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251   Henry Knox  $200 $1821 $2004 19 You must login to place a bid.
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#251 - Henry Knox

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President Washington ensures pensions for wounded soldiers of the Revolution

LS signed “H. Knox, Secretary of War,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 12.5, October 19, 1789. Important letter to to New York Governor George Clinton. In part: “I am directed by the President of the United States to request that your Excellency would be pleased to order an exact List to be made out agreeably to the form herein enclosed…of all the Military Invalids to whom pensions have been granted and paid by the State of New York in pursuance of the resolves of the late Congress of the United States…I have also to request…a return to be made out of the Officers widows or orphans (if any) who have received from the State of New York the seven years half pay stipulated by the resolve of Congress of the 24th of August 1780—This return to state the rank, and time of the officers death—the amount of the annual pension paid to the widows or orphans, and the years for which it has been paid.” Intersecting folds with small edge separations, tape-repaired separation to adjoining fold (partially affecting a few words of text), and a couple trivial edge tears, otherwise fine condition.

This letter dates to the very first year of the establishment of America's federal government, with George Washington's inauguration as president occurring on April 30, 1789. An early act of Congress under this new government was to centralize the distribution of pensions for veterans of the Revolution, which was enacted in September 1789, transferring the responsibility from each individual state government to the federal government. Under this new system, the secretary of war—in this case, Henry Knox—became the principal executive officer concerned with the national pension administration. This is the reason behind Knox's request that Governor Clinton transmit a list of New York's pensioners. At the end of the war in 1783, it had been George Washington who pushed most strongly for the establishment of a pension system, granting officers and their families half-pay for life, acknowledging the great importance of the sacrifices made by those who secured America's freedom. Pre-certified PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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