Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

May 20, 1896

To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith without approval House bill No. 577, entitled "An act granting a pension to Lydia A. Taft."

In 1858 the beneficiary named in this bill became the wife of Lowell Taft, who afterwards enlisted in the Union Army as a private in a Connecticut regiment and served from August, 1862, until June, 1865. The records of the War Department show that he was captured by the enemy June 15, 1863, and paroled July 14, 1863.

No application for a pension was ever made by him, though he lived until 1891, when he died at a soldiers' home in Connecticut.

No suggestion is made that he incurred any disability in the service or that his death was in any manner related to such service.

In 1882, nearly twenty-four years after her marriage to the soldier and seventeen years after his discharge from the Army, the beneficiary obtained a divorce from him upon the grounds of habitual drunkenness and failure to afford her a support.

It is now proposed, five years after the soldier's death, to pension as his widow the wife who was divorced from him at her own instance fourteen years ago.

A government's generous care for widows deprived of a husband's support and companionship by the casualties or disabilities of war rests upon grounds which all must cheerfully approve; but it is difficult to place upon these grounds the case of this proposed beneficiary, who has renounced a wife's relation, with all its duties and all its rights, and who by her own act placed herself beyond the possibility of becoming the widow of her soldier husband.

If, as stated in the report of the House committee on this bill, the beneficiary for some reason contributed something toward the soldier's support after her divorce and paid the expense of his burial, the fact still remains that this soldier died in a soldiers' home wifeless and leaving no one surviving who, claiming to be his widow, should be allowed to profit by his death.


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

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