Robertson County Tennessee
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Revolutionary and Military Pensioners List For Tennessee


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The general pension law of April 10, 1806 (see Annals of Congress 1805-6, page 1255), extending and enlarging previous acts, provided only for officers, soldiers and seamen, "disabled by known wounds."

This Act became the subject of subsequent debates in Congress, in which the strictness of its requirements was criticized. March 3, 1809, it was amended by an act entitled ''An Act Concerning Invalid Pensioners," by which a long list of petitioners were added by name.

Various discussions subsequently arose in Congress leading to amendments. In 1818, in order to render legislation more systematic, standing committees on pensions were appointed in both houses, Mr. John Rhea of Tennessee being the chairman of the House committee; (Annals of Congress 1818-19, pages 20, 291). An act was passed March 3, 1819, "regulating the payments to Invalid Pensioners."

Notwithstanding the careful limitations and strict administration of these early pension laws, charges were made of extravagance and counter charges of undue severity of construction. The general trend, however, was toward extension of the law and increase of the pension list. At various times committees were appointed to investigate, and officers were required to report, Mr. Calhoun, while Secretary of War, reported a complete list of all pensioners then on the rolls. These investigations and reports led to debates, the most extended and acrimonious of which occurred in the Senate in 1830. The most important acts of legislation between 1819 and 1840, were:

1. The Act of Feb. 4, 1822, reviving and continuing previous acts.

2. The Act of 1830, a general law, which Mr. Calhoun subsequently styled "the permanent law." This Act extended the benefits to the widows of soldiers and sailors.

3. The Act of 1839, which extended the benefits to widows of soldiers and sailors in cases where the marriage had been contracted after the war.

These and other Acts added largely to the list of pensioners, and to the cost of pensions.

February 28, 1839, President Van Buren sent a message to Congress, transmitting a communication from the Secretary of War, and recommending that the officers employed to take the census be required to make a return of the names and ages of all pensioners in the United States. A provision in accordance with the recommendation of the President was incorporated in the census law of March 3, 1839.

A special appendix of the census of 1840, gives the entire roll of honor. The following is the title page of this appendix:

A Census of Prisoners for Revolutionary or Military Services;
Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, As Returned By the Marshals of the Several Judicial Districts,
Under The Act For Taking The Sixth Census.
Published By Authority Of An Act Of Congress. Under The Direction of the Secretary Of State.
Washington: Printed By Blair And Rives. 1841.

Robertson County | AHGP Tennessee

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Source: American Historical Magazine, Volume V, No. 1, editor W. R. Garrett, Peabody Normal College, Nashville, Tennessee, 1900.


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