Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

May 29, 1896

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 900, entitled "An act to provide for the payment of the claim of William H. Mahoney."

This bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to receive and pay to W. H. Mahoney, without the indorsement of N. A. Rogers, a certain bond issued by the United States in 1861 for the sum of $500, such payment to be made upon the giving by said Mahoney of a bond to hold harmless the United States against repayment of said bond.

The bond mentioned is one of a large issue which was authorized under an act passed March 2, 1861, and known as Oregon war-debt bonds. They were made payable in 1881.

In 1864 an act was passed directing the Secretary of the Treasury to issue or cause to be issued to E. F. and Samuel A. Ward duplicates of nineteen of these bonds, particularly described by their numbers and otherwise. Among others are mentioned "Nos. 1352 to 1359, inclusive." This of course includes the bond numbered 1358, which is directed to be paid in the bill under consideration. Nothing can now be discovered to indicate the occasion for the issuance of these duplicates, but from the fact that a bond of indemnity was required it is inferred that they were issued because of the loss or destruction of the original bonds.

Pursuant to this act a duplicate of the bond in question, among others, was issued and made payable to the order of Thomas Pritchard, attorney, who was the payee in the original bond.

In 1881 this duplicate was paid by the Treasury Department and is now in possession of the Government. The indorsement of the payee, "Thomas Pritchard, attorney," appears thereon and all other proper indorsements to show title in the party to whom the payment was made.

The Government has therefore once paid the amount of this bond to the party apparently entitled to it. If the beneficiary named in this bill has a better right to the money, the Government, not being in default, should be protected against double payment. I suppose to sustain a claim upon the indemnity bond given when the duplicate was issued in 1864 we should be prepared to show that the second payment on the original bond was made upon such a state of facts as compelled or at least justified it. The passage of an act simply directing such payment would alone not be sufficient. The bond directed to be given by this bill would afford the Government no protection, since it only provides against repayment of the bond in the future, whereas the payment we should suffer from has already been made.

I suggest that an act be passed directing the Secretary of the Treasury to investigate the entire subject with a view of determining to whom this money should be paid, in a manner to bind, if possible, by the results of the examination the party to whom it has already been paid, and who should refund if another has a better right.


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

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