James McHenry to John Adams10
War Department, 31st May, 1800.
I respectfully take the Liberty to state to you my recollection of the substance and incidents of the conversation which passed between us on the evening (the 5th instt) preceding my Resignation of the Office of Secretary for the Department of War.
I dined on the same day with Mr Nicklin,11 and was at table when informed that my Servant waited at the door to see me. He brought me a Note which had been sent to my House from you, “requesting Mr. McHenry’s Company for one minute.”
I immediately waited upon you at your own House, and being shewn into the common sitting room, found you there alone. After desiring me to sit down, the Conversation commenced as follows: President: I sent for you to request you would make a proposition to Mr. Jonathan Williams. I did not understand before this morning the pretensions of Mr. Israel Whelen, who has filled important Stations in the State of Pennsylvania, and is pressed upon me by the most respectable characters in the city.12
Secretary. Mr. Williams, you know, Sir, has been with your express approbation appointed provisional purveyor.
President. I am determined to appoint Mr Whelen Purveyor, unless Mr. Williams will stipulate to appoint him on the removal of the Government to the Federal City, his Agent in Philadelphia on a Salary of 1000 or 1200 Dollars, and Mr. Whelen should agree to the proposal. I have a regard for Mr. Williams; he is a Boston Boy. I have known him from a Child, and always considered him very honest. He was Franklin’s Friend in France. Lee brought up charges against his accounts there, which were referred to me to examine.13 I found them perfectly right. Mr. Roberdeau14 is another Candidate for the Office. His Father15 was my dearest and best Friend. I loved him, and can never forget him nor overlook his Son.
Secretary. I have heard young Mr. Roberdeau well spoken of.
President. You will make the proposal to Williams, and inform me in the Morning.
Secretary. I shall see Mr. Williams, and will send for Mr. Whelen or Mr. Waln, his friend, in the morning, and communicate the result as soon as known.
The Conversation now paused, and I was about to take leave, when you introduced a new subject.
President. I have understood you are the only person among the Heads of Departments, who is desirous to retain his Office after the next election for President.
Secretary. I do not know that I am so desirous to remain in office.
President. (with great warmth) Hamilton has been opposing me in New York. He has caused the loss of the election.16 No head of a Department shall be permitted to oppose me. I desire you to inform me of the fact.
Secretary. I have heard no such conduct ascribed to General Hamilton, and I cannot think it to be the case.
President. I know it, Sir, to be so, and require you to inform yourself and report. You are subservient to him, Sir. It was you who biassed General Washington’s mind (who hesitated) and induced him to place Hamilton on the List of Major Generals, before Generals Knox and Pinckney. I have the General’s letter to that effect.17
Secretary (recollecting to have given to the President General Washington’s Letter, written and addressed to the Secretary himself when at Mount Vernon, in which he expressed his hesitation and the motives inducing to his placing Hamilton first on the List of Major Generals). I can with great Confidence assure you I had no Agency in producing the determination, and I am confident, the Letter (alluded to) will confirm my Assertion.
President. Even General Washington’s Death and the Eulogiums upon him18 have been made use of as engines to injure and lower me in the eyes of the public, and you know it, Sir.
Secretary. I have read very few of the Eulogiums.
President. You too, Sir, have played the same game. In your reports you have eulogized Washington,19 and attempted the same of Hamilton.
Secretary. With respect to General Hamilton, you know, Sir, I expunged from the report referred to, the praise which attached to him.
President. I cannot overlook your arrogant and dictatorial behaviour to me, in the comment you made on the anonymous Letter I shewed to you some time since.20 That Letter recommended it to me, to take the chief command of the Army from General Hamilton, and to give it to some one of the other Gentlemen named in it. You erected yourself on your chair, you rose and swelled up (imitating the manner in which you represented me to have swelled) and said, the advice of the Letter-Writer, if followed, would put between Hamilton and me eternal enmity. I felt at your observation the utmost indignation, and could hardly forbear ordering you out of the Room.
Secretary. I considered the advice given in that Letter, at the time it was shewn to me, to be mischievously intended. I then expressed myself to that effect. And altho’ I suspected the Writer, from the Handwriting and other Circumstances, all the observations I made were meant to be merely political; but as some of them appear now to be considered as expressed in an offensive manner I could wish they had not been used.
President. Hamilton is an intriguant—the greatest intriguant in the World—a man devoid of every moral principle—a Bastard, and as much a foreigner as Gallatin.21 Mr Jefferson is an infinitely better man; a wiser one, I am sure, and, if President, will act wisely. I know it, and would rather be Vice President under him, or even Minister Resident at the Hague, than indebted to such a being as Hamilton for the Presidency. But I can retire to Quincy, and, like Washington, write Letters & leave them behind me. You are subservient to Hamilton, who ruled Washington, and would still rule if he could. Washington saddled me with three Secretaries who would controul me, but I shall take care of that. Wolcott is a very good Secretary of the Treasury, but what do any of you know of the diplomatic Interests of Europe? You are all mere children who can give no assistance in such matters.
Secretary. I am very ready to acknowledge your superior opportunities and experience in affairs of Diplomacy, and, if you please, my own comparative ignorance.
President. How could such men presume to advise in such matters, or dare to recommend a suspension of the Mission to France.22 You too joined in the Advice, and are too subservient to Wolcott and Pickering. I demand, Sir, to be informed, who it was called Judge Elsworth & Hamilton to Trenton to attempt to persuade me to suspend the mission. Judge Elsworth, whom I called upon on my way to Trenton, said he did not intend being there. I saw him notwithstanding, and Hamilton, who could have no business there.
Secretary. I had no knowledge of General Hamilton’s intentions to be at Trenton, until, one or two days previous to his arrival, it was made known to me by a letter from him, advising that General Wilkinson had returned to New York, and that they would be in a few days at Trenton, in order to settle definitively with me, certain arrangements respecting the Western Army.23
President. Governor Davie, I will do him the Justice to say, always considered it proper the Mission should proceed.
I omit what you said of several members of Congress; of the distractions which you represented to prevail in Massachusetts, and might end in distracting the Union, all of which you ascribe to a dispute for political preeminence between Mr Goodhue and Mr. Dane,24 and the precise words of your declaration importing that you would make the Senate bend to you. I omit also your injunction that no further printing Business should be given to Fenno.25
President. You Sir, (the manner in which this was spoken to me will no doubt be recollected) left out of the List of Officers appointed from North Carolina, the only one among its Electors who voted for me, and afterwards had him appointed a Lieutenant, which Office he refused.26 I desire, Sir, that in future you will lay before me every letter of Recommendation for appointments.
Secretary. I can assure you, Sir, the Circumstance mentioned and the pretensions of the Gentleman were wholly unknown to me, at the time the list of names for appointments from North Carolina was transmitted to you for your approbation. I beg to be indulged to state the facts. When the Generals of the Army, Washington, Hamilton & Pinckney, were called to the seat of Government,27 (and they afterwards met at Philadelphia) part of the business to be submitted to them, was to prepare a list of Names for Offices in the New Army, to be presented for your ulterior approbation. To enable them to do this, I laid before them a List of all applicants for military appointments from each state,28 taken from the Registers of the Names on the Books of the War Office, together with all the letters of recommendation, including those from North Carolina. You, Sir, will perhaps recollect that the materials for a proper selection of Officers from North Carolina, being at that time thought inadequate, it was recommended and with your concurrence committed to General Pinckney, to be assisted by Governor Davie, to make a Selection for the proportion of Officers to be drawn from that State, which it was expected their personal knowledge of characters would facilitate the Execution of.29 I furnished those Gentlemen with a List of all the Candidates from North Carolina, and their Letters of recommendation. They returned me a List accordingly, formed partly from the names furnished, and others whom they either had personal knowledge, or received unquestionable Recommendations of, and this List was signed by each of the Gentlemen,30 transmitted to you31 and received your approbation.32 I certainly did not know at this time, nor indeed ’till long after the appointment of the Gentleman in question to a Lieutenancy, of his pretensions. They were mentioned to me by Mr Grove, since the meeting of the present Congress.33
President. It was not Mr. Grove who informed me.
Secretary. I certainly had no agency whatever in the Omission.
President. A Letter of yours is quoted all over the Continent, assigning to me a Determination to appoint Tories to Office, and exclude all those who are not decided favourers of the Administration.34
Secretary. That Letter has been greatly misrepresented for evident political purposes.
President. I have not been informed of the places chosen for cantoning the Army, or of the Land that has been purchased for the Army to hut upon. I heard nothing from you respecting those things.
Secretary. The Instructions given to Generals Hamilton & Pinckney were formally submitted to and approved of by you.35 These Instructions specified the places at, or in the Vicinity of which the four Grand Divisions of the troops were to be stationed. Certainly, Sir, fixing upon the particular Spots of Ground, where the encampments or huts were to be, was incidental to the general power to canton, and called for no new Authority. Any subsequent Reference to the Department of War could not be necessary. Besides, the choice of ground for an encampment or Winter-Quarters, is a subject, in a military point of view, exclusively within the province of the Quarter Master General,36 under the direction of the Commander of the Troops.
President. Business, Sir, is delayed in your Department. Every Body says so. You neglected furnishing me with a List of the appointments made during the late recess. I had to ask for it from you two or three times before I could get it.37
Secretary. My Clerks have been much employed. Mr. Jones,38 the Clerk who keeps the Register of military appointments and resignations, complained to me he could not get time to extract the Names, and make out the List for you sooner, without neglecting other Business, which was extremely pressing. I intended, I assure you, no Disrespect by the delay you are pleased to notice.
President. I understand you turned out the Chief Clerk, Major Stagg, to make Room for your Brother in Law.
Secretary. You have, Mr. President, been misinformed on this subject. I neither turned Major Stagg out of Office, nor obliged him by my Behaviour to resign. It was a Determination purely his own, to better his situation by going into Business in New York. He is still my friend, and I am persuaded he will confirm what I say.39
President. Sir, Your clerks are more in number than are necessary, or have any thing to do: bring me a list of their names tomorrow, and a detailed account of their respective duties.
Secretary. One of them is pretty constantly employed, during the Session of Congress at least, in examining claims for military Lands.
President (interrupting). I have but one Clerk myself. I sign thousands of patents and Commissions, and find him quite enough. In Boston, two Writers in a Lawyer’s Office will do more writing than all your Clerks put together.
Secretary. I can only say both my Clerks and myself find always abundant Employment.
President. I must know more of your business. I desire that you will lay before me daily all the Letters you receive.
Secretary. I certainly, Mr. President, have never failed, in any instance, to lay before you every letter of Importance. I receive or write very few private Letters.
President. I do not want to see your private Letters.
Secretary. I shall lay all public Letters before you in future.
President. You have advertised for proposals for cutting out Cloathing for the Army,40 when the Troops are naked and require their Cloathing. The Officers of the Army all complain against your department.
Secretary. Permit me, Sir, to state to you facts. The recruiting Service for the new Army began, partially, about twelve months since, and has been suspended some time ago.41 This Army was provided in Season with Cloathing equal to its full complement of Men. Now, Sir, as less than half the number ordered to be raised have been enlisted, there must be an ample Supply on hand to furnish it with Cloathing for twelve months yet to come. If the Troops composing this Army are to be disbanded shortly, which is probable, there will remain a surplus to be applied to the Troops on the old Establishment. Should there be any of the Soldiers naked, it is their own, or their Officers’ Fault, and ought not to be ascribed to the Secretary of War. I have, it is true, not withstanding this Expectation of a surplus of Cloathing, invited proposals to cut out a certain number of Suits, but these are intended for the next year’s Cloathing of the old Army, and to guard against Events.
President. The Cloathing which has been furnished to the Soldiery is of the worst kind of Cloth.
Secretary. If the Representation made to you on this head is true, the fault is not to be ascribed to me. It was provided and made up under the Direction or Superintendance of the Purveyor. I am however disposed to believe, that, if indifferent Cloth has been employed, it was because none of a better quality at a reasonable and the usual price could be obtained. I recollect there was a scarcity of Blue Cloth, and it was impracticable to obtain the necessary quantity of white, which induced having recourse to Substitutes.42
President. Why was the Purveyor kept so long in Office?43 Was it Weight and influence of the Willing & Bingham families,44 who are making through the means of the Bank of the United States monstrous fortunes, and look as if they were to get possession of all Pennsylvania, &ca. that intimidated the Heads of Departments from advising his Removal. Through all parts of the Country, Sir, your conduct in the Department is complained of. Every member of Congress I have spoken with, except General Lee,45 tells me that you want capacity to discharge its duties. When I crossed the North River, I saw some Soldiers, and understood from their Officer, they had Cloathing due to them. You cannot, Sir, remain longer in Office.
Secretary. To the opinion which you say is entertained of my Capacity I can make little Reply. It is however the first Intimation you have been pleased to communicate on the Subject, and I have not been able to anticipate it from any Intercourse I have had either with the Officers of the Army or Members of Congress. You, Sir, have had ample opportunities to form an opinion whether I possess Qualifications necessary to conduct a department of Government, with advantage to the public, without having Recourse to the Information of others. My Letters and other official papers which have been so often before you, must have enabled you to judge for yourself, whether the opinion you represent to be entertained is actually founded. The Slowness or otherwise of my mental powers must have long since been evinced to you, by the time I have usually spent in preparing plans, and between the receipt of a Letter of Governmental Question, and the answers thereto. But whether the opinion of my Incapacity be ill or well founded, it is enough that you say the opinion exists to produce the proposed Result. I shall certainly resign.
President. Very well, Sir. For myself, I have always, I will acknowledge, considered you as a man of Understanding and of the strictest Integrity, and I have had no reasons to be dissatisfied with the proofs you have given of your Capacity, in your official Intercourse with me, nor with your general Behaviour towards me.
Secretary. It would give me pleasure to know if there are any points relative to my official Conduct, other than those you have mentioned, of an exceptionable Nature, that I may have an opportunity of explaining them before I leave the Office.
President. If any Explanations should be wanted, you can always obtain the papers you may require.
Secretary. I am very well satisfied to trust my official Conduct to the Strictest Scrutiny. I cannot however help expressing a wish that it had accorded with your Arrangements to have intimated your desire I should resign, previous to my engaging a House in the City of Washington, and making dispositions for the Removal of my family: circumstances you were fully acquainted with.
President. I was sorry at the time to see you enter into those engagements.
Secretary. Considered in a pecuniary point of view, they are of little moment, and certainly shall not delay my determination: as, however, you might expect explanations on some parts of my official Transactions, which may require a resort to official papers; and can be best given while the motives and reasons inducing to them are fresh in my Recollection, I shall send in my Resignation in the morning, to take place, if you please on the first of June.
President. You may make your own time.
Secretary. I wish you a good Night, Sir.
President. Good Night.
I take permission to add that I sent in my Resignation the next morning, requesting it might be accepted to take place the first of June. You signified to me, the day following, that “my requests were reasonable, and readily agreed.”46
I have the Honour to be, With perfect Consideration Sir, Your obedient Servant
President of the United States.
10. LS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; ADf, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress; ADf, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress; three copies, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.
11. Philip Nicklin was a Philadelphia merchant.
12. Williams, a native of Boston and a great-nephew of Benjamin Franklin, had been prize agent and commercial agent for Congress at Nantes during the American Revolution. After the war he returned to the United States, settled in Philadelphia, and became an investor in various stock and land operations. In 1796 he was appointed associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.
This paragraph and the succeeding paragraphs concern the appointment of a successor as purveyor of public supplies to Tench Francis, who had died on May 1, 1800 (McHenry to Adams, May 2, 1800 [ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]). Jonathan Williams had been considered for this position in the summer of 1799. See H to McHenry, first letter of June 14, August 19, 1799; McHenry to H, first letter of June 15, July 20, 1799.
Following Francis’s death, Adams and McHenry discussed the possibility of whether the new purveyor should be Williams or Israel Whelen, a Philadelphia merchant and a commissioner of valuations. On May 6, 1800, McHenry wrote to Adams: “Conformably to your directions, I requested and had an interview with Mr. Waln this morning, and communicated to him that if it would suit Mr. Whelen best, on account of his family & connections, to hold an agency in the branch of the Purveyor at Philadelphia at a salary from 1000 to 1200 Dollars per annum—in preference to the Principal office, which would require the removal of his family to the City of Washington, in that case the agency would be stipulated for in his favour.
“Mr Waln promised to consult Mr Whelen and inform me of his friends wishes—this evening or early in the morning. I shall transmit his information as soon as secured by me.” (ALS, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.)
Robert Waln, a Philadelphia merchant, was a Federalist member of the Pennsylvania legislature from 1794 to 1798 and the House of Representatives from 1798 to 1801.
On May 7, 1800, McHenry wrote to Adams: “… it appears that Mr Wheling declines the accommodations you were pleased to direct me to propose.
“I respectfully mention that I cannot forbear suggesting that Mr. Williams’ pretensions are in my opinion very great, and that the peculiar situation in which he has been placed by his provisional appointment under your directions may merit some attention. He has said to me, that should the President finally decide to appoint another person, it would be gratifying to him to be first nominated, and if appointed that he would immediately after resign. This is respectfully submitted to the Presidents consideration with the inclosed papers presented to me by Mr. Williams.” (ALS, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.)
At the bottom of McHenry’s letter of May 7 Adams wrote: “The P. has much Esteem and regard for Mr Williams and regrets exceedingly that Mr Williams cannot be gratified upon this occasion. Mr Wheelen’s application was unknown to the P. at the death of Mr Francis. The P. never knew of Mr Williams’s Employment in the service of purveying untill Mr McHenry asked permission to employ him provisionally, a little before or after the death of Mr Francis. Mr McHenry proposed him last summer for a Major of Artillery.”
On May 8, 1800, Williams wrote in part to Adams: “… I began [in May, 1800] to prepare for a Journey with my Family over the blue ridge in Virginia, to visit Mrs Williams’s Father, when (Mr Francis being extreemely ill) the Secretary of War again informed me that his intention of employing me as purveyor had never ceased, and as some Business required immediate attention, he desired me to act provisionally.
“So far as the Secretarys intention could go, it was evident that this provisional appointment, differed only in form from a permanent one, and I had a self conviction that an objection to me personally would never come from you; for I can never forget your approbation of my conduct in the same kind of Business when in France.
“A short time before this Interview with the secretary of War, some of my Friends recollecting my former Station of Judge of the Common pleas in this County, began to exert their influence to have me named a Commissioner under the late Bankrupt Law; but my appointment as a provisional purveyor nipped these Efforts in the bud.
“After I had commenced several important operations upon the use of the western army, Mr Francis died, and then for the first time I heard that Mr Whelen was my competitor, In the first Instance I could have cheerfully yielded to my respect for his age & character; for my hopes were then too weak to excite a sense of disappointment by their failure, and the chance of success in the object my Friends had in view, would have been perfectly satisfactory.” (ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.)
Despite McHenry’s support of and Adams’s professed affection for Williams, on May 8, 1800, Adams nominated Whelen to be purveyor of public supplies, and the Senate confirmed the nomination on May 13 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 352, 355).
13. Jonathan Williams arrived in France from England following the outbreak of the American Revolution. At that time the United States commissioners in that country were Silas Deane, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur Lee. Deane asked Williams to go to Nantes to supervise the shipment of some goods from that port, and Williams in Deane’s opinion handled the assignment so efficiently that he was appointed prize, or naval, agent. In early 1778 John Adams was appointed commissioner to replace Deane, who had been recalled in December, 1777, and the situation in Nantes became so confused that it offered an almost unexampled opportunity for intrigue and disputes among the commissioners and their hangers-on. The secret committee of Congress had appointed Thomas Morris, an alcoholic and the half-brother of Robert Morris, and William Lee, brother of Arthur Lee, commercial agents at Nantes. Thomas Morris died in January, 1778, and William Lee, who in May, 1777, had been appointed commissioner to Berlin and Vienna, was seldom at Nantes. The result was that almost all the official United States business at Nantes was conducted by Williams, and the commissioners considered him commercial agent. In the meantime William Lee with the approval of the commissioners named as commercial agent Jean-Daniel Schweighauser, a Swiss-Alsatian merchant. When Schweighauser and Williams became involved in a jurisdictional dispute, the commissioners sided with Schweighauser, and in May, 1778, Williams was dismissed as commercial agent. Franklin reluctantly agreed with Arthur Lee and Adams in the decision to remove Williams, for he did not wish to be placed in a position of defending a relative. Following Williams’s dismissal, Lee repeatedly charged that there were irregularities in Williams’s accounts. Both Franklin and Adams denied these charges (Arthur Lee to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, February 11, 18, 1777; Franklin and Deane to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, March 4, 1777; Franklin, Deane, and Lee to Williams, May 1, 1777; Deane to Robert Morris, September 23, 1777; Franklin to Lee, April 6, 1778; Franklin to John Ross, April 26, 1778; Franklin, Lee, and Adams to Williams, May 25, 1778; Lee to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, June 1, 9, September 9, 1778; Franklin to Lee, March 13, 27, 1779, in Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (Washington, 1889). description ends , II, 266–69, 272–73, 277–78, 310, 393–95, 541–42, 560–61, 596–97, 600–03, 608–09, 704–05; III, 77–78, 101–02). For a somewhat different account of the events described above and a defense of Williams’s conduct at Nantes, see Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (Washington, 1889). description ends , I, 606–07.
14. Isaac Roberdeau, who had been educated in the United States and in England, was an engineer who had been employed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant in Washington in 1791 and in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1792.
15. Daniel Roberdeau, a Philadelphia merchant, had been born in the West Indies and educated in England. He was one of the leaders of the revolutionary movement in Pennsylvania and served as a brigadier general in the American Revolution. He was a member of the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1779. He died in 1795.
17. This is a reference to a list in George Washington’s handwriting, dated July 14, 1798 (ADS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; ADS, letterpress copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress), which was appended to Washington’s answers, also dated July 14, 1798, to questions submitted to him by McHenry (ADS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; copy, in McHenry’s handwriting, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; copy, in Tobias Lear’s handwriting, MS Division, New York Public Library). McHenry’s queries, in his own handwriting, are in the Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston. A copy of these queries, also in McHenry’s handwriting, is in the George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. A second copy, in Lear’s handwriting, is in the MS Division, New York Public Library.
For an account of the dispute over the relative rank of H, Pinckney, and Knox, see the to Washington to H, July 14, 1798.
18. For a list of the printed eulogies of Washington, see Margaret B. Stillwell, compiler, “Checklist of Eulogies and Funeral Orations on the Death of George Washington, December 1799–February 1800,” Bulletin of the New York Public Library, XX (May 1916), 403–50.
20. ——— to Adams, March 11, 1800 (AL, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).
21. Albert Gallatin, a native of Geneva, Switzerland, was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania from 1795 to 1801.
22. For an explanation of this sentence and the remainder of this paragraph, see H to Washington, first letter of October 21, 1799, note 2.
24. Benjamin Goodhue, a merchant and Federalist politician from Salem, Massachusetts, was a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention from 1779 to 1780, the General Court from 1780 to 1782, and the state Senate in 1783 and from 1785 to 1788. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1789 to 1796, when he became a United States Senator. In November, 1800, he resigned from the Senate.
Nathan Dane, a Beverly, Massachusetts, lawyer, was a member of the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1787. He opposed the Federal Constitution and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention. From 1793 to 1798 he served in the Massachusetts Senate.
No evidence has been found that Goodhue and Dane were engaged in a struggle for the domination of the Federalist party in Massachusetts.
25. John Ward Fenno was the publisher of the Gazette of the United States, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser. Adams was dissatisfied with Fenno’s paper, and on April 23, 1800, he had asked the heads of departments and the Attorney General whether an official public printer could be appointed by the President without specific statutory authorization (LC, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). On April 29, 1800, McHenry had written to Adams that “… present circumstances require and render it proper, that a law should be passed to authorise the President to appoint … some fit trusty and discreet person, to be Printer to the United States …” (ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). See also Justice Samuel Chase’s undated opinion (ADS, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress), which is printed in Steiner, James McHenry description begins Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry, Secretary of War under Washington and Adams (Cleveland, 1907). description ends , 431.
26. For an explanation of this charge, see McHenry to H, first letter of May 20, 1800, note 11.
28. See McHenry to Washington, November 10, 1798, enclosed in Washington to H, November 12, 1798, and note 2; H’s draft of Washington to McHenry, November 13, 1798, enclosed in H to Washington, November 13, 1798.
29. See H’s draft of Washington to McHenry, first letter of December 13, 1798.
30. See notes 7 and 8.
31. McHenry to Adams, March 16, 1799 (ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).
32. Adams to McHenry, March 29, 1799 (LC, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; ALS [photostat], James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress).
33. See note 6.
34. McHenry to William Darke, December 18, 1798 (copy, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress). This letter (along with Darke to McHenry, October 11, 1798, and McHenry to Darke, September 14, 1798) was printed in the Gazette of the United States, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, February 27, 1799. See note 9. Darke, a Virginian, was a veteran of the American Revolution.
In his letter of December 18, 1798, McHenry wrote: “In the present crisis of our affairs, and state of party in the Country, it was and is deemed important not to accept of Companies composed of disaffected persons, who may from improper motives, be desirous to intrude themselves into the Army, under the pretence of patriotic associations; and to guard against it, Certificates have been, and are required, from prominent and known characters, or those whose virtues, talents and usefulness have given them a weight and respectability in the Community, setting forth the principles of the Associates, those of the Officers elect, especially, and that the Company have complied with the conditions prescribed by law. This precaution would be equally proper and indispensible, if the certificates were to be applied to the moral principles only of the Officers elected by Volunteer Companies, for in so extensive a Country as this a Secretary of War cannot be presumed to be acquainted with and certainly ought not to venture to present to the President for Commissions, persons living in remote parts of the Union, and unknown to him without recommendations from known and prominent characters.
“The President at all times before he nominates to office, decides upon the merits of the Candidates he proposes should fill it and the Secretary of War considers it to be his duty to obtain the best information respecting the talents and character of every Military Candidate, before he submits his name and recommendation to the President. Such is the regular and accustomed course of the appointments for the established Army, why should it be deviated from, or why should less attention be paid to the characters of officers in the case of Volunteer Companies?
“Your recommendations and information respecting the qualities and fitness of Gentlemen elected as Officers of Volunteer Companies, will always be acceptable. And as there are many among that description of persons whom you denominate old Tories, who are known to be men of honour and integrity, attached to the Constitution of the United States, approvers of the general measures which have proceeded from it since its adoption, decided opposers of French principles, and French aggressions; I can see no reason why the recommendations of such characters should not also be considered. The avenues of information are always open from any and every quarter.”
35. This subject was first discussed by H, Pinckney, and Washington in Philadelphia in December, 1798. They then sent their views on the matter to McHenry (H’s draft of Washington to McHenry, first letter of December 13, 1798). McHenry then turned around and sent as instructions to H and Pinckney the same information on which they had agreed in December, 1798 (McHenry to H, February 4, 1799; McHenry to Pinckney, February 11, 1799 [Df, letterpress copy, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress]).
No evidence has been found that McHenry ever discussed the question of winter quarters with Adams. On the other hand, in his letter of February 4, 1799, to H he wrote: “The president of the United States has accordingly directed me to make such an arrangement for our military force as may correspond with our situation, and to assign to the Major Generals who are to command it, the superintendance of such portions thereof, as may best tend to promote military discipline, the general interests of the Service, and the objects of the military establishment.”
36. John Wilkins, Jr.
37. See Adams to McHenry, January 9, March 25, 1800 (LC, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).
38. Nathan Jones.
39. In Stagg’s letter to McHenry, which is dated May 26, 1800, and which is cited in note 9, he wrote: “Your conduct towards me, as Secretary of war, while I had the honor of exercising the duties of Chief Clerk in the War office, was such as merited my esteem. The indulgence I experienced from you on many occasions, especially during a long & unavoidable absence, bears unequivocal testimony of your friendly disposition & kindness; and I do not hesitate to declare, that no act, or expression of yours, in any way whatever, gave cause for my resignation.…”
40. This advertisement, which is dated March 6, 1800, and signed by McHenry, was first printed in the Gazette of the United States, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, March 7, 1800, and was reprinted in subsequent issues for a month.
45. Henry Lee served in the House of Representatives from Virginia from March 4, 1799, to March 3, 1801.