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THE PENSION OFFICE.
That there has been too great laxity in the management of the business of this office is well known to all who have been conversant with its affairs. It must, therefore, give satisfaction to every one who desires to see honest dealing with the Government, to know that the Commissioner is instituting that rigid scrutiny into claims, which, while it does not endanger honest men's rights, makes it a rough read to travel for rogues. No claimant or attorney who means to do an honest business with the office, will object to any rules it has adopted for its own protection, although it may subject him to some little inconvenience, and the applicant beside.
Among the improvements, the return to the old requirement of the office, that the declarations of claimants for pensions shall be made before some officer of a court of record or the court itself, is one of the greatest, and is one the most stoutly resisted and clamored against by claimants and attorneys, bankrupt in reputation, in our large cities, where it is no sort of inconvenience except to rogues and impostors. It effectually bars their arrangements by which they can get justices of the peace and notaries public, manufactured to suit their own purposes, who will certify to any thing they desire, or will sign their papers in blank, and leave them to fill them up with what they please, as has been done. It is such men who are clamoring against this rule, not attorneys who mean to do an honest and honorable business.
It is only in country towns where the declarant resides at a considerable distance from the county seat, that this rule occasions any considerable inconvenience. And here all really serious hardship is removed by the liberal policy pursued in such special cases by the Pension Office. It is not, however, where real hardship is imposed by this rule that complaints originate. Their origin is with a very different class of persons, and it is for a very different purpose from relieving the poor soldier from hardships that this rule is clamored against. It is within the knowledge of the officers of the Government that those who have the most to say about the hardship to the poor soldier are the very men who seek every opportunity to rob him, by taxing exhorbitant fees for services they thrust on him, and which he does not need, and with hold from him his certificate against all right, and for purposes forbidden by the laws.
It is to be hoped neither the Commissioner nor the Secretary of the Interior will pay any attention to the clamors against this rule, further than to watch the men who join in them. And when they find the means to convict them of their dishonest and illegal practices, they will put them on the road where they will have to earn some portion of their bread by honest toil, where honest men will not be insulted by their presence, nor public virtue further interfered with by their running at large.
Under this division will be arranged all the laws now in force, and in practical use in the Pension Office. These apply only to cases originating prior to March 4, 1861, and are classed as follows, viz:
1. INVALID PENSION LAWS.
The bounty land laws are not restricted, superseded, or annulled by any new enactments, as is the case with these pension laws.
1.-INVALID PENSION LAWS..
The pension laws now in force may be classed as follows: 1st, The Peace Establishment; 2d, Revolutionary Pensions; 3d, Invalid Pensions of all other wars. Each of these classes is marked by distinctive peculiarities, as will be seen by an examination of what follows.
1. PEACE ESTABLISHMENT.
APPROVED, MARCH 16, 1802.
SEC. 14. And be it further enacted, That if any officer, non-commissioned officer, musician, or private, in the corps composing the peace establishment, shall be disabled by wounds or otherwise, while in the line of his duty, in public service, he shall be placed on the list of invalids of the United States, at such rate of pay, and under such regulations, as, may be directed by the President of the United States, for the time being: Provided always, That the compensation to be allowed for such wounds or disabilities, to a commissioned officer, shall not exceed, for the highest rate of disability, half the monthly pay of such officer at the time of his being disabled or wounded ; and that no officer shall receive more than the half pay of a lieutenant colonel ; and that the rate of compensation to non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates, shall not exceed five dollars per month :* And provided, also, That all inferior disabilities shall entitle the person so disabled to receive an allowance proportionate to the highest disability.
Sec. 15. And be it further enacted, That if any commissioned officer in the military peace establishment of the United States, shall, while in the service of the United States, die, by reason of received in actual service of the United States, and leave a widow, or, if no widow, a child or children under sixteen years of age, such widow, or, if no widow, such child or children, shall be entitled to and receive half the monthly pay to which the deceased was entitled at the time of his death, for and during the term of five years. But in the case of the death or intermarriage of such widow, before the expiration of the said term of five years, the half pay, for the remainder of the time, shall go to the child or children of such deceased officer: Provided always, That such half pay shall cease on the decease of such child or children.
* This rate was changed, so far as officers below the grade of captain and privates are concerned, by the act of April 24, 1816. See page 17 of this book.
2. REVOLUTIONARY PENSION LAWS.
ACT OF APRIL 10, 1806.
This act forms the basis of all the pension laws since enacted. They are all extensions, modifications, or additions to this as the foundation. This act expired by its own limitation in six years, but was rerived and kept in force by the acts of April 25, 1812; May 15, 1820; July 4, 1822; and by the act of May 24, 1828, was revived and made permanent.
Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any commissioned or noncommissioned officer, musician, soldier, marine, or seaman, disabled in the actual service of the United States, while in the line of his duty, by known wounds received during the revolutionary war, and who did not desert the service; or who, in consequence of disability as aforesaid, resigned his commission or took a discharge; or who, after incurring disability as aforesaid, was taken captive by the enemy, and remained either in captivity or on parole, until the close of said revolutionary war; or who, in consequence of known wounds received as aforesaid, has, at any period since, become and continued disabled in such manner as to render him unable to procure a subsistence by manual labor ; whether such officer, musician, soldier, marine, or seaman, served as a volunteer, in any proper service against the common enemy, or belonged to a detachment of the militia, which served against the common enemy, or to the regular forces of the United States, or of any