George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Arthur St. Clair, 4 April 1792

To Arthur St. Clair

United States1 [Philadelphia] April 4th 1792.


I have read and duly considered your letter of the 31st ultimo.

The reasons you offer, for retaining your commission, until an opportunity should be presented, if necessary, of investigating your conduct, in every mode prescribed by law, would be conclusive with me, under any other circumstances than the present.

But, the establishment of the troops allows only of one major general—you have manifested your intention of retiring, and the esential interests of the public require, that your successor should be immediately appointed, in order to repair to the frontiers.

As the house of representatives have been pleased to institute an enquiry into the causes of the failure of the late expedition, I should hope an opportunity would thereby be afforded you, of explaining your conduct, in a manner satisfactory to the public and yourself.2

Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

For the background to this letter, which was printed in the National Gazette (Philadelphia) on 16 April with other correspondence between GW and St. Clair concerning St. Clair’s resignation, see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 12 Dec. 1791, note 1, Henry Knox to GW, 22 Jan., n.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.

1The War Department clerk who apparently drafted this letter for Henry Knox for presentation to GW wrote “War department” in the dateline, which Tobias Lear struck out and replaced with “United States.”

2For the congressional investigation of St. Clair’s defeat, see Knox to GW, 30 Mar., source note.

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