George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate, 22 February 1793

To the United States Senate

United States [Philadelphia]
February 22d 1793

Gentlemen of the Senate.

The nomination of the following persons to fill up the existing vacancies of Ensigns are made provisionally, to be employed, or not, as the prospect of peace, by the proposed treaty, may render it expedient.

If upon a further view of the subject, it should appear probable, that the proposed treaty would issue in a peace the services of these provisional Ensigns would not be required, and of consequence the expences attending their employment would be saved—But, if the war must progress, their services may be necessary, at a time when the Senate may not be in session, to advise and consent to their appointment;1 under these circumstances, I nominate the following persons to be Ensigns.

Levi House2 Vermont.
John Lamson New Hampshire.
Warham3 Woodward Massachusetts.
Aaron Catlin Connecticut.
Francis Johnson4 New York
Garret Voorhees New Jersey
John Wallington Pennsylvania.
George Baynton do
Jesse Lukens do
Charles Lewis do Some of these
Levi McLane5 do acting as
Richard Butler do Cadets.
William Davidson Maryland.
Ferdinand Leigh Claiborne Virginia.
Charles Turner ditto
Charles Harrison ditto
George Lee Davidson North Carolina.
Howell Cobb Georgia.
Edmund Taylor Kentucky
John Bradshaw Acting as
Elijah Strong Cadets.
John Brick6 Serjeant Major: 1st Sub Legion.

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Senate Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Executive Nominations; LB, DLC:GW.

1The provisional nature of these appointments was likely due to recent unsuccessful efforts in Congress to reduce the size of the army (Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 5:63, 72–73). In a letter to Gen. Anthony Wayne of 9 Mar. 1793, Henry Knox warned the general that “The provisional Ensigns are not to be called into service until further orders, the manner of their nomination and consent of the Senate render that this measure should be rigidly adhered to” (Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 202). In a letter to Wayne of 16 Mar., Knox suggested that “perhaps a month, or two will make a difference upon this subject” (ibid., 204). However, when Wayne complained that many companies lacked commissioned officers of any kind, including ensigns, Knox promised to appeal to the president, which he did on 8 April (Knox to Wayne, 30 Mar., ibid., 207; Knox to GW, 8 April, and note 2). For GW’s decision and opinion on commissioning the provisional ensigns, see GW to Knox, 12 April 1793. On 23 Feb. the U.S. Senate approved all of the appointees on this list, and Knox sent “the copies of the nominations” to GW’s secretary Tobias Lear (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:134; Knox to Lear, 23 Feb. 1793, DLC:GW).

2Probably meant to be Levi Howe (Burton, “General Wayne’s Orderly Book,” description begins C. M. Burton, ed. “General Wayne’s Orderly Book.” Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, 34 (1904): 341–733. description ends 483).

3The letter-book copy correctly lists this name as “Nathan” (see also ibid.).

4Perhaps more commonly known as Francis Johnston (ibid., 415).

5Levi McLean’s name was spelled in a variety of ways, including McClane, McClain, and McClean (ibid., 481, 484, 522).

6More commonly known as John Breck (ibid., 460, 584).

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