Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

May 09, 1888

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 4357, entitled "An act to erect a public building at Allentown, Pa."

The accommodation of the postal business is the only public purpose for which the Government can be called on to provide, which is suggested as a pretext for the erection of this building. It is proposed to expend $100,000 for a structure to be used as a post-office. It is said that a deputy collector of internal revenue and a board of pension examiners are located at Allentown, but I do not understand that the Government is obliged to provide quarters for these officers.

The usual statement is made in support of this bill setting forth the growth of the city where it is proposed to locate the building and the amount and variety of the business which is there transacted; and the postmaster in stereotyped phrase represents the desirability of increased accommodation for the transaction of the business under his charge.

But I am thoroughly convinced that there is no present necessity for the expenditure of $100,000 for any purpose connected with the public business at this place.

The annual rent now paid for the post-office is $1,300.

The interest, at 3 per cent, upon the amount now asked for this new building is $3,000. As soon as it is undertaken the pay of a superintendent of its construction will begin, and after its completion the compensation of janitors and other expenses of its maintenance will follow.

The plan now pursued for the erection of public buildings is, in my opinion, very objectionable. They are often built where they are not needed, of dimensions and at a cost entirely disproportionate to any public use to which they can be applied, and as a consequence they frequently serve more to demonstrate the activity and pertinacity of those who represent localities desiring this kind of decoration at public expense than to meet any necessity of the Government.


Grover Cleveland, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives