Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

June 02, 1886

To the Senate:

I return herewith without approval Senate bill No. 1726, entitled "An act granting a pension to Augustus Field Stevens."

It appears that this claimant enlisted August 21, 1861, and was discharged on the 3d day of October, 1861, after a service of less than two months, upon a medical certificate of disability which represented him as "incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of general debility, advanced age, unfit for service before entering."

His claim is not based upon any wound or injury, but he alleges that he contracted chronic diarrhea or dysentery while in the service. The committee to whom the bill was referred by the Senate admit that "there is a quantity of contradictory testimony, biased in about equal proportion for and against the claimant."

His claim was rejected by the Pension Bureau in 1882 and again in 1885, after a special examination concerning the facts, on the ground that the claimant had failed to show any pensionable disability contracted while he was in the service.

The medical certificate upon which he was discharged makes no mention of the disorders of which the applicant for pension now complains, but contains other statements which demonstrate that no allowance should be made to him by way of pension, unless such pension is to be openly and confessedly regarded as a mere charity, or unless the medical certificate made at the time of discharge, with the patient under observation, is to be, without any allegation to that effect, impeached.

I am not prepared either to gratuitously set at naught two determinations of the Pension Bureau, one very lately made after a special examination, and especially when the evidence produced before the committee to reverse the Bureau's action is admitted to be "contradictory" and "biased in about equal proportion for and against the claimant."


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

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