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The Second Cleveland Administration

Grover Cleveland entered his second term on a high note. He had handily defeated the incumbent Benjamin Harrison and was supported by Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Optimism dimmed rapidly, however; the nation was beset by a major depression that followed hard on the heels of the Panic of 1893. Cleveland believed it was inappropriate to use his office to ease the suffering of the unemployed or the dispossessed. He believed, on the other hand, that it was his duty to protect the U.S. government's solvency. He successfully engineered the rescue of the gold standard, but was ineffective when dealing with his cherished aim of tariff reform. Cleveland exhibited a heavy-handed approach to labor unrest and failed in an attempt (the E.C. Knight case) to apply the Sherman Antitrust Act against the sugar trust. The only actions of the second administration that received widespread support were in foreign affairs.