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EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 6, 1873, To the House of Representatives:
I return herewith, for the further consideration of Congress, House bill No. 2291, entitled "An act for the relief of Edmund Jussen,” to which I have not appended my approval, for the following reasons:
The bill directs the accounting officers to transfer from Mr. Jussen's account to that of his successor all indebtedness arising from the loss or destruction or pontaking of warehouse bonds on certain spirits destroyed by fire.
This provision would be wholl z ineffective in so far as it proposes to increase the liability of Mr. Jussen's successor, he having been appointed subsequently-o the destruction of the spirits. It might operate to relieve Mr. Jussen, but it seems probable that he is already relieved by the act of May 27, 1872, passed since the introduction of this bill. That act provides for the rebatement of taxes on distilled spirits destroyed by fire, except in cases where the owners of such spirits may be indemnified against tax by a valid claim of insurance. The relief of the taxpayers of course includes the relief of collectors from liability caused by failure to take bonds. It does not appear whether there was any insurance in this case. If not, the applicant is already relieved; but if there was an insurance the effect of this bill, if it became a law, might be to except Mr. Jussen from the operation of the general rule established by the proviso of the act of May 27, 1872. If such exception be proper, it should not be confined to an individual case, but extended to all. If there was an insurance, this bill would relieve Mr. Jussen from the liability with which it is very doubtful if his successor could be legally charged, or with which he ought to be charged.
U. S. GRANT.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 22, 1873. The SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
SIR: I herewith return to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, H. R. No. 630, entitled “An act in relation to new trials in the Court of Claims,” without my approval.
The object of the bill is to reduce from two years to six months the time in which a new trial, upon motion of the United States, may be granted in the Court of Claims.
Great difficulties are now experienced in contesting fraudulent and unjust claims against the Government prosecuted in said court, and the effect of this bill, if it becomes a law, will be to increase those difficul. ties. Persons sue in this court generally with the advantage of a per sonal knowledge of the circumstances of the case, and are prompted by Dersoual interest to activity in its preparation for trial, which consists
THE CUSTER MASSACRE.
Sitting Bull, an inveterate hater of the white man, led his tribe, the Sioux, into hostilities with the Government on the question of obeying the Government's order to move into a new reservation. Notified that our army would compel obedience, the Sioux took up a position in the Bad Lands of Montana. Three columns–Gibbon's, Crook's and Terry's—moved upon them from east, west and south. Custer's regiment, the Seventh Cavalry, was part of Terry's column. On June 22, 1876, Custer broke away from the column and rode south so as to take the Sioux in rear and complete the circle. Striking the trail, Custer divided his command, sending one portion under Reno down the Little Big Horn to assail the camp from the west while he attacked from the south. Reno was attacked, had to stand on the defensive and was prevented from executing his part of the plan. Custer, with about 200 men, charged the Sioux, who numbered 2,400, was encircled by the Indians, and fought until every man but one was dead. That one, a scout, wrapped himself in a Sioux blanket and escaped. Custer's body was spared from mutilation by the Indians, a remarkable evidence of respect.
See the articles, “Indian Tribes, Sioux," and "Custer Massacre,” in the Encyclopedic Index.
sometimes in the production of false testimony and the suppression of the truth, while the United States are dependent for defense upon such inquiries as the officers of the Government, generally strangers to the transaction, are enabled to make, not infrequently in remote parts of the country and among those not averse to depredations upon the National Treasury. Instances have occurred where the existing opportunities for a new trial have enabled the Government to discover and defeat claims that ought not to have been allowed, after judgments thereon had been rendered by the Court of Claims.
By referring to the act which it is proposed to modify it will be seen that the payment of judgments recovered is not necessarily suspended for two years; but where the proofs are doubtful or suspicious the Government may appeal to the Supreme Court, and in the meantime may avail itself of any discovery or revelation of new evidence touching the facts of the case.
I fail to see the necessity or advantages of the proposed change in the law, and whatever may be the purposes of the bill, its effect, if passed, I am apprehensive will be to facilitate the prosecution of fraudulent claims against the United States. Believing that justice can and will be done to honest claimants in the Court of Claims as the law now stands, and believing also that the proposed change in the law will remove a valuable safeguard to the Treasury, I must for these reasons respectfully withhold my assent to the bill.
U. S. GRANT.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 29, 1873. To the Senate of the United States:
I have the honor to return herewith Senate bill No. 490, entitled “An act for the relief of the East Tennessee University,” without my approval.
This claim, for which $18,500 are appropriated out of the moneys of the United States, arises in part for the destruction of property by troops in time of war, and therefore the same objections attach to it as were expressed in my message of June 1, 1872, returning the Senate bill awarding $25,000 to J. Milton Best.
If the precedent is once established that the Government is liable for the ravages of war, the end of demands upon the public Treasury can not be forecast.
The loyalty of the people of the section in which the university is located, under circumstances of personal danger and trials, thus entitling them to the most favorable construction of the obligation of the Government toward them, is admitted, and nothing but regard for my duty to the whole people, in opposing a principle which, if allowed, will entail greater burdens upon the whole than the relief which will be afforded to a part by allowing this bill to become a law, could induce me to return it with objections.
Recognizing the claims of these citizens to sympathy and the most favorable consideration of their claims by the Government, I would heartily favor a donation of the amount appropriated by this bill for their relief,
WASHINGTON, February 8, 1873. To the House of Representatives:
I have the honor to return herewith House bill (H. R. 2852) entitled "An act for the relief of James A. McCullah, late collector of the fifth district of Missouri,” without my approval, for the following reasons:
It is provided in section 34 of the act of June 30, 1864, as amended by the act of July 13, 1866, that it shall be proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that due diligence was used by the collector, who shall certify the facts to the First Comptroller. This bill, should it become a law, clearly excuses Mr. McCullah, late collector, from showing that he used due diligence for the collection of the tax in question while the lists remained in his hands.
U. S. GRANT.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 11, 1873. To the Senate of the United States:
I return herewith without my approval Senate bill No. 161, entitled “An act for the relief of those suffering from the destruction of salt works near Manchester, Ky., pursuant to the order of Major-General Carlos Buell.”
All the objections made by me to the bill for the relief of J. Milton Best, and also of the East Tennessee University, apply with equal force to this bill.
According to the official report of Brigadier-General Craft, by whose immediate command the property in question was destroyed, there was a large rebel force in the neighborhood, who were using the salt works and had carried away a considerable quantity of salt, and were preparing to take more as soon as the necessary transportation could be procured; and he further states “that the leaders of the rebellion calculated upon their supply of salt to come from these works," and that in his opinion their destruction was a military necessity. I understand him to say, in effect, that the salt works were captured from the rebels; that it was impracticable to hold them, and that they were demolished so as to be of no further use to the enemy.
I can not agree that the owners of property destroyed under such circumstances are entitled to compensation therefor from the United States. Whatever other view may be taken of the subject, it is incontrovertible that these salt works were destroyed by the Union Army while engaged in regular military operations, and that the sole object of their destruction was to weaken, cripple, or defeat the armies of the so-called Southern Confederacy.