This Day In History: June 5

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On June 5, 1888, President Grover Cleveland vetoes a bill that would have given a pension to war widow Johanna Loewinger, whose husband died 14 years after being discharged from the army.

Mr. Loewinger served in the Civil War, enlisting on June 28, 1861. He was discharged a little less than a year later for what the army surgeon’s certificate called chronic diarrhea. He received his pension until his death in 1876. After his death, his widow, Johanna, applied for a widow’s pension, but was denied since her husband died from suicide by cutting his throat with a razor and not from any long-term disability caused by his military service. Johanna claimed her husband had suffered from insanity triggered by his military service and felt entitled to the benefits.

After failing to get the pension through military channels, Johanna appealed to a member of Congress to petition the president with the bill asking that her request for a pension be granted. After reviewing the matter, Cleveland declared all previous inquests into the former soldier’s unfortunate death to be satisfactory and vetoed the bill.