Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR. [PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.] - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR. [PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.] - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 16 September, 1798.
Your confidential letter dated Trenton the 10th instant, with its enclosures, has been duly received. The latter are returned. The contents of them have filled my mind with much disquietude and embarrassment: but it is impossible for me to make any move in consequence at this time, from the want of official grounds, without betraying your confidential communication.
I can perceive pretty clearly, however, that the matter is, or very soon will be, brought to the alternative of submitting to the President’s forgetfulness of what I considered a compact or condition of acceptance of the appointment, with which he was pleased to honor me, or to return him my commission. And as that compact was ultimately and at the time declared to him through you, in your letter written from this place, and the strong part of it inserted after it was first drawn, at my request, to avoid misconception, I conceive I have a right, and accordingly do ask, to be furnished with a copy of it.
You will recollect too, that my acceptance being conditional, I requested you to take the Commission back, that it might be restored or annulled according to the President’s determination to accept or reject the terms on which I had offered to serve; and that, but for your assuring me it would make no difference whether I retained or returned it, and conceiving the latter might be considered an evidence of distrust, it would have been done. Subsequent events evince, that it would have been a measure of utility; for, though the case in principle is the same, yet such a memento of the fact could not so easily have been forgotten or got over.
After the declaration in the President’s letter to you of August 29th, (which is also accompanied with other sentiments of an alarming nature,) and his avowed readiness to take the responsibility of the measure upon himself, it is not probable that there will be any departure from the resolution he has adopted; but I should be glad, notwithstanding, to know the result of the Representation made by the Secretaries, as soon as it comes to hand; and, if there is no impropriety in the request, to be gratified with a sight of the memorial also. I am, &c.
P. S. If you see no impropriety in the measure, and do not object to it, it would be satisfactory to me to receive a copy of the powers, or instructions, from the President under which you acted when here.