“Worthy Recipients”: New Bedford's Black Veterans and the Web of Social Welfare

Earl F. Mulderink III

in New Bedford's Civil War

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243341
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823243389 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War (FUP)

“Worthy Recipients”: New Bedford's Black Veterans and the Web of Social Welfare

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This chapter examines black veterans and their families in New Bedford during and after the Civil War as they made claims for full equality. It scrutinizes social welfare practices and payments during and after the war by focusing on black poor aid recipients and veterans. The Civil War brought about an intrusion of the federal state into the lives of civilians and soldiers, a process perpetuated by veterans' applications for, and their dependence upon, military pensions. More than additional income, pension payments were considered part of a contractual bond between Union soldiers and sailors and the federal government. This belief cut across the lines of race, class, gender, and military rank, and was demonstrated in persistent patterns of veterans' mutual support long after the war had ended. After discussing federal pay as well as local and state relief, the chapter examines federal military pensions, the persistence of African Americans in gaining military pension benefits as exemplified by Lucy Turner, casualties of war, and the case of Frederick and Missouri Pierce.

Keywords: military pensions; African Americans; Lucy Turner; casualties of war; Missouri Pierce; New Bedford; Civil War; black veterans

Chapter.  8092 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Military History

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