Protecting Confederate soldiers and mothers: pensions, gender, and the welfare state in the U.S. South, a case study from Florida.
Military pensions (Case studies)
Social policy (History)
Social policy (Case studies)
United States history (Civil War, 1861-1865)
United States history (Economic aspects)
United States history (Social aspects)
|Author:||Green, Elna C.|
|Publication:||Name: Journal of Social History Publisher: Journal of Social History Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: History; Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2006 Journal of Social History ISSN: 0022-4529|
|Issue:||Date: Summer, 2006 Source Volume: 39 Source Issue: 4|
|Topic:||Event Name: United States Civil War, 1861-1865; United States Civil War, 1861-1865 Event Code: 290 Public affairs|
|Product:||Product Code: 9105601 Veterans Pensions & Disability; 9105000 Health, Educatn & Welfare Programs NAICS Code: 92314 Administration of Veterans' Affairs; 9231 Administration of Human Resource Programs|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: Florida Geographic Code: 1U5FL Florida|
In addition to the more visible political changes it produced, the
Civil War prompted revisions in U.S. social policy that scholars have
only recently begun to investigate. The exigencies of war produced our
first military conscriptions; they also prompted a change in federal
pension policy. As an incentive to potential soldiers, Congress approved
an expanded pension program, which would provide more generous benefits
to a wider range of survivors than had previous federal pensions. A
soldier could enter service knowing that not only his wife and children
were covered but also that elderly parents or other dependents would be
cared for in the event of his death or disability. This dramatic
enlargement of the commitments made by the pension system resulted in a
comparably dramatic growth in its costs: by 1893, more than 40% of the
federal budget went to the support of Union veterans, their widows, and
other dependents. (1)
By law, Confederate veterans and their families were exempt from this federal social welfare program. So, as white conservatives regained control over the Southern states' legislatures after Reconstruction, they initiated state pension programs very similar to those on the national level. By the early-twentieth century, Southern states were also committing substantial portions of their annual budgets to the support of Confederate veterans and their families. Hence military pensions, both North and South, constituted a cornerstone of the nation's public welfare policy. Scholars have recently devoted considerable attention to the important place of Civil War pensions in shaping modern American social policy. Central to many of these analyses has been a focus on gender as a foundation of social welfare. (2)
However, this wealth of scholarship has largely neglected the South and its regional variation on Civil War pensions. Little scholarly work has yet been done on the relationship between Civil War pensions and the development of social welfare in the region, or in fact on social welfare policy in the South at all. (3) This essay will analyze the system of provision for needy Confederate veterans and their widows, using the records of one Southern state. Florida may have been the "smallest tadpole in the dirty pool of secession," (4) but it created a post-war system of Confederate welfare support that could compete with--and occasionally even best--those from states like Virginia and Georgia that were more widely recognized for their generosity to their aging veterans. This essay will first examine the origins of the Confederate welfare system in Florida. Then it will consider some of the political and social uses to which the welfare system might be put. Much was embedded in the Confederate welfare programs, and Southern states used them to fulfill multiple missions at once. This essay argues that Confederate welfare programs provided governmental financial support to the Lost Cause movement; they buttressed white supremacy and the Democratic party; and they endorsed a conservative gender code. Confederate welfare programs did both political and cultural work, and a close analysis of these systems may help scholars better understand the South's complex views on public provision and the welfare state in the twentieth century. (5)
Building the Confederate welfare state
In contrast to other Atlantic seaboard states, Florida was a mere adolescent at the outbreak of the Civil War. Having only entered the Union in 1845, the state had not yet developed the more sophisticated social welfare provision of some older Southern states. (6) The Civil War, with its attendant social upheaval, forced the state to contend with poverty on a massive scale for the first time. Although Florida never experienced the same kind of dislocation and destitution as major battlefield states like Virginia, the state nevertheless suffered greatly. Military officials recognized that many families in the state were "perilously near starvation." A soldier with the Union occupation forces wrote: "The Whites who are living here still are wretchedly poor. They are women and children-hardly enough clothing to cover their backs- and food I can not tell you what they live on. It is a pitiful sight." (7)
The demands of the war pushed Florida to pass its first ever state-level public welfare laws. In December 1861, the legislature authorized the counties to levy a special tax for the relief of soldiers' families. A year later, the state budgeted $20,000 for direct relief of needy families. In 1862-63, government relief totaled $186,639; the following year, it reached the enormous sum of $291,443, or more than half the state budget. (8) These emergency relief funds were abruptly terminated at war's end, as Reconstruction politics could not support the continuation of programs for Confederate soldiers. Nevertheless, the war helped to establish the precedent of extensive state support for Confederate families, a position that would later be enshrined in post-Reconstruction social welfare policy in the region.
After Reconstruction, as Southern states regained control of their political systems and social policies, they began creating a welfare state solely for Confederate veterans. The programs were small initially. Former Confederate states first funded artificial limbs for the numerous injured veterans, and ultimately added soldiers' and widows' pensions, medical programs, and soldiers' homes. (9) These contributions to the maintenance of Confederate veterans remained relatively small through the 1870s and 1880s. (10) As shown in Table 1, Florida's support of Confederate veterans remained less than 5% of the state budget for most of the 1880s.
But the rise of the Lost Cause movement of the 1890s helped to change the connotations of Confederate commemoration, and had powerful influence on these state welfare programs. The "cult of the Lost Cause" celebrated the Old South by honoring its defenders. Beginning modestly in the 1860s with women's memorial associations dedicated to caring for the graves of Confederate soldiers, the memorializing movement later blossomed into an emotional defense of the war effort, slavery, the Confederacy, and the superiority of Southern civilization. In song, poem, and statue, the Lost Cause movement defined the Confederate cause as worthy and the Confederate soldier as noble. By the end of the century, the cult of the Lost Cause permeated Southern (white) civic life. (11)
The cult of the Lost Cause served multiple purposes, as many historians have recognized. (12) But the Lost Cause also served another function that historians have yet to explore. The Lost Cause movement allowed Southern states to create extensive and expensive social welfare programs, without appearing to do so. Indeed, Lost Cause rhetoric disguised these public welfare programs so well that even social welfare historians have largely overlooked their presence. Behind the camouflage of gray bunting, a Confederate welfare state was rapidly emerging as one of the South's most insistent public policies.
Empowered by the supporters of the Lost Cause, Southern states expanded their pension programs to include more and more veterans, and then their widows. Although termed "pensions" and wrapped in the stars and bars, these programs were clearly public poor relief for one group of indigents. Recipients had to pass a means test before qualifying for the state's support, leaving no doubt that this was a welfare program. No matter how meritorious a veteran's war record might be, he would not receive a pension if he could not show need. (13)
Further state support for Confederate veterans took the form of asylums, or "old soldiers' homes." Many veterans' homes originated as privately funded efforts, with the states and/or cities offering subsidies; but most of these private homes (including Florida's) were ultimately taken over by state governments entirely. Supporters of the Confederate veterans' homes tried to distinguish them from charitable institutions, insisting instead that they were a fulfillment of the states' obligation to compensate their defenders. They were to be seen as a "payment due for services rendered, not an outright gift," and certainly not as a poor house. (14) Despite the rhetoric, applicants had to meet admissions criteria nearly identical to those of the poor house.
Confederate organizations such as the United Confederate Veterans conducted very effective lobbying efforts, relentlessly pressuring state legislatures to increase the scope of the Confederate welfare state. In 1893, for example, the Florida Division of the UCV sent the governor a copy of their resolution in favor of expanding the widows' pension program to include those women whose husbands had died of disease. (15) The pages of the monthly magazine, the Confederate Veteran, were filled with information useful to those who wished to argue the case for the region's heroes. In 1895 the magazine pushed Florida's "Daughters of the Confederacy" to "lobby, if any of its people ought, with the State Legislature" over the small support the state provided for the Confederate Home. (16) The growing clout of the veterans organizations made them a significant political force, or, as one veteran put it: "I venture the prediction that the official who gets so stiff necked as to neglect them as has been done in this State by certain officials will feel the weight of the Ex-Confederates organizations in the future." (17)
Florida's Lost Cause activists believed that their state required lobbying and interest group pressure tactics more than others. The state's demography, topography, and history had combined to make Florida's Civil War experience and post-war memory problematic. Florida's plantation economy and slave-labor district had been limited to a belt of north-central counties. Consequently vast portions of the state had never evinced great enthusiasm about the Confederacy or the Civil War. (18) In the post-war years, Florida had been the recipient of considerable immigration from northern states and from foreign immigrants, two groups that held little affection for the Lost Cause. For both these reasons, Confederate advocates believed Florida was "not an easy field, with its changing population and busy present. Many seem almost enemies to our historic past, but precept and example will do much, and our children must be taught to honor and respect the deeds of their forefathers." (19) With years of lobbying, and with friends in powerful places, Florida's Lost Cause activists successfully overcame these problems and created one of the most generous of the Confederate welfare systems in the region.
Responding to the pressure of interest group lobbying, the expenditures on Confederate veterans grew to be much more significant portions of the Southern states' budgets after the turn of the century. (20) As shown in Table 1, Florida spent more than 20% of its budget on Confederate welfare nearly every year between 1904 and 1916. And, in 1908, the total reached an astronomical high of 36% of the state's expenditures. (An explanation of the patterns of these statistics follows below.) By 1914, Lost Cause advocates were praising the state for its generosity to its veterans. The Confederate Veteran magazine applauded: "The State of Florida pays out more money per capita for the support of dependent ex-Confederate soldiers than any other Southern State." (21) An examination of the politics of pensions in Florida will help explain why a lesser Confederate state ended up with the most generous of Confederate welfare states.
The Florida Pension System
Florida's antebellum social welfare system had been non-existent, and its post-bellum system was little better. (22) The state had little precedent for generosity in social welfare, hence its Confederate pension system was more driven by post-Reconstruction politics than by progressive social welfare inclinations. It was made possible by the "redemption" of the state in the 1870s and the Democratic party's continuing assault on the Republicans and their "fusionist" allies in the 1880s. By 1884, the conservative branch of the Democratic party had solidified its control over state politics sufficiently to be able to call a constitutional convention to rid the state of the so-called "carpetbag constitution" of 1868. (23) The same legislature passed the state's first Confederate pension law in 1885 (the same year the new constitution was adopted). The new constitution promised to solidify the political power of the Democratic party; the new pension program promised to solidify the political loyalty of the state's poor whites, who might be tempted by Populists or other challengers to Democratic power.
Written by a convention dominated by Democrats, the 1885 constitution continued the governor's the power to appoint county commissioners. (24) The 1885 pension act then gave those county commissioners the power to evaluate pension applications. Given that every governor of Florida from the establishment of the pension program to the end of the century had served in the Confederate army, it was unlikely that any county commissioners would be appointed who were hostile to the Confederate welfare system. (25) The pension act also created the board of pensions, consisting of the governor, the comptroller, and the adjutant general. Again, given that the governors themselves were supporters of the Confederacy and also continued to appoint the adjutant general, the pension board was always stacked with supporters of the Confederate welfare system. Their decisions were more likely to err on the side of generosity. (26)
The 1885 pension act required that the veteran applying for benefits had to be a citizen of the state at least ten years; had to have been injured or diseased while in service and unable to perform manual labor as a result of those injuries; and neither he nor his wife could own property valued over $1000. The applicant had to provide signed affidavits from one of the commissioned officers of his company attesting to his service, and from two doctors affirming his physical incapacity. The approved applicant could receive an annual payment ranging from $30 for the loss of one eye, up to $150 for total incapacitation. Widows could receive payments of $150 a year as long as they did not remarry. (27)
There were voluminous details in the Florida pension laws, and the rules regarding eligibility changed frequently. As a result applicants often found the entire application process mystifying. For example, Florida granted pensions to men who had served the Confederacy in units raised in other states, but were ten-year residents of Florida at the time of their application. (Then, as now, Florida was a state marked by substantial population growth by in-migration. This unusual pension provision recognized a demographic reality.) The applicants had to have been members of regular companies of the Confederate military, however, and not in units of the "home guard" or the state militia, as Alfred Grainger of the South Carolina militia discovered when his application was rejected. (28) Florida natives could also find this provision very frustrating. A veteran of the CSA from another state could receive a state pension, while a veteran of the Florida "home guard" could not. (29)
Not surprisingly, those who had deserted were denied pensions. A rumor of desertion could be very difficult to shake, and could surface many years later. In 1925, Mrs. Caroline Blackwelder applied for a widow's pension when her husband, who was a pensioner, died. But during the evaluation of her application, evidence was discovered that he had been charged with desertion in March of 1865, evidence that had not been uncovered at the time of her husband's original application. Her widow's pension was denied. (30) Likewise, men who had hired substitutes for themselves were ineligible for pensions. Jane Taylor, widow of William H. Taylor of Graceville, was denied a pension in 1910 when records from Washington uncovered that he had hired a substitute after six months of service. (31) Neither desertion nor the use of substitutes deserved honoring with financial support.
In 1907, the legislature undertook a major renovation of the pension program, based on a bill sponsored by Gadsden County senator James Emilius Broome. Broome, son of former governor James E. Broome, was himself a Confederate veteran, and he offered up what the contemporary press called "the liberal pension bill." (32) Passed unanimously, the Broome bill made it easier to obtain a pension in several ways. (33) The state would henceforth accept the affidavit of the adjutant of a camp of the United Confederate Veterans, or of any two "good citizens of his county" as proof of service. (Previously, the state required affidavits by officers who served in the same company as the applicant. This change recognized the increasing difficulty of finding surviving officers as time passed, at the same time that it recognized the growing political clout of the UCV.) The Broome bill made all those over the age of sixty--not just those incapacitated for work--eligible for $100 a year. Those who were more incapacitated got more--up to $150.
The Broome bill also dropped the property restrictions, meaning that, for the first time, the applicants were not means tested. This change may have been in response to the complaint of governor Napoleon Broward that the "old soldier" should not be reduced "to a condition of pauperism before he can become qualified" for a pension. (34) Nevertheless, this particular change provoked controversy. Francis P. Fleming, a former governor and long-term member of the Board of Pensions, emerged as one of the outspoken opponents of the change. (35) Fleming detailed his opposition in an editorial in the Jacksonville Times-Union:
The end of property restrictions also produced a rapid increase in the cost of the state pension program. As shown in Table 1, in 1908, the first year the Broome bill was in effect, the state's pension costs swelled to nearly twice that of the year before. Florida spent over $730,000 on pensions that year, which, together with the expenditures on the Confederate Home, represented an astonishing 36% of the state's total budget. No other Southern state devoted such a significant proportion of its resources to its Confederate veterans. (37)
The 1909 legislature addressed the financial concerns of Fleming and others. The 1909 pension law restored the means test, but raised the level of that test considerably. Veterans or widows whose property was valued under $5000 were made eligible for pensions. (38) This resulted in some reduction of the costs of the pension program, but the state continued to pour more than 20% of its annual budget into Confederate welfare for the next decade.
The pensions were funded by means of a property tax, set at one mill in 1885 and gradually raised to four mills by 1907. Small landowners were not exempt in any way. This meant that African-American landowners, who would never be eligible to receive a pension, were nevertheless taxed to provide them for Confederate veterans. Robert Cook and Peter Brown, for example, both African-American landowners in Leon County, would have had their small farms taxed. In 1885, the year of the first pension law, Cook owned 60 acres of improved land and 40 acres of woodland. Together they were valued at $500. Peter Brown owned 60 acres of improved land, another 15 acres in woodlands, and one mule, with a value of $800. (39) Hundreds of other small farmers, both black and white, also saw tax bills on their lands, regardless of their position on the war or the Lost Cause.
By relying on property taxes, the Confederate welfare programs offered Southern states like Florida the opportunity to provide for poor whites without having to open state coffers to poor blacks. By making honorable Confederate service the criterion for eligibility, Southern states could automatically exclude the vast majority of their black citizens, without having to resort to subterfuge, fraud, or violence. In state after state, the transfer of tax funds through the Confederate pensions aided whites at the expense of blacks.
As Florida's welfare programs expanded, an understaffed state bureaucracy had trouble keeping up with the paperwork. There were constant complaints about the slow pace of the approval process. Hundreds of veterans, and their supporters, wrote letters asking why their applications were taking so long. By the turn of the century, the backlog had reached such a level that there were frequently delays of more than a year, and the board's secretary had to write numerous apologies such as this one: "There is a large accumulation of pensions claims pending before the Board, and the press of official business has been such as to prevent prompt disposal of such cases ... Regretting that the allowance of your claim has been delayed by circumstances ..." (40)
The state had difficulty paying for these very expensive programs, and so used the approval process to slow down the number of people added to the rolls. In 1905, Governor Broward complained to the legislature that there were several hundred applications on file "upon which no action has been taken because the funds available for the payment of pensions, under the present levy of two mills, is exhausted." (41) With these delays causing frustration, some veterans or their widows attempted to use their connections to powerful people to move their cases forward. Evelyn Liptrott of Jacksonville got congressman R.A. (Lex) Green to write a supportive letter to the pension board on her behalf. (42) Peter Rowe and Malachi Thompson of Nassau County sent a petition in support of their pension application signed by 44 prominent men of the county. (43) Thomas Ferguson hoped that adjutant general David Lang (a member of the board of pensions) would remember that they had served together in the Civil War, and the fact Lang had helped to carry Ferguson off the battlefield when wounded. (44) But even with well-placed friends, veterans had to wait out the purposefully slow-moving bureaucracy of the pension system.
The 1905 legislature provided a short-term fix for the pension fund problem, estimated at that point to be $40,000 in the red. Legislators voted to appropriate the $40,000, to be taken out of the revenue "arising from the hire of State convicts." (45) Florida' notorious convict lease system, (46) which overwhelmingly utilized black prisoners as forced laborers in private industry, would therefore subsidize the Confederate welfare state. A more egregious example of state-compelled transfer of wealth from blacks to Confederate whites cannot be imagined.
Florida's Confederate Home
Across the South, additional state support for Confederate veterans took the form of "old soldiers' homes." Florida joined the regional movement in 1888, when a group of Confederate veterans formed the Soldiers' Home Association, with Albert J. Russell as president. Russell was the state superintendent of public instruction; other important supporters included ex-governor Francis Fleming. (47) The Association incorporated in 1891, and began looking for a site for a veterans' home. Association member William Baya of Jacksonville located "a 10 acre lot that is offered for sale and said to be an admirable location for a Home for disabled veterans. It is situated on the St. Johns three miles from Jacksonville below the old fair grounds. There is a good two story house of seven rooms, kitchen and bath room and cistern. Has a frontage of about 400 feet and contains about 10 acres." (48) The house was described as "a very unpretentious structure," but the "view from the piazza at the front of the house is charming." (49)
The Florida Old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Home opened in April 1893. In that same year, the legislature agreed to pay the Home $100 per year per inmate, except for those already receiving a pension. (50) The state's financial obligations to the Home steadily increased, and it finally took over the operation altogether, dissolving the Association in 1921. After that time, the governor appointed a board of managers to run the institution. (51)
Local businesses competed to be associated with the Lost Cause movement. The annual publication of the Florida Confederate Home, called "Information and Facts," had more advertising than text. Some businesses tried to make a direct link between their products and the Lost Cause. An ad for Suwannee Milk read: "We, too, have fought for a principle--the idea of quality in milk." (52) Although open to veterans from any part of the state, the Home's location in Jacksonville meant that local businesses benefitted most from its trade. Perhaps not coincidentally, William Baya, who had headed up the effort to have the Home located in Jacksonville, was a merchant there. Local businessmen such as the druggist William Fairlie and the dentist W.M.Dancy got regular clientele from the Home. The Home bought shoes from Charles Marvin's store, and clothes from Standard Clothing Company. The biggest beneficiary was undoubtedly Canepa Brothers grocery, which received substantial monthly orders. And of course Clark Burns, the embalmer, also did steady business with the facility. (53)
The administration of the Home tried to invoke a military milieu. They conducted daily "roll call"; the residents were termed "comrades"; those comrades who left the Home temporarily were said to be on "furlough." (54) Despite the attempts to impose military order in the Home, other evidence points to a more complex (often chaotic) setting. The inmates may have all shared the common experiences of Confederate service and postbellum poverty, but that did not make them all alike. Personality conflicts were numerous. One inmate complained that, "There is no dignity or decorum practiced by some of the inmates, acting more like a lot of hogs and wild animals and making use of language that is anything but pleasant to the ear more especially in the presence of the Matron." (55) Inmate C.M. Hooper complained that one inmate named Bridges would go to town and "most often has returned home in a most scandalous condition. This man is the most emphatic nuisance on the place, a liar, a mischief maker, breeder of discord and whose loud talking, disorderly conduct at the table and in the House prevents decorous conversation, or rational enjoyment ... I ask that he be dismissed." (56) Hooper also complained about inmate Ruffin, for "using more vulgar obscene and profane language than all the rest of the household put together," and for drunkenness and "the indecent habit of making water through the window." (57)
While the annual reports of the Association depicted a "cheerful and contented" group of "comrades" without "any note of discord," (58) some of the inmates clearly felt otherwise. Emmett Ruffin (59) complained that, "although there are rules posted up for governing of the Home" nevertheless "there is no discipline." If the rules were "enforced and respected," Ruffin believed that things "would run along Smoothly and the inmates would be as one Happy Family." (60)
A perennial problem in the Home was boredom, or what one inmate described as the "monotony of idleness." Emmett Ruffin suggested that all who were physically able should be required to work four hours a day growing vegetables and cereals for the use of the Home. This plan was never implemented, since, by definition, all the residents therein were supposed to be incapacitated for manual labor. The monotony of idleness likely contributed to the constant problem of drunkenness at the Home. Ruffin believed there was "too much drunkenness and too much visiting the city, some of them every day, and sometimes twice a day come home in a maudlin condition, and bringing with him a half pint or pint to taper off on; I think alcoholice [sic] liquors should not be allowed on the Home grounds proper except for medical or cooking." (61)
Some of these complaints reflected a gnawing concern about the public image of the Confederate veteran. In the turn of the century South, Confederate veterans were regularly held up as models of masculinity. Children were brought to visit the veterans, and were urged to follow in the footsteps of the "chevaliers in gray." (62) Veterans and their supporters sharply defended any assault against "as gallant a body of men and officers as ever drew saber or shouldered rifles ..." (63) But the veterans themselves had to maintain the dignity of the role. Both the pension system and the Confederate Home effectively punished those veterans who would not conform to the manly ideal of the Rebel soldier. Those who had not served with valor would not be supported by the Confederate welfare state. Men who behaved indecorously might be removed from the Home. To be deserving of assistance meant to continue to perform as a model of Southern manhood. (64)
Confederate Welfare and Community Mores
While the funding for Confederate welfare programs came from the state government, the system rested on local authorities who screened the applications and determined eligibility. County commissioners, local physicians, leading citizens, and local chapters of the UCV all participated in the screening process. In most cases, the final approval at the state pension board was largely a formality, as the real vetting had taken place at the community level. Community representatives, therefore, had the most control over who received support and who did not. Local authorities and those providing affidavits could impose their own views on the documents in question. As Kathleen Gorman has argued, localities did not have a direct economic incentive to deny pension applications, since the state government paid the bills. Instead, local authorities were often inspired by "other, unwritten criteria" including the applicant's reputation for continued loyalty to the Lost Cause. (65) Residents could use their position in the screening process to punish past transgressions, to enforce community standards of morality, and to wage partisan politics.
Anthony Sapp, of Live Oak, Florida, learned that decades-old grudges and ill will could affect the fate of one's pension. Sapp applied for a pension in August 1888, testifying that a gunshot wound to his knee in 1864 had left him incapacitated. His papers seemingly in order, the pension board approved the application and he began drawing his pension within weeks. (66) In 1895, however, an unknown neighbor sent a letter of complaint to the pension board, drawing official attention to a local story about Sapp that had circulated for thirty years. "We believe in Justice," began the letter,
The letter was signed "Tax Payer." (67)
The pension bureau launched an investigation of the allegations. Several other neighbors were willing to repeat portions of the story of Sapp's desertion, including John T. Mercer, who also noted pointedly: "I see nothing to prevent him from manuel [sic] labor." (68) The bureau quickly terminated Sapp's pension. Sapp continued to fight the charges, before finally regaining his pension in 1914. He continued to collect the monthly payments until his death in 1918, at which time his wife began to draw a widow's pension. (69) Ultimately successful in obtaining the welfare support he needed, Sapp nevertheless suffered years of financial punishment for what his neighbors believed was his dishonorable conduct during the war.
Local residents frequently wrote to "rat out" their neighbors, often requesting anonymity in the proceedings. Dr. S.T. Overstreet, who had examined Sam Dees for a medical affidavit, wrote the pension board secretly that he believed Dees owned too much property to qualify for a pension, although such matters fell outside his jurisdiction. (70) A year later, Overstreet wrote about his concerns that the state was "being imposed upon" by several people in Lafayette County drawing pensions to which they were not entitled. "I write merely to put you on your guard [and] would prefer my name should not be known in the matter as I shall have to spend a good deal of time in Lafayette soon & they might a convenient location for me in the Suwannie [sic] River...." (71)
The pool of people involved in the process--county commissioners, physicians, attorneys--became masters of the mechanics of the system. Doctors like S.T. Overstreet wrote numerous affidavits over the years, and learned exactly what information was needed and what kinds of details could arouse the suspicions of the review board. (72) One applicant relied on two local doctors to attest to his inability to work; but the doctors reported privately to a friend that "they do not think from the manner in which they worded their report, that he will get anything." (73) Some attorneys came to specialize in pension cases. Attorney A. Purdee of Marianna listed his specialty as "Pension, Bounty, War & Claim Agent. (74) Such specialists learned to coach their clients as well, an advantage that was often needed by applicants. In the investigation into the claim of Ben F. Pate of Chipley, the pension board noted that, "He has evidently been poorly drilled on the necessary things to know to make a claim for a pension." (75)
Many people beyond the immediate Confederate families had a vested interest in the system. Merchants, doctors, pharmacists, and others understood that a pension in their customer's pocket also meant money in their own. Creditors sometimes lobbied on behalf of applicants. John Trammell, an attorney from Blountstown, wrote the pension board about the case of George H. Caraway. "I will thank you very much to take this matter up with the Board soon as possible. Mr. Caraway is considerably in debt to me, and if consistent mail the check to me so I can have him sign before an officer, then I can get my money ... Of course, I do not think he is entitled to the pension merely so he can pay me, but think he should have it the same as others who rendered service." (76) Other creditors attempted to gain direct control over a pension. Merchants Jones & Heiberger wrote the Comptroller: "Mr. W.C. Crosby has made us collecting agt. for him. Now if you cannot make his Drafts payable to us please send them in our care, as we are advancing this gentleman goods, and his only chance to pay us, is with his pension money." (77)
Political considerations permeated the Confederate welfare system. Born of the conflict between Democrats, Republicans, and Populists, Confederate pensions served as a tool to hold the loyalty of local voters. In 1890, for example, party officials in Fernandina took an active role in pressuring the pension board to approve the application of one J.A. Woodburn. In addition to the fact that Woodburn deserved the pension, wrote G.L. Baltzell, "In confidence if the pension is granted it will aid me very materially in a political way." Still pressing the case three months later, Baltzell explained further: "Mr. Woodburn is a man of some influence among the country people, and I fear if there is not some favorable action taken soon, he will influence some of the people to vote or work against us in the next election." (78)
Political concerns inspired Robert Reid, who was both chairman of his county Democratic party and commander of a Confederate veterans' camp, to press the pension board to move quickly on some applications that seemed to be proceeding slowly. "Some are thinking hard of the administration for the delay," he wrote, "while others are abusing the democratic party for it. Such delays are calculated to hurt the party ... The opposition in this Co. are now organizing for the '96 election and I apprehend that we will have a hard fight to beat them ... Of course a coalition will be formed between the Populists, Negroes, Republicans, & c and the same no doubt with propriety might be said of many other counties in the state." (79) Generosity in the pension program would work to the benefit of the party in power--the Democrats.
Many people assumed that political affiliation and loyalty were unwritten criteria for obtaining a pension, and stressed their faithfulness as they made their claim. S.W. Feanand wrote his governor in 1889: "I must say on the 6th of last Nov. I done all I could for you at the polls. I do hope you will not forget me." (80) Allen Cain wrote in 1890: "I am nothing but an old poor Confederate soldier who had nothing and got nothing yet whoo [sic] sirved [sic] the war threw as you well know and has to the democrats party ever sence [sic] ..." (81)
Others feared that the politicization of the pensions might have gone too far. One local Democrat in Argyle, Florida, worried about the "great fraud in this County in the Soldiers Pension bill[,] men drawing from the State that are able bodied & plenty of means & c. I understand ... there is a good deal of discretion with the Governor [but] this business has injured the Democratic party in this Co." He estimated that there were at least half a dozen men drawing pensions that should not have been eligible. (82) N.A. Patterson, a member of his county executive committee, was furious when an applicant from his county was awarded a pension in 1888 after he and other local elites had refused to sign affidavits on his behalf. Patterson laid the blame on the chairman of the county commissioners, who "has personally aided & abetted this fraud." He concluded: "It is just this open faced villainy that caused our defeat on the 6th Nov. in this Co." (83)
In addition to instances of political maneuvering, there were some cases of real fraud. One group of men in Gilchrist County created a militia company that had never existed, around a fictitious "Captain Underwood," and then sign affidavits on behalf of each other's service. The fraud was discovered, and in February 1931 one J.E. Lindsey acknowledged his role in this conspiracy. "I admit that I did sign an application for a pension about 2 years ago. I was solicited to make the claim by Hiram Saunders at Bell Fla. and some others for a year or more. I told them I was not entitled to a pension. I never paid any attention to what I signed and I did not know I was subscribing to an affidavit.... I never heard of Captain Underwood until a few years ago when this stir got up about pensions. I know nothing about Capt Underwood having organized a company of Home Guards at Nunansville or any other place." (84)
Cases of blatant fraud were much less common than those of politicized pensions. Politics--both partisan and personal--entered the pension system from all directions. Personal profit, revenge, petty jealousy, as well as party spoils, played their role in influencing who received a pension and who did not. Although the state had created the pension system, the localities ran it. The state may have had one set of goals in mind when establishing a Confederate welfare program, but other goals--including the policing of community standards of morality--entered the process at the local level.
Gender and the Confederate Welfare State
Like other social systems, the Confederate welfare system was heavily shaped by contemporary gender constructions. And, like other components of the Lost Cause movement, the Confederate welfare system attempted to reinforce a conservative, or traditional, set of gender norms. Some women found that they could make this work to their benefit; others discovered it limited their access to one of the few state resources available to women. Hannah Smith Blackwell of Apalachicola had no difficulty obtaining a widow's pension from the state of Florida. She had remained in the same place where she and her husband had always lived; she never divorced him nor remarried after his death. Her neighbors supported her efforts by helping with affidavits. In other words, she had done nothing to compromise her status as a deserving Confederate widow. Her pension was approved promptly after she applied in 1899. (85)
Samantha Denham of Marianna was not as fortunate. Her story highlights the gendered nature of the pension system, as women found themselves subject to community mores that were very gender specific. Born Samantha Cutchins in 1861, she married A.G. Denham in 1881 in Jackson County, Florida. Denham had been a farmer in Alabama at the outbreak of the Civil War. Leaving his first wife, "Barbary," behind, Denham volunteered for Confederate service, survived to the end of the war, and settled in Marianna to return to farming. He and Barbary had at least four children, including a son named Robert, before her death. (Samantha thus became a step-mother upon her marriage to Denham.)
By the time of their marriage in 1881, Denham had already ceased farming and had become a school teacher, presumably because of his declining health. In May 1888, he applied for a pension, based on a war-time gunshot wound to his shoulder that had disabled him for manual labor. With all his affidavits in order, his application was approved that September, and he drew a pension until his death in 1891. (86)
Then a widow with at least one child of her own and one or more stepchildren in her care, Samantha Denham began drawing a widow's pension almost immediately after her husband's death. Finding that the small pension was "wholly insufficient to support herself and her family," in 1893 Samantha hired herself out as a farm laborer to Sam Peacock and his son Elbert D. Peacock in nearby Cottondale. (87) While she lived on the Peacock farm, at least one of her children, and possibly more, were sent to live with her brother-in-law George Denham for three or four months. Sometime during that period, George Denham wrote to the pension board to ask if he could be awarded his deceased brother's pension since he was caring for his children. (88) This was an impossibility under the state laws, but was a tactic that many people tried at times.
Rumors began to circulate in the neighborhood that Samantha was having an affair with E.D. Peacock, and that his wife had left him as a result. One of her stepsons was credited with telling the neighbors that she was "in a family way by this man" and claimed to have "caught them his self." The rumor mill also claimed that the county court was charging them with living in adultery.89 The pension board received an affidavit, signed by Robert Lambert and Robert Denham (Samantha's step-son), attesting that
Without first conducting an investigation, the pension board revoked her pension in June. (91)
While Samantha Denham's case might be extreme, many other women also found their morals subjected to public scrutiny, sometimes by an anonymous whistle-blower. "A friend to the state" wrote to governor William Bloxham in 1891 to report "the fraud that been played on the unted [sic] states by geting [sic] such a large pention [sic] for this Mrs Mary Thomas[.]" The unidentified correspondent from Sycamore, Florida, continued:
The details of a marriage frequently had to be aired in defense of a challenged pension. Martha Sexton's neighbors in Chipola, Florida, had doubts about the nature and legality of her marriage to James W. Sexton. S.C. Mercer wrote that James "had a liven [sic] wife at the time the wars[.] pretended mared [sic][.] I have surch [sic] the record at marianna ther [sic] is no divorce on reckord [sic] [for] her." Even if the marriage had had a legal beginning, Mercer believed it had had a questionable end. "She wars [sic] in South Fla. when he died[.] She did not wate [sic] near [and] nurse James Sexton in death [and] sickness. Sexton died about 10 or 12 miles west of marianna at Jeree Jones." (93) Within days of the accusation, an angry Martha Sexton had arranged for a copy of her husband's divorce decree, a copy of their marriage certificates, and affidavits from witnesses to account for her whereabouts on the date of James' death. The explanation was one that Martha undoubtedly wished not to make public, but was compelled to do in order to keep her pension. The couple had fallen into such poverty and sickness that neither could care for the other. No one in the family could care for them both, so the couple was separated and each moved in with one of their adult children who agreed to take them in. (94)
One of the most frequent charges levied against women pensioners was bastardy. G.T. Messer wrote to the attorney general to complain about an "ex confedret [sic] widdo [sic] drawing a pension from the State[.]" He charged that
Women who applied for Confederate pensions found that they had two sets of criteria to meet. They first had to prove that their husbands had been honorable soldiers. In addition, they had to demonstrate that they were worthy women. Local communities judged Confederate widows by moral standards not applied to Confederate veterans. The thousands of pension applications are notable for their absence of accusations of sexual immorality against men.
The need to demonstrate "worthiness" sometimes led women to couch their claims in the nineteenth century's language of feminine deference. Annie Lungren of Eldridge used a strategy common to poor relief applicants: she piled on the pathos, and emphasized her female helplessness. "We lost everything we owned in the world save the clothes we had on, when Fernandenia [sic] was taken.... I do not know of any one who has suffered more than we did. as we lost our all! I do hope I may now receive something as my health is compleatly [sic] broak [sic] down. I was left with 4 small children to bring up, never received one dollars worth of aid that was raised for refugees. Nothing but need comples [sic] me to write this appeal to you." (96) By referring to her small children, Lungren was describing past need rather than present conditions, since her children were by then grown. But her past struggles became part of her package of worthiness, as did the fact that she had "never received one dollars worth of aid." (97)
Even more layers of pathos were piled on the case of Margaret Jane Sanduskey, who also used another traditional deferential method--that of arguing her case through an intermediary. Sanduskey's neighbor, Mrs. Nora Credille, presented a poignant image of female poverty to the governor. She wrote that Sanduskey
It was very rare for women to use the language of "entitlement" in their pleadings. Mrs. Rebecca Reese of Holmes, Florida, stands out in the records for her unusual usage of the language of entitlement, despite the fact she was writing the governor. "... I want to call your attention to the laws in the Revised Statutes as amended and approved by the Governor, June 2, 1893 in Sections 568, 569, and 571, consirning [sic] Pensions and as the Laws there alows [sic] widows from the State of Ala. who is drawing a pension and now if I can not get better satisfaction I will have it tested by some Lawyers who says that I can get the same and who will take it in charge if I can not get better satisfactory [sic] and all my neighbors says that I am in title [sic] to the Pension ..." (99) Reese was bold indeed to cite the appropriate statutes, and to point out that the governor himself had signed them. Her threats to file suit were apparently not carried out, but represent an unusually aggressive female voice in these records and highlight--by contrast--the normative feminine deference in these proceedings. (100)
Historian Lynn Lees has argued that we should see charitable relations as a "theater" in which the needy give a performance to convince the welfare official of their worthiness. The presentation of the case was tailored to match the expectations of the officials. (101) Women applicants understood that they had to be modest, feminine, and utterly respectable in their presentations. They should be the ideal Confederate woman, just as their deceased husbands had to match the model of the noble soldier. Communities used the pension program to punish women who broke the neighborhood's code of behavior. Even unproven accusations of bastardy, immorality, or adultery could result in the loss of the desperately needed monthly pension checks.
The Confederate welfare state was big, expensive government. It absorbed vast amounts of state resources, making it difficult to pay for other state obligations such as roads and schools. (Arguably, Florida's tremendous financial commitment to the Confederate welfare programs preempted any financial commitment to progressive reforms more popular in other states. Even other Southern states had more successful progressive movements than did Florida. (102)) Yet these programs, however expensive, remained enormously popular. Candidates for political office, trying to win the Confederate votes, competed to lay claim to the label of the "true Confederate." Platform promises of "liberal pensions" became de rigeur in early twentieth-century campaigns. The result was a constant upward pressure on the state's expenditures.
Florida struggled to fund these revenue-gobbling programs. In 1921, the state legislature hoped to reduce its financial burden while continuing to support its surviving veterans. The legislature asked the federal government, in a strongly worded resolution, to take over the support of all Confederate veterans and widows. Described as an act of unity and conciliation, the resolution also suggested that the Union owed something to Southern states, which had been taxed to support Union veterans. (103) The U.S. Congress never "adopted" the Confederate veterans into the federal pension system, and Florida continued to pay veterans and their widows until the 1960s. (104)
Despite the fact that this was "big government," and despite the fact that this was government welfare, these welfare programs remained almost sacred to the white South. This was a form of welfare state that they embraced, knowing that it buttressed white supremacy and honored the Old South. The Southern states had a large welfare program in place long before the New Deal. But this did not then pave the way for the South's acceptance of a federal welfare state. Instead, Southerners led the opposition to the emerging New Deal welfare state, and remained stalwarts in that opposition for decades. The politics of the Lost Cause made Confederate welfare--not all welfare--highly desirable. Southern whites realized that state programs and local authorities meant that they could use Confederate welfare for a variety of local purposes. But a federal welfare system would more likely be out of the reach of local communities, who might then find the welfare system used for purposes other than their own.
While the state's political leadership may have instituted the Confederate welfare programs largely for political purposes, those in the communities saw in them additional advantages. Merchants and other professionals gained direct financial benefits. Doctors and members of the UCV garnered the indirect power of having leverage over the pension applications. And local residents, even those well outside the power structure, gained the opportunity to influence the policing of community mores. Even an anonymous, semi-literate whistleblower could derail a pension application. That power worked always in the defense of traditional gender standards, and both men and women found themselves judged accordingly. An aging veteran had to conform to the manly ideal of the Rebel soldier. His widow was also measured by a gendered yardstick.
Department of History
Tallahasse, FL 32306-2200
The author wishes to thank Jennifer McCarley, Dave Nelson, and Chris Wilhelm for research assistance. Earlier versions of the essay were read, and improved upon, by David Goldfield, Fred Bailey, David Coles, Steve Noll, Dave Nelson, and the anonymous readers for the Journal. Useful comments also came from audiences at the FSU Geography Department Colloquium, the Louisiana State University Modern History Workshop, and the Southern Historical Association annual meeting.
1. Megan J. McClintock, "Civil War Pensions and the Reconstruction of Union Families," Journal of American History 83 (September 1996), 458-59.
2. Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers; The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge, 1992); Seth Koven and Sonya Michel (eds), Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (New York, 1993); Molly Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work: Women, Child Welfare and the State, 1890-1930 (Urbana, IL, 1994); Linda Gordon, Pitied but not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare, 1890-1935 (New York, 1994); Joanne L. Goodwin, Gender and the Politics of Welfare Reform: Mothers' Pensions in Chicago, 1911-1929 (Chicago, 1997); Susan Marie Sterett, Public Pensions: Gender and Civic Service in the States, 1850-1937 (Ithaca, N.Y., 2003).
3. The very short list of works includes Kathleen Gorman, "Confederate Pensions as Southern Social Welfare," in Before the New Deal: Social Welfare in the South, 1830-1930, edited by Elna C. Green (Athens, GA, 1999); Mark E. Rodgers, Tracing the Civil War Veteran Pensions System in the State of Virginia: Entitlement or Privilege (Lewiston, NY, 1999); and Michelle A. Krowl, "'Her Just Dues': Civil War Pensions of African American Women in Virginia," in Negotiating Boundaries of Southern Womanhood: Dealing with the Powers That Be, edited by Janet L. Coryell, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Anastatia Sims, and Sandra Gioia Treadway (Columbia, Mo., 2000).
4. Whitelaw Reid, quoted by Joe M. Richardson, The Negro in the Reconstruction of Florida, 1865-1877 (Tallahassee, 1965), 1.
5. On this complexity see especially Lee J. Alston and Joseph P. Ferrie, Southern Paternalism and the Rise of the American Welfare State: Economics, Politics, and Institutions in the South, 1865-1965 (Cambridge, 1998).
6. See for example: Peter McCandless, Moonlight, Magnolias & Madness: Insanity in South Carolina from the Colonial Period to the Progressive Era (Chapel Hill, 1996); Peter Wallenstein, From Slave South to New South: Public Policy in Georgia in the Nineteenth Century (Chapel Hill, 1987).
7. Quoted by Tracy J. Revels, "Grander in Her Daughters: Florida's Women During the Civil War," Florida Historical Quarterly 77 (Winter 1999), 274.
8. Charlton W. Tebeau, A History of Florida (Coral Gables, 1971, 1980), 226.
9. There is no general history of the Confederate welfare system. R.B. Rosenburg, Living Monuments: Confederate Soldiers' Homes in the New South (Chapel Hill, 1993), offers some coverage of the pensions and other programs, while focusing primarily on the veterans' homes.
10. In Georgia, the state's pension program represented approximately 2% of total state expenditures for the years 1886-1889. James R. Young, "Confederate Pensions in Georgia, 1886-1929," Georgia Historical Quarterly 66 (Spring 1982), p.49 (Table 1). In Virginia, the state's expenditures on Confederate pensions stayed below 4% of the state budget until 1890. Elna C. Green, This Business of Relief: Confronting Poverty in a Southern City, 1740-1940 (Athens, GA, 2003), Appendix, unpaginated, Table 6.
11. The classic studies of the Lost Cause are Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 (Athens, GA, 1980); and Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, The Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South 1865 to 1913 (New York, 1987). On Florida, see: W. Stuart Towns, "Honoring the Confederacy in Northwest Florida: The Confederate Monument Ritual," Florida Historical Quarterly 57 (October 1978), 205-212.
12. Edward L. Ayers, Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction (New York, 1992), 333-38. See also Antoinette G. van Zelm, "Virginia Women as Public Citizens: Emancipation Day Celebrations and Lost Cause Commemorations, 1863-1890," in Negotiating Boundaries of Southern Womanhood: Dealing with the Powers That Be, edited by Janet L. Coryell, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Anastatia Sims, and Sandra Gioia Treadway (Columbia, Mo., 2000).
13. Union pensioners were also "means tested," a practice in American military pension policy that dated back to the Revolution. See Emily Teipe, America's First Veterans and the Revolutionary War Pensions (Lewiston, NY, 2002).
14. Rosenburg, Living Monuments, 32, 50.
15. Fred L. Robertson to Henry L. Mitchell, April 10, 1893, Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. Florida State Archives, Tallahassee (hereafter FSA).
16. "Florida's Confederate Home," Confederate Veteran 3 (December 1895), 382.
17. Robert A. Reid to D. Lang, September 10, 1895, Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
18. Teabeau, Florida, 229, 232; Cantor Brown, Jr., "The Civil War, 1861-1865," The New History of Florida edited by Michael Gannon (Gainesville, FL, 1993) 232; Daniel L. Schafer, "U.S. Territory and State," in The New History of Florida edited by Michael Gannon (Gainesville, FL, 1993), 227.
19. "Florida," Confederate Veteran 4 (December 1896), 408.
20. In Georgia, where earlier veterans' welfare expenses amounted to 2% of the budget, the state spent an average of 15% of its annual budget on veterans during the 1890s. The following decade, it rose to average 19% of the annual budget. The highest level was reached in 1911 and 1912, when 22% of the state's annual appropriations went to veterans. Young, "Confederate Pensions in Georgia," 49-50 (Tables 2 and 3). In Virginia, the state's expenditures reached a high of 11% in 1912. Green, This Business of Relief, Appendix, unpaginated, Table 6.
21. "Florida's Generous Provisions," Confederate Veteran 22 (April 1914), 148.
22. The state lagged far behind other Southern states in the creation of institutions for the blind, deaf, and mute, not establishing a school for these dependents until 1883. Kenneth R. Johnson, "The Administration of William Dunnington Bloxham, 1881-1885," (M.A. thesis, Florida State University, 1959), 105.
23. Jerrell H. Shofner, "Reconstruction and Renewal, 1865-1877," in Michael Gannon (ed), The New History of Florida (Gainesville, FL, 1996), 262-64; Samuel Proctor, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, Florida's Fighting Democrat (Gainesville, FL, 1950), 56-59.
24. Although many observers have noted that the 1885 constitution weakened the governor's powers considerably, the executive's power to appoint county commissioners meant a continued strength in local politics that could be substantial.
25. Governors William Bloxham (1881-1885, 1897-1901), E.A.Perry (1885-1889), Francis Fleming (1889-1893), and Henry Mitchell (1893-1897) all served in the Civil War. William Jennings, who became governor in 1901, had been born in 1863. Subsequent governors also were too young to have served. Nevertheless, the next generation of leaders continued to support the Confederate welfare system. As William T. Cash put it: "Yet the younger men who were coming upon the political scene were ever ready to pay tribute to the Civil War heroes they were displacing." William T. Cash, History of the Democratic Party in Florida (Tallahassee, FL, 1936), 95.
26. Acts and Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Thirteenth Session under the Constitution of A.D. 1868 (Tallahassee, FL, 1885), 14-15.
27. Determining the exact number of men and women eligible for state pensions is nearly impossible. Approximately 16,000 soldiers and sailors from Florida served the Confederacy. Another several thousand served in the Home Guards, which were later made eligible for support. Scholars have estimated that approximately one-third of these troops died in the war, leaving perhaps 10,000 men and an unknown number of women eligible for pensions. Thousands more Confederate veterans or their widows immigrated to the state after the war, and this is the number that is impossible to determine.
There is also some uncertainty about the exact number of pensions the state of Florida ultimately granted. There are slightly more than 13,000 application files in the Florida State Archives. Some 10,500 are recorded as "approved," but that number is misleading since it sometimes counts as separate applications each of the various re-applications that many veterans and their widows made. Thus the figure 10,500 is too high.
28. Secretary of Pension Board to Alfred Grainger, April 28, 1910. Board of Pensions, Pension Application Files, Box 227. FSA.
29. The Florida home guards would be made eligible for pensions in a revision of the laws in 1907.
30. Secretary of Pension Board to Mrs. Caroline Blackwelder, October 17, 1925. Board of Pensions, Pension Application Files, box 227, FSA.
31. Board of Pensions, Pension Application Files, box 225, FSA.
32. On Broome, see Rowland H. Rerick, Memoirs of Florida (Atlanta, 1902), v.1, p. 741. On the "liberal pension bill," see "Two Long and Busy Sessions in the Florida Legislature," (Jacksonville) Times-Union, 12 May 1907, p.1, and "New Charter for Tampa Argued to Committee," Tampa Tribune, 11 May 1907, p.1.
33. See Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Eleventh Regular Session (April 2 to May 31, 1907), Under the Constitution of A.D. 1885 (Tallahassee, FL, 1907), 75-78.
34. Message of N.B. Broward, Governor of Florida, to the Legislature, Regular Session of 1905 (Tallahassee, FL, 1905) [unpaginated].
35. Fleming may have, in fact, ridden the pension program into the Governor's office. He was widely considered the father of the 1885 pension law, and was easily elected in 1888.
36. Manuscript copy of letter to the editor, Francis P. Fleming Confederate Veterans Papers, mf reel #3. FSA. [originals housed at Jacksonville Public Library]
37. I have not calculated these expenditures for every Southern state. But in no record of any kind have I seen a suggestion that any state ever spent more than 36% of its annual budget on Confederate welfare.
38. Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Twelfth Regular Session (April 6 to June 4, 1909), Under the Constitution of A.D. 1885 (Tallahassee, FL, 1909), 27.
39. 1885 Florida State Census, Leon County. Cook: frames 114 and 363. Brown: frames 133 and 365. [mf available at FSA]
40. Secretary of Board to Mr. O.W. McCormick, March 3, 1906. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 3. FSA.
41. Message of N.B. Broward, Governor of Florida, to the Legislature, Regular Session of 1905 (Tallahassee, FL, 1905) [unpaginated].
42. His letter dated July 8, 1936 is found in her file in Board of Pensions, Pension Application Files, box 227, FSA.
43. Petition dated February 24, 1890. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
44. Henry J. Stewart to Col. David Lang, September 21, 1891. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
45. Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Tenth Regular Session , Under the Constitution of A.D. 1885 (Tallahassee, FL, 1905), 21.
46. See: N. Gordon Carper, "Martin Tabert, Martyr of an Era," Florida Historical Quarterly 52(2) (1973), 115-131; Jeffrey A. Drobney, "Where Palm and Pine Are Blowing: Convict Labor in the North Florida Turpentine Industry, 1877-1923," Florida Historical Quarterly 72(4) (1994), 411-434; and Vivien M.L. Miller, Crime, Sexual Violence, and Clemency: Florida's Pardon Board and Penal System in the Progressive Era (Gainesville, FL, 2000).
47. The original trustees, in addition to Russell and Fleming, were Gen. William Baya, Capt. D.E. Maxwell, and Col. W.R. Moore.
48. William Baya to Major A.J. Russell, August 16, 1892. Fleming Papers. mf reel #1. FSA.
49. "Florida's Confederate Home," Confederate Veteran 3 (December 1895), 382.
50. Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Fourth Regular Session, Under the Constitution of A.D. 1885 (Tallahassee, FL, 1893), 191-92. In 1907, even that limitation was revoked. Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Eleventh Regular Session, Under the Constitution of A.D. 1885 (Tallahassee, FL, 1907), 176.
51. General Acts and Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Eighteenth Regular Session  Under the Constitution of A.D. 1885 (Tallahassee, FL, 1921), 262-64. Rosenburg points out that this change represented something of a political coup for the UDC, which had been refused representation on the board because the original charter had stipulated that only veterans could serve. Now the UDC could have more direct influence on the management of the facility. Rosenburg, Living Monuments, 147.
52. Florida Old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Home, Information and Facts (Jacksonville?: n.p., 1926?), unpaginated.
53. See receipts from these and other businesses in Fleming Papers, mf reel #1. FSA.
54. Florida Old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Home Information and Facts (no publication data given, probably Jacksonville, probably 1926), unpaginated, report of Mrs. Frank Owen.
55. Emmett F. Ruffin to Ex-Governor F.P. Fleming, July 9, 1909. Fleming Papers, mf reel #1.
56. C.M. Hooper to Board of Directors, June 23, 1901. Fleming Papers, mf reel #1. FSA.
57. C.M. Hooper to ?, undated [first page appears to be missing]. Fleming Papers, mf reel #1. It should be noted that Hooper complained a lot about conditions in the Home, and the researcher reading through all these letters cannot help but wonder if Hooper himself might not have been the source of some of the friction in the Home.
58. Quotes from Florida Old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Home Information and Facts (no publication data given, probably Jacksonville, probably 1926), unpaginated, report of Mrs. Frank Owen.
59. Presumably this is the same Ruffin about whom Hooper had complained supra, although his characterization of Ruffin does not match the contents of this letter.
60. Emmett F. Ruffin to Ex-Governor F.P. Fleming, July 9, 1909. Fleming Papers, mf reel #1.
61. Emmett F. Ruffin to Ex-Governor F.P. Fleming, July 9, 1909. Fleming Papers, mf reel #1.
62. Phrase from poem "In Old Camp Chase," by T.C. Harbaugh, Confederate Veteran 19 (March 1911), 115.
63. A.J. Cone, (Gainesville, FL), "Georgians in Hood's Texas Brigade," Confederate Veteran 19 (February 1911), 53.
64. There is a growing body of literature on masculinity in postbellum South, including, most recently: Amy Louise Wood, "Lynching Photography and the 'Black Beast Rapist' in the Southern White Masculine Imagination," in Masculinity: Bodies, Movies, Culture edited by Peter Lehman (New York, 2001); Stephen Kantrowitz, "One Man's Mob Is Another Man's Militia: Violence, Manhood, and Authority in Reconstruction South Carolina," in Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights edited by Jane Elizabeth Dailey, Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, and Bryant Simon (Princeton, 2000); Patrick B. Miller, The Sporting World of the Modern South (Urbana, IL, 2002); Nancy Bercaw, Gendered Freedoms: Race, Rights, and the Politics of Household in the Delta, 1861-1875 (Gainesville, FL, 2003); James C. Klotter, Kentucky Justice, Southern Honor, and American Manhood: Understanding the Life and Death of Richard Reid (Baton Rouge, LA, 2003).
65. Gorman, "Confederate Pensions as Southern Social Welfare," 30-31.
66. Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Applications, #01957. FSA.
67. Anonymous letter dated November 4, 1895. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
68. John T. Mercer to Mr. K. Lang, November 12, 1895. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
69. The rest of the details of this case are in the Application file #01957 and the Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. Both in FSA.
70. Dr. S.T. Overstreet to D. Lang, October 3, 1889. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
71. Dr. S.T. Overstreet to Dear Colonel, December 24, 1890. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. (Emphasis original)
72. S.T. Overstreet was a physician from Live Oak who had also been a prominent advocate of the pension system in the 1885 legislature. Rerick, Memoirs of Florida, v.1, pp.642-43.
73. J.F. Latham to David Lang, October 2, 1889. Board of Pensions Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
74. Letterhead. November 29, 1893. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
75. Claim of Ben F. Pate. Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Applications, box 225, #D23,672. FSA.
76. John D. Trammell to Ernest Amos, April 14, 1932. Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Applications, box 226, #D23807. FSA.
77. Jones & Heiberger to W.D. Barnes, January 7, 1887. State Board of Pensions, Let-terbooks, vol. 1, letter filed at page 618. FSA.
78. G.L. Baltzell to E.J. Triay, May 12, 1890 and August 12, 1890. Both letters in Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. This case seemed important enough that other local party officials joined in the lobbying. W.W. Farmer wrote: "It is very important for our Cause here for Gov. Fleming to act on that pension claim of John A. Woodburn at once." W.W. Farmer to E.J. Triay, August 2, 1890. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. (Emphasis original.)
79. Robert A. Reid to General D. Lang, August 27, 1895. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
80. S.W. Feanand to Governor Frank Flemming, September 14, 1889. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
81. Allen Cain to Mr. Fleming, January 20, 1890. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
82. J.L. Campbell to W.D. Barnes, July 22, 1889. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
83. N.A. Patterson to Dear General, December 4, 1888. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. Occasionally applicants openly charged that party politics had interfered in their cases. In 1891, one Republican claimed that he had been denied a pension because of his political affiliation. M.H. Waring of Madison was not able to do manual labor, but held "a little Post Office, which pays about $50 per month." Since he had obtained that position through a Republican administration, he believed, his pension application was passed over. "If this administration had been Democratic," he wrote, "no questions would have been asked. Some here are getting pensions who have never lost a limb, or ever saw a yankee except while guarding the Andersonville prison. Come home went coon hunting lay out in the swamp & [contracted] rheumatis.' And of course through the influence of a one of the party he gets a pension." M.H. Waring to D. Lang, November 24, 1891. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
84. Affidavit of J.E. Lindsey, February 11, 1931. Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Applications, Box 225, #D23636. FSA. Other such frauds were occasionally uncovered by the pension board. The board formally reprimanded the county commissioners of Escambia County in 1931 for approving pension applications that were the product of a "conspiracy ... between S.J. Royals, the Notary Public who worked up this case, and Ben H. Holman, Jno. W. Vann, and Jas. W. Thomas." Investigation report. Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Applications, Box 225, #D23638. FSA.
85. Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Application Files, #A00001. FSA.
86. Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Application Files, #A10012. FSA.
87. Affidavit of L.A.S.G [Samantha] Denham, August 18, 1893, Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
88. G.T. Denham to D. Lang, secretary of the pension board, August 29, 1893. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
89. G.T. Denham to D. Lang, secretary of the pension board, August 29, 1893. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
90. Affidavit of Robert Lambert and Robert Denham, undated. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
91. The Peacocks found that their marriage also had to be opened up to public scrutiny while this case was investigated. They provided a joint affidavit attesting that the reason Mary Peacock was not living at their home was because she had gone to stay with her parents for her pending confinement. So, ironically, it was Mrs. Peacock who was with child rather than Samantha Denham. Affidavit by E.D. Peacock and M.J. Peacock, August 7, 1893. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. However, there is some evidence that Samantha Denham might indeed have had a relationship with someone. The 1900 census shows her living in Jackson County with four children, the youngest of whom had been born in 1895, four years after her husband's death.
92. "A friend to the state," to W.J. Bloxham, March 24, 1891. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. The lack of detail in the charges in this case, with names as common as "Thomas" and "Mary," makes it impossible to determine whether the accused widow ultimately lost her pension.
93. S. C. Mercer to David A. Lang, November 2, 1896. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
94. All affidavits found in Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
95. G.T. Messer to William B. Lamar, December 9, 1896. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. [The letter never named the woman in question.]
96. Annie D. Lungren to Gov. Fleming, September 13, 1890. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA.
97. Lungren did not mention that she had been born in New Jersey. [This per the 1870 census for Volusia, Florida.]
98. Mrs. A.A. Credille of Pensacola to Gov. N.B. Broward, May 8, 1906. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 3. FSA. Credille's husband was chief of police in Pensacola.
99. Mrs. Rebecca Reese to Governor Mitchell, June 11, 1894. Board of Pensions, Correspondence, box 1. FSA. Reese's application was finally approved in 1900. Unfortunately for her case, her husband had "lingered" for twenty years before finally dying of his battle wounds. The pension board apparently had doubts about the cause of his death, which delayed her pension for six years. See Board of Pensions, Confederate Pension Applications, #A11457. FSA.
100. The 1910 census for Holmes County reported Rebecca Reese as head of household with four grown children and one daughter-in-law living with her. She listed herself as a farmer.
101. Lynn Hollen Lees, The Solidarities of Strangers: The English Poor Laws and the People, 1700-1948 (Cambridge, 1998), 22, 33.
102. For example, even though Florida established new colleges in 1905, they were not "adequately funded, and they did not rank with colleges elsewhere in the South." Samuel Proctor, "Prelude to the New Florida, 1877-1919," in The New History of Florida edited by Michael Gannon (Gainesville, FL, 1996), 280.
103. Acts and Resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Florida at its Eighteenth Regular Session (April 5 to June 3, 1921), Under the Constitution of A.D. 1885 (Tallahassee, FL, 1921), 1: 441-43.
104. The state continued to operate its Confederate Home until the last resident died, in 1938.
By Elna C. Green
Florida State University
The levy, of course, bears upon the poor widow and other persons of small means, as well as the wealthy. By what process of reasoning the legislature came to the conclusion that it was proper to tax the people of the State to pay pensions to Confederate soldiers without regard to their property[,] income or ability to earn a living is difficult to understand. God has blessed me with the means of earning a support for myself and family and I know of numbers of Confederate veterans in the State who are wealthy, and many others who make good livings. Why, I ask in all reason, should the taxpayers of the State be required to pay a four mill tax to enable me and others who do not need it for support, to put my hand in the public crib and draw out one hundred dollars a year, on the sole ground that I served in the Confederate army, performing nothing more than my duty? It may be answered that I need not apply for a pension. That is true, but the legislature, which gives me the legal right to the pension, can take no credit if I do not avail myself of it. Undoubtedly many who do not need it will avail themselves of the law .... in my opinion, this pension law is wrong and tends to bring the Confederate veteran into disfavor and to lower him from the high stand which he should occupy. (36)
but we must say that there is one man on the State Pention [sic] Roll that does not belong there[.] he is able to work & more than that he has three or four sons all able to work but don't work[.] father & sons lying up on what they get out of the Tax payers of the State .... he is the man that lay in the bushes with the Bushwhackers in time of war[.] that is the way he served the Confedrate [sic] Army[.] We will give you a few names that know something about Mr Sapp in war times John T. Mercer[,] G.B. Cole[,] and plenty of others all of Suwannee Co Fla
she is of a very bad reputation and we know that she has been living in the House with Elbert Peacock nearly all the time since her Husband died and we further believe that she has been supporting said Peacock on Pension allowed her husband by the State of Florida and we allso [sic] believe that they are liveing [sic] in adultery and was the cause of the Peacocks wife leveing [sic] him and we do know she give her Children to G.T. Denham ... (90)
it is true about her being a widow Thomas but she married him in time of the war and he was a soldier at the time and they never had the chance of living together and she never had any children for Thomas. these children the state is having to provide for are unlawful and are all able to work some, some of them are grown; I would not mentioned it but it is not right for such a thing to go on, a little pesion [sic] for herself is enough[.] it is reasonable to surpose [sic] the men that has done this thing has a motive for it, as she belong to any of them in one respect. (92)
She hav [sic] had 6 childron [sic] by and [sic] another man and have kosed [sic] them all to be grone [sic] and draws money from the State and give to them or by [sic] them clothing and nesary [sic] of life for them and if there is eny [sic] way or law to stop it I think ought to be don. [sic] She has had them by an [sic] man by the name of S. Pelt and if you will send me the neseary [sic] papers to have affidavit maid [sic] to the facts I will have them filled out and send them to you. I do not think the State have eny [sic] right to furnish money for a gang of Bastards which all have been born sence [sic] the Sivel [sic] war ended. (95)
is 70 yrs old and quite feeble, lives with an old maid daughter who is very delicate and about crazy having to strive so hard for a living, and they are trying to raise five grand children who have no one to care from them but these too old people. She also has an invalid daughter to look out for.... She has been a widow about ten years and has striven to get along without asking for pension, but now feels she must have some help and has asked me to try to get the pension for her. I felt that you would come nearer getting it than any one else knowing that you had a tender sympathetic heart and remembered something about the horrors of the war and what it meant to be left without a protector and thrown on the cold charity of this world. It is certainly a heart rendering sight when she comes to me crying over her condition which she often does, almost wishing for death and not knowing what she will do. (98)
Confederate Welfare Expenditures in Florida, 1885-1936 total confederate occasional confederate year pensions home appropriation welfare 1885 $1,650.00 $1,650.00 1886 $7,385.30 $7,385.30 1887 $9,257.83 $9,257.83 1888 $32,673.26 $32,673.26 1889 $27,589.29 $27,589.29 1890 $36,669.05 $36,669.05 1891 $36,753.55 $36,753.55 1892 $38,047.40 $38,047.40 1893 $40,684.53 $40,684.53 1894 $50,499.58 $50,499.58 1895 $55,166.25 $454.14 $55,620.39 1896 $59,266.31 $436.89 $59,703.20 1897 $60,852.02 $443.02 $61,295.04 1898 $60,190.99 $817.90 $61,008.89 1899 $59,200.42 $1,066.90 $60,267.32 1900 $44,652.15 $800.96 $45,453.11 1901 $51,756.53 $1,011.16 $52,767.69 1902 $123,517.16 $1,451.40 $124,968.56 1903 $179,395.51 $1,252.27 $20,000.00 $200,647.78 1904 $266,720.19 $2,763.24 $50,000.00 $319,483.43 1905 $273,855.84 $1,579.42 $275,435.26 1906 $293,969.15 $2,060.52 $296,029.67 1907 $357,010.47 $2,263.93 $359,274.40 1908 $730,835.31 $3,030.31 $733,865.62 1909 $721,310.38 $6,959.93 $728,270.31 1910 $644,606.52 $4,692.18 $649,298.70 1911 $616,667.87 $4,495.77 $621,163.64 1912 $601,827.56 $6,098.50 $607,926.06 1913 $618,897.24 $5,542.00 $624,439.24 1914 $723,587.51 $6,293.50 $729,881.01 1915 $745,541.29 $6,680.50 $752,221.79 1916 $832,366.72 $7,094.00 $839,460.72 1917 $972,167.48 $7,361.00 $979,528.48 1918 $932,216.00 $7,210.50 $939,426.50 1919 $841,762.83 $9,901.49 $851,664.32 1920 $1,104,533.54 $11,591.99 $1,116,125.53 1923 $1,160,586.20 $12,539.47 $1,173,125.67 1924 $1,081,819.84 $9,779.26 $1,091,599.10 1925 $1,070,456.39 $13,309.75 $1,083,766.14 1926* $651,782.47 $7,661.99 $659,444.46 1926-27 $1,477,726.62 $18,404.09 $1,496,130.71 1927-28 $1,447,772.73 $12,716.33 $1,460,489.06 1928-29 $1,285,108.47 none listed $1,285,108.47 1929-30 $1,212,776.55 $13,547.68 $1,226,324.23 1930-31 not published 1931-32 $1,032,505.95 none listed $1,032,505.95 1932-33 $960,516.09 none listed $960,516.09 1933-34 not published 1934-35 $840,764.13 none listed $840,764.13 1935-36 $735,624.75 none listed $735,624.75 total state Confed welfare as year disbursements percentage of whole 1885 $563,836.22 0.29% 1886 $407,806.47 1.81% 1887 $681,120.26 1.36% 1888 $583,469.69 5.60% 1889 $713,251.29 3.87% 1890 $751,356.39 4.88% 1891 $979,374.62 3.75% 1892 $748,228.58 5.08% 1893 $829,804.40 4.90% 1894 $762,740.76 6.62% 1895 $878,883.64 6.33% 1896 $746,578.79 8.00% 1897 $755,011.20 8.12% 1898 $770,789.92 7.92% 1899 $867,785.86 6.94% 1900 $936,915.43 4.85% 1901 $1,117,403.09 4.72% 1902 $1,060,568.53 11.78% 1903 $2,388,634.13 8.40% 1904 $1,299,176.85 24.59% 1905 $1,586,457.22 17.36% 1906 $1,715,426.36 17.26% 1907 $1,834,152.70 19.59% 1908 $2,042,762.58 35.93% 1909 $2,863,673.58 25.43% 1910 $2,843,627.90 22.83% 1911 $2,965,089.40 20.95% 1912 $2,874,566.77 21.15% 1913 $3,229,192.56 19.34% 1914 $3,396,389.12 21.49% 1915 $3,674,150.48 20.47% 1916 $3,742,625.95 22.43% 1917 $4,852,946.39 20.18% 1918 $5,490,602.38 17.11% 1919 $6,504,704.49 13.09% 1920 $8,375,286.39 13.33% 1923 $14,299,819.26 8.20% 1924 $18,657,243.01 5.85% 1925 $25,895,733.37 4.19% 1926* $15,281,689.75 4.32% 1926-27 $44,313,180.75 3.38% 1927-28 $38,609,326.52 3.78% 1928-29 $37,852,563.61 3.40% 1929-30 $42,913,644.94 2.86% 1930-31 1931-32 $34,270,879.82 3.01% 1932-33 $32,388,382.80 2.97% 1933-34 1934-35 $36,861,207.98 2.28% 1935-36 $43,281,680.50 1.70% *state changed its fiscal year. This report includes only Jan 1 to June 30 Source: Florida Annual Reports.
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