Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 6: Revolutionary Claims 1825-1873

Chapter 6. Records of the Claims Committees

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Committees discussed in this chapter:
Committee on Revolutionary Claims (1825-1873)

History and Jurisdiction

6.73 This committee was created in 1825 to handle part of the jurisdiction of the Pensions and Revolutionary War Claims (1813-1825) which had been abolished.16 The committee had jurisdiction over:

    all such petitions and matters or things touching on claims or demands originating in the Revolutionary War or arising therefrom, as shall be presented, or shall or may come in question and be referred to them by the House; and to report their opinion thereupon, together with such propositions for relief as to them shall seem expedient. 17

6.74 The jurisdiction of the committee remained unchanged until the committee was abolished in 1873 and the jurisdiction assigned to the Committee on War Claims that was created in that year.

Records of the Committee on Revolutionary Claims, (1825-73)


Record TypeVolumeCongress (dates)
Minute Books1 vol.37th-38th (1861-65)
Docket Books11 vols.19th-28th (1824-45), 30th-38th (1847-65), 42nd (1871-73)
Bound Reports1 vol.19th-21st (1825-31)
Petitions & Memorials13 ft.20th-38th (1827-65)
Committee Papers5 ft.20th-38th (1827-65)
TOTAL:18 ft. and 13 vols. (13 in.) 
Committee Records Summary Table


6.75 Docket books document the petitions, memorials, legislation and other materials referred to the committee over almost its entire history. Some of the volumes include the dockets from several Congresses, and one volume contains the minutes as well as the dockets for both the 37th and 38th Congresses (1861-65). The transcribed reports of this committee from 1825 through 1831 are bound together with those of the Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary Claims from 1823 to 1825 in a volume incorrectly titled "Committee Reports Pensions and Rev. Claims, 18th-21st Congresses."

6.76 Like the mid-19th century records of the other claims committees the petition and memorial files contain the petitions presenting the claims, and the committee papers files consist primarily of original committee reports on the claims. In many cases the petition and memorial files contain additional documentation submitted along with the petition or memorial as proof of the claim. Many of these files contain Revolutionary War certificates of service which were submitted along with the petition or memorial in order to prove service dates or rank.

6.77 When conducting a search for records relating to the claim of a specific individual both series of records should be searched because in some cases the original petition, memorial, or associated documentation is filed along with the committee report. Both series are arranged in alphabetical order by name of the claimant. There are no documents concerning private bills for this committee after the 38th Congress (1863-65) because the case files for private claims would be filed in the accompanying papers file rather than as records of the committee.

6.78 Almost all of the committee reports found in the committee papers are reports on private bills or on the petitions of individuals for private relief. An exception to this is a 300-page handwritten committee report prepared in 1840 in compliance with a resolution instructing the committee "to inquire into the character and amounts of proof which is required by existing laws & regulations to establish claims on the United States for revolutionary services in the Virginia Continental & State lines" (26A-D25.2).


16 U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Pensions, Committee Print, "History of the House Committee on Pensions," available in the CIS Committee Prints Microfiche Collection, Microfiche #10969, p. 1. It is possible to argue that the Committee on Revolutionary Claims is the direct descendant of the Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary Claims, and that the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions was created anew in 1825. This analysis is concerned mainly with the genealogy of the jurisdictions of committees, and for that reason we emphasize the jurisdictional split that produced the two committees, rather than other factors (such as chairmanship roles) that might suggest that one or the other descended directly from the parent committee.

17 Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 19th Cong., 2d sess., p. 485 (rule 64).

Table of Contents

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.