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October 23, 2014
CQ Press Encyclopedia of American Government

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Have You Heard

President Grover Cleveland went to great lengths in 1893 to hide his grim disability from the public and his detractors—he had cancer of the jaw, probably the result of his love for cigars. Surgery was needed, but an economic crisis loomed and Cleveland's advisers feared a panic if the story got out. They arranged to have the operation performed, supposedly while Cleveland was vacationing aboard a friend's yacht, the Oneida, anchored in New York's East River. From inside his mouth, much of Cleveland's upper left jaw was removed, distorting his face and speech until a rubber device restored a near-normal appearance and diction. While the press soon obtained a sketchy outline of the incident, it was twenty years—long after Cleveland's death from heart disease in 1908—before the full story emerged.  more...

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