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Veto Message

December 18, 1843

* Pocket Veto

To the House of Representatives:

I received within a few hours of the adjournment of the last Congress a resolution "directing payment of the certificates or awards issued by the commissioners under the treaty with the Cherokee Indians." Its provisions involved principles of great importance, in reference to which it required more time to obtain the necessary information than was allowed.

The balance of the fund provided by Congress for satisfying claims under the seventeenth article of the Cherokee treaty, referred to in the resolution, is wholly insufficient to meet the claims still pending. To direct the payment, therefore, of the whole amount of those claims which happened to be first adjudicated would prevent a ratable distribution of the fund among those equally entitled to its benefits. Such a violation of the individual rights of the claimants would impose upon the Government the obligation of making further appropriations to indemnify them, and thus Congress would be obliged to enlarge a provision, liberal and equitable, which it had made for the satisfaction of all the demands of the Cherokees. I was unwilling to sanction a measure which would thus indirectly overturn the adjustment of our differences with the Cherokees, accomplished with so much difficulty, and to which time is reconciling those Indians.

If no such indemnity should be provided, then a palpable and very gross wrong would be inflicted upon the claimants who had not been so fortunate as to have their claims taken up in preference to others. Besides, the fund having been appropriated by law to a specific purpose, in fulfillment of the treaty, it belongs to the Cherokees, and the authority of this Government to direct its application to particular claims is more than questionable.

The direction in the joint resolution, therefore, to pay the awards of the commissioners to the amount of $100,000 seemed to me quite objectionable, and could not be approved.

The further direction that the certificates required to be issued by the treaty, and in conformity with the practice of the board heretofore, shall be proper and sufficient vouchers, upon which payments shall be made at the Treasury, is a departure from the system established soon after the adoption of the Constitution and maintained ever since. That system requires that payments under the authority of any Department shall be made upon its requisition, countersigned by the proper Auditor and Comptroller. The greatest irregularity would ensue from the mode of payment prescribed by the resolution.

I have deemed it respectful and proper to lay before the House of Representatives these reasons for having withheld my approval of the above-mentioned joint resolution.


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

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