Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 17 February 1804

From Henry Dearborn

War Department
February 17th. 1804

Sir,

I have the honor to submit the following statement, for the purpose of shewing the necessity of an Act of Congress authorising the appointment of Six Surgeons Mates, in addition to the number authorised by the Law of the 16th. of March 1802, fixing the Military Peace Establishment

The Posts recently established, in addition to the twenty five contemplated at the late organization of the Army, & for which Surgeons Mates will be required, are Plaquemines, Atacapas, Opelousas, Natchitoches, Arkansas, New Madrid, St. Louis & Chikago.—I take the liberty, Sir, of suggesting also, the propriety of such alteration on amendment being made in the Law fixing the Military Peace Establishment, as will authorise the President of the United States to cause Malt liquor, to be issued to the Troops of the U.S. instead of Ardent Spirits, at such Posts & for such part of the year as shall be deemed useful—There can be no doubt but ardent Spirits will be found very injurious to the health of the Troops at many of the Southern Posts & especially at New Orleans & its vicinity—An equivalent in good Malt liquor or light Wine would contribute greatly to the health of the Troops; but long & obstinate habits will probably render legal authority necessary, for effecting the proposed substitution—

With respectful consideration I am Sir, your Obedt. Servt

H. Dearborn

RC (DLC); addressed: “The President of The United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the War Department on 17 Feb. and “Surgeon’s mates.—ration of malt liquor v. spirits” and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 107, LSP).

On 26 Mch., Congress amended the military peace establishment act of 1802. The revised act authorized the president to appoint up to six additional surgeon’s mates and to substitute rations of rum, whiskey, or brandy with malt liquor or “low wines” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:290).

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