Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

February 21, 1887

To the Senate:

I herewith return without approval Senate bill No. 1768, entitled "An act granting a pension to John D. Fincher."

The beneficiary named in this bill enlisted August 6, 1862, and was discharged for disability February 24, 1863.

The surgeon's certificate of disability given at the time of the soldier's discharge recites "general debility, which will disable him from performing the duties of a soldier for a good period of time. The disease was contracted by exposure and fatigue while performing the duties of a soldier."

The claimant filed his application for pension in September, 1882, nearly twenty years after his discharge, alleging that in November, 1862, he was attacked with bilious fever, followed by chronic diarrhea and lung trouble.

In support of his application an affidavit of a comrade was filed, setting forth the fact that the claimant was taken sick, as he alleged, in the fall of 1862, and that he was sent to the hospital on that account. The affidavit further expresses the belief that the claimant still suffers from the effects of his sickness and exposure.

So far as I am informed, and so far as the committee's report discloses, this is the only proof furnished of any continuance of disability at the time of filing the application for pension, and this proof, if it may be so regarded, is the mere expression of an opinion or belief, not necessarily based upon any personal knowledge, and which might have been honestly expressed if derived from representations of the claimant himself.

In this condition of the case the claimant was examined by a surgeon in 1882, whose report seems to negative all ailments except as one may be found in the fact alleged therein that he had pneumonia in 1868, and that there might be some pleuritic adhesions, plainly inferring that if such adhesions existed they were the result of the sickness to which he refers.

In February, 1885, the claimant was again examined by a board of surgeons. This examination seems to have been very carefully and thoroughly made, and as a result of the same the board reported that there was no disability. On this ground the claim was rejected.

There is no doubt as to the sickness of the claimant during his service and his disability at the time of his discharge, but unless the report of the board of surgeons is to be impeached without apparent reason there is as little doubt of the claimant's complete recovery.

No case has been presented to me in which the evidence afforded of a continuance of disability seems so inconclusive. In these circumstances the report of the board of surgeons appears to be upon the evidence before me almost uncontradicted.


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

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