Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

August 17, 1886

Pocket Veto

Hon. Thos. F. Bayard

Secretary of State.

DEAR SIR: The President directs me to transmit to you the accompanying bills and joint resolutions, which failed to become laws at the close of the late session of Congress, being unsigned and not having been presented to him ten days prior to adjournment.

I may add that the printed copy of memorandum (without signature) is by the President, and is attached to each bill and resolution by his direction.

Very respectfully,


Assistant Secretary.

("An act for the relief of Francis W. Haldeman."--Received July 28, 1886.)

This bill appropriates $200 to the party named therein "as compensation for services performed and money expended for the benefit of the United States Army." It appears from a report of the House Committee on War Claims that in the fall of 1863 Haldeman, a lad 12 years of age, purchased a uniform and armed himself and attached himself to various Ohio regiments, and, as is said, performed various duties connected with the army service until the end of the year 1864, and for this it is proposed to give him $200.

Of course he never enlisted and never was regularly attached to any regiment. What kind of arms this boy 12 years of age armed himself with is not stated, and it is quite evident that his military service could not have amounted to much more than the indulgence of a boyish freak and his being made a pet of the soldiers with whom he was associated. There is a pleasant sentiment connected with this display of patriotism and childish military ardor, and it is not a matter of surprise that he should, as stated by the committee, have "received honorable mention by name in the history of his regiment;" but when it is proposed twenty-two years after his one year's experience with troops to pay him a sum nearly if not quite equal to the pay of a soldier who fought and suffered all the dangers and privations of a soldier's life, I am constrained to dissent.

("An act for the relief of R. D. Beckley and Leon Howard."--Received July 28, 1886.)

These two men were employed by the Doorkeeper of the Forty-eighth Congress as laborers at the rate of $720 per annum.

They claim that in both sessions of that Congress they not only performed the duties appertaining to their positions as laborers, but also performed the full duties of messengers. Having received their pay as laborers, this bill proposes to appropriate for them the difference between their compensation as laborers and $1,200, the pay allowed messengers.

Congress, in appropriation bills covering the period in which these men claim to have performed these dual duties, provided for a certain specified number of messengers and a fixed number of laborers. They both accepted the latter position. If they actually performed the duties of both places, their ability to do so is evidence that the labor of either place was very light. In any case they owed their time and services to the Government, and while they were performing the duties of messengers they were not engaged in the harder tasks which might have been required of them as laborers. They ought not to complain if they have received the amount for which they agreed to work, and which was allowed for as the wages of a place which they were glad enough to secure. If they really did the work of both places, I don't see why they should not be paid both compensations. This proposition of course would not be entertained for a moment.

I am of the opinion that claims for extra compensation such as these should be firmly discountenanced, and I am sure no injustice will be done by my declining to approve this bill.

("An act for the relief of Thomas P. Morgan, jr."--Received July 31, 1886.--Memorandum.)

Thomas P. Morgan, jr., in the year 1881 entered into a contract with the Government to do certain excavating in the harbor of Norfolk.

He performed considerable of the work, but though the time limited by the contract for the completion was extended by the Government, he failed to complete the work, which necessitated other arrangements, to the damage of the Government in quite a large sum. His contract was forfeited by the Government because the progress he made was so slow and unsatisfactory. It seems that a certain percentage of the money earned by him in the progress of the work was, under the terms of the contract, retained by the Government to insure its completion, and when work was terminated the sum thus retained amounted to $4,898.04, which sum was justly forfeited to the Government.

The object of this bill is to waive this forfeiture and pay this sum to the derelict contractor.

Inasmuch as I am unable to see any equities in this case that should overcome the fact that the amount of loss to the Government through the contract is greater than the sum thus sought to be released to him, I am not willing to agree to his release from the consequence of his failure to perform his contract.

("An act for the relief of Charles F. Bowers."--Received August 2, 1886.)

It appears that Charles F. Bowers, while acting as regimental quartermaster in 1862, received of John Weeks, assistant quartermaster of volunteers, the sum of $230, for which he gave a receipt. On the settlement of his accounts he was unable to account for said sum, for the reason, as he alleges, that certain of his papers were lost and destroyed. Thus in the statement of his account he is represented as a debtor of the Government in that amount.

This bill directs that a credit be allowed to him of the said sum of $230. But since his account was adjusted as above stated, showing him in debt to the Government in the amount last stated, he has paid the sum of $75 and been allowed a credit of $125 for the value of a horse; so that whatever may be said of the merits of his claim that he should not be charged with the sum of $230, if he should now be credited with that sum the Government would owe him upon its books the sum of $30. The bill is therefore not approved.

("An act to provide for the erection of a public building in the city of Annapolis, Md."--Received August 3, 1886.--Memorandum.)

The post-office at Annapolis is now accommodated in quarters for which the Government pays rent at the rate of $500 per annum, and the office occupied by the collector of customs is rented for $75 per annum.

The Government has no other use for a public building at Annapolis than is above indicated, and the chief argument urged why a building should be constructed there is based upon the fact that this city is the capital of the State of Maryland and should have a Government building because most if not all the other capitals of the States have such edifices.

There seems to be so little necessity for the building proposed for the transaction of Government business, and if there is anything in the argument last referred to it seems so well answered by the maintenance of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, this bill is allowed to remain inoperative.

("An act for the relief of J. A. Henry and others."--Received August 3, 1886--Memorandum.)

This bill appropriates various sums to the parties named therein, being claims of rent of quarters occupied during the war by the Quartermaster's Department of the Army.

Among the appropriations there proposed to be made is one of the sum of $51 to L. F. Green. This account has been once paid, a special act directing such payment having been approved February 12, 1885. The fact of this payment and important information bearing upon the validity of some of the other claims mentioned in the bill could have been easily obtained by application to the Third Auditor.

("An act for the relief of William H. Wheeler."--Received August 3, 1886.)

This bill directs the payment of the sum of $633.50 to William H. Wheeler for quartermaster's stores furnished the Army in the year 1862.

From the data furnished me by the Quartermaster-General I am quite certain that this claim has been once paid. The circumstances presented to prove this are so strong that they should be explained before the relief provided by this bill is afforded the claimant.

("An act granting a pension to Margaret D. Marchand."--Received August 5, 1886.--Memorandum.)

A bill presented to me for approval, granting a pension of $50 per month to the beneficiary named, was disapproved upon the ground that the death of her husband did not appear to be in any way related to any incident of his military service.

This bill differs from the prior one simply in granting a pension subject to the provisions and limitations of the pension laws instead of fixing the rate of pension at a specified sum. I am still unable to see how the objection to the first bill has been obviated.

("Joint resolution providing for the distribution of the Official Register of the United States."-- Received August 5, 1886.--Memorandum.)

This resolution reached me five minutes after the adjournment of the two Houses of Congress, and is the only enactment of the session which came to me too late for official action.

I do not understand this resolution nor the purposes sought to be accomplished by its passage, and while in that frame of mind should have been constrained to withhold my approval from the same even if it had reached me in time for consideration.

("Joint resolution directing payment of the surplus in the Treasury on the public debt."--Received August 5, 1886.--Memorandum.)

This resolution involves so much and is of such serious import that I do not deem it best to discuss it at this time. It is not approved because I believe it to be unnecessary and because I am by no means convinced that its mere passage and approval at this time may not endanger and embarrass the successful and useful operations of the Treasury Department and impair the confidence which the people should have in the management of the finances of the Government.

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

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