George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Invalid Pensioners of Pennsylvania, 1789

From the Invalid Pensioners of Pennsylvania


The Petition of The Subscribers, pensioners According to Act of Congress of 7th June 17851 in consequence of wounds and disabilities incurred in the service of the United States during the late war with Great Britain, Most respectfully sheweth,

That your Petitioners have found that the legislature of the Union at their last session have made a temporary continuation for one year of the pension they had hitherto received from the State of Penna as aforesd and that they have with great propriety left with your ⟨Excely⟩ the mode in which they are to receive it.2 Your Petitioners represent that many of them, nay all of them are in the greatest distress and want occasioned by the late stoppage of their payments, that many of them are maimed so as to be unable to go any great distance for relief. Your Petitioners therefore beg leave to intreat your Excellency to direct that the benefits aforesaid may be speedily extended to them and that it may be paid to them the State of Pennsylvania where they now are and your petitioners as in duty bound will every pray.3

LS, DNA:PCC, item 78. This letter was signed by fifty-four Pennsylvania veterans. Many of them signed by mark.

1The resolution of the Confederation Congress of 7 June 1785 specified the procedures by which the states “make provision for Officers, soldiers or seamen, who have been disabled in the service of the United States.” See JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 28:435–37.

2“An Act providing for the payment of the Invalid Pensioners of the United States” provided that invalid pensions “granted and paid by the states respectively” should be “continued and paid by the United States, from the fourth day of March last, for the space of one year, under such regulations as the President of the United States may direct” (1 Stat. 95 [29 Sept. 1789]).

3In January 1790 GW appointed agents for each state to manage the payment of invalid pensions and turned the administration of the matter over to Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. See Hamilton to Jedediah Huntington, 30 Jan. 1790, and to John Haywood, 2 Feb. 1790, in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 6:232–33, 240–41. Sharp Delany, collector of the customs at Philadelphia, was appointed agent for Pennsylvania. In July 1790 the arrangements were continued for another year (1 Stat. 129–30 [16 July 1790]). A more permanent arrangement was made for invalid pensioners in 1792. Section 2 of “An Act to provide for the settlement of the Claims of Widows and Orphans barred by the limitations heretofore established, and to regulate the Claims to Invalid Pensions” provided that any disabled officer, soldier, or seaman should be placed on the pension list of the United States for life or during the continuation of his disability. Arrangements were also made for existing arrears of pensions (1 Stat. 243–45 [23 Mar. 1792]).

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