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Hamilton Letter Signed, on Overdue Invalid Pensions in Massachusetts
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Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton informs Commissioner of Loans for Massachusetts that he has directed Treasurer Samuel Meredith to send him the funds to pay the 1790 pensions. This applied to Revolutionary War veterans whose wounds rendered them unable to procure a subsistence by manual labor. Those who could perform some labor received partial pensions based on the extent of their disability.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Manuscript Letter Signed, to Nathaniel Appleton, February 8, 1794, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. Includes unsigned free frank by Hamilton: “Free Secy of Treasy.” 1 p., with integral address leaf, 8 x 9.75 in.

Inventory #27442       Price: $10,500

Complete Transcript

Treasury Department
February 8th 1794


            I have directed the Treasurer of the United States to furnish you with a draught on the Office of Discount and Deposit at Boston for six hundred and sixty eight dollars and thirty three cents to enable you to discharge the pensions due to sundry Invalids of the United States in the Year 1790 and which were not paid by Benjamin Lincoln the late Agent

                                                                        I am with consideration

                                                                        Sir / your Obedt Servant.

Alexandr Hamilton

Nathaniel Appleton Esquire
Commissioner of Loans / for Massachusetts

Historical Background
In June 1788, the Confederation Congress appointed three commissioners, including Alexander Hamilton, to consider the support of wounded and disabled veterans. Their report condemned the disorganized condition of the program. Although the payment of all such pensions were authorized if the states transmitted their rolls to the secretary of war, only six states had submitted their pension lists, and only two had included the necessary financial details.

On September 29, 1789, the first Federal Congress passed “An Act Providing for the Payments of the Invalid Pensioners of the United States,” which took over from the states the payment of military pensions. Congress turned to Secretary of War Henry Knox to standardize the management of pensions. In 1791, Knox’s report recommended that decisions on eligibility should be made locally by physicians, who would report to district judges, who would then inform the secretary of war. However, the Senate in 1792 removed references to physicians, leaving the determination of the extent of disability to the courts. The following year, Congress replaced the prior Act with one that adopted all of Knox’s suggestions.

Collector Benjamin Lincoln apparently had not paid all of the pensioners in Massachusetts for 1790. In February 1791, Hamilton informed Nathaniel Appleton that President George Washington had selected him, as Commissioner of Loans, to pay “Pensions to Invalids for the space of one year.”

On January 15, 1794, Hamilton again wrote to Appleton regarding the payments “under such regulations as shall have been prescribed by the Secretary of War.” The present letter notified Appleton that the funds had been transferred for him to pay the “sundry invalids” in Massachusetts who had been overlooked in 1790.

The “Great Fire” in Boston in late July 1794 destroyed Nathaniel Appleton’s dwelling house and attached office, but “by his attention all the public papers were preserved.”[1]

Nathaniel Appleton (1731-1798) was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard College in 1749. He reportedly paid £50 to avoid military service in the Continental Army, he was active in Revolutionary politics in Massachusetts, serving as a member of the committee of correspondence for Boston in 1772, the Massachusetts provincial congress in 1774, and the Massachusetts General Court in 1783. From 1775 to 1789, he served as commissioner of loans for the Massachusetts state government, and in August 1790, President George Washington appointed him as commissioner of loans under the federal government, a position he held until his death.

Condition: Faint scattered soiling; expected folds.

[1] Guardian of Freedom (Boston, MA), August 7, 1794, 2:1.

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