George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Sevier, 31 January 1799

To John Sevier

Mount Vernon Jany 31st 1799


In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 25th of December, I must observe, that as the law for raising a provisional Army was not acted upon during the recess of Congress, I presume, from its tenor, that it becomes void of course. And whether or not a similar law will be passed in the pressent session is very problematical.1

I have reason to beleive that the President has already made his selection to fill the Offices which had become vacant in the Additional Army.

I am very happy to hear that a military Ardour prevails in the State over which you preside, and I trust it will be directed to the support of the true interest of our common Country if it should ever be called into Action.2 With due consideration I have the honor to be Sir, Yr most Obedt Servt

Df, in Tobias Lear’s hand, DLC:GW.

1The act of May 1798 authorizing the president to create a Provisional Army expired at the end of the year without President Adams’s having taken any action. In March 1799 Congress again gave the president the authority to form a Provisional Army. On the president’s instructions James McHenry in May 1799 ordered that men willing and qualified to serve as officers in such an army be identified and informed of their having been chosen as potential officers. See James McHenry to GW, 2 May 1799, n.1.

2GW heard from Sevier once again. On 10 April 1799 Sevier wrote from Knoxville: “A Mr Eli Hammonds of our District of Mero, is Very Sanguine to obtain the appointment of Captain in the Army, he is a character that Stands extremely well in that part of the State Wherein he resides, has distinguished himself to be a brave & good officer in the Militia, and Was he Appointed, I think Would in all probability raise a good company in his own Vicinity; he is highly recommended to Me, by respectable Characters, and I beg leave to add, that in my opinion he would be a Serviceable officer, and take the liberty to recommend him to your Notice” (photocopy, DLC: James McHenry Papers; ALS, owned by Joe Rubinfine, Florida, 2007). As was his custom, GW forwarded Sevier’s letter to Secretary of War McHenry without comment. The frontiersman Eli Hammonds received no army appointment.

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