Abstract

Laws that provided pensions for Union army veterans were putatively color-blind, but whites and African Americans experienced the pension system differently. Black veterans were less likely to apply for pensions during the program's early years. Yet, no matter when they applied, they encountered two stages of bias, first from examining physicians and then, far more systematically, from Pension Bureau reviewers. The evidence suggests that pension income reduced mortality among African-American veterans, underscoring the tangible results of justice denied.

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