From James McHenry
March 8th. 1799
Certain inconveniences hitherto experienced relative to the pay of the troops induced me to recommend a Section to be adopted in the Bill for the organization of the Army which having passed into a law is now transmitted.1
As the greatest part of the Army will be on or near the Sea-board I can perceive considerable advantages of a public nature which would result from the Pay Master General being fixed at the seat of Government, in respect to the transmission of money for the pay of the troops to his Deputies and Regimental paymasters; to the Officers who may be responsible for the disbursement of money for the recruiting Service; to the prompt execution of all orders originating in this department or from the General of the Armies, and the prompt settlement of his accounts at the proper and fixed periods. If you see the subject in this light, you will be pleased to instruct him accordingly.
Mr. Swan2 who is the paymaster General is now at Cincinnati on the Ohio. You will necessarily direct him to appoint a deputy or deputies for the North Western and Mississippi Army and to take the securities required by law; to leave with them such orders as may be proper and conformable to his powers under the law and his Instructions, and having so done to hasten with all his Books and papers &c. to the Seat of Government, where he is to open his Office.
The Quarter Master General, Lieut: Colonel Wilkins,3 is about establishing an Office in this City where he will receive either in person or by his deputy, your orders relative to the transport Service, and all matters of which he is to be the executive organ. Enclosed is copy of the 12th: Section of the Act4 for the organization of the Army which respects this Officer.
I have the honor to be with great respect, Sir, Your obedt. servant
LS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; LS, letterpress copy, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress; extract, in the handwriting of Philip Church, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; extract, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. The enclosure is a copy of Section 15 of “An Act for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States; and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 749–55 [March 3, 1799]). This section reads: “And be it further enacted, That the Paymaster general of the Armies of the United States, shall always Quarter at or near the head quarters of the main Army, or at such place as the Commander in chief shall deem proper; And that to the Army on the western frontiers, and to detachments from the main army intended to Act separately for a time, he shall appoint deputy pay-masters, who shall account to him for the money Advanced to them, and shall each give a Bond in the sum of fifteen thousand Dollars, with sufficient sureties for the faithful discharge of their duties respectively, and take an Oath faithfully to execute the duties of their offices; And the several Regimental pay masters shall also give Bond in the sum of five thousand Dollars, with one or more sufficient sureties, and take an Oath as aforesaid for the faithful discharge of the duties of their Offices respectively, and that the pay-master-general shall receive eighty Dollars per Month with the rations and forage of a Major in full compensation for his services and travelling expences; and the deputy in addition to his pay and other emoluments thirty dollars per month in full compensation for his extra services and travelling expences” (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).
2. Caleb Swan of Massachusetts was a veteran of the American Revolution. He had been paymaster of the United States Army since May 8, 1792 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 124).
3. John Wilkins, Jr., a Pittsburgh businessman, had been a surgeon’s mate during the American Revolution. On June 1, 1796, he was appointed quartermaster general of the Army (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 214).
4. Section 12 of “An Act for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States; and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 752) reads: “And be it further enacted, That to any Army of the United States, other than that in which the Quarter-master General shall serve, there shall be a deputy Quarter-master General, who shall be a field officer, and who, in addition to his other emoluments, shall be entitled to fifty dollars per month, which shall be in full compensation for his extra services and travelling expences, but the provisions of this Act are not to effect the present Quartermaster General of the Army of the United States, who, in case a Quarter-master General shall be appointed by virtue of this act, is to act as deputy Quarter-master General and shall hereafter have the rank of Lieutenant Colonel: And that to every Division of the Army, there shall be a Division quarter-master, who, in addition to his Other emoluments shall be entitled to thirty dollars pr month, which shall be in full compensation for his extra services and travelling expenses; and that to every Brigade there shall be a Brigade Quarter-master, who in addition to his other emoluments shall be entitled to twenty four dollars per month, which shall be in full compensation for his extra services and travelling expences; each of which Officers shall be chosen by the Quarter-master General from among the Regimental Officers” (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).