Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

July 03, 1886

To the Senate:

I hereby return without approval Senate bill No. 365, entitled "An act for the relief of Martin L. Bundy."

By this bill it is proposed to allow in the settlement by the United States with Mr. Bundy, who was lately a paymaster in the Army, the sum of $719.47 for the forage of two horses to which he claims he was entitled while in the service, and which has never been drawn by him. The time during which it is alleged this forage was due is stated to be between July 17, 1862, and April 15, 1866.

This claimant was mustered out as paymaster on the last-mentioned date, and in 1872 a certificate was issued that, his accounts having been adjusted, they exhibited no indebtedness on his part to the United States.

Subsequently, however, and in or about the year 1879, it was discovered that by reason of a duplicate credit, which had been allowed him by mistake, he was actually indebted to the Government in the sum of $528.72.

After the fact had been made known to him the claim embodied in this bill was suggested to or invented by him, which, if allowed, will not only extinguish his indebtedness to the Government, but leave a balance due to him.

By the law and the Army Regulations the forage upon which this claim is based is or should be only allowed to those in the service who actually have and use horses in the performance of their duties.

And when thus entitled to forage it was necessary to draw it in kind or in the specific articles permitted every month, and if not thus drawn it could not afterwards be claimed. There seems to be no such thing as commutation of forage in such cases.

There is no suggestion that the claimant named in this bill had or used any horses while in the service. If he did and paid for their maintenance and at the time of the settlement of his accounts made no claim for reimbursement, he presents a case of incredible ignorance of his rights or a wonderful lack of that disposition to gain every possible advantage which is usually found among those who deal with the Government.

It is quite apparent that the claim is not valid, and the fact that it is made long after the discovery of his deficit leads to the suspicion that it is insisted on merely for the purpose of paying his debt.

Though in this particular case it would do but little more than to extinguish an indebtedness to the Government, the allowance of this claim would set a precedent which could hardly be ignored, and which, if followed, would furnish another means of attack upon the public Treasury quite as effective as many which are now in active operation.


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

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