Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

June 02, 1886

To the Senate:

I return without approval Senate bill No. 327, entitled "An act granting a pension to James E. O'Shea."

From the report of the committee to whom this bill was referred I learn that the claimant enlisted in April, 1861, and was discharged in October, 1864.

He filed a claim in the Pension Bureau alleging that he received a saber wound in the head March 7, 1862, and a gunshot wound in the left leg in the autumn of the same year.

It appears upon examination of his military record that there is no mention of either disability, and that he served two years after the time he claims to have received these injuries. So far from being disabled, it is reported as an incident of his army life that in the year 1864 this soldier was found guilty of desertion and sentenced to forfeit all pay and allowances for the time he was absent.

The report of the committee, in apparent explanation of the lack of any official mention of the injuries alleged, declares that "the fact that the records of the War Department are often imperfect works great hardship to men who apply for pensions;" and his conviction of desertion and the lack of proof to sustain his allegations as to his injuries are disposed of as follows in the committee's report:

The Adjutant-General's report shows that the man was under discipline for some irregularities, but notwithstanding this and the lack of the required proof that he was wounded in the line of duty the committee are of the opinion that, situated as he was, he was very liable to and very probably did receive the wound from which he has suffered and is still suffering.

I am convinced that there exists serious difficulty on the part of the claimant instead of in the record of the War Department; that the kind of irregularity for which he was under discipline is calculated to produce a lack of confidence in his merits as a pensioner, and that the fact of his situation being such as to render him liable to receive a wound is hardly sufficient to establish his right to a soldier's pension, which is only justified by injuries actually received and affirmatively proven.


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

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