Beautiful certificate from the Vaughn's Ex-Slave Pension Club Association
issued in 1899. This historic document was printed by the C.R. & A.A. Match Printers Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of Walter R. Vaughan. This item has the original signatures of the Company’s National General Director, and National General Secretary, and is over 116 years old.
William R. Vaughan, a native of Alabama, and white Democrat conceived of the idea that it would be an act of justice by the Government to compensate ex-salve by granting them a pension. Vaughan believed that not only would it be justice to ex-slaves, who had little, but also to the tax-payers of southern states who bore the cost of supporting them and its white population. Between 1890 and 1903, he secured the introduction of nine bills in succession to the Congress, none of which ever became law, and the support of some prominent members of Congress. Vaughan prepared the first bill in 1890, and W. J. Cornell of Nebraska introduced it in Congress June 24, 1890. All of the bills were identical; each providing a pension to ex-slave based on a scale. Ex-slaves 70 years and older were to receive an initial payment of $500 and $15 a month; ex-slaves 60-70 years would receive $300 and $12 a month; ex-slaves 50-60 years would receive $100 and $8 a month; and those ex-slaves less than 50 years old would not receive an initial payment, but a $4 a month pension."
"When the 13th Amendment officially ended the practice of slavery in the United States, it made no stipulation for compensation for freedpeople. Frederick Douglass, the renowned
abolitionist, orator, and human rights leader, was an early proponent of restitution. He expressed the following view in an early 1890s letter to Walter R. Vaughan: “The Egyptian bondsmen went out with the spoils of his master, and the Russian serf was provided with farming tools and three acres of [land] upon which to begin life, but the Negro had neither spoils, implements nor lands, and to day he is practically a slave on the very plantation where formerly he was driven to toil under the lash.”2 With limited aid after emancipation and the hardships they faced under the sharecropping system, many exslaves remained in dire economic straits. As a result, ex-slave pension bills were introduced in Congress, and organizations and clubs were established in an attempt to secure compensation. The first ex-slave pension bill was introduced in Congress in 1890 at the request of Walter R. Vaughan, a white Democrat and ex-mayor of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Vaughan did not believe that it, nor subsequent bills, should be identified as a pension bill, but instead as
“a Southern tax-relief bill.”3 He conceived of the aid as not only a benefit and semblance
of justice to formerly enslaved blacks, but ultimately, through their expenditures of the monies they would receive, a financial boost to the devastated Southern economy. Vaughan established an organization under various names including the Ex-Slave National Pension Club Association and Vaughan’s Justice Party. Government surveillance of the ex-slave pension movement began during Vaughan’s involvement and continued for nearly 30 years. After profiting considerably from his pamphlet entitled Vaughan’s Freedmen’s Pension Bill, A Plea for American Freedmen and ex-slave pension activities through his organization, Vaughan, for the most part, became involved in other ventures. His motives were questionable, and after 1903 he faded from the scene. Vaughan’s club was the first ex-slave pension organization, but others included the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association of the United States of America; the Ex-Slave Petitioner’s Assembly; the Great National Ex-Slave Union, Congressional, Legislative, and Pension Association of the U.S.A.; and the Ex-Slave Pension Association."
History from Encyberpedia, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and
stock certificate research service).