Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

July 17, 1888

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9174, entitled "An act granting a pension to Woodford M. Houchin."

The beneficiary named in this bill was enrolled September 18, 1861 and discharged December 17, 1864.

He filed a claim for pension in the Pension Bureau December 22, 1876, alleging that he had a sore or ulcer on his left leg "which existed in a small way prior to enlistment," but was aggravated and enlarged by the exposures of the service.

This claim was rejected in 1877 on the ground that the disability existed prior to enlistment.

In September, 1879, he filed another application for pension, alleging a disability arising from an affection of his right eye caused by an attack of measles in September, 1861, and also again alleging ulcerated varicose veins of his left leg.

In October, 1886, the rejection of the claim for ulcerated varicose veins was adhered to and the added claim for disease of the eyes was rejected on the ground that it was not incurred in the service and line of duty.

On appeal from the action of the Pension Bureau to the Secretary of the Interior the rejection of the claim was sustained.

The claimant stated in support of his application that about three months before he enlisted a little yellow blister appeared on his left leg, which made a small sore, which existed when he enlisted; that while he was in Central America with General Walker he received a wound in the temple from a musket ball, and that he had also before enlistment been sick with the dropsy.

The case was very thoroughly examined by officers of the Pension Bureau, and a great mass of testimony was taken from numerous witnesses. Three brothers of the claimant testified to the existence of all the disabilities before his enlistment, and two of them stated facts which go far toward accounting for such disabilities in a way very discreditable to the claimant. Many other witnesses, with good opportunities of knowledge on the subject, testified to the same effect.

While testimony of a different character was also given, tending to establish the theory that the disabilities alleged were at least to some extent attributable to military service, the overwhelming weight of proof seems to establish that whatever disabilities exist are the result of disease contracted by vicious habits, and that such disabilities had their origin prior to enlistment.


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

Simple Search of Our Archives