Alexander Hamilton Papers

Enclosure: George Washington to James McHenry, [13 November 1798]

George Washington to James McHenry1

[Philadelphia, November 13, 1798]


I observe by the concluding paragraph of your letter of the 10th.2 instant that you contemplate conferences between the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury and myself, for the purpose of obtaining auxiliary information from their departments. Several of the questions which you state seem indeed to require such information. But on reflection, it has occurred to me as most regular, that you should settle with those officers what it may be reciprocally deemed necessary and proper for them to communicate; to the end that they may themselves bring forward, either through you or directly to me as may be agreed, but without any previous application from me, such communications as the case shall be supposed to require. Whereever, too, I am to report a formal opinion, you will I daresay think with me, that the data3 upon which it shall be given ought substantially to be deposited with me in writing. Personal conferences besides, for more full explanation, may be useful and will be very agreeable to me. Allow me to request your speedy attention to this matter.4

I find also, that the documents referred to in your letter of the 10. inst. did not accompany it.5 As these will be necessary in forming an opinion on several points submitted to me in your letter aforesaid, and which I have communicated to Majr. Genls. Hamilton and Pinckney, I must beg you to furnish me with them without delay.

The documents referred to are as follows— viz—

“List of persons who have been recommended for Commissions in the Army, with their letters of pretensions.”

(N.B. A list of Applicants south of the River Potomac,6 and their letters, are in my hands. The list & letters from the other parts will be wanting)

“Returns and Letters from Brigad. Genl. Wilkinson shewing the stations and number of the Troops on the N. Western and Southern frontier.”

“Return shewing the description, places of rendezvous, stations and number of Troops, now on our Seaboard frontier.”

Return from the Superintendent of Military Stores, shewing the quantity & kinds of Cannon, Field artillery, Military Stores, and other Articles now on hand belonging to the U.S.

(N.B. This Return shd. also exhibit the places at which these are deposited, and the quantity at each place.)

To these must be added the estimate which you had made out of the monies which you conceived wd. be required for military services, and the times at which the same might be wanted.

I have in my hands a list of the Genl. & Field Officers who served in the Revolutionary War,7 and of the Captains and subalterns from the States so. of the Potomac. You will therefore be pleased to add to the documents a list of the Captains & Subalterns, from the other States, that the whole may be before me. I am Sir with very great regard & esteem

yr mo. obt Svt

Jas. McHenry Esqr.
Secretary of War

AL, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Df, in the handwriting of H and Tobias Lear, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

3On November 14, 1798, McHenry wrote to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., and Timothy Pickering in compliance with Washington’s request (LS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford; LS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; copy, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress). On November 16, 1798, Wolcott sent to McHenry “a view of the public finances” “stating the permanent Revenue & permanent Expenditures of the United States and shewing the balance remaining for Military and Naval Operations” (copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). McHenry sent Wolcott’s report to Washington on November 19, 1798 (LS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

Wolcott also prepared a report entitled “Estimated Receipts & Expenditures of the United States for the Quarter ending 31st December 1798” (copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress). H endorsed this copy: “November 25 received from the Secy of the Treasury as a guide for the last quarter of 1798. A H.”

In his second letter to Washington on November 16, 1798 (LS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress), McHenry enclosed a document entitled “Army of the United States on the present establishment … shewing the component parts, number of Men and pay of the Officers composing the present Army Establishment” (copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

4The remainder of this letter is in Lear’s handwriting.

5On November 14, 1798, McHenry wrote to Washington: “I had the honor to receive your Excellencys letter of the 13th instant last night.

“Some of the documents which were referred to in my letter of the 10th, I find cannot be completed by my Clerks, in any reasonable time. I shall therefore be obliged to submit the original books and records of the Office containing them, in their place, and request the same may be carefully returned.

“You will be furnished in consequence, as soon as the same shall be wanted with, 1. The book containing a list of all the candidates and abridgement of their recommendations. 2. The original letters of recommendation.” (LS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.)

6“List of applications for Commissi[o]ns in the Army from Virginia No Carolina So Carolina Georgia Kintucky & Tennessee” (D, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

7See Washington to H, November 12, 1798, note 7.

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