Disabled Revolutionary War Veterans and the Construction of Disability in the Early United States, c.1776-1840

Daniel Blackie

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandlingMonografi

Sammanfattning

This thesis addresses the following broad research question: what did it mean to be a disabled Revolutionary War veteran in the early United States during the period from 1776 to roughly 1840? The study approaches the question from two angles: a state-centred one and an experiential one. In both cases, the theoretical framework employed comes from disability studies. Consequently, disability is regarded as a sociocultural phenomenon rather than a medical condition.

The state-centred dimension of the study explores the meaning of disability and disabled veterans to the early American state through an examination of the major military pension laws of the period. An analysis of this legislation, particularly the invalid pension acts of 1793 and 1806, indicates that the early United States represents a key period in the development of the modern disability category.

The experiential approach, in contrast, shifts the focus of attention away from the state towards the lived experiences of disabled veterans. It seeks to address the issue of whether or not the disabilities of disabled veterans had any significant material impact on their everyday lives. It does this through a comparison of the situation of 153 disabled veterans with that of an equivalent number of nondisabled veterans. The former group received invalid pensions while the latter did not.

In comparing the material conditions of disabled and nondisabled veterans, a wide range of primary sources from military records to memoirs and letters are used. The most important sources in this regard are the pension application papers submitted by veterans in the early nineteenth century. These provide us with a unique insight into the everyday lives of veterans. Looking at the issue of experience through the window of the pension files reveals that there was not much difference in the broad contours of disabled and nondisabled veteran life. This finding has implications for the theorisation of disability that are highlighted and discussed in the thesis.

The main themes covered in this study are: the wartime experiences of injured American soldiers, the military pension establishment of the early United States and the legal construction of disability, and the post-war working and family lives of disabled veterans.

Keywords: disability, early America, veterans, military pensions, disabled people, Revolutionary War, United States, disability theory.

Originalspråkengelska
UtgivningsortHelsinki
Tryckta ISBN978-952-10-6342-8
Elektroniska ISBN978-952-10-6343-5
StatusPublicerad - 2010
MoE-publikationstypG4 Doktorsavhandling (monografi)

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