Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

February 26, 1887

To the Senate:

I herewith return without approval Senate bill No. 2045, entitled "An act granting a pension to Mrs. Sarah Hamilton."

Thomas Hamilton, the husband of the beneficiary named in this bill, enlisted September 2, 1862. Upon the records he is reported present to April 30, 1863; deserted May 27, 1863. His name is dropped from subsequent rolls to February 29, 1864, when he is reported as a deserter in arrest. He is not borne upon the rolls for March and April, 1864; for May and June, 1864, he is reported absent in arrest; for July and August, present under arrest; and for September and October, present for duty. He was mustered out with his company May 24, 1865.

He applied for a pension in 1872, alleging that he received an injury to his left leg about February 15, 1863, at St. Louis, by falling from a ladder, causing varicose veins and stiffening of the leg.

He was granted a pension January 29, 1881, to commence May 25, 1865.

He subsequently applied for an increase of pension, claiming that his eyes had become affected as a result of his varicose veins. This application was rejected upon the ground that the disability for which he was pensioned had not increased and that the disease of his eyes was not a result of such disability.

The pensioner died April 22, 1883, twenty years after his alleged injury, of cerebral apoplexy; and a physician states it as his judgment that the varicosed condition of the venous system was primarily the cause of his disabilities and death.

His widow filed an application for pension October 31, 1883, which was rejected upon the ground that the soldier's death was not the result of his military service.

Notwithstanding the record of the deceased soldier, stained as it is with the charge of desertion, and the entire absence of any record proof of sickness and injury, I should consider myself, in favor of his widow, bound by the act of the Pension Bureau in allowing him a pension, and should cheerfully aid her attempt to procure a pension for herself in her needy condition, if I was not thoroughly convinced that her husband's death had no relation to his military service or any injury for which he was pensioned.

To the ordinary mind it seems impossible that apoplexy could result from such a varicosed condition as is described in this case. I do not understand that the physician who gives a contrary opinion bases his judgment upon actual observation at the time the soldier died. The last medical examination by the Pension Bureau before the soldier's death was in October, 1882, and resulted in the following report of the examining surgeon:

Weight, 180 pounds; age, 69 years; has varicose veins of left leg, but not to such an extent as to increase the size of the leg or result in marked disability; he is entirely blind in both eyes from glaucoma, which does not in any degree, in my opinion, depend upon the pensioned disability--varicose veins.

It appears that the benefit proposed by this bill can neither be properly regarded as a gratuity, based upon the honorable service and record of the soldier, nor predicated on his death resulting from a disability incurred in such service.


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

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