« PreviousContinue »
dependent relatives of soldiers were admitted, at an aggregate annual rate of one million nine hundred and seventy-nine thousand and sixty-two dollars and sixty-seven cents. Of applications for increased pay by the same class, nineteen thousand three hundred and nine were admitted, at a total annual rate of one million one hundred and fifty thousand six hundred and forty-six dollars, On the 30th June, 1867, there were enrolled seventy thousand eight hundred and two invalid military pensioners, whose yearly pensions amounted to six millions four hundred and seventy-eight thousand four dollars and fourteen cents. and eighty-two thousand two hundred and ninety-one widows, orphans, and dependent relatives of soldiers, whose yearly pensions amounted to nine millions six hundred and sixty-four thousand seventy-five dollars and eighty-three cents, making the total aggregate of army pensions one hundred and fifty-three thousand and ninety-three, at a total annual rate of sixteen millions one hundred and forty-two thousand seventy-nine dollars and ninety-seven cents.
The whole amount paid during the last fiscal year to invalid military pensioners was six millions four hundred and twenty-eight thousand five hundred and thirty-two dollars and fifty-eight cents; to widows, orphans, and dependent relatives, eleven millions eight hundred and seventy-three thousand one hundred and eighty-two dollars and seventy-two cents; a grand total of eighteen millions three hundred and one thousand seven hundred and fifteen dollars and twenty-six cents, which includes the expenses of the disbursing agencies.
During the year ending June 30, 1867, there were admitted one hundred and thirty-seven new applications for invalid navy pensions, at an annual rate of ten thousand three hun tred and seventeen dollars; two hundred and six applications for increased pensions of the same class at an annual aggregate of seventeen thousand eight hundred and ninety-two dollars; two hundred and thirty-three original applications of widows, orphans, and dependent relatives of those who died in the navy, at an aggregate rate of thirty-one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six dollars per annum, and one hundred and twenty pensions of the same class were increased at a total yearly rate of six thousand seven hundred and ninety-two dollars.
On the 30th June, 1867, on the rolls of the navy pensioners were the names of one thousand and fifty-four invalids, at an annual aggregate of eighty-nine thousand six hundred and fifty-two dollars and twenty-five cents, and one thousand three hundred and twenty-seven widows, orphans, and dependent rel. atives, at an aggregate annual rate of three hundred and five thousand seven hundred and forty-two dollars and twenty-five cents. The amount paid during the last fiscal year to navy invalids was seventy-seven thousand two hundred and forty-one dollars and twenty-eight cents, and to widows, orphans, and dependent relatives of officers and seamen of the navy two hundred and forty thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars and ninety-two cents; a total amount of three hundred and eighteen thousand two hundred and forty-one dollars and twenty cents.
During the year there were added to the number of pensioners of all classes, thirty-six thousand four hundred and eighty-two; there were seven thousand nine hundred and thirty-two dropped, from various causes, leaving on the
rolls, June 30, 1867, one hundred and fifty-five thousand four hundred and seventy-four. The total annual amount of pensions of all classes was sixteen millions four hundred and forty-seven thousand eight hundred and twenty-two dollars and twenty-two cents, and the amount paid was eighteen millions six hundred and nineteen thousand nine hundred and fifty-six dollars and forty-six cents, which includes expenses of disbursement. .
During the year ending September 30, 1867, there were admitted nine hundred and fifty-four applications for bounty land warrants, requiring one hundred and forty-eight thousand nine hundred and sixty acres of land to satisfy them.
The invested navy pension fund now amounts to thirteen millions of dollars, and there is an uninvested balance of two hundred and twenty-nine thousand two hundred and forty-six dollars and thirty-seven cents. As the interest on the invested sum far exceeds the amount required for the navy pensions, Congress provided, by act approved March 2, 1867, for the increase of the pensions of meritorious disabled officers, seamen, and marines. The Secretary of the Navy has favorably reported seven claims of this class. There is an urgent necessity for an increased appropriation for special investigation to prevent frauds upon the government in obtaining pensions. The amount saved to the government by.such investigations has far exceeded the expenditures in conducting them, while their chief value arises from their preventive influence.
The pension act of July 14, 1862, is the most comprehensive and munificent ever made by any government for similar purposes. The administration of its provisions evinced the necessity of amending it in several essential particulars. A total disability entitled a pensioner to a fixed amount. A wound causing the loss of a right hand and one rendering the sufferer entirely and permanently helpless, were each rated at the maximum sum. The act in this regard has been wisely changed, and it would be difficult to suggest a more equitable rule than that which now exists, although it is subject to the infirmity of all general enactments, and occasionally fails to make full provision for an individual case. Former laws made no provision for relatives in the ascending or collateral lines. The act of 1862 first gave a pension to the dependent mother of the deceased soldier or officer, or, if there were none, to his orphan sisters under the age of sixteen years. The act of June 6, 1866, so amends the fourth section of the act of 1862 as to make its provisions apply to and include the orphan brother as well as sister, and the father as well as the mother. That section in its original shape made no mention of the mother, and it is very questionable, when the father and the orphan sisters are the only surviving relatives, whether the former or latter would be entitled to a pension, or whether they would not have a joint claim. The mother is regarded as having the exclusive right where the father is also living, but I suggest that the order in which the relatives should be entitled to take precedence, be more clearly defined by declaratory legislation.
The third section of the act of July 25, 1866, extends the act of 1862 and the acts supplementary and amendatory thereto, as far as applicable, to the pensions under previous laws, except revolutionary pensioners. The practical construction of this act by the Pension Bureau has limited its effect merely to the specific increases allowed to pensioners, and does not recognize it as making a new class of pensioners, or as placing, in every respect, all pensions, except revolutionary, upon the basis of said acts. This construction may not give full effect, in the opinion of Cɔngress, to the intent and purpose of the act; but should they not otherwise direct, it will be adhered to in the adjudication of all cases to which it applies.
The act of 1862 wąs enacted in reference to the then existing war. It was confined to diseases contracted or wounds received in the military or naval service, and in the line of duty, after March 4, 1861, and deaths resulting therefrom. Hostilities have ceased. I submit that an amendment should be made excluding the allowance of a pension hy reason of death the result of disease hereafter contracted, except upon the occurrence of a future war. An examination of the various acts of Congress granting military pensions, commencing with that of March 16, 1802, fixing our military peace establishment, satisfies me that the amendment suggested is not only right and proper, but in keeping with our past legislation. That act provided that the widow, or if there were none, then the child of a commissioned officer, who should die by reason of a wound received in the actual service of the United States, should be entitled to receive, for the period of fiv: years, half the monthly pay to which he was entitled at the time of his death. The act of June 29, 1813, conferred the same limited right upon the same condition, although war was then existing; and in 1816, after the termination of hostilities, the allowance to the widows or children of officers of the army was confined to instances where such officers had died during the war, or should thereafter die of wounds received in the service. In regard to the naval service, the provision was extended to widows, the death of whose husbands in the service was caused by disease contracted, or of casualties by drowning or otherwise, or of injuries received in the line of duty. Subsequent acts, in regard to the navy, renewed for a term of years the provision for half pay to widows.
The first section of the act of July 4, 1836, in reference to the widows of officers or enlisted men of the militia, including volunteers who had died since April 20, 1818, conferred a right to half pay when the officer or enlisted man died in the service, or in consequence of a wound received in service. The first section of the act of July 21, 1848, declares that the foregoing provision shall be applicable to all widows and orphans of officers or enlisted men of the army of the United States who were in the army of the United States on the first day of March, 1946, or at any subsequent period during the then war with Mexico. The second section extends the provisions to the widows or children of officers or enlisted men of the regular army, or volunteers, who had died since April 1, 1846, or who might die during the war with Mexico of wounds received or disease contracted during said war; provided that the death had occurred, or should thereafter occur, during the time that such officer or enlisted man was in actual service and in the line of duty, or while returning to his usual place of residence in the United States, after having been dis charged upon a surgeon's certificate of disability, incurred from wounds received or disease contracted while in the line of duty, or on the march
to join the army of Mexico; and declares that the act shall not be applicable to the widows and orphans of officers or enlisted men who had not served in or upon the borders of Mexico. The act of February 2, 1949, construes the second section of the act of 1848 so as to make it applicable to all those whose husbands or fathers remained in the service to the day of their death, or who received an honorable discharge, or died after their return home, of wounds received or disease contracted during the war, and in the line of duty. Successive acts of Congress were passed, from time to time, to which I need not specially allude. They all seem, except in reference to the widows of revolutionary soldiers, to rest upon the obviously just proposition that in order to give a pension to the widow of an officer of the regular army, or to his children, if he died without leaving a widow, he must have died of a wound received, or else that the mortal disease was contracted during actual hostilities. Prior, therefore, to the act of 1862, neither the widow nor the children of such an officer were entitled to a pension by reason of his death resulting from disease contracted in time of peace, and such has been the ruling of the Pension Bureau.
The death of an officer in charge of a bureau in the War Department, by reason of disease contracted since the termination of the late war and during the time in which he was engaged in the performance of his official duties in this city, devolves upon his widow a pension right, not for a limited term of years, but during her widowhood. He is not subject to the imminent perils or to the exposure which in time of war make such havoc of human life. His duties are such as ordinarily appertain to an officer in the civil service. His appointment is for life, and assures hiin, under existing laws, pay and emoluments eighty-five per cent. greater than the salary of an officer of corresponding grade in the other departments, whose duties are equally laborious, and whose official tenure is far more precarious. This case is not exceptional. During peace the military is not in a greater degree than the civil officer exposed to casualties that endanger health, life or limb. The claim, therefore, of his widow upon the country, if he dies of disease then contracted, is not stronger than that of the widow of the civil officer, and our laws have never granted to the latter a pension by reason of the services and death of her husband. I recommend such an amendment of the law as will exclude from its benefits the widow or children of an officer of the army who shall die of disease not contracted, or from a cause not occurring during war and in the line of duty. The same provision should be applied to the navy, with such modifications as the arduous and peculiar character of the service may, in the opinion of Congress, require. Our legislation will then be in harmony with that which preceded the enactment of a law deemed expedient during a civil war in which the country needed the services of all her sons, and offered the highest rewards to those who, on the field or the deck, imperilled their lives in saving her from dishonor and death.
Under our present legislation a pension unclaimed for fourteen months after the same has become due is not payable at the agency for paying pensions, but must be adjusted at the Third Auditor's office and paid by warrant on the
treasury. No good reason exists for the continuance of this practice. It would be better to regard a failure during a longer period to demand payment as presumptive proof that the right thereto had ceased by the restoration of the invalid to health and physical ability, the remarriage of the widow, or the happening of some other condition which, by law, determines it. A new application would then be required. The applicant's name should be restored, and the accrued pension paid as other pensions, if the presumption arising from the lapse of time be overcome by the proofs.
The applications for pensions, notwithstanding they have increased in number by reason of the recent modifications of the laws, have been determined with the utmost despatch, under the supervision of the efficient chief of the bureau. His report is worthy of the highest encomium for its comprehensiveness, perspicuity and brevity.
Our Indian relations have assumed a new and interesting aspect. The steady approach of emigration to the grounds heretofore devoted to the chase, and the rapid progress of the railroads pointing towards the Pacific and traversing the country over which the Indians from time immemorial have roamed, imperiously demand that the policy of concentrating them upon reservations should, whenever practicable, be adopted. Until recently there was territory enough to supply the demands of the white race, without unduly encroaching upon the districts where the Indians subsisted by hunting. This condition of things no longer exists. Christianity and civilization, with the industrial arts, are spreading over the entire region from the Mississippi to the Pacific. The Indians are in possession of vast tracts of country, abounding in precious metals, or rich in sources of agricultural wealth. These invite the enterprise of the adventurous pioneer, who, in seeking a home and fortune, is constantly pressing upon the abode of the red man.
By an inevitable law, two races, one civilized and the other barbarous, are being brought face to face. The obligations which rest upon the goverument extend to both. Each is justly entitled to protection. Our duty requires us to devise a system by which civilization, with its attendant blessings, may be fostered and extended, and at the same time protection be secured to the tribes.
The estimated number of Indians is about three hundred thousand, spreading from Lake Superior to the Pacific ocean. Those east of the Mississippi, with few exceptions, are on reservations ; so also are the tribes in Kansas north of the Arkansas, and those located between the western border of Arkansas and the country known as the “ leased lands." Treaties were negotiated last winter with the Kansas tribes, and submitted to the Senate for its constitutional action. If ratified and in good faith executed, these tribes will be provided with homes, where they will soon become self-sustaining, as they have already adopted the habits of civilized life and become familiar with agricultural pursuits. They will then require from us little beyond protection against the intrusion of the whites, and the faithful performance of our stipulations.
A consideration of the proper policy to be pursued in respect to the wild tribes presents more difficult questions. As long as they cling to their nomadic habits, and subsist by hunting and fishing, encroachment upon their hunting