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Veto Message

June 07, 1872

To the Senate of the United States:

I have the honor to return herewith Senate bill No. 569, an act entitled "An act for the relief of Thomas B. Wallace, of Lexington, in the State of Missouri," without my approval.

This claim, for which $11,250 are appropriated by this bill, is of the same nature and character as the claim of Dr. J. Milton Best, which was returned to the Senate on the 1st instant without my signature.

The same reasons which prompted the return of that bill for reconsideration apply in this case, which also is a claim for compensation on account of the ravages of war, and comes under the same general principle of both international and municipal law, that all property is held subject not only to be taken by the Government for public uses, in which case, under the Constitution of the United States, the owner is entitled to just compensation, but also subject to be temporarily occupied, or even actually destroyed, in times of great public danger, and when the public safety demands it; and in the latter case governments do not admit a legal obligation on their part to compensate the owner.

The temporary occupation of, injuries to, and destruction of property caused by actual and necessary military operations are generally considered to fall within the last-mentioned principle, and if a government makes compensation under such circumstances it is a matter of bounty rather than of strict legal right. If it be deemed proper to make compensation for such losses, I renew my recommendation that provision be made by general legislation for all similar cases.


Ulysses S. Grant, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203436

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