George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 29 June 1799

From James McHenry

Philad[elphia] 29 June 1799

Private & confid.
My dear Sir.

I received yesterday your private letter of the 25th inst. and its inclosures which I now return.

The objections you suggest relative to the promotion of the officer in question are intitled to very serious consideration. Major Generals Lee & Hand may expect a station in the regular army, and certainly the Eastern quarter of the Union will not be pleased unless they have in it one Major General.1

I have but one observation to make. If the promotion contemplated is to be attempted, it will be proper, that the general should be recommended by you in an official form that the subject may be laid before the President.

I inclose a letter I received from Majr Gen. Hamilton and my answer, both of which you will be pleased to return.2

Col. Howard & Gen. Lloyd have declined, on account of pretended difficulties making a selection of persons for off[i]cers for the eventual army.3 They are affraid of what good men ought not to be affraid, to risk a little popularity. May I venture to ask you to undertake for Maryland? Your ever affectionate

James McHenry

ALS, DLC:GW; Df, in McHenry’s hand, DLC: McHenry Papers.

1On 25 June GW sent McHenry copies of Alexander Hamilton’s letter to GW of 15 June and of GW’s reply of 25 June regarding the promotion of James Wilkinson to the rank of major general. GW’s letter to McHenry of 25 June transmitting these letters is printed in note 1 to GW’s letter to Hamilton of that date.

2On 25 June, Hamilton wrote McHenry: “General Wilkinson is soon expected. I am strongly inclined to see him made a Major General. . . .” On 27 June McHenry wrote Hamilton: “General W. has certainly claims to promotion, and so far as it respects myself I shall not oppose it. It will be proper however, that General Washington be consulted” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 23:215, 226).

3When McHenry wrote to GW on 2 May asking him to provide names of men in Virginia for officers in “the eventual army,” he informed GW that he would ask the two senators in each state to the north of Virginia to do the same for their states. James Lloyd and John Eager Howard were the U.S. senators from Maryland.

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