we celebrate his 181st birthday, I want to briefly mention two aspects of his legacy that I believe can serve as an example for us: his belief in political responsibility and his commitment to people before party.

Political Responsibility

I first became fascinated by the figure of Grover Cleveland 3 years ago, on my first visit to this historic site. I had lived in Caldwell for about 4 years, but never had visited the birth house. So, I brought my oldest daughter, Aubrey, with me, and we were given a wonderful tour by Sharon Farrell that included time to play with early 19th century toys in the parlor and the opportunity to see how people at that time lived day to day. On our way out of the house, we stopped by the gift shop where we purchased a parasol and a small book with the title “Good Citizenship.” The book is actually a collection of two speeches by Grover in Chicago, the first being from October of 1903, to the Commercial Club, and the second being from 1907, to the Union League Club. In the first, he lays out his vision of what politics is all about. After decrying those whose blind faith in seemingly “inevitable” American prosperity dulls their sense of duty and who distance themselves from political involvement by stating “I am not a politician”, President Cleveland states:

“Every citizen should be ‘politician enough’ to bring himself within the true meaning of the term, as one who concerns himself with ‘the regulation or government of a nation or state for the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity.’ This is politics in the best sense, and this is good citizenship.”

 This quote grabbed my attention that day and has made quite an impact on me. It is an attempt to redeem a term that has become synonymous with corruption and to reclaim its actual meaning. It is a reminder to all of us that we should all be “politician enough” to get involved in issues of government at every level: local, county, state, and federal. We may not all decide to run for office, but we all can educate ourselves about public policy; we can all talk to a neighbor, we can all write a letter to the editor, we can all volunteer to serve on a municipal committee or at the food bank. We can all serve the public in some capacity. We can share our talents, our time, and our creativity with the world around us, starting right here in the Caldwells.

 And all of us need the benefit of each other’s ideas. There are significant policy questions facing our local communities that urgently need all of our input. For example, should Caldwell merge its police department with West Caldwell? Should Caldwell sell its public water utility to a private company or bond the roughly 4.5 million dollars necessary to repair its hydraulic infrastructure? Should Caldwell repair the parking deck of the Community Center piecemeal or begin from scratch? These questions, that have already been touched on in Council meetings this year, need public input so that local officials can be held accountable to the people. In his first Inaugural Address, President Cleveland said that every American owed to the country a “close scrutiny” of public officials with a “fair and reasonable estimate” of their performance and that this was the “price of our liberty.” To continue the analogy, if we do not become aware of what is happening in government, we become guilty of stealing our liberty by not paying our fair share of attention to it. Given the availability of meeting records and the ability to watch meetings from the comfort of our homes, it is a relatively small price to pay. If you’ve never attended or watched a Council or other public meeting, this week would be a great time to begin.

People Over Party

Another aspect of Grover’s legacy is his commitment to people before party. In today’s often hyper-partisan, personally destructive political climate, that we see frequently in the news, in our mail, and online, President Cleveland offers a vision of politics that is grounded in the highest ideals of patriotism which transcend any type of partisan or personal agenda. In 1883, Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, was the Governor of New York looking for ways to reform the civil service system of that state. His ideas caught the attention of a young a Republican, who had just been re-elected as a Representative in the New York legislature. His name was Theodore Roosevelt. Despite their different labels, they found a way to work together for civil service reform, much to the anger of both of their respective party’s leadership. Perhaps more importantly, they cultivated a friendly respect for each other’s desire for better government. In his 2nd term, President Cleveland would later re-appoint Theodore Roosevelt to the United States Civil Service Commission. This is just one example of how Grover was committed to people before party. In his first Inaugural Address, he stated:

 “…the best results in the operation of a government wherein every citizen has a share, largely depend upon a proper limitation of purely partisan zeal…and a correct appreciation of the time when the heat of the partisan should be merged in the patriotism of the citizen.”

Given the current political climate as reflected in national trends and social media, I believe that we can all agree that we live in such a time. Perhaps we should make a specific effort this week to remember that we are all Americans first and that parties are merely a means to a more perfect Union, knowing that we all want what’s best for our community, even if we may disagree on how to achieve it. Let the days be forever gone when we are criticized for extending (or even shaking) the hand across the aisle or acknowledging good ideas, regardless of which side or school of thought offers them. Let us emulate Grover’s commitment to people before party.

During this Grover Cleveland Week in Caldwell, the Borough encourages all residents who are able, to visit this birth house and learn more about his legacy. I hope you find his call to political responsibility and his commitment to people before party both motivational and inspiring. Perhaps President Grover Cleveland Week can become something more than encouraging residents to visit this birth house, as worthwhile as that always is. Perhaps it can become a week of celebration, education, and service for which Caldwell will also be known, enriching both our Borough and visitors from across the country.

In closing, I will leave you with a quote from President Cleveland’s speech in Chicago in 1907:

“…our nation lives in us – in our mind and consciences. There it must find nutriment or die. The land we live in is safe as long as we are dutifully careful of the land that lives in us.’”

Thank you.

 

GCBMA welcomes three new trustees to it’s board

GCBMA welcomes three new trustees to it’s board.

Adele E. Meyer – Verona – retired.  Worked in QC for several companies and teacher

Evan Mc Laughlin – West Caldwell – history teacher James Caldwell High School

Louis L. Picone – Succasunna – Express Scripts & author of several books on presidents their birthplaces & deaths, final days,burials and beyond. (Books available at birthplace at “Grover’s Corner Gift Shop” – For gift shop hours click here)

2018 Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association’s Annual Conference

The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association

is sponsoring their annual conference on Saturday, March 17, 2018

at the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell – corner of Roseland and Westville Avenues, Caldwell-

Featuring an Illustrated Lecture by Marta McDowell entitled “All The Presidents’ Gardens”

 

Marta McDowell teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanic Garden. She was awarded the American Horticultural Society book award for her book All the Presidents’ Gardens. That book also made The New York Times best seller list. Ms. McDowell won a 2014 Gold Award from the Garden Writers Association for her book, Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. She is now working on a revision of her first book, Emily Dickinson’s Gardens due out in a full color edition by Timber Press in 2019. A popular lecturer, she has been a featured speaker in locations ranging from the Chicago Botanic Gardens to the Smithsonian Institution.

Registration is at 9:30am followed by coffee, tea, and other refreshments.

The meeting begins at 10:00am. Following her lecture, Ms. McDowell will be available to sign her book and there will be a box lunch served.

The cost per person is $35 for the lecture and lunch.

Make reservations via e-mail or phone.

Email gibsonalice30@gmail.com or call 973-747-2794

– Payment at the door –

Lunch will 12:00am-1:00pm

Teacher’s Workshop will start at 1:00pm

After lunch, there will be a teacher’s workshop from Grades 3-12 to introduce materials from the “Traveling Trunks” program available from the Grover Cleveland Website, opportunities for school trips, and to introduce educational outreach plans and possibilities with the upcoming building of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Visitor’s Center. The GCBMA offers a Traveling Trunks Program for educational institutions,service organizations, and other groups interested in keeping the legacy of Grover Cleveland alive, as well as getting to feel the historical past of how people of three different periods lived and were influenced by the historical events of their day. There are three Traveling Trunks, representing the 1830’s, 1860’s (Civil War) and1880-90’s. The Trunks are portable history lessons that can travel to schools, scouts,home schooling parents, nursing homes, and other organizations. Participants at the workshop will examine the contents of the trunks and be introduced to ways the artifacts can be used in the classroom. Professional Development certificates will be offered for the entire day. This part of the workshop will last approximately one hour.

To download a copy of the event flyer:  Click Here

Holiday Hours and Happenings at the Grover Cleveland Birthplace

President Grover Cleveland’s Birthplace and Childhood Home. Photograph by Akiko Axe

(a) December 29th-31st. “Homecoming Open House”  Extended hours allow residents and their out-of-town house guests to visit the museum and gift shop: All out of town guests will receive a treat or souvenir to take home. Friday, Saturday and Sunday prior to New Year’s Day. Visit the museum and gift shop 10-4 Friday, 10-4 Saturday and 1-4 on Sunday.

First Day Hike – Cancelled due to extreme cold weather
(b) Monday, January 1st: “First Day Hike.” Begin 2018 by taking a short guided group hike throughout Caldwell. Gathering and open house at the Birthplace 11am-12noon. Hike commences at noon. Call 973-226-0001 to register.

(c) Sunday, January 7th. Last day to view holiday decorations. Open 1-4pm.

Remaining December Schedule:

Sat 12/16 10-12 & 1-4

Sun 12/17 1-4

Mon 12/18 closed

Tues 12/19 closed

Wed 12/20 10-12 & 1-4

Thurs 12/21 10-12 & 1-4

Fri 12/22 10-12 & 1-4

Sat 12/23 10-12 & 1-4

Sun 12/24 1-4

Mon 12/25 closed

Tues 12/26 closed

Wed 12/27 10-12 & 1-4

Thurs 12/28 10-12 & 1-4

Fri 12/29 10-4 Open House

Sat 12/30 10-4 Open House

Sun 12/31 1-4  Open House

 

Mon 1/1 “First Day Hike” 11am Open House, 12 noon hikeCANCELLED – due to extreme cold weather!

Tues 1/2 closed

Wed Jan 3rd Open 10-12 & 1-4

Thurs Jan 4th  Open 10-12 & 1-4

Fri Jan 5th Open 10-12 & 1-4

Sat Jan 6th Open 10-12 & 1-4

Sunday Jan 7th Open 1-4. Last day to view holiday decorations

GCBMA -Annual Meeting – Reverend James Caldwell visits Caldwell

 

The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association will hold its Annual Membership Meeting on November 27 at the First Presbyterian Church at 7:30. The meeting is open to all members and other members of the community interested in history.

  • The highlight of the evening will be a presentation by Reverend Richard Sommers and Ray Lipak. They will re-enact a visit from Reverend James Caldwell to the church he founded and its minister of today.
  • Dr David Cowell, Chairman of the Board of Trustees will give a brief overview of the activities of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association this past year.
  • There will be an election of the slate of board members.
    Candidates for the upcoming election of trustees at the annual meeting are as follows:

PANEL A  –  FOR 3 YEAR TERM ENDING IN 2020

  1. AKIKO AXE – WEST CALDWELL
  2. PIETER BURHANS – CHATHAM
  3. DAVID COWELL – CALDWELL
  4. MATT ROLLINS – NORTH CALDWELL
  5. ADELE MEYER – VERONA

There is  one vacancy on this panel.
Nominations from the floor will be accepted.  Personal information should be available about any nominees from the floor.

  • Following the election refreshments will be served in the Education building adjacent to the church.
  • Grover’s Corner gift shop will be set up in the sanctuary before and after the meeting. Be sure to check out the wonderful items.

Labor Day

Photo Credit : National Archives and Records Administration

 

Submitted by Sharon Farrell

Happy Labor Day! The original Act of Congress pictured here, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, shows that Monday, September 3, 1894 would become our nation’s first federally observed Labor Day. The Act was passed by Congress seventy days earlier, on June 26th, and received President Cleveland’s signature on June 28th.

Since 2013 or so, several sources have been casting Cleveland’s signing of the bill as an attempt by him for a re-election bid, saying it was “election year politicking.”  Doubtful, since the next election year was 1896, not 1894. In addition, Cleveland was serving his second term, and had no intention of running for a third.

Some have reported that he signed it as an apology for “blood spilled” by strikers during the Pullman Strike of 1894. While it is true that blood was spilled, Cleveland would have to be psychic to know this when the bill was signed by him ten days prior to his order to send troops into Chicago.

At times too much credit has been given to Cleveland for enacting Labor Day. Prior to 2013 Labor Day had sometimes been credited as  the sole idea of Cleveland as a sort of executive order. In truth, multiple labor leaders, citizens, senators  and members of congress had  tried unsuccessfully for close to a dozen years to achieve the passage of a federal Labor Day Holiday bill.  It had been discussed, rehashed, crafted, and sponsored by numerous legislators over time. This successful 1894 version was introduced by Illinois Congressman, Lawrence McGann.

Cleveland may not have crafted the bill, but I think he heartily agreed that Americans deserved a “Labor’s Holiday” fully endorsed not just by Congress,  but by the President as well. It would be a proper tribute to the spirit of the original legislation to remember the day with thanks and best wishes to the American labor force this Labor Day.