Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

October 16, 1888

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 7657, entitled "An act granting a pension to Mary Woodworth, widow of Ebenezer F. Woodworth"

The husband of this beneficiary enlisted October 1, 1861. On the rolls of his company for May and June, 1862, he is reported as a deserter, and the report is the same on the muster-out roll of his regiment, dated October 24, 1864.

An effort was made on the application by the beneficiary for pension to the Pension Bureau to attribute the charge of desertion to the unfriendliness and injustice of the soldier's captain, and an unsuccessful effort was made to have the charge removed from the record by the Adjutant-General.

The soldier, therefore, is still recorded as a deserter from camp near Farmington, Miss., since March 12, 1862.

The application of the widow to the Pension Bureau in 1867 states that her husband was missing at Hamburg, Tenn., May 7, 1862, and not having since been heard from is supposed to be dead.

The captain of the company testifies that the soldier was employed with the ambulance corps, and that for misconduct he (the captain) ordered him to his company and censured him; that very soon after that the soldier was absent at roll call and was marked as absent without leave; that in a day or two after that a member of a detail returned to camp from Hamburg Landing and reported that he had seen the soldier there and had been told by him that "he was off and would never go back." Thereupon he was dropped from the roll as a deserter.

Various theories are presented to account for the soldier's absence in other ways than by desertion, some of his comrades going so far as to express the opinion that he was murdered at the instigation of his captain. None of these theories, however, seem to be more than conjectures with various degrees of plausibility.

If the question of desertion could be solved favorably to the beneficiary, another difficulty immediately arises from the fact that there is absolutely no proof of death except the soldier's long absence without knowledge of his whereabouts; and if his death could be presumed the cause of it and whether connected at all with military service are matters regarding which we have no information whatever.

I am unable to see how a case in such a situation can be considered a proper subject for favorable pension legislation.


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

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