General Grant’s Retirement Pension

One remarkable story in Ron Chernow’s new biography of Ulysses S. Grant involves the special pension granted to him when he was terminally ill. In 1884, Grant suffered two awful blows. First, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Second, he was wiped out when his money manager was revealed to be running a Ponzi scheme. In response, Grant’s friends lobbied for Congress to restore his Army rank and his army pension. (Grant had given up both when he became President.)

Here how’s that bill became law. The House of Representatives approved the bill right before Noon on March 4th, 1885, which marked the legal end of that Congress. The Senate was then called into session, the hands on the Senate clock were turned back twenty minutes, and the bill was passed “before Noon.” The outgoing President, Chester Arthur, then signed the bill.

All quite unconstitutional. But nobody complained.

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4 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    Was there a reason behind that craziness?

  2. Gerard Magliocca says:

    I guess because its fate was uncertain in the next Congress with a Democrat (Grover Cleveland) in the White House.

  3. Joe says:

    Grover Cleveland paid for a substitute during the Civil War. Can see if he wanted to avoid being involved.

    The matter is addressed here — — apparently, the whole thing was last minute and with other things involved, they basically ran out of time.

  4. Brett Bellmore says:

    An early case of the enrolled bill rule being abused?

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