Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

July 31, 1886

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9106, entitled "An act granting a pension to Rachel Barnes."

William Barnes, the husband of the beneficiary named in this bill, enlisted in the United States infantry in February, 1838, and was discharged February 24, 1841.

In 1880 he applied for a pension, alleging that while serving in Florida in 1840 and 1841 he contracted disease of the eyes. He procured considerable evidence in support of his claim, but in 1882, and while still endeavoring to furnish further proof, he committed suicide by hanging.

The inference that his death thus occasioned was the result of despondency and despair brought on by his failure to procure a pension, while it adds a sad feature to the case, does not aid in connecting his death with his military service.

That this was the view of the committee of the House to whom the bill was referred is evidenced by the conclusion of their report in these words:

And while your committee do not feel justified under the law as at present existing in recommending that the name of the widow be placed upon the pension roll for the purpose of a pension in her own fight as widow of the deceased soldier and by reason of the soldier's death, they do think that she should be allowed such pension as, had her husband's claim been favorably determined on the day of his decease, he would have received.

And yet the bill under consideration directs the Secretary of the Interior to place this widow's name on the pension roll and to "pay her a pension as such widow from and after the passage of this act, subject to the provisions and limitations of the pension laws."


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

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