To James McHenry, 5 August 1799
N. York Augt. 5th. 1799
I hasten to reply to your letter of the 3d. instant.
To Major Toussard I have hertofore written upon the Subject of it, but have not received an answer.
If I am referred to the paragraph of the law cited in your letter for my authority to act—I must confess that I cannot find it there. If the Hospital contemplated was only a temporary one, the commanding General is only auxiliary to a Physician General or Hospital General who does not exist. But it is most clearly a permanent one. There is to be land purchased in fee Simple and a building for a hospital erected upon it. With such a hospital the Commanding General has nothing to do.
It will, I trust, be understood that while I State this objection to acting upon a ground which will not Support me, I am perfectly ready to obey any orders you Shall give respecting the matter which does not refer me expressly to a defective Source of authority as the rule of my Action.
With great respects &c
(Copy, in the handwriting of Ethan Brown, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).