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U.S. Bureau of Pensions

City: Washington

State: DC

Prior to 1832, authority over pension laws for veterans was exercised by the secretaries of navy, war, and treasury. The Bureau of Pensions was an office within the War Department. In 1833, Congress approved an appropriations act providing for the appointment, until the expiration of the next Congress, of a commissioner of pensions, whose job was to execute, under the direction of the secretary of war, all the duties under the pension laws as directed by the president. In 1835, Congress passed an act continuing the office of commissioner for a further two years. Further laws continued the office until 1849, when it received permanent status. When Congress established the Department of the Interior in 1849, the Pension Office became a bureau within that department, with the secretary of interior exercising supervisory and appellate power over the actions of the commissioner of patents. The primary duties of the bureau were to examine and adjudicate claims and make payments on successful claims.

"An Act Making Appropriations for the Civil and Diplomatic Expenses of Government for the Year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Three," 2 March 1833, Statutes at Large of the United States 4 (1846):622; "An Act to Continue the Office of Commissioner of Pensions," 3 March 1835, Statutes at Large of the United States 4 (1846):779; "An Act to Continue the Office of the Commissioner of Pensions," 19 January 1849, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):341-42; "An Act to Establish the Home Department, and to Provide for the Treasury Department an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and a Commissioner of the Customs," 3 March 1849, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):395; Gustavus A. Weber, The Bureau of Pensions: Its History, Activities and Organization (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1923), 27; Paul A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller, eds., Union Soldiers and the Northern Home Front: Wartime Experiences and Postwar Adjustments (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002), 397, n6.