American Archives Month 2016: Sam B. Hall, Jr. and World War 1 Veterans

For our final week of American Archives Month, we took a look at the papers of Sam B. Hall.

When long-time Congressman Wright Patman died in 1976, Sam B. Hall, Jr. was chosen in a special election represent Texas’s First District. He held this seat in the House of Representatives until 1984 and was re-elected five times. During his time in Congress, Hall proved to be an active legislator. He introduced numerous bills and played a role in many significant pieces of legislation. He also served as the chairman of the Administrative Law and Governmental Relations Subcommittee from 1982 until he left Congress, at which time he was appointed as a federal district judge by President Ronald Reagan.

untitled-page-001One of the key issues during Hall’s final years in Congress was the growing dilemma over how to care for veterans of the First World War Introduced in 1981, H.R. 1918: the World War 1 Veterans Service Pension Act, called for the payment of a monthly $150 (roughly $370 today) pension to veterans, their widows, or their surviving children. By 1982, Hall had scheduled the bill for markup – the process wherein the contents of a proposed piece of legislation are debated and amended.untitled2-page-001


Hall’s constituents cited their financial difficulties amid the current recession and the declining veteran population as reasons to support the bill. Congressman Hall noted that “the United States has a moral commitment to its veterans” and that the bill’s passage would help honor that commitment. Unfortunately, despite Hall’s efforts, the bill never left committee; however, it would go on to be reintroduced in subsequent Congresses. Interestingly, though certain veterans’ groups estimated the majority of World War I veterans would die off by the end of the 1980s, several survived well into the new millennium.

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