Whilst I was looking for a suitably interesting “on this day” topic for today’s offering, I noticed in Wikipedia that on 13th June 1893, former US President Grover Cleveland had a serious operation to remove a potentially cancerous tumour from his mouth...
I already knew that Cleveland was the only ever US President to have been elected for two non-consecutive terms in office... and is duly counted as “two” Presidents despite only being one (allbeit fairly hefty) man. So it seemd like a decent subject to write about; only when I delved a little deeper, the operation was actually performed on 1st July 1893... cheers Wikipedia...
However, I’m going to plough on and assume that “on this day” in 1893, Grover Cleveland was really nervous about his impending surgery.
Some months earlier, Cleveland had discovered an unexplained growth in his mouth... It was diagnosed as a tumour and although it was not immediately apparent as to whether or not the growth was malignant, his doctor advised that it be removed. Cancer was not very well understood at the time and a decision was taken to keep the President’s condition a secret to save an unnecessary panic or adverse reaction amongst the general population.
There was a financial worry about how Wall Street might respond to the news and there was also the fact that cancer (known then as the “dread disease”) had a strong social stigma attached to it.
So Cleveland announced he was taking a short fishing holiday onboard a friend’s yacht (the Onieda) and it was during this time, remarkably on a moving boat, that an incredibly complex operation was successfully completed. Extraction was achieved via the President’s mouth and his large moustache remained intact to ensure there was no evidence of the surgery. A rubber prosthesis was inserted, preserving external features, but also ensuring Cleveland’s voice would be unaffected... and basically life went on...
However two months later, a reporter called E J Edwards published an article in the Philadelphia Press detailing what had actually happened to the President; Cleveland not only denied the story, but launched a smear campaign to totally discredit Edwards.
And it worked... Edwards’ career in journalism was effectively over, but nearly a quarter of a century later with most of the main protagonists dead, one of the doctors, William Keen, came forward and revealed the truth and totally exonerated Edwards in the process...
As with most politicians, Clevelandwas not universally popular although he did have a reputation for honestly and integrity – something with which E J Edwards might not readily agree. Stephen Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United states of Americaeventually passed away on 24th June 1908... so perhaps in hindsight I should have left this blog until a week on
All my own work... almost.