Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

May 21, 1896

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 1185, entitled "An act granting a pension to Rachel Patton."

John H. Patton, the husband of the beneficiary, was a captain in an Illinois regiment, and was killed in action June 25, 1863.

In December, 1863, the beneficiary was pensioned as his widow at the rate of $20 a month.

She received this pension for thirteen years and until 1876, when she married one William G. Culbertson. Thereupon, because of such marriage, her name was dropped from the pension rolls, pursuant to law.

In 1889, thirteen years after her remarriage and the termination of her pension, she procured a decree of divorce against her second husband on the ground of desertion.

She has a small income, but it does not appear that alimony was allowed her in the divorce proceedings.

It is proposed by this bill to pension her at the same rate which was allowed her while she remained the widow of the deceased soldier.

It can not be denied that the remarriage of this beneficiary terminated her pensionable relation to the Government as completely as if it never existed. The statute which so provides simply declares what is approved by a fair and sensible consideration of pension principles. As a legal proposition, the pensionable status of a soldier's widow, lost by her remarriage, can not be recovered by the dissolution of the second marriage. Waiving, however, the application of strictly legal principles to the subject, there does not appear to be any sentiment which should restore to the pension rolls as the widow of a deceased soldier a divorced wife who has relinquished the title of soldier's widow to again become a wife, and who to secure the expected advantages and comforts of a second marriage has been quite willing to forego the provision which was made for her by the Government solely on the grounds of her soldier widowhood.


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

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