Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

August 09, 1888

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 2140, entitled "An act granting a pension to Eliza Smith."

The husband of this beneficiary was a second lieutenant in an Indiana regiment, and was discharged from the service in April, 1864. It is proposed in the bill herewith returned to pension the beneficiary as the widow of a first lieutenant.

The deceased was pensioned for a gunshot wound in his left arm under the general law, and his pension was increased by a special act in 1883.

He died away from home at a hotel in Union City, Ind., on the 18th day of December, 1884, and it was determined at the time, and is still claimed, that his death was the result of an overdose of morphine self-administered.

It is represented that at times the wound of the deceased soldier was very painful and that he was in the habit of taking large doses of morphine to alleviate his suffering.

Two days before his death he was at the house of one Moore, in Union City; he complained of pain, and asked for a dose of morphine, but it does not appear that he obtained it.

On the same day he went to a hotel in the same town and remained there until his death. On the second evening after his arrival there he complained of asthma and pain in his arm, and retired about 9 o'clock p.m. In the afternoon of the next day the door of his room was forced open, and he was found prostrate and helpless, though able to talk. Medicine was administered, but he soon died.

His family physician testified that the deceased did not suffer from asthma; that when his wound was suppurating he had difficulty in breathing, and that at such times he was in the habit of taking morphine in large doses, and that at times he was intemperate, especially when suffering from his wound.

It seems to me it would establish a very bad precedent to allow a pension upon the facts developed in this case.


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

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