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Veto Message

February 20, 1845

To the Senate of the United States:

I herewith return the bill entitled "An act relating to revenue cutters and steamers," with the following objections to its becoming a law:

The Executive has found it necessary and esteemed it important to the public interests to direct the building of two revenue boats, to be propelled by wind or steam, as occasion may require--the one for the coast of Georgia and the other for Mobile Bay, to be used as dispatch vessels if necessary. The models have been furnished by the Navy Department and side wheels have been ordered, as being best tested and least liable to failure. The one boat is directed to be built at Richmond, Va., the other at Pittsburg, Pa., and contracts have been regularly entered into for their construction. The contractors have made and are making all necessary arrangements in procuring materials and sites for building, etc., and have doubtless been at considerable expense in the necessary preparations for completing their engagements. It was no part of the intention of the Senate in originating the bill, I am well convinced, to violate the sanctity of contracts regularly entered into by the Government. The language of the act, nevertheless, is of a character to produce in all probability that effect. Its language is "that no revenue cutter or revenue steamer shall hereafter be built ( excepting such as are now in the course of building or equipment ) nor purchased unless an appropriation be first made by law therefor." The building of the two cutters under contract can not be said properly to have commenced, although preparations have been made for building; but even if the construction be ambiguous, it is better that all ambiguity should be removed and thus the hazard of violating the pledged faith of the country be removed along with it.

I am free to confess that, existing contracts being guarded and protected, the law to operate in futuro would be regarded as both proper and wise.

With these objections, I return the bill to the House in which it originated for its final constitutional action.


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

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