George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 6 August 1798

From James McHenry

War Department [Philadelphia] 6 Aut 1798

Dear Sir,

Feeling myself very much indisposed & feverish I think it best to acknowledge your letters of the 29th & 31st of July & the 1 & 2 of Augt.

I have written a letter to the President relative to an arrangement for the speedy appointment of the officers to the 12 regiments &c. and other subjects relative to the army, in which I give it as my opinion that you have a right to appoint whenever you please a Secretary. I expect he will be of the same opinion. It is founded on the 5 Sect, of the Provisional Army act.1

The President nominated Smith for Adjutant General. The Senate rejected the nomination. No reasons were openly assigned, but the rejection was on account of his embarrassed situation, joined to suspicions that he had not conducted properly in some of his pecuniary engagements.2

The President felt the disappointment severely. I think it was a hasty measure in the Senate.

I have explained before in a short letter why no nomination was made for Quarter Master Generl.

Every thing respecting the two colours are in train.3 Yours most affectionately

James McHenry

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, MiU-C: McHenry Papers.

1In his letter to John Adams of 4 Aug., a copy of which McHenry sent to GW on 8 Aug., McHenry included this paragraph: “I enclose a letter from General Washington, dated the 29th ult. You will see that he feels, the want of, a secretary, and it appears to me it would be proper, I should signify to him that he appoint one. I think such an appointment authorized by the 5th Section of the Act of raising the Provisional Army” (DLC:GW). On 25 Aug. McHenry reported to GW that President Adams had affirmed that GW was “fully authorised to appoint” his “aids and secretaries” whenever he thought “fit,” and that “one secretary at least is indispensible immediately.”

2For John Adams’s nomination of his son-in-law William S. Smith as adjutant general of the army and its rejection by the Senate, see McHenry to GW, 18 July, n.4.

3For the “colours” to be donated by Martha Washington and Eleanor Parke Custis, see McHenry to GW, 13 Aug., nn.3 and 4.

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