Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

February 19, 1887

To the Senate:

I herewith return without approval Senate bill No. 1626, entitled "An act granting a pension to John Reed, sr."

The report of the Senate Committee on Pensions merely states that the mother of John Reed was granted a pension, commencing the 5th day of December, 1862; that she has since died, and that the proposed bill is to secure a pension to John Reed, sr., the aged and dependent father of the deceased soldier.

The records show that the beneficiary named in this bill filed an application for a pension in 1877, alleging that he was the father of John Reed, who died in the service, and that his wife, the mother of the deceased soldier, died May 10, 1872, and that he, the father, was mainly dependent upon his son for support. He filed evidence of the mother's death, and one witness alleged that he was present at her death and attended her funeral.

In 1864 Martha Reed, the mother of the soldier, filed her application for pension, in which she at first claimed to be the widow of John Reed. She afterwards, however, alleged that her husband, John Reed, abandoned his family in 1859 and had not thereafter contributed to their support, and that the soldier was her main support after such abandonment. She was allowed a pension as dependent mother, which commenced in 1862, the date of her son's death, and seems to have terminated July 22, 1884, when she died.

The claim of the father was rejected in 1883 for the reason that the mother, who had a prior right, was still living, and when his claim was again pressed in 1886 he was informed that his abandonment of his family in 1859 precluded the idea that he was entitled to a pension as being dependent upon the soldier for support.

Of course these decisions were correct in law, in equity, and in morals.

This case demonstrates the means employed in attempts to cheat the Government in applications for pensions--too often successful.

The allegation in 1877 of the man who now poses as the aged and dependent father of a dead soldier that the mother died in 1872, when at that time her claim was pending for pension largely based upon his abandonment; the affidavit of the man who testified that he saw her die in 1872; the effrontery of this unworthy father renewing his claim after the detection of his fraud and the actual death of the mother, and the allegation of the mother that she was a widow when in fact she was an abandoned wife, show the processes which enter into these claims for pensions and the boldness with which plans are sometimes concocted to rob the Government by actually trafficking in death and imposing upon the sacred sentiments of patriotism and national gratitude.


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

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