Bill Enabling the Executive to
Pension Disabled Veterans, with Amendments
[16 November 1784]
Whereas the act of Assembly passed in the year 1782 intitled “An Act Concerning Pensioners,”1 which has been continued by several subsequent acts will expire at the end of the present Session of Assembly, and it is expedient that the same should be further continued
Be it therefore enacted that the act intitled An Act “Concerning Pensioners” shall continue and be in force from and after the expiration thereof, so long as any of the persons who have, or hereafter shall receive annual allowances from this Commonwealth in Consideration of Wounds, shall continue to receive the same.
[6 December 1784]
Amendments proposed by the Committee for Courts of Justice to the Bill “for further continuing the act intitled An Act Concerning Pensioners”
Line the 5th. Strike out from the Word “thereof” to the end of the Bill and insert “for and during the Term of [three]2 years and from thence to the End of the next Session of Assembly and no longer.
To the end of the Bill add ——
And be it further enacted that the Executive shall be and they are hereby authorized and empowered to put on the List of Pensioners with such allowances as to them shall seem just all Regular or Militia Officers and Soldiers who have been wounded or otherwise disabled in the Service of their Country upon application being made to them therefor. And whereas the said recited Act intitled An Act Concerning Pensioners directs the Courts of the several Counties within this Commonwealth to inquire into the bodily ability of all persons receiving annual Pensions from the Public and to certify to the General Assembly whether in their Opinion they ought to be continued on the Pension List
Be it further enacted that the said Returns shall be made to the Executive who are hereby authorized to continue or discontinue the said allowances as to them shall seem proper. [So much of any act or acts, as comes within the meaning of this act, is hereby repealed.]2
Ms (Vi). In a clerk’s hand. Docketed: “A Bill for further continuing the act intitled ‘An Act Concerning Pensioners.’” The bill as amended was printed in Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XI, 446–47.
1. This bill as amended was reintroduced to implement the resolution JM brought before the House on 3 Dec. 1784. For years the legislature had been bothered with special petitions from wounded veterans and their survivors who sought pensions, and although the paper work was troublesome the General Assembly had beat down previous attempts to divorce this kind of routine matter from the larger problems confronting the lawmakers. As chairman of the Committee for Courts of Justice, JM introduced a routine measure on 16 Nov. continuing the cumbersome 1782 law (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XI, 146). Apparently widespread dissatisfaction with the old act, which called on the county courts to certify to a veteran’s disability, brought on pressure for a change that would relieve the local officials of their final responsibility and at the same time stop the flow of petitions from those veterans or their widows who for a variety of reasons were not certified for eligibility to the state Board of Auditors. Whether JM was the instigator of this reform or merely the advocate of someone else’s idea is not certain, but in presenting the first (alphabetically) of over a dozen such petitions received at the Oct. 1784 session JM laid the groundwork for transferring to the governor and Council the power to approve or reject these requests. This new approach radically altered the custom of carrying trivial matters to the General Assembly and reduced the burden placed on the Committee of Claims, which at this Oct. 1784 session had studied over a dozen such petitions. JM introduced this amended bill on 6 Dec., and on 7 Dec. the House made some additions before JM carried the enacted measure to the Senate, which by 13 Dec. had also passed the bill (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1784, pp. 14, 25, 59, 60, 68).
2. Bracketed words were added by the Committee of the Whole before final passage.