Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

May 17, 1886

To the Senate of the United States:

I return without approval Senate bill No. 1397, entitled "An act to establish a port of delivery at Springfield, in the State of Massachusetts."

It appears that the best reasons urged for the passage of this bill are that Springfield has a population of about 40,000, that the imports to the section of country where the city is located for the last year amounted in value to nearly $3,000,000, and that the importers at this point labored under a disadvantage in being obliged to go to New York and Boston to clear their goods, which are frequently greatly delayed.

The Government is now subjected to great loss of revenue through the intricacies of the present system relating to the collection of customs dues, and through the frauds and evasions which that system permits and invites. It is also the cause of much of the delay and vexation to which the honest importer is subjected.

I am of the opinion that the reforms of present methods which have been lately earnestly pressed upon Congress should be inaugurated, instead of increasing the number of ports where present evils may be further extended.

The bill now under consideration provides that a surveyor of customs shall be appointed to reside at said port, who shall receive a salary not to exceed $1,000 per annum.

It is quite obvious that an experienced force of employees at the ports where goods for Springfield are entered would be much better qualified to adjust the duties upon the same than the person thus proposed to be added to the vast army of Federal officials.

There are many cities in the different States having larger populations than Springfield, and fully as much entitled, upon every ground presented, to the advantages sought by this bill; and yet it is clear that the following of the precedent which the proposed legislation would establish could not fail to produce confusion and uncertainty in the adjustment of customs dues, leading to irritating discriminations and probable loss to the Government.


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

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