Letter from Sereno E. Payne, Chairman of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries

Letter from Sereno E. Payne, Chairman of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries  (1898) 
by Sereno E. Payne
February 5, 1898
From the National Archives and Records Administration; Record Group 233: Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1789 - 2015; Series: Accompanying Papers, 1865 - 1903; File Unit: Accompanying Papers of the 55th Congress, 3/15/1897 - 3/3/1899; ARC #306574

Fifty-fith Congress.

Sereno E. Payne, Chairman.
George D. Perkins. William S. Booze.
Albert J. Hopkins. John F. Fitzgerald.
John Simpkins. W. Jasper Talbert.
Philip B. Low. Henry D. Clayton.
James R. Young. Samuel T. Baird.
Archibald Lybrand. Levin Irving Handy.

Committee on

The Merchant Marine and Fisheries,

House of Representatives U. S.,

Washington, D. C., Feb. 5, 1898.

Dict. by S. E. P. to B.

Hon. George W. Ray,

Chairman Com. on Invalid Pensions,


Dear Sir:-

I hand you herewith papers in the claim of Harriet Tubman Davis, a Bill for the relief of a woman whom is before your Committee. Mrs. Davis is now receiving a pension at $8. per month as widow of her husband. Claim for increase is because of her own personal services in the war. She was employed as nurse, cooking the Hospital, and as a spy during nearly the whole period of the war. I know her personally, and she is a most interesting old colored woman, I should judge nearly eighty years of age; having been born a slave, she does not know her age. And about the year 1876, as well as prior thereto, a bill for her relief went to the Committee on War Claims, and all her papers, copies of which are presented herewith, were referred to that Committee by Gen. MCDougall, who then represented our District in Congress. The history of her case was written up by Charles P. Wood now deceased, of Auburn, N. Y., and is presented herewith. Her affidavit is also presented as to the truth of the history written out by Mr. Wood. For all her services she only received about $200. during the entire war. She rendered very valuable aid as the letters, copies of which are herewith presented, will show. I am told by Gen. McDougall that he filed the originals of these papers and he believes the account of her services is correct. It seems to be a very deserving case. I thought it much better to introduce a bill for the increase of her pension, that she might have the enjoymeny of it during the remainder of her life, which certainly, in the course of nature, cannot last long, instead of asking a lump sum and trying to get it in as a claim on account of money equitably due her from the Government for services. I think her case is exactly parallel to one passed in the House yesterday for a war nurse increasing her pension although the case of Mrs. Davis seems to me much stronger. If this case can have the early at attention of the Committee, I shall be very much gratified.

Yours very truly,

S. E. Payne

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