THE GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC State and Federal leaders from President Lincoln down had promised to care for "those who have borne the burden, his widows, and orphans," but they had little knowledge of how to accomplish this task. There was little political pressure to see that the promises were kept. With that as a background, groups of men began forming together-first for camaraderie and then for political power. Emerging as the most powerful among the various organizations would be the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which by 1890 would number 409,489 veterans of the "War of the Rebellion." Founded in Decatur, Illinois on April 6, 1866 by Benjamin F. Stephenson, membership was limited to honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Revenue Cutter Service who had served between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865. The GAR founded soldier's homes, was active in relief work and in pension legislation. Five members were elected President of the United States, and for a time, it was impossible to be nominated on the Republican ticket without the support of the GAR.