A collection of 50 letters to political leaders regarding veteran pensions, many with notes from senators asking for help from the Bureau of Pensions.
Letters from the following notable individuals include: Benjamin Harrison (1885), James A. Garfield (1874), John Sherman (1891), Charles P. Taft (1896), Henry Cabot Lodge (1897), William Henry Moody (1897), George Frisbie Hoar (1897), Thomas W. Palmer (1894), Nelson W. Aldrich (1886), Richard Pearson Hobson (1909), Francis Cockrell (1891), James Francis Burke (1910), Thomas Kearns (1903). Pension requests include veterans of the Indian Wars, War of 1812, Mexican War and the Civil War (War of the Rebellion). Housed in black leather archival portfolio. Majority of letters were addressed to James P. Burrill, a former Union Soldier and Bureau of Pensions Official. A unique collection of letters, considering the political fortune of President Benjamin Harrison was largely attributed to his willingness to grant pension requests. President James A. Garfield campaigned in 1880 against federally funded confederate pensions and easily won the presidency.
The process for awarding pensions to United States military veterans was a process fraught with controversy and corruption in the late nineteenth century. After the Civil War, pensions were awarded to disabled soldiers based on their length of service. In 1879, the Arrears Act increased the number of eligible veterans and awarded lump sum payments to many. In 1890, the Dependent Pension Act was passed, greatly increasing government support for veterans who were unable to do manual labor, either because of their war injuries or not. In 1907, old age was added as a disability, thereby increasing government support. The last Civil War pensioner was Albert Woolson who died in 1956, with the last widow of a veteran passing away in 2008.