The result was a political realignment that ended the Third Party System and launched the Fourth Party System and the Progressive Era.
Biographer Allan Nevins wrote: "[I]n Grover Cleveland the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities.
He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have.
He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense.
He was the winner of the popular vote for president three times – in 1884, 1888, and 1892 – and was one of the three Democrats (with Andrew Johnson and Woodrow Wilson) to serve as president during the era of Republican political domination dating from 1861 to 1933.
He is the only President in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.
Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans.
His crusade for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era.
He relentlessly fought political corruption, patronage, and bossism.
As a reformer Cleveland had such prestige that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party, called "Mugwumps", largely bolted the GOP presidential ticket and swung to his support in the 1884 election.
As his second administration began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression, which Cleveland was unable to reverse.
It ruined his Democratic Party, opening the way for a Republican landslide in 1894 and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party in 1896.