Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

February 23, 1889

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 11999, entitled "An act granting a pension to William Barnes."

The beneficiary named in this bill served in a Kentucky regiment from August 9, 1861, to December 6, 1864.

He made claim for pension in the Pension Bureau in September, 1882, alleging that in October, 1862, he was accidentally injured by a pistol shot in the thigh while in the line of duty.

It is conceded that he was wounded by the discharge of a pistol which he was carrying while he was absent from his command with permission on a visit to his home, and that the discharge of the pistol was accidental.

The circumstances of the injury are neither given in the report of the committee to whom the claim was referred by the House of Representatives nor in the report of the case furnished to me from the Pension Bureau, but on the conceded facts the granting of a pension in this case can be predicated upon no other theory except the liability of the Government for any injury by accident to a person in the military service, whether in the line of duty or not.

I think the adoption of the principle that the Government is an insurer against accidents under any circumstances befalling those enlisted in its military service when visiting at home is an unwarrantable stretch of pension legislation.


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

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