Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

January 18, 1889

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9791, entitled "An act for the relief of Charles W. Geddes."

This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to include the name of the beneficiary mentioned, late assistant engineer in the United States Navy, among those who served in the Mexican War, and issue to him a land warrant for his services as assistant engineer on the United States steamer General Taylor during said war.

On an application made by this beneficiary for bounty land under general laws the Secretary of the Navy reported that the vessel to which he was attached was not considered as having been engaged in the war with Mexico, and thereupon his application was rejected. Upon appeal to the Secretary of the Interior he states the settled doctrine of such cases to be that "service must have been in, not simply during a war to give title to bounty land."

The only claim made by the beneficiary is that the vessel upon which he was employed was engaged for a time in transporting seamen from New Orleans, where they were enlisted, to Pensacola, and that he was informed and believed that they were enlisted to serve on board vessels composing the Gulf Squadron, then cooperating with the land forces in the Mexican War.

It seems to me that it is establishing a bad precedent, tending to the breaking down of all distinctions between civil and military employment and service, to hold that a man engaged on a vessel transporting recruits to a rendezvous from which they may be sent to the scene of hostilities should be allowed the same advantages which are bestowed upon those actually engaged in or more directly related to the dangers and chances of military operations.


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

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