Front Page Titles (by Subject) hamilton to mchenry - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 7
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hamilton to mchenry - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 7 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 7.
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hamilton to mchenry
July 8, 1799.
Sir:—I have considered the rules transmitted in your letter of the 2d instant relative to rank and promotion.
They appear to me founded on just principles, nor do I know that they can be improved. I will, however, present to your consideration some observations on two or three points.
It seems to me questionable whether the preference given to full colonels of the deranged officers over the lieutenant-colonel commandants, who served to the end of the war, be expedient.
It is making that a matter of substance which was purely nominal. The grade of lieutenant-colonel commandant was in our system, to all intents and purposes of service and promotion, equal to that of colonel. And the general principle of preferring officers who served to the end of the war, seems to me as applicable to this particular as to any other.
It is desirable to exempt, a military commander from the exercise of a discretion in personal matters which may expose him to the supposition of favoritism. It is possible the Commander-in-Chief may not like to be charged with that which is proposed to be conferred upon him; though he could have no objection to aid the determination of the President with all requisite information. Perhaps the clause may with advantage be altered to stand thus: “The relative rank of officers who have not been in service will be determined by the President. The Commander-in-Chief will report to him their names, with such information as he may deem proper.”
The last clause will, I think, be more accurate, if altered into this form: “On the happening of a vacancy, the officer next in rank will in ordinary cases be considered as the most proper person to fill the same. But this rule is considered as subject to exceptions in extraordinary cases.”
It will be useful, also, in my opinion, to add a clause to this effect: “In promotions to the several ranks of generals, the officers of cavalry, artillery, and infantry will be considered as eligible indiscriminately, or without distinction of one corps for another.”
To confine the officers of artillery and cavalry to their particular corps in the appointments of general officers, is to render the chance of promotion unequal, and to discourage in the several classes of officers the study of all the branches of tactics. The contrary principle will have a contrary effect; and though it is rarely to be expected that an officer of cavalry or infantry will be competent to the service of the artillery, yet nothing is more easy than for the officers of those corps to be acquainted with the tactics of each, and an officer of artillery can without difficulty make himself master of the tactics of the cavalry and infantry. The plan of an indiscriminate choice will also increase the chances of having qualified generals.
And if the idea itself be approved, it is expedient to prepare the army to expect its application by engrafting it in the system of promotion.