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His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions nationwide in addition to the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party.
Even so, his reputation for probity and good character survived the troubles of his second term.
Tammany, under its boss, John Kelly, had disapproved of Cleveland's nomination as governor, and their resistance intensified after Cleveland openly opposed and prevented the re-election of their point man in the State Senate, Thomas F. The Republicans convened in Chicago and nominated former Speaker of the House James G.
Blaine of Maine for president on the fourth ballot.
While this sort of bipartisan graft had previously been tolerated in Buffalo, Mayor Cleveland would have none of it.
His veto message said, "I regard it as the culmination of a most bare-faced, impudent, and shameless scheme to betray the interests of the people, and to worse than squander the public money." Cleveland also asked the state legislature to form a Commission to develop a plan to improve the sewer system in Buffalo at a much lower cost than previously proposed locally; this plan was successfully adopted.
His crusade for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era.
Blaine's nomination alienated many Republicans who viewed Blaine as ambitious and immoral.
Cleveland was among the leaders in early support, and Thomas F. Thurman of Ohio, Samuel Freeman Miller of Iowa, and Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts also had considerable followings, along with various favorite sons.
As his second administration began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression, which Cleveland was unable to reverse.
It ruined his Democratic Party, opening the way for a Republican landslide in 1894 and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party in 1896.Later that year, Cleveland's brother William was hired as a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in New York City, and William obtained a place for Cleveland as an assistant teacher.