vision by the Pension Office, greater convenience in handling reports and accounts, and the annual saving of $142,000 on salary account alone are among the substantial results of the consolidation.
The total number of claims settled during the four years preceding June 30, 1880, was 74,179, an increase of 26,536 over the previous four years. On the 30th of June, 1876, the number of pensioners borne upon the rolls was 232,137, and the payments for the year which then closed amounted to $28,351,599.69. On the 30th of June, 1880, the number was 250,802 and the payments $57,240,540.14. The large increase, as shown between the two periods, is due to the fact that the payments of the last year include the arrears of pension allowed under act of March 3, 1879.
The Commissioner estimates that upwards of $50,000,000 will be required to pay the pensions of the curreut year, and that a like amount will be needed for the year following.
The magnitude of the interests involved iu this branch of the service can be understood by the presentation of these figures, and it needs no argument to prove that the adoption of the very best attainable system of adjudication is a necessity.
While the sacred obligations represented by these enormous sums of money should be promptly paid, and every honest pensioner receive his or her dues with as little delay as possible, the greatest precaution should be exercised on the part of the government to prevent the admission or payment of fraudulent claims. The present system of adjudication, based almost wholly upon ex parte testimony, is admittedly defective. Perjured witnesses appear as well on paper as honest ones, and where no official record corroborates the evidence given, deception is not only easy, but the temptation to practice it very strong. A change of method in this direction is, in my opinion, absolutely essential to prevent fraud. It is not necessary to wait until a perfect system is presented before authorizing a departure from the present one. The plan proposed by the Commissioner of Pensions and recommended by him in his annual reports since 1876 looks to the correction of existing evils. It is not claimed as perfect; it may have faults which only a practical test can determine, but tbe importance of the work it proposes to do, and the large interests which depend upon the character of this work, should commend it to the earnest consideration of Congress and insure for it a fair trial. I am convinced that it is much better than the present system, and that any faults which actual experience might develop in it could be easily corrected, either by additional legislation or by the exercise of administrative discretion.
The report of the Commissioner contains an interesting array of facts and figures. On the 30th of June last the pension list consisted of 133,212 Army invalids; 78,772 Army widows, minor children, &c.; 2,060 Navy invalids; 1,870 Navy widows, minor children, &c.; 10,138