Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate, 25 March 1802

To the Senate

Gentlemen of the Senate

The act fixing the military peace establishment of the US. rendering it necessary that the officers retained in service should, in most cases be transferred into regiments different from those to which their commissions attach them, new commissions are deemed necessary for them, as well as for those entitled to promotion, and for the Ensigns newly nominated. the inclosed report from the Secretary at war exhibits the transfers, promotions, and new appointments proposed in conformity with the law: and I accordingly nominate the several persons named in the report, for commissions, according to it’s tenor.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DNA: RG 46, EPEN, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); endorsed by Senate clerks as “Message of the President nominating Henry Burbeck and others to military appointments.” PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL with notation “Military nominations. general list.” Enclosure: List of nominations for officers’ commissions, with columns for name, present rank and unit, and rank “under the new organization”; arranged by regiment according to the new organization and by rank within each regiment, beginning with Henry Burbeck, lieutenant colonel of the first regiment of artillerists and engineers, proposed as colonel of the new regiment of artillerists; the list including officers of one regiment of artillerists and two regiments of infantry; also four engineers headed by Jonathan Williams as major, two surgeons, nineteen surgeon’s mates, five candidates for commissions as ensigns in the infantry, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Cushing as adjutant and inspector of the army, and Caleb Swan as paymaster of the army (MS in DNA: RG 46, EPEN; in Joshua Wingate’s hand, signed by Dearborn; at head of text: “The following persons are proposed to the consideration of the President of the United States, for nomination to the several appointments annexed to their names respectively”; one emendation by TJ, expanding a reference to the existing “1 Reg: of Artillery” to include “and Engineers”; notations by a Senate clerk alongside names of Jesse Lull, Cornelius Lyman, and Zebulon M. Pike, for which see below).

Prior to the approval of the MILITARY PEACE ESTABLISHMENT act on 16 Mch., the army consisted of two regiments of artillerists and engineers, four regiments of infantry, and two troops of dismounted cavalry. Under the new act, which followed a plan that Dearborn gave to TJ in December, there would be only one regiment of artillerists and two regiments of infantry. The statute also authorized the president to establish a corps of engineers, which was to have initially seven officers and ten cadets. The corps, to be stationed at West Point, “shall constitute a military academy.” Beginning on 18 Mch., Dearborn issued a series of orders to Thomas H. Cushing to start the reduction of the number of personnel and the reorganization of the regiments. Dearborn also ordered the closure of the quartermaster’s department and the suspension of recruitments for the army (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 , 2:132–7; Dearborn to Cushing, 18–22, 25 Mch., and to John Wilkins, Jr., 18 Mch., in DNA: RG 107, LSMA; Henry Dearborn’s Plan for Reorganizing the Army, [7 Dec. 1801]).

APPOINTMENTS PROPOSED: Meriwether Lewis delivered this message on 25 Mch. The Senate took it up in executive session on the 26th and that day approved all but four of the nominations. The officers who did not gain immediate approval were Jesse Lull, a lieutenant of the 1st regiment of artillerists and engineers, nominated as lieutenant of the new regiment of artillerists; Cornelius Lyman, a captain of the 2d regiment of infantry, nominated for the same rank in the new 1st regiment of infantry; Zebulon Pike, major of the 3d infantry regiment, nominated for the same rank in the new 1st regiment; and Zebulon Montgomery Pike, first lieutenant of the 2d infantry regiment, nominated as first lieutenant of the new 1st regiment. The Senate referred those nominations to a committee consisting of Joseph Anderson, Stevens Thomson Mason, and Jonathan Dayton. On 31 Mch., Anderson reported that “from the information obtained respecting the rank” and “characters” of the officers, the committee recommended that “it would be expedient for the Senate to consent and advise to their appointment.” The following day the Senate approved the appointments of the two Pikes, but postponed the other two. On 2 Apr., the senators postponed Lyman’s nomination and rejected Lull’s (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:410–15, 416).

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