Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

March 01, 1897

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 1299, entitled "An act to pension Harriet Woodbury, of Windsor, Vt."

The beneficiary named in this bill was the wife of Aaron G. Firman at the time of his enlistment in 1863. He died October 2, 1864, and the beneficiary, as his widow, was pensioned in 1865, from the day of her soldier husband's death.

She continued to receive the pension allowed to her as such widow until July 14, 166, when she married Samuel H. Woodbury. She was thereupon dropped from the pension toll pursuant to law, and in 1868 the minor son of the soldier was allowed a pension of $8 a month, commencing at the date of the remarriage of his mother. This pension was increased to $10 a month in 1873, from July 25, 1866, and was continued until 1880, when the minor child reached the age of 16 years.

On July 26, 1886, twenty years after the beneficiary ceased to be the widow of the soldier Aaron G. Firman and became the wife of the civilian Samuel H. Woodbury, he died and she became his widow.

It is now proposed by this bill to pension her again as the widow of the deceased soldier, notwithstanding her voluntary abandonment of that relation to become the wife of another more than thirty years ago.

No feature of our pension laws is so satisfactory and just as a fair allowance to the widows of our soldiers who have died from causes attributable to their army service. When, however, such a beneficiary by remarriage surrenders her soldier widowhood and turns away from its tender and patriotic associations to assume again the relation and allegiance of wife to another husband, when she discards the soldier's name and in every way terminates her pensionable relationship to the Government, I am unable to discover any principle which justifies her restoration to that relationship upon the death of her second husband.,

No one can be insensible to the sad plight of a widow in needy condition, but our pension laws should deal with soldiers' widows. I understand that only the existence of this relationship to a deceased soldier creates through him the Government's duty and justifies the application of public money to the relief of such widows.


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

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