To the House of Representatives:
I hereby return without approval House bill No. 927, entitled "An act granting a pension to Cudbert Stone."
The report of the committee of the House of Representatives to whom this bill was referred states that the claimant enlisted October 3, 1861, in Company H, Fourteenth Kentucky Volunteers, and was honorably discharged on the 31st day of January, 1865; that he filed his claim for pension July 20, 1881, more than sixteen years thereafter, alleging that he contracted piles while in the service, from exposure while in the line of duty, and that his claim was rejected in October, 1884, on the ground that the allegation of the claimant shows that his disability originated while undergoing the sentence of a court-martial, and therefore not in the line of duty.
The report of the committee closes with the statement that--
In view of the long and faithful service and high character of the claimant and the well-established facts that claimant was a stout and able-bodied man, free from any and all disease when he enlisted, and that by reason of his faithful service to his country and the great suffering and hardship through which he passed while in said service his health was permanently destroyed, the committee earnestly recommend the passage of the bill.
The records of the War Department show that the claimant enlisted October 25, 1861, and that on the muster-in roll of his company dated December 10, 1861, he is reported as present; that on the roll dated December 31, 1861, he is reported as absent without leave; that on the roll for January and February, 1862, he is reported as deserted; that he is not borne on subsequent rolls until that for November, 1864, when he is reported as gained from desertion; he was mustered out with his company January 31, 1865, and the records offered no evidence of disability; that in his claim for pension, filed in 1881, he alleges that he contracted piles in the winter of 1863.
In a subsequent statement he alleges that this date is erroneous, and that his disability was contracted in October, 1864, and that he believes it was the result of his having diarrhea for about twelve months prior to that date, contracted while he was being carried from place to place as a prisoner, he having been tried by a court-martial in May, 1862, for desertion and sentenced to imprisonment until the expiration of his term of enlistment.
Thus it quite plainly appears that this claimant spent the most of his term of enlistment in desertion or in imprisonment as a punishment of that offense; and thus is exhibited the "long and faithful service and the high character of the claimant" mentioned as entitling him to consideration by the committee who reported favorably upon this bill.
I withhold my assent from this bill because, if the facts before me, derived from the army records and the statements of the claimant are true, the allowance of this claim would, in my opinion, be a travesty upon our whole scheme of pensions and an insult to every decent veteran soldier.
Grover Cleveland, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/205222