Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

July 05, 1888

To the Senate:

I return without approval Senate bill No. 432, entitled "An act for the relief of Joel B. Morton."

Calvin Morton, the son of the beneficiary named in this bill, enlisted in the volunteer infantry in 1861, and after his discharge again enlisted in the United States cavalry, from which he was discharged in 1867.

It is alleged by his father that he was killed in the battle with the Indians at Little Big Horn, called the "Custer massacre," June 25, 1876.

His name does not appear in any record of the soldiers engaged in that battle. The casualty records of the affair are reported as very complete, but they contain no mention of any soldier of that name.

His father claims in his application before the Pension Bureau to have had a letter from his son in the fall of 1875, dated at some place in the Black Hills, stating that he was a lieutenant in the army under General Custer, but that the letter was lost. He also alleges that he read an account of the massacre in a newspaper, the name of which he has forgotten, and that his son was there mentioned as among the slain.

The report of the House committee states that the only evidence of the death of this soldier is found in a letter of Anderson G. Shaw, who writes that he was present on the field of the battle mentioned when the killed were buried, and that one of the burial party called a corpse found there Morton's. It is further claimed that the description of this body agreed with that given by the father of his son.

Considering the complete list of the casualties attending this battle now in the War Department, it must be conceded that the death of the son of the beneficiary is far from being satisfactorily established.

The claim of the father is still pending in the Pension Bureau, and perhaps with further effort more information on the subject can be obtained.


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

Simple Search of Our Archives