Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland

Contents:
Author: Grover Cleveland

Veto Messages.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, December 19, 1888.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 5080, entitled "An act for the relief of C. B. Wilson."

This bill directs the Postmaster-General to credit to the beneficiary therein named, who is the postmaster at Buena Vista, in the State of Colorado, the sum of $225, being post-office funds forwarded by him to the deposit office at Denver, but which were lost in transmission.

A general law was passed on the 9th day of May, 1888, authorizing the Postmaster-General to make allowances and credits to postmasters in precisely such cases.

On the 8th day of September, 1888, under the sanction of that law, the credit directed by this bill was made.

It is plain, therefore, that the bill herewith returned ought not to become a law unless it is proposed to duplicate the credit therein mentioned.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 16, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 8469, entitled "An act for the relief of Michael Pigott."

This bill appropriates the sum of $48 to the beneficiary therein named, formerly the postmaster at Quincy, Ill., which was paid by him for the use of a telephone for the year ending June 30, 1873.

There is evidently a mistake made in the statement of the period covered by the use of this telephone, for the official term of the beneficiary extended from May 16, 1881, to June 18, 1885.

Assuming, however, that it was intended to describe the period ending June 30, 1883, it appears that the use of a telephone during that time was wholly unauthorized by the Post-Office Department, and that the only authority given for any expenditure for that purpose covered the period of one year from the 1st day of January, 1884.

The following letter, dated July 16, 1884, was sent to the beneficiary from the salary and allowance division of the Post-Office Department:

In reply to your letter relative to amounts disallowed for use of telephone for your office, you are informed that the said expenditures were made without the authority of this office, and it is therefore deemed advisable not to approve the same.

Your authority for a telephone was for one year beginning January 1, 1884. At the expiration of the time named, if you desire to continue the telephone service, you should make application to the First Assistant Postmaster-General for a renewal of the same.

The multitude of claims of the same kind which the legislation proposed would breed and encourage, and the absolute necessity, in the interest of good administration, of limiting all public officers to authorized expenditures, constrain me to withhold my approval from this bill.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 16, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 7, entitled "An act granting a pension to Thomas B. Walsh."

This beneficiary enlisted January 1, 1864, and was discharged August 1, 1865.

He is reported absent without leave in April, 1864, and further recorded as having deserted November 24, 1864. He was restored to duty in May, 1865, by the President’s proclamation.

He filed an application for pension in December, 1881, alleging that he contracted rheumatism in May, 1865.

This statement of the claimant and nearly, if not all, the evidence in the case which tends to show the incurrence of the disability complained of appear to fix its appearance at a date very near the return of the beneficiary after his desertion.

In these circumstances the proof of disability, such as it is, is as consistent with its incurrence during desertion as it is with the theory that the beneficiary suffered, therefrom as the result of honorable military service.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 16, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 2236, entitled "An act granting a pension to Eli. J. Yamgheim."

The beneficiary named in this bill filed an application for pension in the Pension Bureau April 15, 1875, basing his claim upon an alleged wound of his left leg from a spent ball about October 15, 1861.

There is no record of his incurring any wound or injury during his service, and it does not appear that the company to which he belonged was in action nearer to the date he specifies than September 17, 1861, and his captain testifies that the beneficiary was not injured in the engagement of that day, which lasted only about fifteen minutes.

The proof taken in the case establishes that before enlistment the beneficiary had a sore on his leg which was quite troublesome, which suppurated, and after healing would break out again.

In the medical examinations made during the pendency of the claimthe diseased leg was always found, but no mention is made of any other injury and no other injury seems to have been discoverable.

I can not avoid the conviction upon the facts presented that whatever disability has existed since the discharge of the beneficiary arose from causes which were present before enlistment, and that the same is not chargeable to his military service.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 16, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 4887, entitled "An act granting a pension to Charles E. Scott."

This beneficiary entered the volunteer service nearly at the close of the War of the Rebellion and served from the 8th day of March, 1865, to July 24, in the same year, a period of four months and sixteen days.

He filed a claim for pension in 1884, alleging that he incurred camp itch in July, 1865, which resulted in partial blindness.

Upon the proof presented, and after examination, the claim was rejected upon the ground that it did not appear that the impairment of his vision was the result of any incident of his army service.

I am entirely satisfied that this was a correct disposition of the case, and that upon the same ground the bill herewith returned should not be approved.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 17, 1889.

To the Senate:

I return without approval Senate bill No. 3646, entitled "An act for the relief of William R. Wheaton and Charles H. Chamberlain, of California."

These parties were, respectively, for a number of years prior to 1879, the register and receiver of the land office at San Francisco, in the State of California.

Prior to July, 1877, they had collected and retained, apparently without question, certain fees allowed by law for reducing to writing the testimony heard by them in establishing the rights of claimants to public lands.

On the 9th day of July, 1877, these officials were notified by the Acting Commissioner of the General Land Office that monthly thereafter, and dating from July 1, 1877 such fees should be reported with other fees to the General Land Office.

This notification furnished clear information that, whatever may have been the justification for their retention of these fees in the past, the parties notified must thereafter account to the Government for the same.

On the 8th day of February, 1879, the beneficiaries were peremptorily required by the Commissioner of the General Land Office to deposit inthe Treasury of the United States the sums which they had received for the services mentioned since July 1, 1877, and which, though reported, had not been paid over. Soon thereafter, and pursuant to this demand, the sum of $5,330.76, being the aggregate of such fees for the nineteen months between July 1, 1877, and February 1, 1879, was paid over to the Government.

On the 19th day of February, 1879, these officers were authorized to employ two clerks, each upon a salary of $100 per month.

The purpose of the bill now under consideration is to restore to the beneficiaries from the money paid over to the Government, as above stated, the sum of $3,800. This is proposed upon the theory that clerks were employed by the register and receiver to do the work for which the fees were received, and that these officials having paid them for their services they should be reimbursed from the fund.

It will be observed that whatever services were performed by clerks in the way of writing down testimony, and paid for by the beneficiaries, were performed and paid for after July, 1877, and after they had in effect received notice that such employment and payment would not be approved by the Government.

Upon this statement the claim covered by the bill can hardly be urged on legal grounds, whatever the Government may have allowed prior to such notice.

I am decidedly of the opinion that the relations, the duties, and the obligations of subordinates in public employment should be clearly defined and strictly limited. They should not be permitted to judge of the propriety or necessity of incurring expenses on behalf of the Government without authority, much less in disregard of orders. And yet there are cases when in an emergency money is paid for the benefit of the public service by an official which, though not strictly authorized, ought in equity to be reimbursed.

If there is any equity existing in favor of the beneficiaries named in the bill herewith returned, it is found in the fact that during the nineteen months from the 1st day of July, 1877, to the 1st day of February, 1879, they paid out certain moneys for which the Government, in the receipt of the fees which they paid over, received the benefit. Manifestly such equity in this case, if it can be claimed at all in view of the facts recited, is measured by the sum actually paid by these officials to the persons, if such there were, who did the work from which the fees arose which were paid over to the Government.

In other words, if certain clerks were paid by the beneficiaries from their private funds for doing this work, there should be a distinct statement of the sum so paid, and their claim should rest upon indemnity and reimbursement alone. But no such statement appears, so far as I can see from an examination of papers presented to me by the Interior Department and from the report of the Senate committee who reportedthis bill, except as it may be gathered from the rather indirect allegations contained in a paper prepared by counsel.

No vouchers have ever been received at the General Land Office for money paid for clerical services rendered during the period for which reimbursement is sought. The verified statement of the claimants annexed to the committee’s report contains only the allegation that they paid for the necessary clerical services, and the affidavits of the clerks themselves furnish no clew to the amount they received. Such an omission, in my opinion, discredits the claim made, and the allowance of the sum of $100 per month for two clerks during the period of nineteen months covered by this claim, because that was the sum authorized to be paid thereafter for clerks’ services, is, it seems to me, adopting a standard entirely inapplicable to the subject.

In any event these beneficiaries should be required to establish the sum necessary for such indemnification, and the amount appropriated for their relief should be limited to that sum.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 18, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9173, entitled "An act granting a pension to Mary J. Drake."

It is proposed by this bill to pension the beneficiary therein named as the widow of Newton E. Drake, who served as a soldier from August 1, 1863, to January 18, 1865.

The records do not show that he suffered from any disability during his term of service.

He filed an application for pension September 23, 1879, claiming that he contracted rheumatism about October, 1864.

He died June 7, 1881, and there does not appear to have been any evidence produced as to the cause of his death or establishing, except by the allegations of his own application, that he contracted any disease or disability in the service.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 18, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9791, entitled "An act for the relief of Charles W. Geddes."

This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to include the name of the beneficiary mentioned, late assistant engineer in the United States Navy, among those who served in the Mexican War, and issue to him a land warrant for his services as assistant engineer on the United States steamer General Taylor during said war.

On an application made by this beneficiary for bounty land under general laws the Secretary of the Navy reported that the vessel to which he was attached was not considered as having been engaged in the war with Mexico, and thereupon his application was rejected. Upon appeal to the Secretary of the Interior he states the settled doctrine of such cases to be that "service must have been in, not simply during a war to give title to bounty land."

The only claim made by the beneficiary is that the vessel upon which he was employed was engaged for a time in transporting seamen from New Orleans, where they were enlisted, to Pensacola, and that he was informed and believed that they were enlisted to serve on board vessels composing the Gulf Squadron, then cooperating with the land forces in the Mexican War.

It seems to me that it is establishing a bad precedent, tending to the breaking down of all distinctions between civil and military employment and service, to hold that a man engaged on a vessel transporting recruits to a rendezvous from which they may be sent to the scene of hostilities should be allowed the same advantages which are bestowed upon those actually engaged in or more directly related to the dangers and chances of military operations.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 18, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9252, entitled "An act granting a pension to Mrs. Catherine Barberick, of Watertown."

The beneficiary named in this bill is the mother of William Barberick, who enlisted February 19, 1852, and died of smallpox August 2, 1864, at his home while on veteran furlough.

It is not claimed that the soldier contracted the fatal disease while in the Army. On the contrary, the testimony taken upon his mother’s application for pension to the Pension Bureau shows that he was taken sick after his arrival at his home on furlough, and that several of his family had died of the contagious disease to which he fell a victim before he was taken sick with it.

In these circumstances, unless there is to be a complete departure from the principle that pensions are to be granted for death or disability in some way related to the military service, this bill should not become a law.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 18, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 7877, entitled "An act to place Mary Karstetter on the pension roll."

The beneficiary named in this bill is the widow of Jacob Karstetter, who enlisted in June, 1864, and was discharged in June, 1865, on account of a wound in his left hand received in action. He died in August, 1874, of gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach, and congestion of the liver. He was granted a pension for his gunshot wound and was in receipt of such pension at the time of his death.

I was constrained to return without approval a bill identical with the one herewith returned, and which was passed by the last Congress, and stated my objections to the same in a communication addressed to the House of Representatives, dated July 6, 1886. *

* See pp. 5054-5055.

It seemed to me at that time that the soldier’s death could not be held to be the result of his wound or any other cause chargeable to his military service.

Upon reexamination I am still of the same opinion, which leads me to again return the bill under consideration without approval.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 18, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9296, entitled "An act granting a pension to Bridget Carroll."

This bill proposes to pension the beneficiary therein named as the dependent mother of Patrick Carroll, who was enrolled as a sergeant in the Regular Army in 1881, this being, as it is stated, his second term of enlistment.

In September, 1886, being absent from his command at Fort Warren Mass., he was drowned while sailing in a small boat with two companions.

The beneficiary is aged and in need of assistance, but there is no pretense that the soldier’s death was in the least degree related to his military service.

I am sure no one could fail to be gratified by an opportunity to join in according aid to this dependent old mother of a faithful soldier, but I can not believe that such a departure as is proposed should be made from the just principles upon which pension legislation ought to be predicated.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 18, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9175, entitled "An act granting a pension to George Wallen."

The beneficiary named in this bill filed an application for pension in June, 1873, alleging as his disability a fracture of his right arm.

In a subsequent affidavit filed in 1883 he alleged deafness, which appears to be the disability upon which the special act proposed for his relief is based.

The records establish that he enlisted July 27, 1861, that he deserted April 25, 1862, and returned February 20, 1863, after an absence of about ten months, and that he deserted again April 30, 1864, and returned prior to August 31, 1864. I am informed that his record shows two enlistments and desertion during each. He was discharged December 31, 1864.

An application to remove the charge of desertion against him was denied.

Without especially discussing the question of disability chargeable to military service, it seems to me that a soldier with such a record should not be pensioned.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 31, 1889.

To the Senate

I return without approval Senate bill No. 3264, entitled "An act granting a pension to Mrs. Ellen Hand."

The husband of the beneficiary named in this bill enlisted August 1862, and was mustered out with his company July 10, 1865.

He filed a claim for pension in 1881, sixteen years after his discharge, alleging that he contracted rheumatism about December, 1862.

He died in February, 1883, the cause of death being, as then certified, typhoid fever.

His claim for pension on account of rheumatism seems to have been favorably determined after his death, for it was made payable to his widow and was allowed from the time of filing his petition to February 25, 1883, the day of his death.

The facts of the case as now presented appear to me to lead in the most satisfactory manner to the conclusion that the soldier’s death was in no way related to any incident of his military service.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 12, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 9163, entitled "An act granting a pension to Eli Garrett."

This beneficiary enlisted in the Confederate Army December 1, 1862. He was captured by the United States forces on the 26th of November, 1863, and enlisted in the Union Navy January 22, 1864.

He was discharged from the Navy for disability September 8, 1869 upon the certificate of a naval surgeon, which states that he had valvular cardiac disease (disease of the heart), and that there was no evidence that it originated in the line of duty.

His claim for pension was rejected in 1882 upon the ground that the act which permits pensions to Confederate soldiers who joined the Union Army did not extend to such soldiers who enlisted in the Navy.

I can see no reason why such a distinction should exist, and the recommendation of the Commissioner of Pensions, made in 1887, that this discrimination be removed should be adopted by the enactment of a law for that purpose.

In this case, however, I am unable to discover any evidence that the trouble with which this beneficiary appears to be afflicted is related to his naval service which should overcome the plain statement of the surgeon upon whose certificate he was discharged to the effect that there was no evidence that his disability originated in the line of naval duty.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 12, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 11052, entitled "An act granting a pension to Clara M. Owen."

The husband of this beneficiary was pensioned for a gunshot wound in the left chest and lung, received in action on the 30th day of September, 1864.

He was drowned August 31, 1884.

It appears that he was found in a stream where he frequently bathed, in a depth of water variously given from 5 to 8 feet. He had undressed and apparently gone into the water as usual.

Medical opinions are produced tending to show that drowning was not the cause of death.

No post morterm examination was had, and it seems to me it must be conceded that a conclusion that death was in any degree the result of wounds received in military service rests upon the most unsatisfactory conjecture.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 12, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 5752, entitled "An act for the relief of Julia Triggs."

This beneficiary filed an application for pension in 1882, claiming that her son, William Triggs, died in 1875 from the effects of poison taken during his military service in water which had been poisoned by the rebels and in food eaten in rebel houses, which had also been poisoned.

He was discharged from the Army with his company July 24, 1865, after a service of more than four years.

The cause of his death is reported to have been an abscess of the lung.

The case was specially examined, and the evidence elicited to support the claim of poisoning appears to have been anything but satisfactory.

The mother herself testified that her son was absent from Chicago, where she lived, and in the South from 1868 to 1869, and that he was in Indiana from 1869 to 1874.

The claim was rejected on the 12th day of February, 1887, on the ground that evidence could not be obtained upon special examination showing that the soldier’s death was due to any disability contracted in the military service.

While I am unable to see how any other conclusion could have been reached upon the facts in this case, there is reason to believe that a favorable determination upon its merits would be of no avail, since, on the 17th day of April, 1888, a letter was filed in the Pension Office from a citizen of Chicago in which it is stated that the beneficiary named in this bill died on the 27th day of February, 1888, and an application is therein made on behalf of her daughter for reimbursement of money expended for her mother in her last illness and for her burial.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 13, 1889.

To the Senate:

I return without approval Senate bill No. 2514, entitled "An act granting a pension to Michael Shong."

It appears that the beneficiary named in this bill, under the name of John M. Johns, enlisted in Company I, Fourteenth New York Volunteers, on the 17th day of May, 1861, and was discharged May 24, 1863.

In November, 1876, more than thirteen years after his discharge, under the same name of John M. Johns, he filed an application for pension, alleging a fever sore on his right leg contracted July 1, 1862, which resulted in the loss of the leg.

His claim was rejected in November, 1882, after a thorough special examination, on the ground that the disease of the leg resulting in amputation was contracted after the soldier’s discharge from the service.

The leg was amputated in February, 1865.

While there is some evidence tending to show lameness in the service and following discharge, and while one witness swears to lameness and fever sores in the service, evidence was also produced showing that the soldier returned home from the Army in good physical condition and that the disease of his leg first manifested itself in the latter part of 1864.

It will be observed that he served in the Army nearly a year after it is alleged he contracted his disability, and that though his leg was amputated in February, 1865, he did not apply for a pension until 1876.

Moreover, the surgeon who amputated his leg testified that the soldier and his parents stated that he came out of the Army without a scratch; that on New Year’s night in 1865 he became very warm at a dance; that he went outdoors and was taken with a chill and pain in his side, which subsequently settled in the leg and caused a gangrenous condition, and that upon amputating the leg the artery below the knee was found plugged by a blood clot, which caused the diseased condition of the leg and foot.

This testimony and the other facts established and the presumptions arising therefrom clearly indicate, in my opinion, that the claim made for a pension by this beneficiary is without merit.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 13, 1889.

To the Senate:

I return without approval Senate bill No. 3451, entitled "An act granting a pension to Frank D. Worcester."

The beneficiary named in this bill served in the Volunteer Army from February 4, 1863, to January 27, 1864, a period of less than one year, when he was discharged upon the certificate of a surgeon, alleging as his disability "manifest mental imbecility and incontinence of urine. Disease originated previous to enlistment."

In 1880, sixteen years after his discharge, a claim for pension was filed in his behalf by his father as his guardian, in which it was alleged that his mind, naturally not strong, became diseased in the Army by reason of excitement and exposure.

He was adjudged insane in 1872 and sent to an insane hospital, where he remained about six years, when he was discharged as a harmless incurable. His mental condition has remained about the same since that time.

Upon the declared inability to furnish testimony to rebut the record of mental disease prior to enlistment, the claim for pension was rejected in 1883.

In 1887 the case was reopened and a thorough examination was made as to soundness prior to enlistment and the origin and continuance of mental unsoundness.

Upon this examination evidence was taken showing that he was deficient intellectually when he joined the Army; that he was stationed where he was not much exposed, and that his duties were comparatively light; that he never was considered a boy of solid intelligence, and that he had epileptiform seizures prior to enlistment.

On the other hand, no disinterested and unbiased evidence was secured tending to rebut these conditions.

The claim was thereupon again rejected. This was a proper disposition of the case unless the Government is held liable for every disability which may afflict those who served in the Union Army.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 14, 1889.

To the Senate:

I return without approval Senate bill No. 2665, entitled "An act granting a pension to Charles J. Esty."

A bill in precisely the same words as the bill herewith returned was approved on the 8th day of July, 1886, and under its provisions the beneficiary is now upon the pension rolls.

It is supposed that the bill now under consideration was passed by the Congress in ignorance of the previous statute. A duplication of the act would manifestly be entirely useless.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 21, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 1368, entitled "An act to quiet title of settlers on the Des Moines River lands, in the State of Iowa, and for other purposes.’: .

This bill is to all intents and purposes identical with Senate bill No. 150, passed in the first session of the Forty-ninth Congress, which failed to receive Executive approval. My objections to that bill are set forth in a message transmitted to the Senate on the 11th day of March, 1886.* They are all applicable to the bill herewith returned, and a careful reexamination of the matters embraced in this proposed legislation has further satisfied me of their validity and strength.

* See pp. 4996-4998.

The trouble proposed to be cured by this bill grew out of the indefiniteness and consequent contradictory construction by the officers of the Government of a grant of land made in 1846 by Congress to the State of Iowa (then a Territory) for the purpose of aiding in the improvement of the Des Moines River. This grant was accepted on the 9th day of January, 1847, by the State of Iowa, as required by the act of Congress, and soon thereafter the question arose whether the lands granted were limited to those which adjoined the river in its course northwesterly from the southerly line of the State to a point called the Raccoon Fork, or whether such grant covered lands so adjoining the river through its entire course through the Territory, and both below and above the Raccoon Fork.

The Acting Commissioner of the General Land Office, on the 17th day of October, 1846, instructed the officers of the land office in Iowa that the grant extended only to the Raccoon Fork.

On the 23d day of February, 1848, the Commissioner of the General Land Office held that the grant extended along the entire course of the river.

Notwithstanding this opinion, the President, in June, 1848, proclaimedthe lands upon the river above the Raccoon Fork to be open for sale and settlement under the land laws, and about 25,000 acres were sold to and preempted by settlers under said proclamation.

In 1849, and before the organization, of the Department of the Interior, the Secretary of the Treasury decided, upon a protest against opening said lands for sale and settlement, that the grant extended along the entire course of the river.

Pursuant to this decision, and on the 1st day of June, 1849, the Commissioner of the General Land Office directed the reservation or the withholding from sale of all lands on the odd-numbered sections along the Des Moines River above the Raccoon Fork.

This reservation from entry and sale under the general land laws seems to have continued until a deed of the lands so reserved was made by the State of Iowa and until the said deed was supplemented and confirmed by the action of the Congress in 1861 and 1862.

In April, 1850, the Secretary of the Interior, that Department having then been created, determined that the grant extended no farther than the Raccoon Fork; but in view of the fact that Congress was in session and might take steps in the matter, the Commissioner of the General Land Office expressly continued the reservation.

In October, 1851, another Secretary of the Interior, while expressing the opinion that the grant only extended to the Raccoon Fork, declared that he would approve the selections made by the State of Iowa of lands above that point," leaving the question as to the construction of the statute entirely open to the action of the judiciary."

In this condition of affairs selections were made by Iowa of a large quantity of land lying above the Raccoon Fork, which selections were approved and the land certified to the State. In the meantime the State had entered upon the improvement of the river and it appears had disposed of some of the land in furtherance of said improvement. But in 1854 the State of Iowa made a contract with the Des Moines Navigation and Railroad Company for the continuance of said work at a cost of $1,300,000, the State agreeing in payment thereof to convey to the company all the land which had been or should thereafter be certified to the State of Iowa under the grant of 1846.

In November, 1856, further certification of lands above the Raccoon Fork under the grant to the State of Iowa was refused by the Interior Department. This led to a dispute and settlement between the State of Iowa and the Des Moines Navigation and Railroad Company, by which the State conveyed by deed to said company--

All lands granted by an act of Congress approved August 8, 1846, to the then Territory of Iowa to aid in the improvement of the Des Moines River which have been approved and certified to the State of Iowa by the General Government, saving and excepting all lands sold and conveyed, or agreed to be sold and conveyed, by the State, by its officers and agents, prior to the 23d day of December, 1853, under said grant.

This exception was declared in the deed to cover the lands above the Raccoon Fork disposed of to settlers by the Government in 1848 under the proclamation of the President opening said lands to sale and settlement, which has been referred to; and it is conceded that neither these lands nor the rights of any settlers thereto are affected by the terms of the bill now under consideration.

The amount of land embraced in this deed located above the Raccoon Fork appears to be more than 271,000 acres.

It is alleged that the company in winding up its affairs distributed this land among the parties interested, and that said land, or a large part of it, has been sold to numerous parties now claiming the same under titles derived from said company.

In December, 1859, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the grant to the Territory of Iowa under the law of 1846 conveyed no land above the Raccoon Fork, and that all selections and certifications of lands above that point were unauthorized and void, and passed no title or interest in said lands to the State of Iowa. In other words, it was determined that these lands were, in the language of the bill under consideration, "improperly certified to Iowa by the Department of the Interior under the act of August 8, 1846."

This adjudication would seem to conclusively determine that the title to these lands was, as the law then stood, and notwithstanding all that had taken place, still in the United States. And for the purpose of granting all claim or right of the Government to said lands for the benefit of the grantees of the State of Iowa, Congress, on the 2d day of March, 1861, passed a joint resolution providing that all the title still retained by the United States in the lands above the Raccoon Fork, in the State of Iowa, "which have been certified to said State improperly by the Department of the Interior as part of the grant by act of Congress approved August 8, 1846, and which is now held by bona fide purchasers under the State of Iowa, be, and the same is hereby, relinquished to the State of Iowa."

Afterwards, and on the 12th day of July, 1862, an act of Congress was passed extending the grant of 1846 so as to include lands lying above the Raccoon Fork.

The joint resolution and act of Congress here mentioned have been repeatedly held by the Supreme Court of the United States to supply a title to the lands mentioned in the deed from the State of Iowa to the Navigation and Railroad Company, which inured to the benefit of said company or its grantees.

No less than ten cases have been decided in that court more or less directly establishing this proposition, as well as the further proposition that no title to these lands could prior to said Congressional action be gained by settlers, for the reason that it had been withdrawn and reserved from entry and sale under the general land laws. It seems to be perfectly well settled also, if an adjudication was necessary upon that question, thatall interest of the United States in these lands was entirely and completely granted by the resolution of 1861 and the act of 1862.

The act of 1862 provides for the setting apart of other lands in lieu of such as were covered by the act, but had been before its passage sold and disposed of by the United States, excepting such as had been released to the State of Iowa under the joint resolution of 1861.

It is claimed, I believe, that in a settlement of land grants thereafter had between the United States and the State of Iowa lands were allowed to the State in lieu or indemnity for some of the lands which it had conveyed to the Des Moines Navigation and Railroad Company. But if the title of the company is valid to lands along the river and above the Raccoon Fork, under the deed from Iowa and the joint resolution and act of Congress, it can not be in the least affected by the fact that the State afterwards, justly or unjustly, received other lands as indemnity.

The bill under consideration provides that all the lands "improperly certified to Iowa" under the grant of 1846, as referred to in the joint resolution of 1861, and for which indemnity lands were selected and received by the State, as provided in the act of 1862, "are, and are hereby, declared to be public lands of the United States."

The claims of persons and their heirs who, with intent in good faith to obtain title under the preemption and homestead laws of the United States, have entered and remained upon any tract of said land prior to 1880 are confirmed and made valid to them and their heirs, not exceeding 160 acres; and upon due proof and payment of the usual price or fees it is directed that such claims shall be carried to patent.

It is further provided that the claims of settlers and claimants which do not come in conflict with the claims of the parties above mentioned are confirmed and made valid. By the second section of the bill it is made the duty of the Attorney-General, as soon as practicable, and within three years after the passage of the act, to institute legal proceedings to assert and protect the title of the United States to said lands and to remove all clouds from its title thereto.

One result of this legislation, if consummated and if effectual, would be to restore to the United States, as a part of the public domain, lands which more than twenty-five years ago the Government expressly granted and surrendered, and which repeated decisions of the Supreme Court have adjudged to belong by virtue of this action of the Government to other parties.

Another result would be not only to validate claims to this land which our highest judicial tribunal have solemnly declared to be invalid, but to actually direct the issue of patents in confirmation of said claims.

Still another result would be to oblige the Government of the United States to enter the courts ostensibly to assert and protect its title to said land, while in point of fact it would be used to enforce private claims to the same and unsettle private ownership.

It is by no means certain that this proposed legislation, relating to a subject peculiarly within the judicial function, and which attempts to disturb rights and interests thoroughly intrenched in the solemn adjudications of our courts, would be upheld. In any event, it seems to me that it is an improper exercise of legislative power, an interference with the determinations of a coordinate branch of the Government, an arbitrary annulment of a public grant made more than twenty-five years ago, an attempted destruction of vested rights, and a threatened impairment of lawful contracts.

The advocates of this measure insist that a point in favor of the settlers upon these lands and important in the consideration of this bill is found in the following language of the constitution of the State of Iowa, which was adopted in 1857:

The general assembly shall not locate any of the public lands which have been or may be granted by Congress to this State, and the location of which may be given to the general assembly, upon lands actually settled, without the consent of the occupant.

The State under its constitution was perfectly competent to take the grants of 1861 and 1862. The clause of the constitution above quoted deals expressly with "lands which have been or may be granted by Congress to the State," and thus of necessity recognizes its right to take such grants. This competency in the State as a grantee was all that was needed to create, under the joint resolution of 1861 and the act of 1862, a complete divestiture of the interests of the United States in these lands. It must be borne in mind, too, that prior to this time these lands had been conveyed by the State of Iowa in furtherance of the purposes of the original Congressional grants, and that the joint resolution of 1861 and the act of 1862 were really made for the benefit of those who held under grants from the State. After these grants by the Government it had no concern with these lands. If in any stage of the proceedings the general assembly of Iowa was guilty of any neglect of duty or failed to act in accordance with the constitution of the State of Iowa, the remedy should be found in the courts of that State; and it is difficult to see how the situation in this aspect can be changed or improved by the bill under consideration.

I am not unmindful of the fact that there may be persons who have suffered or who are threatened with loss through a reliance upon the erroneous decisions of Government officials as to the extent of the original grant from the United States to the Territory of Iowa. I believe cases of this kind should be treated in accordance with the broadest sentiments of equity, and that where loss is apparent arising from a real or fairly supposed invitation of the Government to settle upon the lands mentioned in the bill under consideration such loss should be made good. But I do not believe that the condition of these settlers will be aided by encouraging them in such further litigation as the terms of this bill invite, nor do I believe that in attempting to right the wrongs of whichthey complain legislation should be sanctioned mischievous in principle, and in its practical operation doing injustice to others as innocent as they and as much entitled to consideration.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 23, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 220, entitled "An act granting a pension to John J. Lockrey."

It is stated that this beneficiary enlisted April 11, 1865, but it appears from the muster roll of his company for May and June, 1865, that he was a recruit assigned, but who had not joined. There is nothing appearing on the record which positively shows that he ever reached his regiment.

It is conceded that his real and nominal connection with the Army extended only from April 11, 1865, when he was mustered in, until August, 1865, when he was discharged for disability, consisting of a disease of the eye, called in the surgeon’s certificate "iritis with conjunctivitis."

It seems that this claimant enlisted just at the close of the war, and was connected in a manner with the Army for four months. It is not probable that he ever saw any actual service, for none is stated in the papers before me; and it does appear that he spent a large part of his short term of enlistment in hospitals and under treatment for a trouble with his eye. As early as May 23, 1865, he was admitted to hospital with gonorrheal ophthalmia. His claim was rejected by the Pension Bureau on the ground that this was the cause of his disability, and the inferences from the proof presented make this extremely probable.

One of the witnesses who testified that the beneficiary caught cold in his eye in April, 1865, on the Mississippi River is shown to have been at that time with his regiment and company at Danville, Va.

The circumstances surrounding this case and the facts proved satisfy me that the determination of the Pension Bureau was correct, and there is certainly no sentiment in favor of the claimant which justifies the indulgence of violent presumptions for the purpose of overriding such determination.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 23, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 5807, entitled "An act granting a pension to John McCool."

This beneficiary served in an Iowa regiment of volunteers from May 27, 1861, to July 12, 1865.

He filed a petition for pension, alleging an accidental wound in the right thumb while extracting a cartridge from a pistol in August, 1861.There is no record of any such disability, though it appears that he was on a furlough about the date of his alleged injury. It appears that he served nearly four years after the time he fixed as the date of his injury.

No evidence was filed in support of the claim he filed, and he refused to appear for examination, though twice notified to do so.

His claim was rejected in May, 1888, no suggestion having been made of any other disability than the wound in the thumb, upon which his claim before the Bureu was based.

The report of the committee in the House of Representatives recommending the passage of this bill contains no intimation that there exists any disability contracted in the military service, but distinctly declares the pension recommended a service pension, and states that the beneficiary is blind.

As long as the policy of granting pensions for disability traceable to the incidents of army service is adhered to, the allowance of pensions by special acts based upon service only gives rise to unjust and unfair discriminations among those equally entitled, and makes precedents which will eventually result in an entire departure from the principle upon which pensions are now awarded.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 21, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 11803, entitled "An act granting a pension to Henry V. Bass."

This beneficiary enlisted September 9, 1862, and was mustered out August 15, 1865. The records show no disability during his service.

It is now alleged that the soldier was sitting on the ground near his tent while two comrades were wrestling near him, and that in the course of the scuffle one of the parties engaged in it was thrown or fell upon the beneficiary, injuring his right knee and ankle.

Upon these facts the claim was rejected by the Pension Bureau on the ground that the injury was not received in the line of duty.

I do not think that the Government should be held as an insurer against injuries of this kind, which are in no manner related to the performance of military service.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, 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

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 25, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 10448, entitled "An act granting a pension to Squire Walter."

The son of the beneficiary named in this bill enlisted in a West Virginia regiment on the 28th day of June, 1861.

On the 15th day of September, 1862, while bathing in the Potomac River near the Chain Bridge, with the knowledge and consent of his commanding officer, he was drowned.

It is perfectly clear that he lost his life while in the enjoyment of a privilege and when at his request military discipline was relaxed and its restraints removed for his comfort and pleasure. His death resulted from his voluntary and perfectly proper personal indulgence, and can not be in the least attributed to military service.

The father does not appear to be so needy and dependent as is often exhibited in cases of this class.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 25, 1889.

To the Senate:

I herewith return without approval Senate bill No. 3561, entitled "An act granting a pension to Edwin W. Warner."

A claim for pension on behalf of the beneficiary named in this bill was filed in the Pension Bureau May 6, 1867. It has been examined and examined and always rejected, until, on the 29th day of December, 1888, as the result of a personal and thorough investigation by the Commissioner,a pension was allowed and a certificate issued under which the claimant will be paid $18 a month hereafter and arrearages amounting to something near $2,000.

As the special act for the benefit of this claimant was passed by the Congress upon the supposition that nothing had been done for the beneficiary therein named, I deem it best, in his interest, and probably consistent with the intent of the Congress, that the bill herewith returned should not become a law.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 26, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 12047, entitled "An act granting an increase of pension to George Colwell."

The record shows that this beneficiary was enrolled in the military service August 10, 1862, and was mustered out June 1, 1865. There is no record of any disability during his service.

He was pensioned at the rate of $2 a month for a dog bite just above the ankle.

In September, 1865, three months after his discharge, he strained the knee of the leg which had been bitten.

In 1887 he applied for an increase of pension, alleging increased disability. This increased disability appears plainly to be the result of the strain or injury to the knee, and in no way connected with the bite for which he was pensioned.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 26, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without approval House bill No. 10791, entitled "An act granting a pension to Marinda Wakefield Reed."

This beneficiary filed an application for pension in November, 1876, alleging that her husband, William A. Reed, died in September of that year of consumption contracted in the line of military duty.

The records show that the soldier was in hospital in the year 1864 for chronic diarrhea and intermittent fever.

On the 5th day of November, 1864, he was injured in a railroad accident while on his way home to vote at the Presidential election of that year.

The beneficiary claimed in August, 1885, in support of her application for pension that those injuries resulted in consumption, from which the soldier died, and the favorable report of the House committee to which the bill herewith returned was referred seems to proceed upon the same theory.

Nothing appears which satisfactorily connects this injury, which was received in November, 1864, with death from consumption in 1876.

Another difficulty in the case is found in the fact that when the soldier was injured he was clearly not engaged in any military duty nor was his injury in any degree attributable to military service.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 26, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill 11466, entitled "An act granting a pension to Mary A. Selbach."

This bill does not give the name of any soldier to whom the beneficiary was related or in what capacity the pension provided for is to be paid to her, but it appears from the report of the committee accompanying the bill that she is the widow of Gustavus Selbach, a volunteer in the Ninth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers.

This soldier drew a pension from January, 1882, to January 16, 1886, when he died. He claimed disability for disease of the ears and a resulting deafness of his left ear. There appears to be no evidence in his record of any disability or medical treatment while in the service, and the medical examination upon his application for pension shows no rating for any disability other than that alleged by him and for which he was pensioned--disease of the ears and resulting deafness.

It is conceded that the soldier died January 16, 1886, of pneumonia.

The widow filed a claim for pension in May, 1887.

The testimony of physicians upon her claim covered seven years prior to his death, thus dating back to the year 1879, and they speak of the disease of the ear and of the kidneys, which, in their opinion, undermined his health, so that "he succumbed to an attack of pneumonia, which to a person of ordinary good health would not have been considered serious."

It can hardly be supposed that the trouble with his ears caused the soldier to fall a victim to pneumonia; and so far as the kidney disease tended in that direction, it is to be observed that it apparently did not make its appearance until fourteen years after the soldier’s discharge.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 26, 1889.

To the House of Representatives:

I return without approval House bill No. 11586, entitled "An act for the relief of Stephen Williams."

It appears from the records that the beneficiary for whom a pension is provided in this bill served as a volunteer in an Illinois regiment from October, 1862, to October, 1864, at which date he is reported as a deserter.

He filed a claim for pension in 1881, in which he alleged that he was struck with a gunstock upon his head and injured in October, 1864.

The evidence shows that a drunken comrade struck the claimant with the stock of his gun because he would not buy whisky for him.

This, upon all the facts, does not appear to be a proper case for allowing a pension for an injury suffered in the line of military duty.

GROVER CLEVELAND

EXECUTIVE MANSION, March 2, 1889.

To the Senate:

I herewith return without approval Senate bill No. 139, entitled "An act to credit and pay to the several States and Territories and the District of Columbia all moneys collected under the direct tax levied by the act of Congress approved August 5, 1861."

The object of this bill is quite clearly indicated in its title. Its provisions have been much discussed in both branches of Congress and have received emphatic legislative sanction. I fully appreciate the interest which it has excited and have by no means failed to recognize the persuasive presentation made in its favor. I know, too, that the interposition of Executive disapproval in this case is likely to arouse irritation and cause complaint and earnest criticism. Since, however, my judgment will not permit me to assent to the legislation proposed, I can find no way of turning aside from what appears to be the plain course of official duty.

On the 5th day of August, 1861, a Federal statute was passed entitled "An act to provide increased revenue from imports, to pay interest on the public debt, and for other purposes."

This law was passed at a time when immense sums of money were needed by the Government for the prosecution of a war for the Union, and the purpose of the law was to increase in almost every possible way the Federal revenues. The first seven sections of the statute were devoted to advancing very largely the rates of duties on imports, and to supplement this the eighth section provided that a direct tax of $20,000,000 should be annually laid and that certain amounts therein specified should be apportioned to the respective States. The remainder of the law, consisting of fifty sections, contained the most particular and detailed provisions for the collection of the tax through Federal machinery.

It was declared, among other things, that the tax should be assessed and laid on all lands and lots of ground, with their improvements and dwelling houses; that the annual amount of said taxes should be a lien upon all lands and real estate of the individuals assessed for the same, and that in default of payment the said taxes might be collected by distraint and sale of the goods, chattels, and effects of the delinquent persons.

This tax was laid in execution of the power conferred upon the General Government for that purpose by the Constitution. It was an exercise of the right of the Government to tax its citizens. It dealt withindividuals, and the strong arm of Federal power was stretched out to exact from those who owed it support and allegiance their just share of the sum it had decreed should be raised by direct taxation for the general good. The lien created by this tax was upon the land and real estate of the "individuals" assessed for the same, and for its collection the distraint and sale of personal property of the "persons delinquent" were permitted.

But while the direct relationship and responsibility between the individuals taxed and the Federal Government were thus created by the exercise of the highest attribute of sovereignty, it was provided in the statute that any State or Territory and the District of Columbia might lawfully "assume, assess, collect, and pay into the Treasury of the United States" its quota of said tax in its own way and manner and by and through its own officers, assessors, and collectors; and it was further provided that such States or Territories as should give notice of their intention to thus assume and pay or to assess, collect, and pay into the Treasury of the United States such direct tax, should be entitled, in lieu of the compensation, pay, per diem, and percentage in said act prescribed and allowed to assessors, assistant assessors, and collectors of the United States, to a deduction of 15 per cent of the quota of direct tax apportioned to such States or Territories and levied and collected through their officers.

It was also provided by this law and another passed the next year that certain claims of the States and Territories against the United States might be applied in payment of such quotas. Whatever may be said as to the effect of these provisions of the law, it can hardly be claimed that by virtue thereof or any proceedings under them the apportioned quotas of this tax became debts against the several States and Territories, or that they were liable to the General Government therefor in every event, and as principal debtors bound by an enforceable obligation.

In the forty-sixth section of the law it is provided that in case any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, after notice given of its intention to assume and pay or to levy, collect, and pay said direct tax apportioned to it, should fail to pay the amount of said direct tax, or any part thereof, it should be lawful for the Secretary of the Treasury to appoint United States officers as in the act provided, whose duty it should be to proceed forthwith to collect all or any part of said direct tax "the same as though said State, Territory, or District had not given notice nor assumed to levy, collect, and pay said taxes or any part thereof."

A majority of the States undertook the collection of their quotas and accounted for the amount thereof to the General Government by the payment of money or by setting off claims in their favor against the tax. Fifteen per cent of the amount of their respective quotas was retained as the allowance for collection and payment. In the Northern, or such as were then called the loyal States, nearly the entire quotas were collectedand paid through State agencies. The money necessary for this purpose was generally collected from the citizens of the States with their other taxes, and in whatever manner their quotas may have been canceled, whether by the payment of money or setting off claims against the Government, it is safe to say, as a general proposition, that the people of these States have individually been obliged to pay the assessments made upon them on account of this direct tax and have intrusted it to their several States to be transmitted to the Federal Treasury.

In the Southern States, then in insurrection, whatever was actually realized in money upon this tax was collected directly by Federal officers without the interposition of State machinery, and a part of its quota has been credited to each of these States.

The entire amount applied upon this tax, including the 15 per cent for collection, was credited to the several States and Territories upon the books of the Treasury, whether collected through their instrumentalities or by Federal officers.

The sum credited to all the States was $17,359,685.51, which includes more than $2,000,000 on account of the 15 per cent allowed for collecting. Of the amount credited only about $2,300,000 is credited to the insurrectionary States. The amount uncollected of the twenty millions directed to be raised by this tax was $2,646,314.49, and nearly this entire sum remained due upon the quotas apportioned to these States.

In this condition of affairs the bill under consideration directs the Secretary of the Treasury "to credit to each State and Territory of the United States and the District of Columbia a sum equal to all collections, by set-off or otherwise, made from said States and Territories and the District of Columbia, or from any of the citizens or inhabitants thereof, or other persons, under the act of Congress approved August 5, 1861, and the amendatory acts thereto." An appropriation is also made of such a sum as may be necessary to reimburse each State, Territory, and the District of Columbia for all money found due to it under the provisions of the bill, and it is provided that all money still due to the United States on said direct tax shall be remitted and relinquished.

The conceded effect of this bill is to take from the money now in the Treasury the sum of more than $17,000,000, or, if the percentage allowed is not included, more than $15,000,000, and pay back to the respective States and Territories the sums they or their citizens paid more than twenty-five years ago upon a direct tax levied by the Government of the United States for its defense and safety.

It is my belief that this appropriation of the public funds is not within the constitutional power of the Congress. Under the limited and delegated authority conferred by the Constitution upon the General Government the statement of the purposes for which money may be lawfully raised by taxation in any form declares also the limit of the objects for which it may be expended.

All must agree that the direct tax was lawfully and constitutionally laid and that it was rightfully and correctly collected. It can not be claimed, therefore, nor is it pretended, that any debt arose against the Government and in favor of any State or individual by the exaction of this tax. Surely, then, the appropriation directed by this bill can not be justified as a payment of a debt of the United States.

The disbursement of this money clearly has no relation to the common defense. On the contrary, it is the repayment of money raised and long ago expended by the Government to provide for the common defense.

The expenditure can not properly be advocated on the ground that the general welfare of the United States is thereby provided for or promoted. This "general welfare of the United States," as used in the Constitution, can only justify appropriations for national objects and for purposes which have to do with the prosperity, the growth, the honor, or the peace and dignity of the nation.

A sheer, bald gratuity bestowed either upon States or individuals, based upon no better reason than supports the gift proposed in this bill, has never been claimed to be a provision for the general welfare. More than fifty years ago a surplus of public money in the Treasury was distributed among the States; but the unconstitutionality of such distribution, considered as a gift of money, appears to have been conceded, for it was put into the State treasuries under the guise of a deposit or loan, subject to the demand of the Government.

If it was proposed to raise by assessment upon the people the sum necessary to refund the money collected upon this direct tax, I am sure many who are now silent would insist upon the limitations of the Constitution in opposition to such a scheme. A large surplus in the Treasury is the parent of many ills, and among them is found a tendency to an extremely liberal, if not loose, construction of the Constitution. It also attracts the gaze of States and individuals with a kind of fascination, and gives rise to plans and pretensions that an uncongested Treasury never could excite.

But if the constitutional question involved in the consideration of this bill should be determined in its favor, there are other objections remaining which prevent my assent to its provisions.

There should be a certainty and stability about the enforcement of taxation which should teach the citizen that the Government will only use the power to tax in cases where its necessity and justice are not doubtful, and which should also discourage the disturbing idea that the exercise of this power may be revoked by reimbursement of taxes once collected. Any other theory cheapens and in a measure discredits a process which more than any other is a manifestation of sovereign authority.

A government is not only kind, but performs its highest duty when it restores to the citizen taxes unlawfully collected or which have been erroneously or oppressively extorted by its agents or officers; but aside from these incidents, the people should not be familiarized with thespectacle of their Government repenting the collection of taxes and restoring them.

The direct tax levied in 1861 is not even suspected of invalidity. There never was a tax levied which was more needed, and its justice can not be questioned. Why, then, should it be returned?

The fact that the entire tax was not paid furnishes no reason that would not apply to nearly every case where taxes are laid. There are always delinquents, and while the more thorough and complete collection of taxes is a troublesome problem of government, the failure to solve the problem has never been held to call for the return of taxes actually collected.

The deficiency in the collection of this tax is found almost entirely in the insurrectionary States, while the quotas apportioned to the other States were, as a general rule, fully paid; and three-fourths or four-fifths of the money which it is proposed in this bill to return would be paid into the treasuries of the loyal States. But no valid reason for such payment is found in the fact that the Government at first could not, and afterwards, for reasons probably perfectly valid, did not, enforce collection in the other States.

There were many Federal taxes which were not paid by the people in the rebellious States; and if the nonpayment by them of this direct tax entitles the other States to a donation of the share of said taxes paid by their citizens, why should not the income tax and many other internal taxes paid entirely by the citizens of loyal States be also paid into the treasuries of these States? Considerations which recognize sectional divisions or the loyalty of the different States at the time this tax was laid should not enter into the discussion of the merits of this measure.

The loyal States should not be paid the large sums of money promised them by this bill because they were loyal and other States were not, nor should the States which rebelled against the Government be paid the smaller sum promised them because they were in rebellion and thus prevented the collection of their entire quotas, nor because this concession to them is necessary to justify the proposed larger gifts to the other States.

The people of the loyal States paid this direct tax as they bore other burdens in support of the Government, and I believe the taxpayers themselves are content. In the light of these considerations I am opposed to the payment of money from the Federal Treasury to enrich the treasuries of the States. Their funds should be furnished by their own citizens, and thus should be fostered the taxpayer’s watchfulness of State expenditures and the taxpayer’s jealous insistence upon the strict accountability of State officials. These elements of purity and strength in a State are not safely exchanged for the threatened demoralization and carelessness attending the custody and management of large gifts from the Federal Treasury.

The baneful effect of a surplus in the Treasury of the General Government is daily seen and felt. I do not think, however, that this surplus should be reduced or its contagion spread throughout the States by methods such as are provided in this bill.

There is still another objection to the bill, arising from what seems to me its unfairness and unjust discrimination.

In the case of proposed legislation of at least doubtful constitutionality and based upon no legal right, the equities which recommend it should always be definite and clear.

The money appropriated by this bill is to be paid to the governors of the respective States and Territories in which it was collected, whether the same was derived through said States and Territories, or directly "from any of the citizens or inhabitants thereof or other persons;" and it is further provided that such sums as were collected in payment of this Federal tax through the instrumentality of the State or Territorial officials, and accounted for to the General Government by such States and Territories, are to be paid unconditionally to their governors, while the same collected in payment of said tax by the United States, or, in other words, by the Federal machinery created for that purpose, are to be held in trust by said States or Territories for the benefit of those paying the same.

I am unable to understand how this discrimination in favor of those who have made payment of this tax directly to the officers of the Federal Government, and against those who made such payments through State or Territorial agencies, can be defended upon fair and equitable principles. It was the General Government in every case which exacted this tax from its citizens and people in the different States and Territories, and to provide for reimbursement to a part of its citizens by the creation of a trust for their benefit, while the money exacted in payment of this tax from a far greater number is paid unconditionally into the State and Territorial treasuries, is an unjust and unfair proceeding, in which the Government should not be implicated.

It will hardly do to say that the States and Territories who are the recipients of these large gifts may be trusted to do justice to its citizens who originally paid the money. This can not be relied upon; nor should the Government lose sight of the equality of which it boasts, and, having entered upon the plan of reimbursement, abandon to other agencies the duty of just distribution, and thus incur the risk of becoming accessory to actual inequality and injustice.

If in defense of the plan proposed it is claimed that exact equality can not be reached in the premises, this may be readily conceded. The money raised by this direct tax was collected and expended twenty-seven years ago. Nearly a generation has passed away since that time. Even if distribution should be attempted by the States and Territories, as well as by the Government, the taxpayers in many cases are neitheralive nor represented, and in many other cases if alive they can not be found. Fraudulent claims would often outrun honest applications and innumerable and bitter contests would arise between claimants.

Another difficulty in the way of doing perfect justice in the operation of this plan of reimbursement is found in the fact that the money to be appropriated therefor was contributed to the Federal Treasury for entirely different purposes by a generation many of whom were not born when the direct tax was levied and paid, who have no relation to said tax and can not share in its distribution. While they stand by and see the money they have been obliged to pay into the public Treasury professedly to meet present necessities expended to reimburse taxation long ago fairly, legally, and justly collected from others, they can not fail to see the unfairness of the transaction.

The existence of a surplus in the Treasury is no answer to these objections. It is still the people’s money, and better use can be found for it than the distribution of it upon the plea of the reimbursement of ancient taxation. A more desirable plan to reduce and prevent the recurrence of a large surplus can easily be adopted-one that, instead of creating injustice and inequality, promotes justice and equality by leaving in the hands of the people and for their use the money not needed by the Government "to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States."

The difficulties in the way of making a just reimbursement of this direct tax, instead of excusing the imperfections of the bill under consideration, furnish reasons why the scheme it proposes should not be entered upon.

I am constrained, upon the considerations herein presented, to withhold my assent from the bill herewith returned, because I believe it to be without constitutional warrant, because I am of the opinion that there exists no adequate reasons either in right or equity for the return of the tax in said bill mentioned, and because I believe its execution would cause actual injustice and unfairness.

GROVER CLEVELAND

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Chicago: Grover Cleveland, "Veto Messages.," Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland in James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Grover Cleveland (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 8:5429-5437 5403–5413. Original Sources, accessed August 14, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3VAAH715CE61RW7.

MLA: Cleveland, Grover. "Veto Messages." Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland, in James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Grover Cleveland (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 8:5429-5437, pp. 5403–5413. Original Sources. 14 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3VAAH715CE61RW7.

Harvard: Cleveland, G, 'Veto Messages.' in Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland. cited in , James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Grover Cleveland (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 8:5429-5437, pp.5403–5413. Original Sources, retrieved 14 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3VAAH715CE61RW7.