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Reclaiming a Revolutionary Past: War Veterans, Pensions, and the Struggle for Recognition

Reclaiming a Revolutionary Past: War Veterans, Pensions, and the Struggle for Recognition Reclaiming a Revolutionary Past War Veterans, Pensions, and the Struggle for Recognition MICHAEL A . M CDONNELL AND BRIONY NEILSON In March 1818, Congress passed into law a bill that seemed to mark a watershed moment in the contest over public memory of the Revolutionary War. The Pension Act finally recognized and rewarded the services of rank-and-file war veterans from the conflict that gave birth to the new nation. Introduced by President James Monroe—a former Continental Army officer himself—the Pension Act was hailed as “an auspicious circumstance,” by one Congressional Representative. It was “gratifying evidence of the re-connexion of public feeling with the princi- ples of the Revolution.” Historians have generally seen the Pension Act of 1818 as a marker of a transformation in public sentiment over the memory of the Revolution- ary War. In this telling, for many years after the conflict a mythic view of the conflict as a “people’s war” had sidelined the achievements of those Michael A. McDonnell is professor of history at the University of Sydney, Aus- tralia. He is currently working on two Australian Research Council-funded book projects that deal with the American Revolution and its legacy: one entitled The Revolution in Black http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Reclaiming a Revolutionary Past: War Veterans, Pensions, and the Struggle for Recognition

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620

Abstract

Reclaiming a Revolutionary Past War Veterans, Pensions, and the Struggle for Recognition MICHAEL A . M CDONNELL AND BRIONY NEILSON In March 1818, Congress passed into law a bill that seemed to mark a watershed moment in the contest over public memory of the Revolutionary War. The Pension Act finally recognized and rewarded the services of rank-and-file war veterans from the conflict that gave birth to the new nation. Introduced by President James Monroe—a former Continental Army officer himself—the Pension Act was hailed as “an auspicious circumstance,” by one Congressional Representative. It was “gratifying evidence of the re-connexion of public feeling with the princi- ples of the Revolution.” Historians have generally seen the Pension Act of 1818 as a marker of a transformation in public sentiment over the memory of the Revolution- ary War. In this telling, for many years after the conflict a mythic view of the conflict as a “people’s war” had sidelined the achievements of those Michael A. McDonnell is professor of history at the University of Sydney, Aus- tralia. He is currently working on two Australian Research Council-funded book projects that deal with the American Revolution and its legacy: one entitled The Revolution in Black

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Aug 9, 2019

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