Imagine, if you will, a presidential candidate who was a strong advocate for smaller government, private enterprise, and individual rights and freedoms. Most of us would assume this person was running as a Republican. Yet in the nineteenth century, he was more often than not a Democrat.

Although conservative Democrats have gradually faded into obscurity, John M. Pafford has written a glowing tribute to an important standard bearer in his new book, The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland. The author, a former protégé of Russell Kirk, grew up giving “little thought to Cleveland,” explaining that he “did not seem particularly interesting.” After learning more about the nation’s twenty-second and twenty-fourth president, he realized his “view of him had been too narrow,” and in actuality, there was “much to admire in him and much to...


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