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EXECUTIVE MANSION, May 26, 1896. To Me House of Representatives:

I return herewith without approval House bill No. 7161, entitled "An act for the relief of Benjamin F. Jones."

This bill directs the payment to the beneficiary, late postmaster at Beauregard, Miss., or to his order, of the sum of $50, in full compensation for services and expenses in carrying and distributing the mails between Wesson and Beauregard, in the State of Mississippi, in 1883.

It appears from the report of the House committee recommending the passage of this bill that on April 22, 1883, while Mr. Jones was postmaster at Beauregard, a cyclone destroyed every building in the place, including that in which the post-office was kept; that in consequence of this disaster the mails for Beauregard were for a period of thirty-five days, and until May 27, 1883, deposited at Wesson, i mile distant; that during that time it became necessary to transport such mails from Wesson to Beauregard, and that the postmaster caused this to be done, at an expense of $97.

A report from the Postmaster-General discloses the fact that this claim was presented to the Department in 1884 and was rejected on the ground that if the service was performed as alleged it was not authorized or directed by the Department.

In 1885 a suit was instituted against this postmaster and his sureties for a balance due the Government from him on his official accounts for the quarter ending June 30, 1883.

It will be observed that this quarter covered the period within which the alleged services were performed.

In the suit referred to a judgment was recovered by the Government against the postmaster for $190.45, being the balance found due from him. This judgment still remains unpaid.

ondition of affairs it is quite plain that in fairness and justice no appropriation should be made in favor of the claimant.

It is the opinion of the Auditor of the Post-Office Department that even if this bill becomes a law payment of the money appropriated should be withheld under a section of the Revised Statutes which provides:

No money shall be paid to any person for his compensation who is in arrears to the United States until he has accounted for and paid into the Treasury all sums for which he may be liable.

GROVER CLEVELAND.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, May 29, 1896. To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith without approval House bill No. 7977, entitled "An act making appropriations for the construction, repair, and preservation of certain public works on rivers and harbors, and for other purposes."

The subdivision of the section of the law proposed to be amended by this bill has reference to the fees allowed receivers and registers at public-land offices. This subdivision now reads as follows:

Tenth. Registers and receivers are allowed jointly at the rate of 15 cents per husdred words for testimony reduced by them to writing for claimants in establishing preemption and homestead rights.

The bill under consideration so amends this subdivision that in the first clause a compensation of 10 cents per hundred words is allowed to the registers and receivers for reducing to writing the testimony of claimants “in all cases," instead of 15 cents per hundred words for reducing to writing testimony"in establishing preemption and homestead rights," as provided in the old law.

Whether this reduction of fees preserves an adequate and just compensation to the officers affected I suppose has been duly considered by the Congress.

The bill, however, after providing for this change in compensation, contains the following words:

And in all cases where they (the registers and receivers) can secure a competent person to reduce the testimony to writing for a sum less per folio than the suoi herein prescribed it shall be their duty to do so.

By the addition of these words the bill seems to give certain fees by way of official compensation to the officers named for certain services to be performed by them and at the same time to provide that if they can secure other persons willing to perform these services for a less sum than the amount allowed to them they shall forego their fees in favor of such persons.

It is very important that the fees and perquisites of public officers should be definitely and clearly fixed, so that the official may know precisely the items of his lawful compensation and the people be protected from extortion and imposition.

A public officer ought not to be expected to search very industriously for a person to underbid him for official work, and if such a person appeared the temptation to combination and conspiracy would in many cases lead to abuse.

It will be observed that the officers are not given by this amendment the option to do this work themselves at 10 cents per folio or secure a competent person to do it at a less rate, nor, if they desire, are they allowed to compete with those willing to accept a less compensation, They may charge a fixed rate for the service if performed by them, but in any event if they can procure another party to perform the services for a less sum they must do so.

I am convinced that this bill in its present form, perhaps through unfortunate phraseology, if it became a law would lead to confusion and uncertainty and would invite practices against which the public service ought to be carefully guarded.

GROVER CLEVELAND.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, May 26, 1896. To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith without approval House bill No. 7161, entitled "An act for the relief of Benjamin F. Jones.”

This bill directs the payment to the beneficiary, late postmaster at Beauregard, Miss., or to his order, of the sum of $50, in full compensation for services and expenses in carrying and distributing the mails between Wesson and Beauregard, in the State of Mississippi, in 1883.

It appears from the report of the House committee recommending the passage of this bill that on April 22, 1883, while Mr. Jones was postmaster at Beauregard, a cyclone destroyed every building in the place, including that in which the post-office was kept; that in consequence of this disaster the mails for Beauregard were for a period of thirty-five days, and until May 27, 1883, deposited at Wesson, i mile distant; that during that time it became necessary to transport such mails from Wesson to Beauregard, and that the postmaster caused this to be done, at an expense of $97.

A report from the Postmaster-General discloses the fact that this claim was presented to the Department in 1884 and was rejected on the ground that if the service was performed as alleged it was not authorized or directed by the Department.

In 1885 a suit was instituted against this postmaster and his sureties for a balance due the Government from him on his official accounts for the quarter ending June 30, 1883.

It will be observed that this quarter covered the period within which the alleged services were performed.

In the suit referred to a judgment was recovered by the Government against the postmaster for $190.45, being the balance found due from him. This judgment still remains unpaid.

In this condition of affairs it is quite plain that in fairness and justice no appropriation should be made in favor of the claimant.

It is the opinion of the Auditor of the Post-Office Department that even if this bill becomes a law payment of the money appropriated should be withheld under a section of the Revised Statutes which provides:

No money shall be paid to any person for his compensation who is in arrears to the United States until he has accounted for and paid into the Treasury all sums for which he may be liable.

GROVER CLEVELAND.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, May 29, 1896. To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith without approval House bill No. 7977, entitled "An act making appropriations for the construction, repair, and preservation of certain public works on rivers and harbors, and for other purposes."

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There are 417 items of appropriation contained in this bill, and every part of the country is represented in the distribution of its favors.

It directly appropriates or provides for the immediate expenditure of nearly $14,000,000 for river and harbor work. This sum is in addition to appropriations contained in another bill for similar purposes amounting to a little more than $3,000,000, which have already been favorably considered at the present session of Congress.

The result is that the contemplated immediate expenditures for the objects mentioned amount to about $17,000,000.

A more startling feature of this bill is its authorization of contracts for river and harbor work amounting to more than $62,000,000. Though the payments on these contracts are in most cases so distributed that they are to be met by future appropriations, more than $3,000,000 on their account are included in the direct appropriations above mentioned. Of the remainder, nearly $20,000,000 will fall due during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1898, and amounts somewhat less in the years immediately succeeding. A few contracts of a like character authorized under previous statutes are still outstanding, and to meet payments on these more than $4,000,000 must be appropriated in the immediate future.

If, therefore, this bill becomes a law, the obligations which will be imposed on the Government, together with the appropriations made for immediate expenditure on account of rivers and harbors, will amount to about $80,000,000. Nor is this all. The bill directs numerous surveys and examinations which contemplate new work and further contracts and which portend largely increased expenditures and obligations.

There is no ground to hope that in the face of persistent and growing demands the aggregate of appropriations for the smaller schemes, not covered by contracts, will be reduced or even remain stationary. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1898, such appropriations, together with the installments on contracts which will fall due in that year, can hardly be less than $30,000,000; and it may reasonably be apprehended that the prevalent tendency toward increased expenditures of this sort and the concealment which postponed payments afford for extravagance will increase the burdens chargeable to this account in succeeding years.

In view of the obligation imposed upon me by the Constitution, it seems to me quite clear that I only discharge a duty to our people when I interpose my disapproval of the legislation proposed.

Many of the objects for which it appropriates public money are not related to the public welfare, and many of them are palpably for the benefit of limited localities or in aid of individual interests.

On the face of the bill it appears that not a few of these alleged improvements have been so improvidently planned and prosecuted that after an unwise expenditure of millions of dollars new experiments for their accomplishment have been entered upon.

While those intrusted with the management of public funds in the

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