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TO HENRY KNOX. - 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).
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TO HENRY KNOX.
Mount Vernon, 21 October, 1798.
My dear Sir,
Several causes have occurred to retard the acknowledgment of the receipt of your favor of the 26th of August. At the time it came to hand, I was much engaged in matters that could not be well postponed; and before I got through them, I was seized with a fever which was unremittingly severe for several days, and left me in so debilitated a state as to render writing, and business generally (when it could be avoided) not only irksome, but improper, and was forbidden by my Physicians.
During this state of convalescence, letters which required prompt attention were pouring in upon me.—This state of things—not knowing what the President’s final decision would be, and not perceiving that I could say more to you on the subject of relative rank, than I had done in former letters, unless, to dilate on the several points which had before been touched, (and this appeared to me unnecessary, as your own ideas would anticipate all I could say), I delayed from day to day to do what I am now in the act of doing, that is, writing to you.
I can again, my dear Sir, with much truth and sincerity repeat to you the declaration made on a former occasion, namely, that, if an amicable arrangement of precedence could have been settled between Generals Hamilton, Pinckney, and yourself, previous to the nomination, it wd. have been perfectly satisfactory to me; but, driven as I was to make it myself, at the time and in the manner it was transmitted, I was governed by the best views and best evidence I could obtain, of the public sentiment relative thereto. The Senate acted upon it under an impression, that it was to remain so, and in that light the matter is understood by the public; and it would be uncandid not to add, that I have found no cause since to believe I mistook that sentiment. Let me add further, that, as an army was to be raised de novo, fourteen years after the Revolutionary Troops had ceased to exist, I do not see that any Resolution of the ancient Congress can apply at this day to the officers of that army. If it does, and the matter is viewed by others as it is by you, will any field-officer of that army serve under General Dayton? Would it not deprive the President of the advantage of selection and arrangement? And what difficulties and perplexities would not follow, if this idea and conduct should prevail generally? Accompanied with the opinion which you seem to have imbibed of incidental Rank, Few knowing and deserving officers of this description would feel very easy under such a decision, or be content with a feather, if they conceived that rank meant nothing, when inserted in their commissions.
On what ground did the Baron de Steuben command a separate corps in the State of Virginia in the year 1781, and Colo. Hamilton a select one at the siege of York, if Incidental Rank does not give command according to circumstances and the discretion of the Commanding General?
But I am running into details, which I did not intend. It would (if you could reconcile it to your own feelings,) give me sincere pleasure to see you in the augmented corps, a major-genl.
We shall have either, no war, or a severe contest, with France; in either case, if you will allow me to express my opinion, this is the most eligible time for you to come forward. In the first case, to assist with your counsel and aid in making judicious provisions and arrangements to avert it; in the other case, to share in the glory of defending your Country, and, by making all secondary considerations yield to that great and primary object, display a mind superior to embarrassing punctilios at so critical a moment as the present.
After having expressed these sentiments, with the frankness of undisguised friendship, it is hardly necessary to add, that, if you should finally decline the appointment of Majr-General, there is none to whom I would give a more decided preference as an Aid-de-Camp, the offer of which is highly flattering, honorable, and grateful to my feelings, and for which I entertain a high sense. But, my dear Genl. Knox, (and here again I speak to you in the language of candor and friendship,) examine well your mind on this subject. Do not unite yourself to the suit of a man, whom you may consider as the primary cause of what you call a degradation, with unpleasant sensations. This, while it was gnawing upon you, would (if I should come to the knowledge of it) make me unhappy; as my first wish would be, that my military family and the whole army should consider themselves as a band of brothers, willing and ready to die for each other. I shall add no more than assurances of the sincere friendship and affection, with which I am, dear Sir, &c.1
[1 ]“The last mail to Alexandria brought me a letter from the President of the United States, in which I am informed that he had signed and given the commissions to yourself, Generals Pinckney and Knox the same date, in hopes that an amicable adjustment or acquiescence might take place among you. But, if these hopes should be disappointed, and controversies should arise, they will of course be submitted to me, as commander-in-chief, and if, after all, any one should be so obstinate as to appeal to him from the judgment of the Commander-in-Chief, he was determined to confirm that judgment.