Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

September 07, 1888

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 5525, entitled "An act granting a pension to Mrs. Jane Potts."

The husband of this beneficiary enlisted in 1861 and was mustered out of the service in April, 1865.

He was taken prisoner by the enemy and endured for a long time the hardship of prison life.

He never applied for a pension, though undoubtedly his health suffered to some extent as the result of his imprisonment.

The beneficiary married the soldier in 1871.

He conducted his business affairs, managed his farm, and accumulated property up to the year 1880, when by a decree of court he was adjudged insane, caused by sickness as far as was known, and that his disease was hereditary.

It also appears that his mother and sister had periods of insanity. He committed suicide in 1882 by drowning.

The beneficiary, his widow, filed a claim for pension in 1885, claiming that the insanity which caused him to commit suicide resulted from the hardships of prison life.

Upon this application the facts of the case have been thoroughly examined. Two witnesses indicate that domestic trouble was the cause of the soldier's suicide. Another says that his wife (the beneficiary) was a pretty rough woman--a hard talker--and that the soldier often consulted him about the matter, and said it was hard to live with her. This witness adds that he does not believe that the soldier would have committed suicide if she had not abused him till he could not longer endure it.

The special examiner, in summing up the proof, says in his report: The general opinion in the community is to the effect that his wife drove him to commit suicide rather than to live with or to obtain a divorce from her. Her reputation is that of a virago.

This kind of evidence, while not perhaps determining the case, reconciles me to the conclusion, which seems inevitable from other facts developed, that the military service and prison experience of the deceased were in no manner connected with his death.


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

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