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that in the next month (26th August, 1776) after the declaration of independence, the old Congress passed resolutions promising pensions to soldiers and seamen who might be disabled in the war. Shortly after that date, on the 15th May, 1778, half pay was promised for seven years after the conclusion of the war, to all commissioned officers who should continue in the army to the end of the war; and on the 25th September of the same year, the benefits of the resolutions of the 26th August, 1776, were made to reach back to all cases of disability from the commencement of hostilities on the 19th April, 1775. Thus, at this early period of the first military operations in the work of independence, was the magnanimous, politic, just, and grateful system of pensions commenced by anticipation; and, lest any oversight might have occurred, took a retroaction upon the few months that had elapsed; and from that time to the present day, our national legislature has gone on, step by step, to complete the details of this system, to meet all the demands of justice, gratitude, and humanity, towards our revolutionary worthies who have rendered military and naval services, and come within the conditions of those laws.* And finally, on the 2d March, 1833, the administration of this system was raised to the dignity of an independent bureau, under the management of a Commissioner of Pensions, instituted by the act of that date, making appropriations for the 'civil and diplomatic expenses of the Government for the year 1833," which says (section 1, page 36 of the pamphlet of laws) 'a Commissioner of Pensions shall be appointed by the President and the Senate, who shall receive a salary of two thousand five hundred dollars, which is hereby appropriated. He shall execute, under the direction of the Secretary of War, such duties in relation to the various pension laws as may be prescribed by the President of the United States; and he shall also have the privilege of franking,' &c. (The office of Commissioner of Pensions has been continued ever since by biennial enactments until the last continuance, which provides that it shall continue until further legislation on the subject-thereby relieving the necessity of further continuance. See act, p. 230.]
"At this stage of mature legislative enactments upon this subject, the Secretary of War has thought proper to charge an humble individual in the Pension Office with the task of compiling this system of laws, together with the opinions of Attorneys General, and the Rules and Regulations adopted by Secretaries of War, relative to the execution of those laws; and to digest an analytical index of the whole for publication. In executing this charge, some latitude has been taken by the compiler, in introducing, in the order of its date, the pension law of the 15th May, 1828, which is executed at the Treasury Department. [The execution of official duties under this act was shortly afterwards transferred to the Pension Office. It was founded on the resolution of the 21st October, 1780, which is an important pillar of this system of laws; and the recent act of the 7th June, 1832, is an enlargement or a supplement to tho said act of 1828; whereby the three necessarily throw a reciprocal light on each other. He has also introduced in the Appendix Mr. Wirt's opinion, whether it was the intention of Congress to incorporate negroes and people of color with the army,' as applicable to their claims for pensions, though that opinion was called for in relation to their claims for 'land bounty.' (This opinion will now be found in the order of its date:) He has also recapitulated, in the Appendix, (marked B, C and D,) an abstract of the Rules and Regulations established by law for the purposes of exhibiting the legal regulations in a condensed form, in juxtaposition with the opinions and regulations of the Executive, that it may be the more easily seen how they quadrate with supply the defects of, and support, each other. Furthermore, much pains has been taken to supply such omissions as were discovered in the course of publication, by introducing them, partly in the Appendix marked A, and partly in the Addenda.' (The omissions here alluded to, have been incorporated, in the order of their dates, in this extended edition.]
"To dignify the pension laws of our country, with a place in the nomenclature of systems, may seem ridiculous to those who view these laws in a detached sense, or in the order of their dates only. But he who will take a survey of the prominent enactments, connected with the minute details growing out of each, as they are developed, though they were commenced and progressed under the dictates of justice and gratitude, without any view to system building, will nevertheless discover and admire therein, that beautiful symmetry and order of parts, which constitute system in any branch of science or law, natural or civil. To exhibit the same in a perspicuous manner, is attempted in the subjoined Analytical Index; to which the subsequent Tabular Summary may be regarded as a key. The multiplicity of private acts for the relief of individuals included in this compilation, are not embraced in the Analysis, because they are cases absolute, and do not form necessary links in the series. They will be found in the Index, at the end of the volume.”
* It may be satisfactory to advert to two exceptions, which break the continuity and comprehensiveness of this system, viz: the execution of the navy pension laws as a distinct system at the Navy Department since the revolution, and the act of the 15th May, 1828, executed at the Treasury Depart ment. (It is scarcely necessary to observe that the navy pension laws and the act of the 15th May, 1828, have been since transferred to the Pension Office.]
When that edition of the pension laws was exhausted, a resolution of the House of Representatives, passed on the 9th of October, 1837, called on the Secretary of War for a compilation of the pension laws “now in force"--a proposition which, in all probability, originated in the Pension Office. However that may be, it fell far short of the design that the occasion seemed to call for, and still farther short of what was desirable in its execution-performed by the then Commissioner of Pensions, as may be seen by his report of "the pension laws now in force," addressed to the Hon. Joel R. Poinsett, then Secretary of War, and shortly afterwards transmitted by him to the House of Representatives on the 18th of January, 1838. Several editions of that compilation were afterwards printed for the use of the House, A brief review of its general character is here su bjoined; but it will be difficult to comprehend all the particulars of this review without a copy of that report in hand, for reference during the perusal of it, viz: Revicw of the Pension laws now in force, compiled by James L. Edwards, Commissioner
of Pensions. On the 18th January, 1838, the honorable Joel R. Poinsett, then Secretary of War, reported to the House of Representatives a copy of this compilation, prepared by Mr. Edwards, as comprising the information called for by a resolution of the House, passed on the 9th October. 1837, pending the extra session convoked by Mr. Van Buren. On the next day, the 19th January, 1838, the document was read in the House, laid on the table and ordered to be printed for the use of the members, without even a reference of it to a committee to examine its accuracy.
With all its imperfections on its head, it has already gone through two large editions of about 10,000 copies, for the use of members of Congress; the second edition being a mere reprint of the first, without even an attempt to correct the obvious typographical or clerical errors it contained.
But it is in regard to matters of graver import, which characterize this production, that I propose here to make a few remarks; from a little attention to which it cannot fail to be perceived that while this compilation is pompously sent forth by official report to the House of Representatives as an authentic volume of “the Pension Laws now in force," without the scrutiny of that body, it is replete with the most extraordinary specimens of editorial ignorance and presumption that are any where else to be met with -being no better than an arbitrary mutilation, confusion, and perversion of law, in a variety of ways, the chief examples of which are referred to under the following descriptive heads, viz:
1. OF CHAPTERS.—The first and most remarkable freak of the editor's presumption is to make an arbitrary classification of the series of extracts from the laws, under the false title of so many chapters of laws, as if those extracts were whole and unbroken subjects; while, in fact, said classification corresponds with no division or classification existing in the statutes; nor is it pretended that such a classification exists any where, as to the fractional parts of any subject; and yet the editor has made no explanation or apology for taking such a freedom with the existing forms of law.-(See the work from beginning to end.)
2. OF SECTIONS.—On the other hand, he has as arbitrarily effaced and abolished the designation of sections as adopted in legislation for the sake of general perspicuity and & convenient reference to the details of a law.– See also the work from beginning to end.)
3. OF ARTIFICIAL SUBDIVISIONS.—He has arbitrarily separated or subdivided, into sundrý chapters, certain extracts from one and the same law, thongh he will not allow any of them to retain their legitimate minor divisions into sections.-(See his chapters 9 and 10, which are extracts, in part, from the act of April 25, 1808; also, see chapters 26 and 27, which are extracts from the act of February 4, 1822; also, see chapters 47, 48, and 49, which, all three, are extracts from the act of July 4, 1836.)
4. OF ARTIFICIAL COMBINATIONS.-On the other hand, he has, in two remarkable instances, combined other extracts from different laws, not only in one and the same chapter, but has even merged them into ono continuous indiscriminate paragraph. (See his chapter 9, which is made up of parts of the acts of April 10, 1806, and April 25, 1808; the 6th section being interpolated into the 3d section of the latter, without explanation or reference, and all merged in one paragraph. Query: Is this an intentional fraud to perpetuate the class of pensioners therein described ?--the said act having expired by limitation in 1834.) See, also, his chapter 10, entitled by him “ rules of evidence relative to invalid pensioners, which is made up hy materials from various sources. Whether the regulations there given have been established by the Secretary of War, by the President, or by the authority of the acts of April 10, 1806, and April 25, 1808, he does not say. But with the other extracts and interpolations which he has mixed up with those he derives from these acts, he makes up his chapter 10 of "the pension laws now in force," wbile the rules and regulations adopted by the executive department belong to another part of his work. Nevertheless, the act of the 10th April, 1806, though thus trespassed upon in chapters 9 and 10, is nowhere quoted or referred to by the editor as an act now in force. But though that act must have expired, in other respects, by limitation in 1832, may not its rules of evidence, relative to invalid pensioners, have been rendered durable with the act of April 25, 1808, which seems to have adopted them, by reference to them for use in connexion with the execution of that act, without incorporating them in it? And is it this reference to them by that act which is the editor's authority for embracing them in a garbled form as they are in his chapter 10) under a reference to the act of April 25, 1808, without referring to the act of 10th April, 1806, in which, only, are they to be found written out? If so, then he has been very economical-nay, parsimonious, of intelligible explanations, and as profuse of bewilderment, on the other hand, with arbitrary admixtures, modifications, and prunings of them, so that they are hardly to be recognized by the side of their originals. But this, however it may be a good ground for the continuance of those rules, cannot have been the editor's idea at the time he was dovetailing this 10th chapter, as the passage quoted from the act of the 25th April, 1808, is divided off from the garbled rules taken from the act of the 10th April, 1806, without quotation, first by an interpolation of the editor's dictation, and then by a quotation from the act of the 18th April, 1814. So that if he claims any merit for considering any part of this act of the 10th April, 1806, as being now in force, it must be an after-thought, or he should have referred to it when he introduced the 6th section of it into his chapter 9, and likwise have explained the use he made of its rules of evidence in chapter 10, &c. &c.
5. OF OMISSIONS.-His extracts are sometimes mutilated by omissions that impair their meaning. For example, in his chapter 1, a proviso is omitted at the end of it, which conld not have become obsolete, or have been repealed, as it forms an essential part of the section which it qualifies or restricts, and is of the same purport with the provisos retained at the end of his chapter 3, and elsewhere. The extract which forms his chapter 2, is so brief that the clause identifying the act to which it alludes for like compensation in like cases of disability, is omitted. There are sundry omissions in his chapter 10, particularly in that part which relates to rules of evidence concerning invalid pensions, taken from the act of the 10th April, 1806, which would be too tedious to particularize here. Also, bis practice of clipping and razeeing embarrasses the phraseology at the beginning of each of his chapters 30, 32, and 37, as well as many others.
6. OF INTERPOLATIONS.-On the other hand, bis extracts are also sometimes falsified by interpolations or substitutions of expression, that distort and pervert their meaning. For example, he has substituted titles to all his chapters for the original titles, as if they formed a part, or prefix, of the laws. In bis chapter 1, he has substituted eight instead of five dollars per month, as the rate of compensation allowed to non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates; and he has done the same thing in his chapter 2. If these substitutions of rates of pay to these grades of service, were intended to make them correspond with the subsequent increase of their pensions by the act of the 24th of April, 1816, why was not the monthly half pay of commissioned officers made to correspond with the like increase of their pension by the same act? And why did be not make the
five dollars per month allowed to non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates, in his immediately succeeding 3d and 6th chapters, also to correspond with the same increase of their pensions to eight dollars per month, according to the same act of 24th April, 1816? But in fact it is not competent for him or any other authority to make a preceding law correspond with the provisions of a subsequent one; and the minutest alteration of the letter of the law is a fraud. Were it desirable to note the increase of pension that had subsequently taken place, it should have been uniformly done in the several acts, and in respect to all grades of pensions, in brackets, without altering the original. He has also made his chapter 1—which is a mutilated extract from the act of the 30th April, 1790-provide for rangers and sea fencibles, not mentioned in that law, and not known to the service until the war of 1812, with the Indians and Great Britain. In chapter 9 and chapter 10, (each of which, on account of their editorial enormities, claims a principal notice under nearly all the heads of these strictures,) are exhibited instances of interpolation, most of which have already been mentioned, wben speaking of the editor's artificial combinations of extracts from different laws in the same chapter. But, in regard to the mellange of chapter 10, the pains-taking artifice by which it is made up must not be overlooked as respects a particular feature of it that I will now mention. After extracting nine and a quarter lines, (being sec. 4 of the act of April 25, 1808, authorizing certain descriptions of invalids to be placed on the pension list at rates of compensation and under regulations prescribed by the act of April 10, 1806,) he goes on, in the same paragraph, to connect with said sec. 4, of 25th April, 1808, a garbled part of sec. 3 of act of 18th April, 1814, by the dovetailing intervention of two lines of his own dictation, so artfully constructed as to make the garbled part of sec. 3 of the latter law fit the sec. 4 of the former act, and, at the same time, to bring into action, immediately after that garbled section, the garbled rules and regulations relating to invalid pensioners, as he has partially derived them, at a hop-skip-andjump, from the act of the 10th April, 1806, which he never quoted as being among the laws now in force! Grant that all this may be very expressive of the mode of adminis tering the Pension Office, and possibly correct withal, as to the practical results, yet it is neither a faithful transcript of the pension laws, nor does it give a satisfactory evidence of the good faith of the presiding officer, much less & satisfactory assurance that the practice of the officer is correct, under such an arbitrary mellange of materials of laws and regulations, if you please so to term them--which, to say the least of it, is an outrage upon the letter and forms of law, that no one can justify or excuse, even if it be not based in pension frauds of the grossest character and amount.
7. OF REPEALED AND OBSOLETE LAW.-It would not become that degree of modesty proper to all who are not profound judges of law, to say how extensively Mr. Edwards may rightfully have gone in introducing extracts from laws that are repealed or obsolete, and excluding others that are not so, while making up this spurious production, miscalled “the pension laws now in force.” That he has done so, however, to some extent, there can be no doubt. Of this class, I may safely refer to those, which, from their express condition, involve vested rights, by partaking of the obligation of contracts, and therefore cannot be repealed, or become obsolete, until the ascertained death of all the persons entitled to the benefits of them, or the timely acceptance of commutation in such cases provided. Of this description, for example, I presume it will not be denied, are the resolutions of the 15th May, 1778, October 3 and 21, 1780, and March 22, 1783, neither of which is noticed by Mr. Edwards, while they are clearly of the nature of contracts of the Government, tendered to, and accepted by, all who entered, and continued in the public service to the end of the war, upon the good faith of those resolutions, which entitled them to half pay during life, to commence from the time of their reduction. That such acts or resolves are properly viewed in the nature of contracts, we need refer to no other authority than that of the act of March 2, 1833, which Mr. Edwards ought to have become acquainted with from bis own compilation.
Such is the "vade-mecum" afforded by the late Commissioner of Pensions, to the two Houses of Congress, the chief executive officers and their subordinates, to claimants under those laws, and to all parties interested in the proper execution of the pension system. It will not be denied by any impartial or unprejudiced person, that there was too great a license left to the discretion of Mr. Edwards, to say what pension laws were in force at the date of bis report; and that he made a great mistake in excluding many laws as not in force, which, partaking of the nature of contracts, must necessarily continue in force whilst there might be a claimant, widow, orphan, or legal representative living, who, if not yet satisfied, might be entitled to receive the benefits promised to them; also that be greatly abused his authority, by mutilating those laws he did select as now in force, and practicing other gross freedoms with them all of which is too apparent for further remark.
We now proceed to elucidate, in our own humble way, the general policy of the pension and bounty land system of the United States,& policy which is only derivable from a comprehensive survey of the whole subject.
In the first place, then, it is proper to state, that this system is not confined or restricted to those who have been connected with the naval or military service of the United States, as might be inferred from the title of this compilation. The system, as it developed itself, soon took a much wider range, as will be presently seen.
The most striking and regular feature of the pension division of this system, which evolved itself at the beginning of the revolution, and which has maintained itself throughout our military conflicts, as the fundamental principle from which all the pur.
poses of the liberal extension of the pension laws afterwards emanated, is to be found in the resolution of the 26th of August, 1776, providing pensions for officers of the army and navy, and for the soldiers, seamen, and marines, who may lose a limb, or be otherwise disabled, in the line of their duty, adequate to their support; but not to exceed their half pay, in cases of complete disability; and proportionably less in cases of less than complete disability.
Shortly after that resolution, providing pensions for invalids, another important feature of this system sprung forth in the resolution of the 16th of September, 1776, providing for grants of land in certain specified proportions, as a bounty to officers and soldiers who shall engage in the service and continue therein to the close of the war or until discharged by Congress, and to the representatives of such officers and soldiers as shall be slain by the enemy.
From these two resolutions, it is manifest that Congress sat out with the purpose of providing pensions to persons connected with the military and naval service, as set forth in that of the 26th of August, and land bounties to persons connected with the military service, only, as set forth in the resolution of the 16th of September—a discrimination, by the bye, that must have arisen from an oversight of the moment, or from some policy not intended to be perpetual.
Nor could two resolutions, however comprehensive and satisfactory under the then existing infancy of our national legislation, be expected to complete the system they set in motion. Accordingly, it was not long (less than two years) before Congress introduced a new and very important feature in the pension branch of the system, by the resolution of the 15th of May, 1778, providing “half pay for seven years after the conclusion of the war, to all officers who sball continue in the army to the end of the war;" which half pay was viewed in the light of a pension from the date of its enactment, and has been so considered and practically regarded ever since, though not so called in the resolution. And in two years more, this very provision of half pay to officers continuing in the service, &c., was extended to the widows and orphans of those, and also of other officers, “who have died, or shall hereafter die in the service," as expressed in the resolution of the 24th of August, 1780. And again, in less than two months more, the provision for the former, continuing in service during the war, was continued to them, for life, by the resolution of the 21st of October, 1780. (These resolutions were enacted at the earnest instance of Washington, under the most forlora circumstances of the war.]
A grave question was raised and elaborately discussed some years ago, which, though of no practical utility now, it will be quite a curious evidence of the uses to which legal learning may be applied to carry some questions of emergency against the obvious provisions of law, and the executive practice under them. In that discussion, in which the President of the Bank of the United States and the Secretary of War were antagonists upon the question of the authority of the latter over the books, deposites, and payments, of “pension funds” by the Bank and its branches, as the pension agents under its charter, (the same having been brought up in reference to the payments of the pensions provided for by the act of 7th June, 1832,) the opinion of the Attorney General, the Hon. B. F. Butler, was resorted to by the Secretary of War; and in the fearful odds existing against the Bank, the learned Attorney General seems, in one respect, to have gone into a labor of supererogation, þaving all the strong points in his own hands against the Bank, to prove that the above cited resolution of the 21st October, 1780, formed no part of the pension system; and that all those subsequent enactments, based upon it, are to be excluded from all consideration as pension laws; specifying the act of the 15th of May, 1828, and the act of the 7th of June, 1832, then the subject of contention. If the establishment of that proposition bad been essential to carry the point assumed against the Bank, it might have been more difficult to ac