Administrative History

New York militiamen and volunteers who served during the War of 1812 became eligible to receive reimbursement for supplies, clothing, and equipment furnished for the war effort by the Laws of 1818, Chapter 270 and Laws of 1819, Chapter 117. It was not until 1857, however, that the State of New York created an administrative "board of commissioners," consisting of the Adjutant General and Inspector General, to examine and approve claims submitted by War of 1812 veterans, their widows, or other legal claimants (L. 1857, Ch. 597). Legislation passed two years later (L. 1859, Ch. 176) amended the previous law, and authorized the board of commissioners to issue certificates to claimants stating "the amount which [the commissioners] shall have found to be due." Under the 1859 law, 17,228 claims were audited and approved, and an additional 44 claims were approved in 1872.

Claims totaling $2,250,000 were eventually reviewed by the board, and certificates for about that amount were issued to the claimants by the State of New York. Despite the large sum of money owed to claimants, the State Legislature was only able to appropriate a total of $250,000 to redeem the certificates (L. 1869, Ch. 470; L. 1870, Ch. 524; L. 1874, Ch. 350), leaving a balance of about $2,000,000 to be paid. Probably as a result of the shortage of funds, the 1869 legislation provided that the Comptroller's Office make payments on certificates held by New York State residents only, pro rata, in the following order, until the federal government appropriated funds to pay off the remaining balance (State statute dating back to 1819 held that the federal government was ultimately liable to appropriate funds to pay these claims.): (1) principal on certificates held by surviving War of 1812 veterans; (2) accumulated interest due upon the certificates held by surviving veterans; (3) principal on certificates held by surviving widows of veterans; (4) accumulated interest due on certificates held by surviving widows of veterans; and (5) certificates held by legal representatives of veterans.

According to two reports, one published by the New York Assembly Ways and Means Committee (1885), cited below, and the other by the State Agent for War of 1812 Claims (1905), the State of New York never received any monies from the federal government to pay the outstanding claims. Research conducted by the Comptroller's Office as late as 1987 also confirms that funds were never received to satisfy these claims.

Citation: New York State Assembly, "Committee of Ways and Means Relative to Contingent Expenses of Volunteers and Militia of the State Called into Service of the U.S. in the War of 1812," Assembly Document No. 146, 1885.