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1913 Pennsylvania Civil War Pension Act–Part 2.

My last post was a transcription of an April 1913 letter to the editor of the Harrisburg Patriot from Civil War veteran George S. Anderson. He made it plain that he had a low opinion of the Pennsylvania legislators who were pushing for a state pension law. He saw it as a political ploy that would cost the taxpayers in the end.

I asked friend Dennis Brandt, who has authored several Civil War books and had shared the clipping with me, what became of the pension bill. In answer he emailed me a copy of another letter to the editor of the Patriot. This one was from July 1913; the writer was just as feisty as Anderson, only on the other side of the question. See the transcription below:

To the Editor of THE PATRIOT:
Sir:–Is it true that Governor Tener has vetoed the pension bill for our old emergency men, after his flowery speech to them at Gettysburg?
Many of them heard him at that time, and thought at last they would receive the justice and honor due them, for volunteering, and going wherever they were needed to help to defend our State from the rebels.
There is always an over abundance of money to be wasted on this graft capitol, Quay statue, Barnard foolishness, and so called “park extension” for the idle sports of this town to loaf in. Money for a standing army to waste time in make-believe battles, instead of honest labor “in the fields all ready to harvest.”
Why do the parents of so many persons leave their own old countries (Ireland, England, Scotland and more) if not to better their deplorable conditions there? Is their “ain countrie” filled with poverty’s curse so alluring that they want to bring about the same here,–for children, and old men and women?
Does our Governor really admire the pet institutions Pennsylvania loves to see flourishing, namely jails, asylums, poorhouses, for our unfortunate victims of a most iniquitous system that robs the many to enrich the few?
Shame! O! shame to the men of Pennsylvania to want to see your mothers enslaved to labor for a pittance, your good old men defrauded of all that belongs to them, our daughters driven out to labor to help our earning something to eat, and to keep a home over our heads.
Men of Pennsylvania, do you love to force your old mothers into an abominable poorhouse?
Come, Mr. Tener, throw off the Penrose yoke of thralldom and show yourself a friend to humanity. You don’t know what kind of fate awaits your own old age should fortune’s wheel turn you under.
July 30, 1913.

Grandmother isn’t happy with Governor John Kinley Tener, who immigrated from Ireland as a child. She is also referring to the two groups of statues at the entrance to the state capitol building, installed by sculptor George Gray Barnard in 1911. The money spent on the capitol building as well as funding for a statue of the late Matthew Quay, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, were hot topics in the early 20th century.

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