Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James McHenry, 28 December 1798

From James McHenry


Philad. 28 Decr. 1798

Dear Sir

I have this moment received two letters from you under dates of the 20th & one dated the 26th.

The President desired the list of nominations to be submitted to the heads of Departments for their observations;1 and I have not yet been favoured with these observations. I mean from all of these gentlemen. I expect them to day, and that the nominations will be made on monday.2 Col Smith’s3 name will stand—several names will be omitted, some of whom would not accept if appointed others found to be disqualified. These places will not be filled up till time can be given for consideration & information.

Gen Pinckney has left Town & left no project of a military school with me.4

On the 24th Inst I finished my report to the President which will be laid before congress on the subject of our military affairs.5 It embraces all the points noticed in Gen. Washingtons letters6 with additional matter with which I hope you will be satisfied. I have in the report availed myself of his name. I conceived this course preferable as it respected the head of the department, than a submission in any form of his letters to Congress.

There would be no end to complainings and heartburning were a foreigner to be placed at the head of the 2d regt of artillery.7 Hoops would be less exceptionable, and in a little time more scientific. I am not at all displeased with him. He will mend of the failing you mention, I have no doubt, as soon as he perceives it likely to stand in the way of his promotion.

I inclose you a copy of the recruiting instructions8 & the bases upon which they have been formed.9

Your sincere friend

James McHenry

Majr Gen Alexr Hamilton E

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; ADf, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.

1A copy of this list was enclosed in McHenry to Timothy Pickering, December 18, 1798 (LS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1789–1825, National Archives).

2McHenry submitted the list of officers selected by George Washington, H, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney at their meetings in Philadelphia during November and December, 1798, to John Adams on December 29, 1798 (ADfS, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress; LS, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress).

On Monday, December 31, 1798, Adams sent to the Senate his list of nominations for officers to the Additional Army (Executive Journal I, 298–302). The Senate considered and acted on these nominations on January 8, 10, 14, 15, and 18 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 303–07). Copies of this list are in the George Washington Papers, Library of Congress, and in the James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress, and are enclosed in McHenry to Pickering, December 18, 1798 (LS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1798–1825, National Archives).

For H’s lists of candidates for Army appointments, see the enclosure to H to McHenry, August 21, 1798; “Candidates for Army Appointments from Massachusetts,” December 9–28, 1798; “Candidates for Army Appointments from Connecticut,” November–December, 1798; “Candidates for Army Appointments from Delaware,” November–December, 1798; “Candidates for Army Appointments from Kentucky,” November–December, 1798; “Candidates for Army Appointments from Maryland,” November–December, 1798; “Candidates for Army Appointments from Tennessee,” November–December, 1798.

5Adams submitted McHenry’s report of December 24, 1798, to Congress on December 31, 1798 (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , IX, 3614–27).

6See H’s drafts of three letters from Washington to McHenry, December 13, 1798.

8This is a reference to the 1798 edition of the War Department printed pamphlet Rules and Regulations Respecting the Recruiting Service. See H to Jonathan Dayton, August 6, 1798, note 6.

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