George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Duane, 3 January 1779

From James Duane

Sunday 3d [January 1779] 8 P.M.


When I have the Honour of seeing your Excellency I will explain the objection made in Congress to the plan for establishing the Department of Inspector General. It holds up the Idea too strongly of seperate Departments which, as they have been conducted, imply an Independence of the Commander in Cheif, & are in other respects productive of Inconvenience & Expence. And it assigns too high a Rank to the assistant Inspector General in the opinion of some of the members of Congress. That we may know your Excellency’s Opinion on these points & particularly whether there is a necessity for the Rank recommended, are the principal motives for the Reference.1

The enclosd Dispatches from the Commisy Prisoners require immediate Attention.2

If it will be convenient I shall be glad to spend a few minutes with you at any Time you shall appoint after four oClock. I have the Honour to be—with the utmost Respect Sir your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Jas Duane


1Deliberations on the establishment of the Department of Inspector General had been ongoing since the summer of 1778; see GW to Henry Laurens, 13 Nov. 1778. Congress read a report of the Board of War on the subject on 23 Jan. 1779, and on 18 Feb. it established the department, resolving among other things “That the inspector general, so far as relates to the inspection of the army, be subject to the orders of Congress, the Board of War, and the Commander in Chief only: but the sub-inspectors shall also be subject to the officers commanding the divisions and brigades to which they are attached” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:111–12, 196–200).

2The enclosures have not been identified, but see John Beatty to GW, this date.

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