Front Page Titles (by Subject) hamilton to adams - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 7
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hamilton to adams - 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 adams
May 24, 1800.
Sir:—I had the honor of receiving, an hour since, your letter of the 22d instant, with a copy of one to you from Colonel Smith.
I am happy to think that the question presented is on mere military principles a very simple one. The rule of promotion by succession does not, in any service, as far as my knowledge goes, apply to a new corps in its fresh organization. Officers for such a corps, it is understood, may be found wheresoever it is thought fit, without regard to those of the antecedent establishment. This rule has been repeatedly and recently acted upon in this country, and is necessary and right.
The regularity of complying with the wish of Colonel Smith depends, then, on the fact, whether the second regiment of artillery has ever been organized. I believe that it never has been, never yet having had a commandant; and, I have supposed, that this state of the thing was the reason why the eldest major of the two regiments was not long before this appointed as a matter of right. If I am correct in the fact (of which the Secretary at War can give you precise information), the conclusion is, that the appointment of Colonel Smith will violate no military rule, nor the right of any other officer. It may, and probably will, contravene expectations entertained on reasonable grounds; but this is a different thing from the infraction of a right.
But except on the principle that the regiment was never organized, Colonel Smith, an officer of infantry, could not be placed in the command of it, in exclusion of the majors of the corps without departing from military ideas.
The major and other officers of the additional battalion may, doubtless, with strict regularity, be appointed from the officers on this ground, if it shall be thought expedient.
What has been said is, I imagine, a full answer to the inquiry you have been pleased to make; and perhaps I ought to say no more. Yet if I did stop here, I should not be satisfied that I had fulfilled all that candor and delicacy required of me. I will therefore take the liberty to add a few words. There are collateral considerations affecting the expediency of the measure, which, I am sure, will not escape your reflection, and if, after weighing them duly, you shall be of opinion that they ought not to prevail as obstacles, you will without doubt anticipate criticism.
I trust this remark will not be misunderstood. The opinion I have of Colonel Smith’s military pretensions, my personal regard for him, and my sensibility to his situation, conspire to beget in me sentiments very different from a disposition to throw the least impediment in the way of his success.