Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

May 19, 1896

To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith without approval House bill No. 1139, entitled "An act granting a pension to Caroline D. Mowatt."

The beneficiary mentioned in this bill was married in 1858 to Alfred B. Soule, who served as major of a Maine regiment of volunteers in the War of the Rebellion from September 10, 1862, to July 25, 1863, when he was mustered out of the service. He died in February, 1864, and in 1866 a pension was granted to the beneficiary as his widow at the rate of $25 a month, dating from the time of her husband's death, two years before.

The widow continued to receive the pension allowed her until June 17, 1869, when she was married to Henry T. Mowatt, which under the law terminated her pensionable right. It appears, however, that a small pension was allowed two minor children of the soldier at the time of their mother's remarriage, which continued until 1876, more than seven years after such remarriage, when the youngest of said children became 16 years of age.

In 1878, nine years after he became the second husband of the beneficiary, Henry T. Mowatt died.

Though twenty-seven years have passed since the beneficiary ceased to be the widow of the deceased soldier, and though she has been the widow of Henry T. Mowatt for eighteen years, it is proposed by the bill under consideration to again place her name upon the pension roll "as widow of Alfred B. Scule, late major of the Twenty-third Regiment Maine Volunteers."

Of course the propriety of the law which terminates the pension of a soldier's widow upon her remarriage will not be questioned. I suppose no one would suggest the renewal of such pension during the lifetime of her second husband. Her pensionable relation to the Government as the widow of her deceased soldier husband, under any reasonable pension theory, absolutely terminated with her remarriage.

If she is to be again pensioned because her second husband does not survive her, the transaction has more the complexion of an adjustment of a governmental insurance on the life of the second husband than the allowance of a pension on just and reasonable grounds.

Legislation of this description is sure to establish a precedent which it will be difficult to disclaim, and which if followed can not fail to lead to abuse.


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

Simple Search of Our Archives