Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce followed Millard Fillmore, whose marriage to a Baptist minister’s daughter did not seem to awaken a sense of piety in him. In one of the few religious references, he wrote as he entered office, “I rely upon Him who holds in His hands the destinies of nations to endow me with the requisite strength for the task …”
Pierce, on the other hand, was deeply religious. He had the habit of kneeling daily at his bedside to close the day in prayer, but his piety was private. Then, two months before the inauguration, his only son, eleven years old, was killed before his eyes. It was the third child the Pierce’s had lost. The experience spurred Pierce into a deeper devotion. He and his wife gathered the White House staff each morning for prayers and thanks to God. Every meal was accompanied by a blessing. On Sunday morning and evening, they attended church – and the afternoon was said to have been given to prayer.
Grover Cleveland was the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885–1889 and 1893–1897). His father was a Presbyterian pastor in Caldwell, New Jersey. The founding pastor of that church, Stephen Grover, became the namesake of his fifth of nine children, Grover Cleveland. His family moved to New York. He would serve as Mayor of Buffalo, and the Governor of the State before becoming President. Cleveland grew up in church – Sundays and Wednesdays were regular church days. He developed a strong appreciation for prayer. His oldest sister became a missionary and a brother became a minister.
Cleveland was a bachelor. A female friend named him as the father of her child. It scandalized him and created a firestorm in the middle of an election, one he narrowly won, in part because of transparency. In those dark days, he called prayer a life-altering force in his life. Thanksgiving had now become a national symbol and Cleveland continued to promote the observance and urged that stores be closed and churches opened so that the nation could more devoutly declare gratitude to God.
To the end that we may with one accord testify our gratitude for all these blessings, I, Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, do hereby designate and set apart Thursday, the twenty-fourth day of November next as a day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by all the people of the land.
Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison. One of five children, his mother had laced prayer into daily life. He grew up Presbyterian. He married a preacher’s daughter, and his preacher father-in-law lived in the White House and led morning devotions and prayer time daily. He also issued a directive against government business on Sunday, barring an emergency. And in the first two years of office, he issued a record eight prayer proclamations.
This teaching will be included in the upcoming The Praying Church Handbook – Volume IV – Intercessory Prayer and Missions.
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 Richardson, 64.
 Moore, One Nation Under God, 147.
Nevins, Allan, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage (1932), 10; Henry F. Graff, Grover Cleveland (2002), 3.
 Moore, 237.
 John Sutherland Bonnell, Presidential Profiles: Religion in the Life of American Presidents, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971), 147.
http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=78096. See Grover Cleveland Proclamation – Thanksgiving – 1887.
 In 2006, the Associated Press released a supposed “Proclamation of Prayer” by President Cleveland. The fictitious call for prayer, on April 30, 1894, was for “repentance over the U.S. role in the Hawaiian monarchy’s overthrow.” Cleveland issued no such proclamation. It surfaced as a result of a marginal movement of late for Hawaiian sovereignty. It was printed as fact in the book, The Betrayal of Liliuokalani”, (pp. 314-315). Not only did President Cleveland not issue the proclamation, but he had stalled attempts to annex the territory and had worked, despite charges of corruption, to see the queen restored to power. It was the New York Sun that on February 26, 1894, had originally released the story. Most believe it was a joke at the expense of President Cleveland.