Pension Act 1887, 1890 - History

Pension Act 1887, 1890 - History

Union Sldiers

The Pension Act called for giving a pension to all honorably discharged veterans who had served at least 90 days, and who had depended on manual labor to earn a living. The bill was vetoed by President Cleveland who claimed the pension would become a roll of fraud, rather than a roll of honor.

The issue of Civil War pensions was an ongoing issue. In 1862 the first pension act was passed that granted Civil War soldiers who could show they were disabled a pension. Initially you had to receive apply within one year of the disability or else you only received the pensions from the time you apply. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) made up mostly of Union veterans lobbied to improve the pensions benefits. In 1887 a pension act was passed that granted a pension to any Civil War veteran who was not able to do manual labor. The original bill gave a flat rate of $12 a month to every veteran who qualified, retroactively to when they were entitled to it. That bill was vetoed by Cleveland. In the 1888 election the GAR supported Cleveland’s opponent Benjamin Harrison and their support was critical to his victory. The new bill passed in 1890 and signed by Harrison gave recipients a range of $6 to $12 depending on the amount of disability.

Tracing an Atrocity

By John DeSantis

An original painting by Napoleonville, Louisiana, folk artist Mary Walker depicts life on a 19th-century sugar plantation. Walker produced paintings of similar scenes inspired by The Thibodaux Massacre. (James Loiselle, from the private collection of John DeSantis. Used with permission of artist, owner, and photographer.)

In 1995 I left New York City, where I grew up and whose streets I had come to know too well.

Tired of gathering facts about the Big Apple’s homicide du jour or standing in at press conferences for reporters more experienced, I accepted a position at a small daily newspaper in south Louisiana, about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans, called the Houma Courier.

Local government machinations, the region’s rich Cajun culture, the trials of the area’s commercial fishermen, and a parade of social justice issues kept me busy and fulfilled.

But the story I had the greatest desire to tell was maddeningly elusive. For more than 20 years I sought proof of a vigilante killing in the neighboring town of Thibodaux—beyond quotes from some letters and a few other historical scraps already reported in scholarly works. Even more difficult was finding someone—anyone—with a family tie to the incident, referred to in recent times as the Thibodaux Massacre.

I would later learn conclusively that anywhere from 30 to 60 striking black sugarcane workers, their supporters, and family members were shot to death by white vigilantes on November 23, 1887.

I had no idea while attempting to harvest facts surrounding this tragedy that a book would result. And I never dreamed that the obscure record of an equally obscure Army private in the National Archives would provide the key for unlocking truth.

“A Story Nobody Wanted Told”

Shortly after my arrival in the bayou country, I was told by Burnell Tolbert, president of the Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, branch of the NAACP, that something bad had happened in Thibodaux. He wasn’t sure of the details.

“It’s a story nobody wanted told,” he said.

But I wanted to tell it. A small local newspaper enabling spiritual justice by telling a tale of events hidden so long ago was an appealing thought.

An unsigned letter in a local newspaper printed after the massacre occurred—with the sparsest of details—marks a clear desire at the time for silence.

“Better for all concerned that this page be torn out of our history, rather than try to explain,” it reads.

Missing most of all was any clue to identities of the dead. In the old newspaper accounts, victim names were never mentioned, beyond collective references to “the negroes.” Without discovering such names, or some other information that had not already been reported, an ethical dilemma loomed. Telling such a horrendous story to residents of the place where it occurred in the pages of a local newspaper could have serious repercussions. Bitterness could result, perhaps even local racial conflict. If a modern newspaper was to tell this story, there had to be a compelling reason for doing so. So, my quest continued for many years, with nothing new to report.

Killings in South Carolina Prompt Change in Attitudes

That aspect changed in 2015, however, after shots fired inside “Mother” Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, forced the nation into a new racial dialogue.

The tragedy in Charleston, some community leaders in Thibodaux said, opened a window for telling the Thibodaux story. If Americans were reaching across the divide of race, it seemed, then perhaps the time had come within that context for Thibodaux to confront its past as well.

Once a thriving center of sugarcane production, Thibodaux’s chief industries now are health care, social assistance, education—as home to Nicholls State University—and retail trades. Its roughly 15,000 people are about 62 percent white and 32 percent black, with the remainder Hispanic. Per capita income stands at just under $40,000. But per capita income for whites, at around $35,000, is double that for blacks, which is estimated at around $15,000. Most of the people are Catholic.

Race relations there are vastly improved from what they once were, but tension still exists.

“The city’s administration has yet to hire a black department head, and when they are asked about this, they give no answers,” Charles Mosley, a retired educator, told me on more than one occasion.

The Rev. Nelson Dan Taylor, Sr., pastor of Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in Thibodaux, was fascinated and disturbed by the Thibodaux Massacre from the time of his arrival there from Baton Rouge in 2006.

“It resonates in a very cataclysmic way in that it was an act of suppression and terror, economic, political, and social,” said Taylor, who is also a civil rights lawyer.

“That one event had to have shaken this community, contributing to a spirit of despair and hopelessness that I think you still see,” Taylor said. “Nobody confronts anything here. We need to discuss how it was and how we got to where we are today. The story of what happened in Thibodaux is intolerable, and we only know bits and pieces of it. It is so horrible historically that I think people don’t want to remember, both white and black.”

A Door-to-Door Campaign to Solicit Oral Histories

Cabins at the Laurel Valley plantation property in Thibodaux, Louisiana, may be among those from which the Louisiana State Militia removed strikers during the 1887 sugarcane strike. The cabins still stand today on Laurel Valley Road. (James Loiselle)

With his words leading the account—explaining the reason the story was being told—the newspaper I now work for, the Times of Houma and Thibodaux, published my best effort to share uncomfortable news from 130 years ago with the residents of Thibodaux and surrounding communities.

I went door to door to further seek out oral histories. At one house in southern Thibodaux, I spoke with a black family whose members gathered under their carport after a workday at their various jobs. Three generations said they had never heard of such a thing. An elderly woman, seated on a rear stoop, raised her head and looked straight at me.

“White people were riding through town,” she said in a creaky voice. “They shot the black people, fired into houses.”

Gently, I asked this woman where she had gained such knowledge.

“I ain’t saying nothing else,” she said. “I don’t want to get in no trouble.”

Labor actions had occurred on several Louisiana sugar plantations after the Civil War, with minimal results. The chief complaints of workers were continuing low wages—most earned between 50 and 65 cents a day—and the use of plantation scrip for payment.

The scrip, IOUs on cards or tokens, could be used for merchandise at the plantation store, often at inflated prices. It acted as invisible chains for workers who were supposed to be free, but could not ever put enough money together to leave the plantation.

The Knights of Labor (KOL), an integrated labor organization based in Philadelphia, had organized railroads with some success. Realizing that the plantation-bound sugar workers were ripe for organizing on a larger scale, the KOL connected with plantation school teachers, ministers, freemasons, and even local black barbers, all of whom were held in high regard.

By October 1887, inroads were made in the parishes of Terrebonne, Lafourche, and St. Mary, and a list of demands, composed by a black teacher named Junius Bailey, was delivered to the Louisiana Sugar Planters Association. The demands were refused, and word of a strike began to spread.

On November 1, a strike was called, with the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporting that “the Negroes are stubborn and generally disposed to stand their ground,”

About 10,000 workers laid down their tools on the cusp of the harvest season, vowing to remain in plantation housing

Troops Comb Plantations for Striking Workers

Examiner Charles Grannis’s favorable recommendation on Jack Conrad’s pension application noted: “Guards were stationed about town, two of whom it appears were wounded, and at that, the regulators went about town shooting every colored person in sight.” (National Archives, RG 15)

Governor Samuel Douglas McEnery dispatched troops to the region, and they arrived on November 2 from New Orleans and were quartered in Thibodaux. Along with regular arms they brought a Gatling gun, which was placed in front of the Lafourche Parish courthouse.

The troops spread through plantations in the region, evicting the striking workers, who then streamed into Thibodaux as refugees. The troops left around November 18, and in Thibodaux tensions increased.

A local judge, Taylor Beattie, as well as other officials, sanctioned a “vigilance committee” during a fiery meeting at the town hall. Martial law was declared and the entrances to Thibodaux sealed by volunteer sentries. The strikers feared they would be attacked.

Outside the Thibodaux area, agreements were reached with some strikers, who returned to work. But plantations adjacent to the town were still paralyzed, with owners fearing their cane would be lost to a coming freeze.

The situation was being cast more and more as a race war and less as a labor dispute.

In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, November 23, two volunteer lookouts enforcing Beattie’s lockdown, Henry Gorman and Joseph Molaison, were shot and wounded by snipers at Thibodaux’s southern end. Townsmen blamed the strikers, and mobs of armed whites took to the streets.

An official account, that “rioters” converged on the scene of the shooting incident, was the prevailing tale told for a century after. Some Louisiana papers reported 25 strikers killed. Some witness accounts suggested as many as 60 dead. No report ever surfaced of any white casualties, other than the two sentries, even among publications sympathetic to strike suppression.

Letters between planter family members, some on file at Louisiana State University, others at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, paint a picture of events far bloodier than press accounts.

The New Orleans Pelican scoffed at the official reports, and a correspondent wrote of “lame men and blind women shot children and hoary-headed grandsires ruthlessly swept down.”

Newspaper Article Leads to Book Deal

When the story ran in the Times on July 15, 2015, it received a lot of local attention. On November 24, 2015, an acquisitions editor at The History Press called me and said the publishing house was interested in a book on the Thibodaux Massacre.

Would I be interested in writing it?

While I certainly would, I said, there were some things she needed to know. I explained the difficulty I had finding information, particularly oral histories, and how official records could not be located. She said that so long as primary sources of what little was out there were used—and I had already accessed many of those—she was certain the project would work.

Just before the end of the year I signed a contract and got to work.

Clifton Theriot, at that time the chief archivist at Nicholls State University’s Alan J. Ellender Memorial Library, had tried to help me before. But without specific names, there was no way for him to seek any records.

I talked with him—now that there was a May 2016 book deadline in my future—and he made some suggestions. I proceeded to take every single name of any person that was in any historical account that I possessed and made a list. A few days later, Clifton called and said, “I think we have some papers that relate to your project.”

The index of official documents in the Lafourche Parish courthouse that would have related to the events of 1887, I learned, was missing from its shelves, and there was no telling how long it had been gone.

But Clifton Theriot had discovered, in a file at his archive, original documents that were clearly related to the strike and the massacre. Some were irrelevant for my purposes. The appearance of others was nothing less than miraculous.

A yellowed stack of legal-length pages contained the report generated by a hasty coroner’s inquest. Most of it contained a detailed account of the shooting and wounding of the two sentries, with a determination that “a riot” ensued. The names of eight people killed was on the first page. There were no home towns or addresses, just names. Would that be enough to unlock some answers?

File of Jack Conrad Yields Important Information

A page from Civil War veteran Jack Conrad’s pension application file. Affidavits in the file provide the first-ever opportunity to hear black survivors speak of the 1887 Thibodaux massacre. (National Archives, RG 15)

I got to work as soon as I reached my cluttered desk, checking census records from 1880 and other sources. I was able to find links to a handful of the people, and noticed that most were from Thibodaux. One name stood out. Grant Conrad, who in 1887 would have been 19 years old, had little history other than census records that indicated he started working the cane fields at an early age.

The records—images of pages from the U.S. census accessed through—showed that Grant’s father was Jack Conrad and his mother was Mary Conrad, also field workers. My fingers flew across my keyboard as I tried to find more about the father, and the diligence paid off. A great deal of time had been expended looking up Grant Conrad’s family tree, however. The book had a tight deadline, and I had already drafted a significant portion of it by the time I learned that Grant’s father’s story could be important.

Jack Conrad had a clearly documented history because in 1862—in New Orleans—he had joined the Federal army as a member of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT).

Nearly 210,000 men of color were members of Lincoln’s army through the course of the Civil War. Their records are kept at the National Archives, and many are retrievable online.

Jack Conrad’s basic information was simple enough. He had been a member of the 85th USCT, whose name was later changed to the 75th. Among the tasks he performed while in service—the remainder of the war following his 1862 mustering in New Orleans—were carpenter, cook, and sentry. That information did not appear relevant to the massacre.

But there was more to Jack Conrad’s file than what was available online. The records indicated that there was somewhere in the Archives a widow’s pension file that referenced a disability pension. I wasn’t certain what type of pension or how it related to anything I was researching. But just in case the pension records contained information about Jack Conrad or his family, it seemed like a good idea to find out. I copied down the numbers, did some web searches, and made several telephone calls to experts, including personnel at the National Archives familiar with Civil War records.

Patiently and thoroughly, they explained to me that whatever records existed could hold a lot of information about Mr. Conrad. There were, I learned, several types of pensions for Civil War veterans who fought for the Union side, and that the records involved a lot more than payouts for war-related disabilities. For a period of time, the U.S. government provided for its veterans who could not work due to disability that resulted from injury or sickness that occurred after military service.

Mary Conrad Seeks Jack’s Death Benefit

Through experts at the National Archives and further research, I learned that the federal 1890 Disability Pension Act allowed claims by veterans for injuries not related to military service so long as they were not caused by “vicious habits or gross carelessness.”

Something had to have happened to this Jack Conrad, though I wasn’t quite sure what.

Archives staff told me that such files were often very detailed, containing quite a bit of biographical information. Some was required to prove that the claimant was who he said he was. Perhaps, I thought, Jack Conrad might have mentioned to a pension examiner that he had a son who was killed in 1887, possibly providing details. If nothing else, I might learn whether Grant Conrad was named for Gen. U. S. Grant. It would be a biographical tidbit relevant to the book.

Rather than travel to Washington, D.C., myself, I looked for a researcher based there, familiar with the pension files, to actually pull them and give me a sense of whether they contained anything useful. I gave her the file numbers for Jack Conrad, and she got to work.

A week later, she told me that the file for Jack Conrad was unusually large. I got the first batch of 60 pages in another week, on April 6, and was told there were 140 remaining.

The first batch consisted mostly of communications between federal officials and the widow of Jack Conrad, who had died in 1897. Mary Conrad was seeking his death benefit. There were a few documents, however, that were intriguing. Yes, there was mention of Grant Conrad and that he had been killed during an 1887 “riot” in Lafourche Parish. On some documents there was also some mention of injuries Jack Conrad suffered.

Figuratively on pins and needles—with a May 6 book deadline looming—I could no longer focus on writing. I was in a state of suspended animation.

Finally: Affidavit Reveals Details of Strikers’ Killings

Conrad’s pension file contains an affidavit of the Rev. T. Jefferson Rhodes, pastor of Moses Baptist Church in Thibodaux, that describes the mass shooting of African Americans on November 23, 1887. (National Archives, RG 15)

On the morning of April 11, I received the remainder of Jack Conrad’s file and was dumbstruck.

In the handwriting of a government examiner was an affidavit from Jack Conrad himself, who single-handedly verified accounts that the shootings were wanton and not limited to leaders of the strike.

He said he was sleeping in the house he rented in back-of-town Thibodaux when a commotion awoke him.

“I think there were about 50 or 60 men in the crowd, which was comprised entirely of white citizens who lived in and around Thibodaux,” Jack Conrad said. “When I opened the door one of the mob said ‘crack down on him’ and at that they went to shooting.”

Jack, his son Grant, and brother-in-law Marcelin were told to line up, and they began to run. Grant was gunned down behind a water barrel, Marcelin Weldon was shot as he ran in another direction, and Jack himself took cover under his house as the gunmen continued shooting, leaving to go to another house after they presumed him dead. He was hit by gunfire that shattered bones in his upper body, four shots altogether, a doctor’s diagram in the file clearly shows.

According to accounts from witnesses, also contained in the Conrad files, the shooting went on for more than two hours. Among those witnesses was the Rev. Thomas Jefferson Rhodes, pastor of Thibodaux’s Moses Baptist Church.

Jack Conrad was not on strike, although information in the files indicates Grant had walked off his field hand job.

What the files contained that was of greatest importance was a first-ever account of the violence from the voices of black people who were subjected to it and who witnessed it. Combined with other evidence, the picture that emerges is clear. The Thibodaux Massacre was a horrendous, lengthy shooting spree. The terrorism was so effective that no attempts to organize Louisiana’s sugar fields emerged for more than a half century to come.

Acting with haste, I reorganized the book, beginning with an account drawn from the Conrad files of the scene outside his house. The information in them allowed me to tell the story of the Thibodaux Massacre using Jack Conrad’s life as a touchstone of each era covered.

Descendants of Jack Conrad Learn of Eyewitness Account

I couldn’t help but be haunted by his story. Here was a man who was born a slave, joined the Union Army to fight for his own freedom—the 75th USCT saw heavy action at the decisive Battle of Port Hudson, north of Baton Rouge—and remained with his unit till the end of the war.

Afterward, he returned to the fields where he was once a slave, where little changed. His former adversaries on the battlefield had returned 25 years later with a vengeance to his very home, killing his son in front of his eyes.

Jack Conrad’s story covers the experience of Louisiana blacks before, during, and after the war that was said to have set them free, and is an integral part of the story the book tells.

Caught up in the limbo between the time edits were done and the expected November 2016 release of the book, I continued attempts to find Jack Conrad’s descendants. Checking his files again, I found correspondence from 1924 that contained a version of his daughter’s name (Clara) that was different from what the census records—and her own affidavit as a witness to her father’s shooting—had indicated. I returned to the census files and located her, then followed through with obituaries through ensuing decades showing how the family had grown through several generations.

During Labor Day weekend, I contacted Sylvester Jackson, a retired U.S. airman living in Thibodaux who—if my research was correct—would have been Jack Conrad’s great-grandson.

“I thought this man who called me was trying to sell me something,” the soft-spoken, dignified veteran later told a crowd of people at the launch of the book, an event held at Nicholls State University. He had not known of Jack Conrad the family tree he was aware of went back only as far as Jack’s daughter, Clara. I spent an hour on the telephone with him and told him of his great-grandfather’s life and times.

A great-great granddaughter, Wiletta Ferdinand, whose name and telephone number were given to me by Sylvester Jackson, was my next call.

“My family and I are so grateful to you for giving us this information. We do not feel you are dredging up the past, but putting a shining light on our history that otherwise we would not have known,” she later said. “Jack wanted us to know what happened and to further explain why we are so strong as a family because we have his blood running through our veins. This is not just our story this is Thibodaux's story as well.”

A Postscript

Since the book’s release, people are talking about the Thibodaux Massacre in Thibodaux. Members of black families who, it turns out, did have some oral history passed down to them, are talking freely. I learned from community elders that the lot where victims are believed to lie in a mass grave had been a burying place for mules and other beasts of burden.

Folk artist Mary Walker of Napoleonville, Louisiana, painted images inspired by The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike. The paintings were recently displayed at the book’s launch event at Nicholls State University (John DeSantis)

If they are there, those victims will be able to tell their stories too. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has advanced a proposal to have their archaeologists explore the area for evidence of human remains. The Louisiana 1887 Memorial Committee, a nonprofit organization, is in the process of raising money to pay the bills, and the project could begin as soon as autumn 2017. If the results are positive, plans are already being made for return of those remains to Thibodaux after examination, for proper burial in sacred ground by members of the community willing to recognize its role in an ugly history.

The story could have been told without Jack Conrad’s files, certainly. I was prepared to do just that. But the discovery of the documents lends an entirely new element to the history. Because of information contained in the book, an American flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., at the request of Representative Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans). The certificate that Wiletta Ferdinand has since received says it was done to honor the memory of Jack Conrad and other victims of the Thibodaux Massacre.

John DeSantis began his reporting career in the early 1980s in New York City, writing for United Press International, various small newspapers, and for the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is the senior staff writer at the Times of Houma (Louisiana). He has published two prior books: For the Color of His Skin: The Murder of Yusuf Hawkins and the Trial of Bensonhurst and the New Untouchables: How America Sanctions Police Violence. He lives in Bourg, Louisiana.

Note on Sources

The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike, (History Press, 2016) has been favorably reviewed and received recognition for shedding welcome light on a largely hidden piece of history. Since its completion, I have been able to contact descendants of that soldier, allowing them to connect with an ancestor they never knew existed, and to the history in which he played a tragic role.

To learn more about efforts to locate victims of the Thibodaux Massacre, visit

I want to thank Amanda Irle, an acquisitions editor at The History Press, for her help in getting this book published by The History Press.

Although this article focuses on my own research, none of the project would have been possible without the scholarship of others, which gave me enough insight into the Thibodaux Massacre to write an article on the event in the Times of Houma.

John C. Rodrigue’s Reconstruction in the Cane Fields (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001), Rebecca J. Scott’s Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2005) and From Slavery to Emancipation in the Atlantic World, edited by Sylvia R. Frey and Betty Wood (London: Routledge, 2013) are among the most authoritative of these.

An article by Jeffrey Gould, “The Strike of 1887: Louisiana Sugar War” in the November-December 1984 issue of Southern Exposure, provides a concise history of the strike leading to the massacre.

Quotes appearing in this article from the Rev. Nelson Dan Taylor and from a woman who expressed family recollections are taken from the Times article, which was published July 14, 2015.

Benjamin Harrison: Early Life and Career

Harrison was born on August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio he grew up on a farm located near the Ohio River below Cincinnati. His father, John Harrison, was a farmer, and his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was elected as the ninth president of the United States in 1840, but died of pneumonia only one month after he took office. Benjamin Harrison graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1852 and married Caroline Lavinia Scott the following year the couple would go on to have two children. After studying law in Cincinnati, Harrison moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1854 and set up his own law practice.

Did you know? Benjamin Harrison was the last Civil War general to serve as president of the United States. He stood five feet six inches tall, and was called "Little Ben" by his Democratic opponents.

Though his father had warned Benjamin of the pressures of a life in politics, his wife encouraged his political ambitions. The young Harrison became active in state politics in Indiana, joining the fledgling Republican Party, which had been built on the opposition to slavery and its extension into the western territories. He supported the first Republican presidential candidate, John C. Frémont, in 1856 and Abraham Lincoln in 1860. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Harrison joined the Union Army as a lieutenant in the 70th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and he would attain the rank of brevet brigadier general by 1865. Back in Indiana after war’s end, Harrison resumed his law practice and political activity, campaigning unsuccessfully for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1872. Four years later, he won the nomination but lost a close race in the general election.

Old-Age Pension

The old-age pension is a government initiative to help Canadians avoid poverty in retirement. It has changed from a strictly anti-poverty measure, that often humiliated the elderly, into an accepted, mainstream aspect of post-work life. Some fear the system is unsustainable and heading toward bankruptcy, while others argue it is financially sound.

The Old Age Security Act

The first old-age pension was enacted by the federal parliament in 1927. It was jointly financed by federal and provincial governments but administered by the provinces, as pensions were considered a provincial constitutional responsibility at that time. The plan paid up to $20 per month, depending on other income and assets, and was available to British subjects 70 years of age and older with 20 years of residence in Canada. A strict means test was applied and was widely regarded as humiliating.

In 1951, following an amendment to the British North America Act to permit the federal government to operate a pension plan, the Canadian Parliament passed the Old Age Security Act, which provided a universal pension, or demogrant, of $40 per month financed and administered by the federal government. All Canadians aged 70 and over who could meet the more liberal residence requirements were eligible, regardless of their other income or assets. Pension payments began in 1952 and were taxable.

A second piece of legislation enacted at the same time, the Old Age Assistance Act, provided a pension of $40 per month to retired Canadians aged 65-69. This program was cost-shared by the federal and provincial governments on a 50-50 basis and administered by provincial welfare departments, who used a needs test to determine eligibility. The elderly often saw the test as personally invasive and stigmatizing.

The Canada Pension Plan

The universal Old Age Security pension had been raised to $75 per month by 1964, but it was widely acknowledged as inadequate. To alleviate this problem over the longer term, the federal government (after a further amendment to the BNA Act) introduced the Canada Pension Plan in 1965, while Québec launched its own scheme, the Quebec Pension Plan, similar in all significant aspects to the CPP.

The Canada/Quebec Pension Plan (C/QPP), a compulsory social insurance program which became effective in 1966, covered 92% of the labour force. Employees and employers were required to contribute toward a wage-related retirement pension at 65, as well as long-term disability and survivor's benefits, together with a lump-sum death benefit to defray funeral costs. The maximum retirement benefit was designed to replace 25% of the average industrial wage. The C/QPP was also open to the self-employed and was fully portable anywhere in Canada.

The Guaranteed Income Supplement

As the C/QPP would not pay full retirement benefits for 10 years, and to assist those low-income seniors already retired, the federal government, through an amendment to the Old Age Security Act, introduced a tax-free, income-tested supplement beginning in 1967. It was available to pensioners in receipt of the Old Age Security Pension, but who had little or no other income. This supplement was applied for every year at tax-filing time and was free of any social stigma. For every $2 of income over and above the OAS pension, the supplement was reduced by $1. At the same time, the age of eligibility for universal OAS pension was lowered over five years from age 70 to age 65, thus eliminating the means and needs test from the federal pension system.

Although the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) was initially seen as a transitional program to be phased out when the C/QPP began paying full benefits in 1976, it was found that a sizable portion of C/QPP beneficiaries qualified for less than a maximum pension. This, coupled with the fact that only a minority of workers had an employer-sponsored pension, meant that the GIS remained a critical element in reducing the incidence of poverty among the elderly. Thus the program was maintained, increased in value and indexed quarterly to the cost of living.

Spouse's Allowance (1975, 1985)

In 1975 the OAS/GIS was improved for a small proportion of the population by a Spouse's Allowance (SPA), which provided an income-tested supplement to low-income elderly couples where only one person receives the OAS/GIS and the other is between 60 and 64 years of age. In 1985 the program was extended to low-income widows and widowers between the ages of 60 and 64 whose spouses had been recipients of OAS/GIS.

Debating Pension Reform

Old-age pensions became a topic of ongoing national concern starting in the mid-1970s, chiefly because of high inflation rates and their effect on fixed incomes. A federal Green Paper (1982) identified the two goals of the Canadian pension system as ensuring elderly persons a minimum income (the anti-poverty objective) and maintaining a reasonable relationship between the individual's income before and following retirement (the income-replacement objective). The universal OAS pension, together with the income-tested GIS and SPA programs, was designed to meet the anti-poverty objective income replacement was to be met by the Canada/Québec Pension Plan, plus employer-sponsored pensions and private, individual savings (the latter encouraged by special concessions in the tax system).

While there was general agreement on the need for pension reform, there was no consensus on the direction reform should take. The business community, the private pension industry and the province of Ontario wanted improvements to come mostly from the private sector. The opposing view was that the public pension system should be improved and expanded, particularly the earnings-replacement ratio of 25%. Implicit in this approach was the belief that the 14,000 private pension plans then in existence were, in the words of a Special Senate Committee Report (1979) "grossly inadequate" in coverage, portability, adequacy of pension benefits and survivors' benefits, and protection against inflation. A public sector approach was advocated by labour unions, women's groups, the provinces of Québec and Saskatchewan and welfare groups.

Despite nearly a decade of debate, reports and national conferences, very little substantive change occurred. Some minor improvements in the GIS program and the C/QPP were made and the federal and provincial governments attempted to improve the standards of private pensions, with limited success.

Beginning in 1985, spurred on by their interest in debt and deficit reduction, the federal Conservative government proposed a partial indexing of the OAS benefit to the inflation rate in excess of 3 per cent. The attempt created such a political backlash that the idea was dropped but was successfully carried out against another universal program, family allowances.

Federal policy toward old age pensions at this time appeared to be moving in the direction of limiting the public pension system to the anti-poverty objective that is, assuring a basic minimum of retirement income, while leaving the income-replacement objective to the private market and to individual responsibility.


In 1957 the federal government introduced changes to the Income Tax Act to encourage self-employed Canadians to provide for their own retirement. Money placed in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) account, as well as investment earnings on the money, are tax-deferred until withdrawn on retirement or earlier. Self-employed professionals were the initial principal beneficiaries of this scheme. In 1973 the program was extended to all Canadians, particularly those without an employer-sponsored pension plan. Although open to all Canadians, the preponderance of funds in RRSP accounts are held by upper-middle class and wealthy Canadians, as they are most likely to have money to invest when all other expenses are paid.

Reform Attempts in the 1990s

When the Liberals formed the government in 1993, they also confronted the need to reduce the federal debt and deficit. The government argued that because of the aging of the Canadian population the number of seniors would more than double in Canada by 2030. Therefore some adjustment in pension arrangements was needed if the system was to remain financially viable. The key according to the government was to target the benefits of those most in need.

In the 1996 Budget Speech the government announced that the OAS/GIS, and two tax credits for seniors, would end in 2001 and rolled into a monthly tax-free payment to be called the Seniors Benefit. Under this new program the government said the vast majority of seniors would be as well or better off— that 75 per cent of single seniors and couples would receive the same or higher benefits, and nine out of 10 single senior women would be better off. Furthermore, Canadians aged 60 and over and those already on pensions would have the option of staying with the current system or choosing the Seniors Benefit. This proposal never materialized.

In the 1997 budget, the government announced that it would introduce income testing, which would result in increased benefits to seniors who qualified and would claw back benefits for those who exceeded the annual income level. This met with considerable opposition from the business community, who deal with private pension plans. They argued that the proposed plan would penalize those who contributed to private pensions. Again the proposed changes were not implemented.

By 2013, OAS/GIS support continued for seniors.

Changes to the Canada/Quebec Pension Plan

Every five years the federal and provincial governments review the operations of the C/QPP. During the 1990s the CPP was the subject of much gloomy speculation. The aging of the Canadian population, the unexpected increase in disability pensions and the declining ratio of workers to retired persons meant to some observers, notably those associated with the private pension industry, that the CPP was headed for bankruptcy. These observers urged that benefits be reduced, that the age of qualification be raised from 65 to 67 and that the wage-replacement ratio, set at a barely adequate 25 per cent (and only if the worker has a company pension plan to supplement the CPP) be reduced to 22.5%. Again, these proposed changes did not materialize.

In the 2012 federal budget, the Conservative government introduced plans to gradually raise the retirement age for the OAS and GIS from 65 to 67. The change is scheduled to roll out between 2023 and 2029. Anyone born in 1963 or later will be able to receive these benefits starting at age 67.

The government also dealt with budget concerns relating to pension funding by increasing pension contributions, reducing the Death Benefit, and making it more difficult to obtain the Disability Pension. There were others who argued that the talk of bankruptcy was nonsense and was put forward by people with either a political or financial axe to grind, and that contributions would rise as they were predicted to do from the outset. All money contributed to the C/QPP is placed into a fund. At one time, provinces were allowed to borrow this money at a modest interest rate. Recent federal legislation allows for a portion of this money to be invested on the stock market in hopes of increasing the fund. It remains to be seen how successful this investment strategy will be.

Researching African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1890

During the Civil War approximately 186,000 African Americans served in the Union army in the U.S. Colored Troops.1 Black soldiers served in volunteer cavalry, artillery, and infantry units, but the opportunity to serve as regulars in the Army was not afforded African Americans until after the Civil War. In 1866, due in large part to the wartime service of the U.S. Colored Troops, Congress authorized the army to raise six black regiments: four infantry and two cavalry. This change was part of a much larger army reorganization and laid the foundation for the proud tradition of the "Buffalo Soldiers."2 This article describes records held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to aid genealogists researching African Americans who served in the regular army from 1866 to 1890. It also highlights records related to Charles Woods, who served in Company E, Ninth U.S. Cavalry, as an example of how to trace an individual's service in the army.

On July 28, 1866, Congress passed an act reorganizing the army by adding four regiments to the already existing six regiments of cavalry and expanding the number of infantry regiments from nineteen to forty-five. The reorganization included the creation of six colored regiments designated in November as the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, Fortieth, and Forty-first Infantry.3 The new colored regiments were to be composed of black enlisted men and white officers. Three years later, Congress reorganized the army again by reducing the number of infantry units from forty-five to twenty-five regiments. For the African American regulars, this reorganization changed only the infantry units and not the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry. The Thirty-eighth Infantry and Forty-first Infantry became the Twenty-fourth Infantry, while the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth were consolidated into the Twenty-fifth Infantry. These two new infantry regiments completely replaced the former Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth.4

For the next twenty years the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry served in the West on the frontier. The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry spent much of their time in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Indian Territory protecting citizens, mail and supply routes and battling hostile Native Americans, and outlaws. The Twenty-fourth Infantry served in the Department of Texas, Indian Territory, and the Department of Arizona, while the Twenty-fifth Infantry served in the Department of Texas and the Department of Dakota.5

It was during this period that two of the regiments gained the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers." The nickname initially described troopers of the Tenth Cavalry, but the Ninth soon adopted the name as well. Although Native Americans bestowed the name upon the troopers, there are differing accounts as to the reason. One account suggests the name was acquired during the 1871 campaign against the Comanches, when Indians referred to the cavarlymen as "Buffalo Soldiers" because of their rugged and tireless marching. Other accounts state that Native Americans bestowed the nickname on the black troopers because they believed the hair of the black cavarlymen resembled the hair of the buffalo. Another suggests that the name was given because of the buffalo-hide coats worn by the soldiers in cold weather. The troopers took the nickname as a sign of respect from Native Americans, who held great reverence for the buffalo, and eventually the Tenth Cavalry adopted the buffalo as part of its regimental crest.6

Enlisted Men

Unlike individuals who served as volunteers in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War, black regulars do not have compiled military service records. The War Department did not compile military service records for individuals who served in the regular army. The place to start researching African American enlisted men is the Regular Army Enlistment Papers, 1798 - 1894 (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's - 1917, entry 91). This series is arranged alphabetically by name of soldier and generally shows the soldier's name, place of enlistment, date, by whom enlisted, age, occupation, personal description, regimental assignment, and certification of the examining surgeon and recruiting officer. Soldiers will usually have multiple enlistment papers if they served two or more enlistments.

Researchers should also consult the Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798 - 1914, which is reproduced on National Archives Microfilm Publication M233. The register of enlistments are arranged chronologically and thereunder alphabetically by first letter of surname and usually show the individual's name, military organization, physical description, age at time of enlistment, place of birth, enlistment information, discharge information, and remarks.

For medical information, consult carded medical records (1821 - 1884) found in RG 94, entry 529. These cards relate to regular army personnel admitted to hospitals for treatment and may include information such as name, rank, organization, age, race, birthplace, date entered service, cause of admission, date of admission, hospital to which admitted, and disposition of the case. This series is arranged by the number of the regiment (cavalry, infantry, and artillery are filed together under the common regiment number) and then by initial letter of surname. For example, the Ninth Cavalry is filed under the number "9" along with the Ninth Infantry.

Using the enlistment papers, register of enlistments, and carded medical records, researchers can gain valuable information about a soldier. For example, according to his enlistment paper, Charles Woods, born in New Orleans, enlisted for five years at Baton Rouge on September 1, 1866. The twenty-two-year-old laborer was assigned to the Ninth Regiment of Cavalry. The enlistment paper also provides a physical description showing, "this soldier has black eyes, black hair, yellow complexion is five feet, one inches high."7 The register of enlistments shows that Private Woods was discharged June 17, 1870, for disability at Fort Concho, Texas.8 According to the carded medical records, Woods at various times suffered from rheumatism, diarrhea, bronchitis, and gonorrhea.9

From their inception, the colored regiments were led by white officers. This changed once black cadets started graduating from the U.S. Army Military Academy. Three black graduates of West Point, Henry O. Flipper, John Alexander, and Charles Young, all served as Buffalo Soldiers. Flipper was commissioned in 1879 and served in the Tenth Cavalry. John Alexander (commissioned in 1887) and Charles Young (commissioned in 1889) both served in the Ninth Cavalry.10

When researching both black and white officers, researchers should consult the two volumes of Francis B. Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (Washington: GPO, 1903). Volume one contains a register of army officers, providing a brief history of their service. Volume two contains a "chronological list of battles, actions, etc., in which troops of the Regular Army have participated and troops engaged."

When researching the records for an officer's military service, consult the Commission Branch (CB) and Appointment, Commission and Personal Branch (ACP) records both found in RG 94, entry 297, Letters Received, 1863 - 1894. There is a card index arranged by name of officer for each of these files. CB files are reproduced on National Archives Microfilm Publication M1064, Letters Received by the Commission Branch of the Adjutant General's Office, 1863 - 1870, and a select number of ACP files have been reproduced on National Archives Microfiche M1395, Letters Received by the Appointment, Commission and Personal Branch, 1871 - 1894.

Other records that may be of interest to researchers are post returns and regular army unit returns. Returns for many military posts, camps, and stations are reproduced on National Archives Microfilm Publication M617, Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800 - 1916. Returns generally show units stationed at the post and their strength, the names and duties of officers, the number of officers present and absent, and a record of events. Unit returns are monthly returns of military organizations reporting stations of companies and names of company commanders, unit strength, including men present, absent, sick, on extra duty or daily duty, in arrest or confinement, and significant remarks. Unit returns for Buffalo Soldiers can be found on National Archives Microfilm Publication M744, Returns from Regular Army Cavalry Regiments, 1833 - 1916. When researching the unit returns of the African American infantry regiments, consult National Archives Microfilm Publication M665, Returns from Regular Army Infantry Regiments, June 1821 - December 1916. The returns for the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, Fortieth, and Forty-first Infantry cover 1866 to 1869. A note of caution: When researching the returns for the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry, be sure to start with the 1869 returns the returns for the period 1866 to 1869 are for the old units and are not African American soldiers. For additional records related to individual regular army regiments, consult Record Group 391, Records of United States Regular Army Mobile Units, 1821 - 1942.


Researchers will find that court-martial records are a great source of information not only for a particular soldier but also for providing insights into the trials and tribulations faced by black soldiers. The court-martial records include the proceedings or testimony of a case, which contains common language used by black soldiers in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Records related to proceedings of U.S. Army courts-martial or courts of inquiry can be found in Record Group 153, Records of the Judge Advocate General (Army). To find an individual's case file, first consult National Archives Microfilm Publication M1105, Registers of the Records of the Proceedings of the U.S. Army General Courts-Martial, 1809 - 1890. The years 1866 - 1890 are covered by registers OO to RR and are reproduced on microfilm roll numbers six through eight. The case files include proceedings of courts of inquiry and court-martial trials related to African American soldiers. These files are not on microfilm and are filed by case file number in RG 153, entry 15A. For this period, the files have a double-alpha numeric file number such as PP-248.

In searching court-martial records, we find that Cpl. Charles Woods was tried by a general court-martial at Austin, Texas, on June 4, 1867. There were several charges in the case including mutiny, striking his superior officer, and desertion. Corporal Woods pleaded "not guilty" to the first two charges and "guilty" to the third charge of desertion. Woods was found guilty of all three charges and sentenced to death. Because of facts brought out during the case, including the harsh treatment by an officer toward his men, the judge advocate general recommended that Woods's sentence be remitted. In writing to the adjutant general, the judge advocate general wrote, "But in view of the extraordinary circumstances developed by the testimony, showing that there was no disposition on the part of the prisoner either to mutiny or to desert, but that his conduct, and that of his company, was the result of outrageous treatment on the part of one of the commissioned officers, and in view of the suffering he has already endured, the sentence is remitted and the prisoner will be restored to duty."11 A November 20 regimental order reduced Woods to the rank of private.

For researchers interested in pension files of individuals who served as Buffalo Soldiers or in black infantry units, consult National Archives Microfilm Publication T288, General Index to Pension Files, 1861 - 1934. This microfilm publication is arranged alphabetically by the individual's last name. The index cards include the individual's unit(s), making it easier to decipher individuals with the same name. Once the application number or pension certificate number is found (this includes invalid and widow pensions), researchers can request to view the pension file. Pension files (including application files) often contain valuable personal information on soldiers that are not found in their military records.

Our story of Charles Woods ends with the pension records. After consulting the pension index, we find that Woods's pension application is shown as number 413,571. According to the index, the pension application was filed on December 14, 1880, from the state of Texas.12 Upon checking Woods's pension application file, we find that his story ends on a sad note. It appears Woods was denied a pension because of his court-martial conviction. Several appeals were made to the commissioner of pensions, who contacted the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) for more information. One response from the AGO shows the root of the problem: "The record of desertion appearing against the claimant has not been, nor can it be, removed He was tried by General Court - Martial for the offence and convicted. His sentence was remitted by this office and he was restored to duty with his troop."13 Unfortunately, Charles Woods died June 6, 1887, while his pension application was still being appealed.14

Medals of Honor

Between 1866 and 1890 African Americans established a proud tradition of service as regulars in the U.S. Army. Proof of their bravery can be found in the Medals of Honor awarded to several of their members. During the Indian Campaigns, eighteen African Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor. Records related to these soldiers have been reproduced on roll two of National Archives Microfilm Publication M929, Documents Relating to the Military and Naval Service of Blacks Awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Civil War to the Spanish-American War. Roll two, covering the Indian Campaigns, is arranged alphabetically by surname and includes three Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts who were awarded the Medal of Honor.15 Consult the NARA pamphlet describing M929 for the list of recipients' names and corresponding microfilm frame numbers.

The records and microfilm publications described in this article are available at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. For researchers unable to visit the National Archives, copies of enlistment papers, register of enlistments, and pension files held by NARA can be obtained through the mail. To obtain the proper request form, please write to Old Military and Civil Records, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001.

1. Bernard C. Nalty, Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the Military(1986), p. 43.

2. For a description of the link between Gen. Colin Powell and the Buffalo Soldiers, see Walter Hill, "Exploring the Life and History of the 'Buffalo Soldiers,'" The Record: News from the National Archives and Records Administration (March 1998): 12 - 14 (also available online at

3. AGO General Order No. 56, Aug. 1, 1866, and AGO General Order No. 92, Nov. 23, 1866. Robert M. Utley, Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866 - 1891 (1973), p. 12.

4. AGO General Orders No. 15 & 16, Mar. 11, 1869, and AGO General Order No. 17, Mar. 15, 1869. Utley, Frontier Regulars, p. 16. The old Twenty-fourth Infantry consolidated with the Twenty-ninth to form the new Eleventh Infantry, while the old Twenty-fifth consolidated with the Eighteenth to form the new Eighteenth. See Army Lineage Series: Infantry: Part I: Regular Army (1972), pp. 31 - 32.

5. The Twenty-fourth Infantry served in the Department of Texas from 1869 to 1880, Indian Territory from 1880 to 1888, and following 1888 in the Department of Arizona. The Twenty-fifth Infantry served in the Department of Texas from 1870 to 1880 and the Department of Dakota following 1880. See Aloha P. South, Reference Information Paper No. 63, Data Relating to Negro Military Personnel in the 19th Century (1973), p. 3.

6. Account of Col. Benjamin H. Grierson, Tenth Cavalry, found in Hill, "Exploring the Life and History of the 'Buffalo Soldiers,'" p. 13. Other accounts found in Nalty, Strength for the Fight, p. 54 William H. Leckie, The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West (1967), p. 26 and Gerald Astor, The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military (1998) pp. 46 - 47.

7. Charles Woods, Enlistment Papers, 1798 - 1894, box 846, Record Group (RG) 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's - 1917, National Archives Building (NAB), Washington, DC.

8. Register of Enlistments, Vol. 64, p. 271, Register of Enlistments of the U.S. Army, 1798 - 1914 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, roll 32), RG 94, NAB.

9. Charles Woods & C. Woods, Carded Medical Records, box 495, entry 529, RG 94, NAB.

10. Nalty, Strength for the Fight, pp. 58 - 61.

11. AGO General Court-Martial Order No. 83, Oct. 16, 1867. Case file OO-2488, box 2258, Records of the Judge Advocate General (Army), RG 153, NAB. Reduced to the ranks from corporal per Regimental Order No. 110, Nov. 20, 1867. See remarks under Pvt. Charles Woods in Co. E, 9th Cav., Muster Rolls, Oct. 31 to Dec. 31, 1867, box 1118, entry 53, RG 94, NAB.

12. General Index to Pension Files, 1861 - 1934 (National Archives Microfilm Publication T288, roll 534), RG 15, Records of the Veterans Administration, NAB.

13. From Adjutant General's Office to Commissioner of Pensions, Jan. 22, 1887, pension file SO 413571, entry 9A, RG 15, NAB.

14. Pension file SO 413571, ibid.

15. The Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts were descendants of blacks who had intermarried with Seminole Indians in Florida and migrated to Mexico in the 1830s. In 1870 the Seminole-Negro Indians began crossing the Mexican border into Texas, settling in areas around Fort Clark and Fort Duncan.

Timeline: 1881 to 1890

1881 A member of the radical group, "Will of the People" assassinates Tsar Alexander II. His son and successor, Alexander III, makes no distinction between terrorists and political activists of the non-violent variety. Censorship is tightened. Publishers and writers with liberal ideas are harassed.

1881 Austria-Hungary joins Germany's alliance with Russia, a move encouraged by Bismarck, who hopes that Russia and Austria-Hungary will manage their rivalry in the Balkans.

1881 In the Transvaal, Boers (Afrikaners) rebel against British rule and defeat the British at Majuba Hill. Britain's prime minister, Gladstone, returns self-rule to the Boer Republic except for control of foreign affairs.

1881 France declares Tunisia a protectorate.

1881 Tennessee's legislature mandates racial segregation on railroads.

1881 On July 2 the President of the United States, James Garfield, is shot by a disgruntled office-seeker. Doctors repeatedly poke their fingers into the bullet hole looking for the bullet, causing an infection. Garfield dies on September 19.

1881 Muhammad Ahmad leads a pan-Islamic rebellion amid cries for war against infidels. He proclaims himself the Mahdi (Messiah) who is to rid the world of evil.

1882 In response to a nationalist revolt in Egypt against Ottoman rule, Britain and France support the Ottoman sultan. A British army defeats an Egyptian force at the Battle of Tell al-Kabir. Britain is concerned about the Suez Canal, and Queen Victoria wants to protect Christians in Egypt. Exercising her power to consult with and advise her government, she favors keeping troops in Egypt.

1882 Massachusetts passes a pure food law.

1882 The Chinese Exclusion Act passed by the US Congress goes into effect.

1882 In Appleton, Wisconsin, a hydroelectric power plant begins operation.

1882 Alexander III believes that Jews are the killers of Christ. Pogroms against Jews have been spreading across Russia's empire. They are being expelled from Moscow and are fleeing the empire.

1882 German physician Robert Koch discovers the rod-shaped bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

1883 Robert Koch discovers the rod-shaped bacterium that causes cholera.

1883 Bismarck introduces a state heath insurance law.

1883 Karl Marx dies, John Maynard Keynes and Benito Mussolini are born.

1883 The Ottoman sultan, Abd al-Hamid II, has his former prime minister, Midhat Pasha, strangled.

1883 The Orient Express railway opens between Constantinople and Baghdad.

1884 After five years of war &ndash the "War of the Pacific" with Chile against Peru and Bolivia &ndash a peace treaty leaves Bolivia landlocked.

1884 France incorporates Vietnam into its empire. In Africa, France occupies Guinea.

1884 In Uganda, Christians object to the King Mwanga's homosexual relations with young boys and men who serve him as pages and attendants. Mwanga has numerous Christians put to death, some by burning. Christians arm themselves and ally with local Muslims in a civil war against Mwanga.

1884 Britain proclaims a protectorate over the southern coast of New Guinea and adjacent islands. The Germans turn northeastern New Guinea into a colony. The Germans are trading in copra and coconut oil.

1884 In Africa, Germany declares Togoland, Cameroon and Southwest Africa as protectorates. The British feel their interests threatened.

1884 In the United States an insurance salesman, Lewis E. Waterman, creates a fountain pen that is not supposed to leak.

1884 Britain sends a force to the Sudan to supervise an Egyptian withdrawal from Khartoum, and the force takes charge of 2,500 women, children, sick and wounded. Muhammad Ahmad's force surrounds them. The British government's rejects a request for military help from a Sudanese slave trader and warlord.

1885 After ten months, Muhammad Ahmad overruns the British force in Khartoum. Its leader, Charles Gordon, is killed.

1885 With help from the British, who are involved in neighboring Sudan, Italy takes from the Egyptians control over what today is Eritrea.

1885 European powers meet in Berlin and make agreements concerning Africa. They give King Leopold of Belgium control of the Congo. Germany acquires what is today Tanzania as a protectorate. Britain annexes what today is Botswana and approves Germany's position in Southwest Africa and the interior of Cameroon. France is colonizing Central Africa and establishes a little colony on the northern tip of Madagascar.

1885 Germany buys some of the Marshall Islands from Spain, a transaction mediated by Pope Leo XIII.

1885 In Germany, Karl Benz develops an internal combustion engine. It can run at 250 revolutions per minute.

1885 A bicycle with a diamond-shaped frame and a chain drive to the rear wheel is exhibited in London.

1886 Britain and Germany agree on a boundary between German East Africa and Rhodesia. Germany recognizes Britain's claim to Zanzibar.

1886 Gold is discovered in the Transvaal &ndash Boer territory.

1886 In Germany, Heinrich Hertz uses sparks to send a radio signal.

1886 After a four-year effort, American troops capture the Apache chieftain Geronimo.

1887 The Interstate Commerce Act is made law. Financier-industrialist J.P. Morgan believes that some order is needed in commerce and he helps enforce the act.

1887 Ethiopians are fighting Italy's attempt at colonization. The Italians remain in Eritrea.

1887 The Yellow River bursts its banks, and the flooding kills 900,000 Chinese.

1888 George Eastman invents the Kodak camera, making it easy for non-professionals to take photographs.

1888 In London, five prostitutes who ate poisoned grapes have been disemboweled. The murders are attributed to Jack the Ripper.

1888 The German Emperor dies. His son, Friederich III, dies of throat cancer after reigning 99 days. Friederich's son, Wilhelm II, son of Queen Victoria's politically liberal daughter, Vicki, becomes emperor.

1888 Slavery officially ends in Brazil. Compensation is paid to the slave owners.

1888 Brazil overthrows its monarchy and becomes a republic.

1888 Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture is first performed.

1889 The Ivory Coast becomes a French protectorate, and the English and French agree on spheres of influence on the Gold Coast and on the Senegal and Gambia rivers.

1889 In a small town in Austria, Braunau, by the River Inn, which borders Germany, Adolf Hitler is born, to a mother who is a normally good woman and of humble origins. (baby picture)

1889 John Muir campaigns to save Yosemite Valley in California from exploitation.

1889 North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington become states.

1890 Idaho becomes the 43rd state. Denial of statehood to Wyoming because it allows women to vote is overcome. Wyoming becomes the 44th state.

1890 The US Congress creates Yosemite National Park.

1890 In Constantinople, Armenians in the district of Gum-Gapu protest, and authorities crush the demonstration with bloodshed.

1890 An Indian named Wovoka foresees a messiah rescuing Indians and killing all whites. Acceptance of the vision spreads and is associated with a "ghost dance." Without foundation, whites fear that Sitting Bull, now an old man, will lead a rebellion, and Sitting Bull is shot and killed. About 500 US soldiers massacre 300 or so men, women and children at Wounded Knee.

1890 Forty-five percent of the work force in the United States lives in cities. The South is abandoning its dependence on cotton growing.

1890 Mississippi creates a poll tax, literacy tests and other measures to prevent blacks from voting.

1890 Vincent Van Gogh commits suicide.

1890 For the sake of popularity, Wilhelm II does not renew Bismarck's anti-socialist legislation. As Wilhelm desired, Bismarck resigns.

1890 Economies in Europe have been in a down turn. British investors sell their US stocks for needed money.

Discover more about these records

This unique collection of Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) records comes from The National Archives in Kew, England. The collection consists of the records for pensions and allowances given to officers, men and staff of the RIC and their widows and children. In the records, you will find registers of pensions along with registers of deceased pensioners and pensions paid when the RIC was disbanded in August 1922. Many of the records show whether the individual paid into the Constabulary Force Fund. This fund, which was formerly called the Reward Fund, was used to reward RIC members monetarily after acts of achievement and/or bravery. For example, in July 1875, Constable John Daly was awarded £6 for gathering evidence by visiting infected houses and families. The evidence gathered was sufficient to arrest a swindler doctor.

The Irish Constabulary was created in 1836. Between 1916 and 1922, there were 549 casualties within the Royal Irish Constabulary. Of these casualties, 457 were caused by acts of political violence in Ireland. From 1916 to 1922, Ireland was engaged in a War of Independence, which started with the Easter Rising in 1916 and ended with the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922. During the War of Independence, many RIC barracks and constables were targeted by militant nationalists.

This collection comprises The National Archive (TNA) series PMG 48: Royal Irish Constabulary Pensions, etc. Piece 2 of this series is missing.

PMG 48/1 1-1669 A-F 1873/4-1875/6
PMG 48/3 3320-4994 Mc-Z 1873/4-1875/6
PMG 48/4 1-1669 A-F 1876/7-1878/9
PMG 48/5 1665A, 1666B 1670-3344 F-Mc 1876/7-1878/9
PMG 48/6 3340A-3344A 3345-5019 Mc-W 1876/7-1878/9
PMG 48/7 5020-5434 supplementary 1876/7-1878/9
PMG 48/8 0-2009 A-F 1879/80-1882/3
PMG 48/9 2010-4009 G-Mc 1879/80-1882/3
PMG 48/10 4010-5802 Mc-Z, 5805 K, R officers, 5810-5994 A-S, and office staff 1879/80-1882/3
PMG 48/11 0-1650 A-D 1883/4-1886/7
PMG 48/12 1651-3300 E-K 1883/4-1886/7
PMG 48/13 3301-4950 L-P 1883/4-1886/7
PMG 48/14 4951-6600 P-Z 1883/4-1886/7
PMG 48/15 1-1700 A-D 1887/8-1890/1
PMG 48/16 1701-3400 E-K 1887/8-1890/1
PMG 48/17 3401-5100 P-Y and officers A-W 1887/8-1890/1
PMG 48/18 5101-6800 L-O 1887/8-1890/1
PMG 48/19 6801-7100 widows and children 1887/8-1890/1
PMG 48/20 1-1700 A-D 1891/2-1894/5
PMG 48/21 1701-3400 D-K 1892/2-1894/5
PMG 48/22 3401-5100 K-O 1891/2-1894/5
PMG 48/23 5101-6800 O-Z 1891/2-1894/5
PMG 48/24 6801-7300 widows and children 1891/2-1894/5
PMG 48/25 7301-7900 supplementary 1891/2-1894/5
PMG 48/26 1-2000 A-D 1895/6-1898/9
PMG 48/27 2001-4000 E-K 1895/6-1898/9
PMG 48/28 4001-6000 L-O 1895/6-1898/9
PMG 48/29 6001-8000 P-Z 1895/6-1898/9
PMG 48/30 8001-8500 widows and children 1895/6-1898/9
PMG 48/31 1-2100 A-D 1899/1900-1902/3
PMG 48/32 2101-4200 E-K 1899/1900-1902/3
PMG 48/33 4201-6300 L-O 1899/1900-1902/3
PMG 48/34 6301-8400 P-Z 1899/1900-1902/3
PMG 48/35 8401-9000 widows and children 1899/1900-1902/3
PMG 48/36 1-2300 A-D 1903/4-1906/7
PMG 48/37 2301-4400 E-K 1903/4-1906/7
PMG 48/38 4401-6500 L-O 1903/4-1906/7
PMG 48/39 6501-8600 P-Z 1903/4-1906/7
PMG 48/40 8601-9200 widows and children 1903/4-1906/7
PMG 48/41 9201-9700 supplementary 1903/4-1906/7
PMG 48/42 1-2300 A-D 1907/8-1910/1
PMG 48/43 2301-4600 E-K 1907/8-1910/1
PMG 48/44 4601-6900 L-N 1907/8-1910/1
PMG 48/45 6901-9200 O-W officers, A-W and office staff 1907/8-1910/1
PMG 48/46 9201-9920 widows and children 1907/8-1910/1
PMG 48/47 1-2300 A-D 1911/2-1914/5
PMG 48/48 2301-4600 E-K 1911/2-1914/5
PMG 48/49 4601-6900 L-N 1911/2-1914/5
PMG 48/506901-9200 O-Z officers, A-W and office staff 1911/2-1914/5
PMG 48/51 9201-9800 widows and children 1911/2-1914/5
PMG 48/52 1-2500 A-D 1915/16-1918/19
PMG 48/53 2501-5000 E-K 1915/16-1918/19
PMG 48/54 5001-7500 L-N 1915/16-1918/19
PMG 48/55 7501-10002 O-Z 1915/16-1918/19
PMG 48/56 1-2500 A-D 1919/20-1922/23
PMG 48/57 2501-4745 E-K 1919/20-1922/23
PMG 48/58 4746-7035 K-M 1919/20-1922/23
PMG 48/59 7036-8605 M-S 1919/20-1922/23
PMG 48/60 8606-10010 S-Z 1919/20-1922/23
PMG 48/61 1-2399 1922
PMG 48/62 12821-14828 non-alphabetical 1921/22-1924/25
PMG 48/63 14829-16836 non-alphabetical 1921/22-1924/25
PMG 48/64 16837-18436 non-alphabetical 1921/22-1924/25
PMG 48/65 18437-20044 non-alphabetical 1921/22-1924/25
PMG 48/66 20045-21860 non-alphabetical 1921/22-1924/25
PMG 48/67 21861-23732 non-alphabetical 1921/22-1924/25
PMG 48/68 10001-10612 widows and children 1915/16-1918/19
PMG 48/69 10001-10666 widows and children 1919/20-1922/23
PMG 48/70 10667-11320 widows and children 1919/20-1922/23
PMG 48/71 Registers of deceased pensioners Jan 1877-Sep 1892
PMG 48/72 Registers of deceased pensioners 10 Sep 1892-30 Nov 1905
PMG 48/73 Registers of deceased pensioners 1 Dec 1905-30 Nov 1918
PMG 48/74 1-300 pension rolls awards to members of the force on the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary 1922
PMG 48/75 301-600 pension rolls awards to members of the force on the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary 1922
PMG 48/76 601-830 pension rolls awards to members of the force on the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary 1922

A health warning

The present Government has now embarked on its programme of welfare reform. Time will tell how well it succeeds in implementing the unthinkable. Making reform workable is a more important objective. As I resigned as Welfare Reform Minister I will inevitably be seen as a biased observer. And bias in the welfare debate is something about which readers should continually be on their guard.

One notable academic observed that to study welfare was to highlight the values of the society within which that welfare was provided. I would argue that our values determine to a large extent what we observe. Hence it was observers believing in state collectivist solutions who have generally written up the story of the coming of the welfare state and the final arrival of state provision. Any deviation from this model is seen not just as defeat, but as essentially retrogressive. That view is now under attack.

As one of those who first questioned the inevitability, let alone the desirability of state provision being welfare's final stop, and who seeks to present welfare developments as a continuous story, I am open to the charge by those who believe in the correctness of state welfare solutions, of being equally biased.

The history of the Five Tribes

While 38 federally recognized American Indian tribes currently call Oklahoma home, only the Caddo, Comanche, Kiowa, Quapaw and Wichita were indigenous here. The rest, over 100 tribes, came by force or by treaty. Oklahoma, by the way, is a Choctaw word that means &ldquored people&rdquo.

Under the U.S. Constitution, treaties stand above all laws. During the 1830s, the U.S. pursued a policy of westward expansion, tribal removal and treaty making. The early treaties with the Five Tribes and many others promised that future tribal homelands, or &ldquoreservations,&rdquo would never fall within the boundaries of a state without tribal consent.

After their arrival in Indian Territory, the Five Tribes for a while governed themselves relatively free from federal interference, despite increasingly greater numbers of non-American Indian settlers encroaching on their treaty lands. The issue of slavery, however, divided not only the U.S., but also tribal citizens. The Choctaws and Chickasaws sided with the Confederacy, while the Seminole, Creek and Cherokees had divided allegiances. After the Civil War, the U.S. forced reconstruction treaties upon the Five Tribes. The 1866 treaties abolished slavery, made &ldquoFreedmen&rdquo citizens of their respective nations, and ceded portions of their territories. The treaty era ended in the early 1870s.

Increasingly intense non-American Indian migration and the massive expansion of railroads fueled political pressure for Congress to make even more lands available for settlement. So Congress began passing laws, ramping up pressure on tribal governments. It passed the General Allotment Act of 1887, which broke up communal reservations into individual allotments to tribal citizens, and left &ldquosurplus&rdquo lands unassigned. Congress then opened the &ldquounassigned lands&rdquo to white settlement in 1889, prompting the Oklahoma Land Run, and passed the Oklahoma Organic Act in 1890. Congress established the Dawes Commission in 1893 to negotiate allotment agreements with recalcitrant tribes and, in 1889, passed the Curtis Act to allot parcels to their citizens. More laws followed in 1906, including the Five Tribes Act and the Osage Allotment Act, to pave the way for Oklahoma to join the Union in 1907 as the 46th state. But no law expressly disestablished the reservations that had been created by the prior respective treaties.

While tribal governments were weakened (and the first few decades of the 20th century were bleak), tribal self-rule persisted. Most allotment laws granted American Indians U.S. citizenship, but Congress did not grant citizenship to all Native Americans until 1924. In 1936, Congress changed policy, passing the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act to reorganize and strengthen Oklahoma tribal governments.

Congress and Harriet Tubman’s Claim for a Pension

During Black History Month, many teachers will highlight the compelling story of Harriet Tubman. While Tubman is most famous for her participation in the Underground Railroad, she should also be recognized for her work for the Union during the Civil War as a nurse, cook, and spy.

In 1898, Tubman again petitioned Congress for a pension for her services to the federal government, after earlier efforts were unsuccessful. The outcome of her petition exposes attitudes towards African Americans at the end of the century. A lesson using primary source documents from the Center for Legislative Archives can help your students understand Tubman’s federal service and the degree to which it was acknowledged by Congress.

Tubman’s thick pension file is filled with affidavits, letters of support, and correspondence that document the nature of her work in hospitals and kitchens and her scouting trips behind enemy lines. These records were collected to justify her claim for compensation since she had received only $200 for her services during the War.

On January 27, 1899, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4982, which increased Tubman’s pension from $8 to $25 a month. Previously in 1890, she had been granted a pension of $8 a month as the widow of veteran Nelson Davis, who she married after the War. The House bill based the proposed increase on Tubman’s own service, separate from her status as a widow.

H.R. 4982 was then sent to the Senate, which referred the matter to Committee on Pensions. After consideration, the committee made its recommendation in Senate Report #1619. This report includes the text of the report of the House Committee on Invalid Pensions, which cited several people who worked directly with Tubman during the War. Support for Tubman’s claim came from one of the highest possible sources—Secretary of State William Seward. Seward said, “I have known her long as a noble high spirit, as true as seldom dwells in the human form.” The House report concluded, “These testimonials sufficiently show the character and value of the service rendered by Mrs. Davis during the war.”

The Senate committee, however, came to a different conclusion. Referring to her “alleged services to the government,” the Senate noted that very few nurses earned a pension of $20 per month. Ignoring her work as a cook and spy, the Senate stated that “there are no valid reasons why this claimant should receive a pension of $25 per month as a nurse, thus opening a new avenue for pension increases.” The report ended with the recommendation that the Senate amend the House bill to lower the pension amount to $20.

Using a document analysis worksheet, your students can analyze these documents and others in the lesson. The worksheet can help students construct the case for and against Tubman’s claim, and to answer the lesson’s guiding question—to what extent, and for what services, did Congress officially acknowledge Harriet Tubman’s Civil War service to her country?

Watch the video: 3 κατηγοριες συνταξιουχων που ευνοουνται με το νεο ασφαλιστικο