Monday, February 15, 2016

That Time Grover Cleveland Was Assaulted By An Elmiran

by Kelli Huggins, Education Coordinator

When I wrote the blog post about a mob assaulting Governor Theodore Roosevelt on the streets of Elmira, I figured that it was a singular incident.  I was wrong.  In 1884 (16 years before the Roosevelt assault), an Elmira man assaulted then-Governor Grover Cleveland in Albany.  It turns out that while peaceful political disagreement hasn't always been our strong suit, assaulting future presidents has.

On the morning of October 20, 1884, Samuel T. Boom of Elmira hid and waited for Governor Cleveland to make his way to his Executive Chamber in Albany.  When Cleveland made it to the intersection of Lancaster and Eagle Streets, Boom rushed him and attempted to punch the Governor twice.  When Cleveland deflected those blows, Boom went to pick up a paving stone but was stopped by a bystander. At some point in the brawl, Cleveland received a minor cut behind the ear. In the ensuing chaos, Boom ran away to his boarding house, where he was promptly arrested.  According to the press, Cleveland laughed about the attack and the news noted that Boom was "a small, delicate man." 
This sign is talking about a different type of retaliation than what Mr. Boom had planned.
Boom later acknowledged that the attack was a mistake and the complicated back story of the incident emerged.  Allegedly, Mrs. Boom had been seeking a pardon for her imprisoned brother from the Governor and his lack of a response had supposedly exacerbated her preexisting illness to the point that she was near death.  Mrs. Boom had first asked the Governor for a pardon during his visit to Elmira several weeks before the Albany assault. The Booms later went to Albany to follow-up with Cleveland and in a meeting in the Executive Chambers a few days before the assault, Cleveland told the family he hadn't gotten to examine their case yet because of the large number of other requests her received.  He did, however, tell them that the pardon was unlikely to be granted because of the opposition of the District Attorney and the Elmira police.  Boom was enraged and threatened to find out if the Governor was responsible for this and "slap his chops."  A few days after that, Mrs. Boom returned and had to be removed from the Chambers because she was in hysterics.  Mr. Boom thought that the bruises on his wife's arms were made by Cleveland.  Boom began stalking Cleveland, learning the route he took to work, as he plotted his revenge, which led to the assault.

Hat featuring Grover Cleveland on the interior. Worn by a supporter, unlike Boom.
Apparently, the Governor and the Albany police found Boom to be a rather pathetic case, because the papers reported, "The crank who assaulted Gov. Cleveland was discharged without punishment."


  1. Sounds like Boom was a dud. Quite a story, though. Thanks.

  2. wow didn't know we had people from our area that assaulted our Governor's! now a days anyone even attempted something like that wouldn't get very far except a ride to jail