Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 6: Revolutionary Pensions 1813-1825

Chapter 6. Records of the Claims Committees

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Committees discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary War Claims (1813-1825) and Committee on Revolutionary Pensions (1825) History and Jurisdiction

6.33 The Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary War Claims was created on December 22, 1813, largely to alleviate the burden of the Committee on Claims. It was the duty of the committee:

    to take into consideration all such petitions, and matters, or things, touching military pensions; and also claims and demands originating in the Revolutionary War, or arising therefrom . . . and to report their opinion thereupon, together with such propositions for relief therein as to them shall seem expedient. 10

6.34 On December 9, 1825 the name of the committee was changed to the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions, while its jurisdiction remained unchanged. A few days later, on December 13, 1825, the committee was abolished and its jurisdiction split between two new committees--the Committee on Military Pensions and the Committee on Revolutionary Claims.

Records of the Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary War Claims (1813-1825)
and the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions(1825)

Record TypeVolumeCongress (dates)
Bound Reports2 vols.13th-19th (1813-27)
Petitions & Memorials5 ft.13th-18th (1813-25)
Committee Papers1 ft.13th-18th (1813-25)
TOTAL:6 ft. and 2 vols. (6 in.) 
Committee Records Summary Table


6.35 The transcribed committee reports are bound in two volumes; one covers the 13th through 18th Congresses (1813-23), the other includes the reports of the Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary Claims, 19th Congress (1925-27), and the reports of the Committee on Revolutionary Claims, 20th and 21st Congresses (1827-31). The latter volume is incorrectly titled "Committee Reports: Pensions and Rev. Claims, 18th-21st Congresses."

Alexander Hamilton's 'Statement of My Property and Debts, with Remarks,' 07/01/1804 (page 1 of 4) Alexander Hamilton's 'Statement of My Property and Debts, with Remarks,' 07/01/1804 (page 4 of 4)
Alexander Hamilton's "Statement of My Property and Debts, with Remarks," July 1, 1804 (HR14A-F9.1) pages 1 and 4 from NARA's National Archives Catalog.  
6.36 The petition and memorial files provide evidence that a substantial amount of work was referred to the committee. The records from the committee's first session (1813-15) contain files on 57 petitions or memorials, and those of the 16th Congress (1819-21) contain 126 files. Many of the files contain not only the original petition or memorial referred to the committee, but also additional documentation that was submitted to substantiate the claim. An example is the claim of Griffith Jones, a Pennsylvania tanner, who in 1778, provided about 40 wagon loads of hides and leather to Col. Daniel Broadhead, an officer in the American Army. Mr. Jones' petition (14A-F9.1) asks that he be given relief even though the statute of limitations for filing such claims had run out. The papers in the file include: The original petition submitted to the House in 1807 and rejected, and resubmitted in 1815 and again rejected; a report written by Mr. William Findley in 1794 relating to an earlier petition that was submitted by Mr. Jones; a report from the Auditor's office dated 1796 questioning the validity of the Jones' claim; copies of vouchers dated 1778 from the Auditor's office; and several affidavits certifying that Jones claim was authentic and that he had attempted to file his claim before the statute of limitations had expired. Many of the files contain wide a variety of documentation dating from the revolutionary period.

6.37 Examples from the 16th Congress (1819-21) show that some of the subjects of the petitions and memorials referred to the committee include: Jane Baker, the widow of Thomas Baker who had served in the Navy during the War of the Revolution, who prayed that his disability pension be paid to her; Jonathan Brown, who asked for a pension for services in the Army of the United States from the commencement of the war with Great Britain until the battle of Bridgewater near Niagara Falls on July 25, 1814, where he was wounded in the head and hand--injuries that led to a disability discharge. James Brown, a volunteer in a company raised at Sackets Harbor, NY, in May of 1813, who petitioned Congress to overrule a decision of the Secretary of War which had deprived him of a pension for the wounds he received because he had been regularly mustered into the service of the United States; and Mary Burbridge, who asked for funds that had been due her husband, Benjamin, who served as a wagon master in the sixth Virginia regiment from 1776 until he died in 1777, before he had been paid for his services (16A-G13.1). The original committee reports relating to these claims are filed in the committee papers (16A-D17.1).

6.38 Other claims referred to the committee included a request from George Bumgardner who had been wounded during General Arthur St. Claire's ill-fated campaign in 1791 (14A-F9.1) and a plea from Newcomb Blodgett of Stratford, NH, to be placed on the pension list for his service fighting the Indians on the northern frontier, which included being a prisoner of war from 1779 until 1782 and "suffering all the hardships and deprivations usually practiced on those who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the British or Indians during the revolutionary war" (16A-G13.1).

6.39 The committee papers consist almost entirely of the original committee reports on the petitions and memorials submitted by claimants. The reports are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the claimant. In a few cases other documents are filed with the committee report. The committee papers are unusually complete and contain reports on most of the petitions and memorials that were referred to the committee.


10 Annals of the Congress of the United States, Thirteenth Congress, First Session. (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1854) p. 796.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.