Veterans Benefits in the Colonies

Caring for military veterans who serve to protect the American way of life is a tradition older than the United States itself. In fact, the history of veterans law in this country predates the U.S. Constitution by over 100 years, starting with the first Pilgrims to the New World. This precedent of supporting injured veterans and their families set by the separatist Puritans helped to establish one of America’s oldest traditions—more than 450 years before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was created by Congress.

Here are some of the more notable veterans benefits laws from the original 13 Colonies. Keep in mind, formal provisions for veterans and local militia who were injured while in service existed in almost every early American colonial government.

1636 Plymouth Colony – 1st Veterans Benefits law
1661 Maryland Colony
1676 Massachusetts Bay Colony – 1st Veterans Committee
1678 Maryland Colony – 1st Military Dependents Benefits law
1691 New York Colony

Use the links on this page to access original documents from online public records.

Share This