To the House of Representatives:
I return without approval House bill No. 7715, entitled "An act for the relief of Georgia A. Stricklett."
By the terms of this bill a pension is allowed to the beneficiary above named, whose husband died on the 21st day of July, 1873. It appears from the records that he was mustered into the service to date from October 10, 1863, to serve for one year. It is alleged in the report of the committee of the House who reported this bill that he was wounded with buckshot in the face and head by bushwhackers, when on recruiting service, on the 23d day of July, 1863. If these dates are correct, he was wounded before he entered the service; but this fact is not made the basis of the disapproval of the widow's application for relief. There seems, however, to be no mention of any such injury during his term of service, though he is reported sick much of the time when present with his regiment, and is reported as once in hospital for a disease which, to say the least of it, can not be recognized as related to the service. The soldier himself made no application for pension.
A physician testifies that he was present on the 21st day of July, 1873, when the soldier died; that he examined the body after death, and to the best of his knowledge such death was caused partially by epilepsy, and that the epilepsy was the result of "wounds about the face and head received during his service during the war."
Another physician testifies that the soldier applied to him for treatment in 1868, and that his disability was the development of confirmed epilepsy, and he expresses the opinion that this was due to a wound from a buckshot. This physician, while not giving epilepsy as the cause of death, says that "had he lived to die a natural death he certainly would have died an insane epileptic."
The report speaks of his death by "an accidental shot."
The truth appears to be that he was killed by a pistol shot in an altercation with another man.
Unless it shall be assumed that the epilepsy was caused by the buckshot wound spoken of, and unless a pension should be allowed because, if the soldier had not been killed in an altercation, he might have soon died from such epilepsy, this bill is entirely devoid of merit.
Surely no one will seriously propose that a claim for pension should rest upon a conjecture as to what would have caused death if it had not occurred in an entirely different way.
The testimony of the physician who testified in this case that death was caused partially by epilepsy suggests the extreme recklessness which may characterize medical testimony in applications for pension.
Grover Cleveland, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/204889