George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Arthur St. Clair, 28 March 1792

To Arthur St. Clair

United States [Philadelphia] March 28th 1792.


Your knowledge of the Country North-west of the Ohio, and of the resources for an Army in its vicinity, added to a full confidence in your military character, founded on mature experience, induced my nomination of you to the command of the troops on the frontiers.

Your desire of rectifying any errors of the public opinion, relatively to your conduct, by an investigation of a Court of Enquiry, is highly laudable, and would be readily complied with, were the measure practicable. But a total deficiency of Officers, in actual service, of competent rank to form a legal Court, for that purpose, precludes the power of gratifying your wishes on this occasion.

The intimation of your readiness to afford your successor all the information of which you are capable, although unnecessary for my personal conviction, must be regarded as an additional evidence of the goodness of your heart, and of your Attachment to your Country. I am, Sir, with esteem and regard Your most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, CSmH; Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW. The draft has a circled paragraph at the bottom of its last page: “While I accept your resignation, for the cause you state, I sincerely regret the occasion—I fervently hope, that your health may be perfectly re-established, and that you may enjoy uninterrupted happiness.” It apparently was marked for deletion, as a different hand (Tobias Lear’s) inserted the complimentary close and internal address line above it.

For the background to this letter, which served as GW’s reply to St. Clair’s letter of 26 Mar., see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 12 Dec. 1791, note 1, Henry Knox to GW, 22 Jan., note 2, 1 Mar. 1792, GW to Knox, 29 Feb., note 1, Knox to Tobias Lear, 31 Jan. 1792, note 1, GW to Thomas Jefferson, 2 Mar., and Jefferson to GW, 2 Mar. 1792. GW’s letter was printed in the 16 April issue of the National Gazette (Philadelphia) with other correspondence concerning St. Clair’s resignation of his commission as major general (see GW to St. Clair, 4 April, and St. Clair to GW, 26, 31 Mar., 7 April).

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