From its earliest days, the U.S. government has granted pensions to soldiers or their surviving relatives in cases where the soldier was killed or “disabled by known wounds in the…war.” Those early pensions were not granted for a lifetime of service in the military – as we think of pensions today – but instead were granted based on a clear demonstration of need, as shown in the pension application. Think of these as long-term disability claims rather than pensions.
In this special military pension appeal request, the widow of Captain Morgan appealed to the government on behalf of her six children and herself, knowing that his death did not meet the specific requirements of the pension act (he did not die of wounds received in battle, but rather of exhaustion afterward). The House committee examining her claim stated that it “is within the spirit of [the] provisions” of the pension law. The Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary claims presented a bill to the 14th Congress to grant her a pension.
In his pension request, Lieutenant William Monday appealed to the 9th Congress for a pension – but the committee members hearing his request did not agree and encouraged him instead “to withdraw his petition, and the papers accompanying the same.”
He did not receive a pension, but his application gives us important details about his service during the American Revolutionary War.
After the Revolutionary War the U.S. gave pensions to disabled soldiers, their widows and children. Congress also granted bounty land warrants to the able-bodied troops that survived the war. These land warrants were certificates redeemable for government lands.
In his special bounty land warrant request, Samuel Frazer confirmed that he served in the Revolutionary War but had a problem when he went to claim his land. He found that his land warrant was redeemed on 24 January 1792 by William Thomas. He appealed to the 7th Congress to correct this error, stating that “he had given no authority whatever for that purpose.”
The Committee of Claims acknowledged that “…warrants have doubtless been issued, in many instances, on forged powers of attorney…” but did not act to grant him a new bounty land warrant because it said it was impossible to determine the facts of the case, and left that determination up to the courts.
Genealogy Tip: Get details on the lives of your ancestors from a range of sources, including contested and special pension applications. You want to find those ancestors who received pensions and bounty lands, as well as those that applied for them but had their cases rejected by Congress. You will find these contested and special pension applications in the Historical Documents section of GenealogyBank.com.
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