James Madison Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Harrison, William Henry" AND Recipient="Madison, James" AND Period="Madison Presidency" AND Period="Madison Presidency" AND Correspondent="Harrison, William Henry"
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To James Madison from William Henry Harrison, 11 May 1814

From William Henry Harrison

Head Quarters Cincinnati 11th. May 1814.

Dear Sir

I have this day forwarded to the Secy of War my resignation of the Commission which I hold in the army.1

This measure has not been determined on without a referrence to all the motives which should influence a Citizen, who is sincerely attached to the Honour and interests of his Country, who beleives that the war in which we are engaged is just, and necessary, and that the crisis requires the sacrifice of every private consideration which should stand in oposition to the public good. But after giving the subject the most mature consideration, I am perfectly convinced that my retiring from the Army is as compatable to the claims of patriotism, as with those of my family, & a proper regard to my own feelings & Honour.2

I have no other motive for writing this letter than to assure you that my resignation was not produced by any diminution of the interest which I have always felt for the success of your administration, or of respect and attachment to your person. The former can only take place when I forget the Republican principles in which I have been educated, and the latter when I shall cease to regard those which must govern every Honest man who is conscious of favours that it will never be in his power to repay. Permit me to subscribe myself your sincere friend & Huml Servt.

Willm Henry Harrison

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1In his letter to John Armstrong of 11 May 1814, a copy of which was sent to JM, Harrison tendered his resignation but stated that he would serve until 31 May in order to give Armstrong time to fill the position. He would not, he wrote, demand an inquiry into the “malicious insinuations” that had reportedly been made against him in Washington, but would nevertheless stand ready “to answer before a Court Martial, at any future period, to any charge” (DLC; 2 pp.).

2Harrison’s resignation was the result of an apparently deliberate effort by Armstrong, during the winter and spring of 1814, to provoke it. The secretary of war submitted to Congress evidence supporting implications that Harrison had profited personally by allowing his commissary to overcharge for supplies. Furthermore, Armstrong repeatedly offended and embarrassed Harrison by sending orders directly to the general’s subordinate officers rather than through Harrison himself. A third such instance, in which Armstrong bypassed both Harrison and Lt. Col. George Croghan by ordering Maj. Andrew Holmes to command three hundred infantry troops in a joint army and navy expedition on Lake Huron, proved to be the final straw. On 9 May 1814 Harrison received Armstrong’s 25 Apr. 1814 note enclosing a copy of the order and stating that the original had been “sent directly to Detroit for the purpose of saving time.” He submitted his resignation by return mail (DNA: RG 107, LSMA; Quimby, U.S. Army in the War of 1812, 2:484–89).

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