Cabinet Opinion on Military Rations
Having considered the note of the President of the U.S. to General Knox, on the subject of increased rations; we are of opinion, that a proposition to congress at this time concerning such increase would be inexpedient, even if the question were more free from difficulty, than it is. But liable as it is to objections, the inexpediency of such a proposition now, acquires double force.
Feby. 28. 1793.
MS (DLC: Washington Papers); in the hand of Edmund Randolph, signed by TJ, Knox, and Randolph; endorsed by Tobias Lear.
Washington’s note to Henry Knox, labeled “(Private)” and dated “Thursday Morning, Feby. 28. 1793,” reads as follows: “It is much to be regretted that the subject of Rations (encreased) had not been thought of and considered at an earlier period! It is to be feared a proposition at this time would be received with an ill grace—probably no attention paid to it. At the meeting you are about to have it might be well to mention the matter and know what the Gentlemen there would think of bringing the matter forward at a time so Mal a propos” (DLC: Washington Papers; Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, D.C., 1931–44, 39 vols. description ends , xxxii, 362). The Cabinet did not specify the objections to which a request to Congress for increased rations were liable, but there were undoubtedly two. In the first place, Washington this day approved a general appropriations bill providing funds for rations, and since Congress was on the verge of adjournment the Cabinet must have believed that there was not enough time for Congress to consider a supplemental request for appropriations. The Cabinet probably also feared that a call for increased rations would be viewed as a tacit admission that the administration expected the Lower Sandusky conference to fail and was preparing for the resumption of the politically unpopular war with the Western tribes, as indeed it was (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , iii, 1437–41; Notes on Cabinet Opinions, 26 Feb. 1793).