Hoping to understand a little more about the American Revolution pension application process, I started looking into some scholarly work addressing the topic. One of my first finds was John P. Resch’s 1982 Federal Welfare for Revolutionary War Veterans, published in the Social Service Review. In his treatment he hoped to answer three basic questions which, he says, historians have overlooked: Who were the poor veterans? What was the nature of their poverty? How were they affected by federal aid? Bearing in mind that the study was a treatment of the U.S. government’s use of social aid, (the first of its kind, says Resch,) I skimmed the study.
It’s a lengthy treatment and an ambitious one, using a sample of 877 pension files from the 20,000 filed. The study is 20+ pages in length, so I’ll make a pot of coffee before I dive into it. But already it has me intrigued because of the historical background it gives on the nature of the aid — like the fact that it was a federal program designed specifically to aid the “poorest” of veterans, which accounts for why said applicants had to account for their available assets, etc., during their lengthy interview sessions. Unfortunately, not all of these documents have survived intact in all pension record files. But its always nice to know what (ideally) ought to be in those files and why.