George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 18 July 1798

From James McHenry

Philad[elphia] 18 July 1798

My dear General,

I arrived here between 7 & 8 o’clock on tuesday morning, and before seeing my family presented your letter to the President.1 He was at breakfast with Mrs Adams. They both read it and expressed themselves pleased. The same day I waited upon him to arrange the nominations. They stand as follows and are now before the Senate.2 vz.

Alexander Hamilton Inspector &c.
Charles C. Pinckney } Major Genls
Henry Knox
John Brooks }
Wm Washington Brigadiers
Jonathan Dayton
Wm S. Smith Adjutant General
James Craik Physician Gen.
Provisional army }
Henry Lee Major Generals
Edward Hand
Ebenr Huntington } Brigadiers
Richeson [Richardson] Davie N. Carolina
Anthony W. White
John Sevier Tennessee (present Governor[)]3

There will be a strong opposition in the Senate to Wm Smith for the office to which he is nominated, and there would have been an opposition to him had he been nominated only for Brigadier, which I urged, but could not obtain. It is doubtful whether the President will be induced from a knowledge of the temper of the Senate, to make an alteration; and give Dayton the Adjutant generals place and Smith that of Daytons. He has been spoken to this evening by several of the members to that effect, and I shall be obliged to mention the subject to him to-morrow morning. It will be a disagreeable scene but it must be encountered.4 I am with sincere respects to Mrs Washington and Miss Custis your attached and affectionate hble St

James McHenry


2On 14 July GW made a list of those whom he would recommend to be made generals in “the augmentation” proposed. He gave the list to McHenry and sent a copy of it to Alexander Hamilton. See Suggestions for Military Appointments, 14 July, and GW to Hamilton, 14 July.

3GW strongly objected to the appointment of John Sevier of Tennessee and Anthony Walton White of New Jersey as brigadiers. He expressed his displeasure at Sevier’s appointment to McHenry on 22 July, but it was not until 9 Sept. that he complained to Secretary of State Timothy Pickering about White’s appointment and to McHenry on 14 September. See McHenry’s explanation for the appointments in his letter to GW of 19 September.

4To John Adams’s distress the Senate voted on 19 July to reject the nomination of his son-in-law William S. Smith to be adjutant general of the new army (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. 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. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 5th Cong., 1st sess., 623). McHenry comments on the rejection of Smith’s nomination in his letter to GW of 6 Aug. as does Timothy Pickering in his of 1 Sept. (second letter). In his letter of 19 Sept. to GW, McHenry goes into some detail about the rejection and about its effect on President Adams’s views on the ranking of the three major generals (see GW to Hamilton, 14 July, n.5).

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