When a President Said No to a Handout

In 1887 Grover Cleveland responded to a bill that sought to provide
government-funded relief to farmers from Texas suffering from a

“I feel obliged
to withhold my approval of the plan as proposed by this bill to indulge
a benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of
public funds for that purpose.

“I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution
and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government
ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in
no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A
prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and
duty should I think be steadfastly resisted to the end that the lesson
should be constantly enforced that though the people support the
government the government should not support the people.

“The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied
upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. This has been
repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated Federal aid in such cases
encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the
government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character while
it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment
and conduct which strengthen the bonds of a common brotherhood.

I found the above quote in Glenn Beck’s new book, Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government.
It was also mentioned that “fellow citizens” donated to help the farmers with ten times more money than President Cleveland had vetoed.

One other minor piece of data: Cleveland was a Democrat.

That is serious food for thought. Okay, I’ve thought about it long enough. I think President Cleveland was operating from a very high level of compassion. What say you?


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