Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

April 16, 1888

To the Senate:

I return herewith without approval Senate bill No. 809, entitled "An act granting a pension to Betsey Mannsfield."

It is proposed to grant a pension to the beneficiary named in this bill as the mother of Franklin J. Mannsfield, who enlisted as a private April 27, 1861, and died in camp of disease on the 14th day of November, in the same year. His mother filed an application for pension in June, 1882.

The testimony filed in the Pension Bureau discloses the following facts:

At the time of the death of the soldier the family, besides himself, consisted of three persons--his father and mother and an unmarried sister. They owned and resided upon a homestead in Wisconsin comprising 293 acres, 20 of which were cleared, the balance being in timber, all unencumbered. The assessed valuation was $1,170, the real value being considerably more. The father was a farmer and blacksmith, healthy and able-bodied, and furnishing a comfortable support, but shortly after the soldier's death he began to drink and his health began to fail. Upon the marriage of the daughter he deeded her 50 acres of the land. He became indebted, and from time to time sold portions of his homestead to pay debts; but in 1882, at the time the mother's application for pension was filed, there still remained 110 acres of land, valued at about $3,300,40 acres of which was mortgaged in 1880 for $600. Since 1879 the farm had been rented, except 8 or 10 acres reserved for a residence for the family. They owned two cows, and the rent averaged about $125 a year.

This was the condition of affairs as late as 1886, when the claim of the mother for a pension was, after investigation, rejected by the Pension Bureau, and it is supposed to be substantially the same now.

It also appears that a son, born since the soldier's death, and upward of 18 years of age, resides with his parents and furnishes them some assistance.

The claimant certainly was not dependent in the least degree upon the soldier at the time of his death, and she did not file her claim for pension until nearly twenty-one years thereafter.

Though the lack of dependence at the date of the soldier's death is sufficient to defeat a parent's claim for pension under our laws, I believe that in proper cases a relaxation of rules and a charitable liberality should be shown to parents old and in absolute need through default of the help which, it may be presumed, a son would have furnished if his life had not been sacrificed in his country's service.

But it seems to me the case presented here can not be reached by any theory of pensions which has yet been suggested.


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

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