Skip to main content

Full text of "The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry: Secretary of War Under Washington and Adams"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 

llartoarti ColUsr Itbcars 

DcKCndiuiU 'if Ilennr, who died nt Wal 

lowa.Mui., InTASsnreciilitledtolioldKhnlanhipi 
Ilarrard Callege, e>Int>li»hud iii iRSo uixlvr the wil 

nfWnlthim. Mmia., wiihniwhnlfthe incnme on 
IiCintT' Sucli docendnnu failin);, Ktbcr pcnani 
eligible tn tlic icholanhint. The witl rcquirn I 
thli Mnnuncement ihall be made In every hook ad< 
lo Ihe Librniy iinder its pmvidicmF. 





RvpToduced in anaiiktt na fnm mjoiuure owiwd by il 

'. Tlie Sv'nHA Bralhcn Con 











MOV 11 1907 ; 


. # 

I _ . 

.V •'.•■- '*.■.'. 

.^. '. .■ :■ 



Preface ix 

I. Early Years and Medical Study, 1753-1775 1 

II. Surgeon and Prisoner, 1775-1778 . . 6 

III. Washington's Secretary, 1778-1780 . . 19 

IV. Lafayette's Aid, 1780-1781 ... 29 

V. The Maryland Senate and the Confederation 
Congress, until Washington's Resignation of 
his Commission in December, 1783 . . 41 

VI. Marriage and Retirement from Public Life, 

1784-1786 75 

VII. Member of the Federal Constitutional Conven- 
tion, 1787-1788 97 

VIII. Member of the House of Delegates, 1788-1790 114 

IX. A Year of Retirement, 1790-1791 . . 128 

X. Second Term in the Senate, 1791-1796 . 132 

XI. Washington's Secretary of War, 1796-1797 . 163 

XII. A Year in the War Department under Adams, 

1797-1798 208 

XIII. The Provisional Army and the Strife over the 

Generals, 1798-1799 .... 309 

XIV. Events after the Nomination of the French En- 
voys, 1799-1800 370 

XV. Fries \s Rel)ellion and the West in 1798-1800 432 

XVI. The Federalists in the Presidential Campaign 

of 1800 452 

XVII. Retirement and Defense of his Administration 

of the War Office, 180M803 ... 497 

XVIII. The Federalists in Opposition, 1803-1812 . 520 

XIX. MoIIenry's Last Days, 1812-1810 . 580 

Appendices . . . . . . 619 

Index ....... 625 



Miniature Portrait of Washington, by William Russell 

Birch ..... Frontispiece 

While Dr. James McHenry was Washlns^ton's secretary of war, he 
purchased a miniature portrait of Washington, painted by the 
artist named above. 

William Russell Birch was born In Warwick, England, April 9, 
1755. and died in Philadelphia August 7. 1834. He studied enamel 
painting In London, and in 1784 was awarded the silver palette by 
the Society of Arts, for the production of a new enamel color — the 
red-brown that he ever afterwards used in his backgrounds. Hf» 
came to America in 1794, when he ceased to use his middle name. 
In regard to his miniatures of Washington he says in his MS. auto- 
biography : 

"When he [Washington] was sitting for Stuart [1795] he [Wash- 
ington] told him he had heard there was another arti»t of merit 
from Ix>ndon. naming myself; that he would sit for me if I chose. 
I thanked Mr. Stuart that as he had painted his picture it would 
be a mark of the highest imposition to trouMe the General to sit 
for me, but tliat when I had copied his [Stiiart's] picture of him 
in enamel, which was my forte, that I would show it to the Gen- 
eral and thank him for his kind offer, which when I had done. I 
waited upon the General with a note that an artist waited the 
honor of showing personally to the General a si>ecimen of his 
talents. WTien I saw the General I put the picture Into his hands; 
he looked at it steadfastly, but. from a peculiarity of solid (stolid?) 
habit of manner, left me to look at him as solid (stolid?) till 
feeling myself awkward I began the history of enamel painting 
which by the time I had got through he complimented me upon the 
beauty of my work. I then told him how much he was beholden 
to Mr. Stuart for the correctness of his likeness. I copied one 
enamel from it which was purchased by Mr. McHenry. Prom this 
portrait I made a correct drawing, the copying of which in enamel 
supplied me in work for a considerable time. I painted about 
sixty portraits of it from |30 tc $100 each." 

The above information was supplied by Mr. Charles Henry Hart, 
the recognized authority on historical portraiture In America, and 
.•supplements very completely such information as had previously 
been possessed by the family and Dr. Bernard C. Steincr, our 

Mr. Hart further states that Birch brought with him from Eng- 
land hut one letter of introduction and that was from Benjamin 
W*'st, the Penn.«!ylvania president of the Royal Academy of Arts 
in liOndon to William Bingham of Philadelphia. It was for Bing- 
ham that Stuart painted hln first portrait of Washington which 
i.s now In the collection of Marsden J. Perry, EJpq., of Providence, 
R. I. This Is the one that Birch copied in enamel. 
Harprr's Magazine for August, 1896, in an article on Stuart's 
Lansdowne portrait of Washington, says: "When William Birch 
desired to make an enamel portrait of Washington, Stuart gave 
him his first head to copy and Washington stamped it with his 

This portrait is at present owned by the heirs of Dr. James Mc- 

Miniature Portrait of Margaret Caldwell McHenry 

(Mrs. James McHenry) . . . facing 76 

At present owned by the heirs of Dr. James McHenry of BalUniore. 

viii Illustrations 

^ Miniature Portrait of Dr. James McHenry . facing 160 

Military secretary to Washington during part of the Revolutionary 
war. Secretary of war 1796-1800. In his honor Fort McHenry, 
Baltimore, was named. 
Owned at present by the heirs of Dr. James McHenry. 

^ P(»rtrait of Georpe Washington . . . facing 420 

Reproduction, reduced in slxe, of the Birch miniiture of Washington which 
ippean in colon as frontispiece. 

^- Pi'ofile Portrait of Dr. James McHenry . facing 580 

Reproduction much reduced in slxe. The artist is supposed to hav« 
been 9t. Memin. Owned by th« heirs of Dr. James MoHenry. 


THE heirs of Dr. James McHenry have placed in my 
hands a trunk containing the correspondence and 
other manuscripts of their ancestor, with the request 
that I use these papers in the preparation of his biography. 
An examination of the collection showed its richness in 
unpublished letters written by the greatest men of the period 
of the American revolution and revealed the affection felt for 
McHenry by his many friends. The varied relation to public 
affairs which McHenry held during his life also made the 
papers of extraordinary interest. He came to the British 
North American colonies from the north of Ireland and had 
just completed a course of study in medicine under Dr. Benja- 
alia Rush of Philadelphia, when the war of independence broke 
out. As a surgeon, a prisoner of war, a member of Washing- 
ton's military family, and an aid to Lafayette, McHenry saw 
service throughout that great conflict and, at its close, became a 
legislator, being a member at the same time of the Maryland 
Senate, and of the Confederation Congress. In. partnership 
with his father and brother in a successful mercantile business 
in Baltimore, he early accumulated a competence. In 1787, 
he served in the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia and, 
in succeeding years, was a Federalist member of the Maryland 
legislature, serving in both House of Deleorates and Senate. 
Washington called him to become Secretary of War in January 
1796, and, in that position, McHenry continued durinp: most 
of Adamses administration. He retired to private life in 
May, 1800, and spent the sixteen years which still remained 
of his life as a private citizen, keeping a keen interest in 
polities and maintaining an active correspondence with 
Federalist leaders in Congress. Throughout his whole life, 
he showed himself a pure minded, high spirited, courteous, 
Christian gentleman. He was a man of rare charm and 
attractiveness, who gained and kept the love of the best men 
of his time. A mere list of names of his intimate friends, 
scores of whose letters are here published for the fii'st time, 
proves the noblenass and loveliness of his character. Wash- 

X Prrface 

injrhni lovi\l him. as he loved few men. The men with whom 
MoIloiir>' was associated in the Revolutionary army, such as 
Haiuiltou. Lafayette and Tallmadge, never losrt the esteem 
tht\v tht^rv learned to feel for him. Among the men he met 
it\ lator public life« he gained the warm friendship of persons 
\>f suoh diverse characteristics as Pickering, William Vans 
Murrs^\\ and Uriah Tracy. The correspondence of men who 
)^l;^\x\i A^ pn^minent a part in affairs reveals much of import- 
««nv x^vu iho history of the times. I have been fortunate 
oiunv^ch to Iv able to consult the papers of Washington and 
Hauulu>n, while those papers were in the custody of the De- 
p,irn«otU of State in Wa&hinirton. and the papers of Pickering 
nx iho library of the Massachusetts Historical Society and, so to 
liave sivii lH>th sides of the noteworthy correspondence of 
McHcnr>- with those men. It is a privilege to have studied 
the life of sv> attractive and upright a man as McHenry — one 
\\i\o oompelltHl friendship and was faithful in the performance 
of every duty conunitteil to his care. 

Bernard C. Steiner. 




A^fONG the Scotch Irish Presbyterian settlers who came 
to America in the eighteenth century were a father and 
two sons from Ballymena, near Belfast, county Antrim, 
Ireland. The elder of the sons, James McHenry, came first in 
1771, sent out on a voyage to the colonies, because his health 
had become impaired by too close application to studies at a 
classical academy in Dublin. He was a youth of less than 
twenty years and was placed under the care of Captain William 
Allison, of Philadelphia, whose stepdaughter, Margaret Cald- 
well, he subsequently married. The date of James McHenry 's 
birth is uncertain. It is usually given as November 16, 1753, 
but the family records give the year as 1752, and in a letter to 
Timothy Pickering in June, 1813, McHenry gave it a.s Novem- 
ber 25, 1751. The first is probably the correct date, as his only 
sister, Anna, who died in 1771, was bom in 1751. The parents 
of James McHenry were named Daniel and Agnes and the 
family traditions state that Daniel had been a merchant in 
Ireland and that the McHenr>'s had been settled at Ballymena 
for many generations. Daniel McHenr>' was born in 1725, 
and, in 1772, was induced to emigrate to America through the 
representations of his son James. "With him, came his wife 
and his youn^^er son, John, the only remaining: members of his 
family. In the autumn of 1773, Daniel Mellenry established 
himself in business in Baltimore, together with his son John, 
under the firm name of Daniel McHenry & Son. In the 
newspapers of the day, they announce that they have just 
laid in a large and various assortment of merchandise suitable 
to the season in the last vessels from London, Liverpool, 
Ireland, etc., consisting of Dry Goods, Cloths, Hardware, 
Groceries, Spiceries, Wines, Teas, and Brandies. The store 
was on the east side of Calvert street, south of Market now 

2 Ij\fe and Correspondence [Chap. i 

Baltimore street, within two doors of the comer. Mrs. Agnes 
McHenry died, aged forty-six years, on Augiist 16, 1774. 

Daniel McHenry continued in business with his son with 
considerable financial success and died November 3, 1782, aged 
fifty-seven years. The newspapers describe him as **a gentle- 
man of respectable character.'* He does not seem to have 
purchased any real estate in Baltimore Town but had a country 
seat, probably in Anne Arundel county, as, in May, 1779, he 
advertised in the ** Maryland Joumar* $100 reward for a horse 
stolen from his plantation, eight miles from Dorsey's Ferry. 
John McHenry, who was bom in 1755, and was only eighteen 
when th« business was founded, continued it with success 
until his death on May 7, 1790, when the mercantile house 
ceased. In 1780, he began buying town property in connection 
with his brother and in 1785, he acquired the block upon 
which the postoffice now stands. As he never married, his 
property passed to his brother James. 

James McHenry, ^ with whom we are chiefly concerned, is 
found in 1772, at Newark, Delaware, in connection with the 
academy there, probably as a student. The Reverend Patrick 
Allison and the Reverend Francis Allison, both connections of 
Captain William Allison, were among the incorporators of this 
academy, which fact, doubtless, explains McHenry 's presence 
there. Verses are still preserved which he wrote during his 
residence at Newark. His earlier biographer speaks of these 
verses as ** attributable perhaps rather to youth and rural 
surroundings than to any decided inspiration." This taste 
for versification continued throughout his life and, though he 
is not known to have printed any of his verses, he left a port- 
folio filled with theii(i, some of which we shall quote. 

The Newark verses were sent to the "Pennsylvania 
Packet," on October l2, 1772, and are an unitation of Milton's 
L 'Allegro, a quotatioii^ from which was prefixed to them. 

Fle<rs the phIlos<]q>hic train, 
Now'8 the blithe vacaUon'8 reign; 
To yon owl I grlve my thesis. 
Whilst I wheel these chance-cut maset. 

1 Much of this family history was kindly girea by Mr. Wilson Miles 
Gary. A sketch of Dr. McHenry by Frederick J. Browm in the Md. Hist 
Soc. Fund Pub. has also proved of value. McHenry speaks of being twenty 
when his wife was twelve. If this is correot he was bora in 175S. as she 
was born in 1762. A sketch of McHenry. which speaks of him as *'of wide 
information and of respectable talents but not of great abilities,*' is found 
in Ingersoirs -History of the War Department. 428, and is based on Brown. 
Portraits of McHenry with brief sketches of his life are to be found in 
Car9on*s History of the Celebration of the Hundredth Anniversary of th* 
OonsUtuUon In Mag. Am. Hist, xlii, 104, and <Md., vli. 194. 

1751-1775] qfJawies McHenry 8 

I have read of Cam's fair rlU. 

Shady Windsor. Cooper's hill. 

And of London, where is seen, (and of London where I ween) 

Stars, and garters, and the queen ; (all antiquity it Been) 

And can spell of every stream 

That to music owes its name. 

Let the curious visit those. 
With, thee, New-Ark, I'll repose. 
Shun a citjr's circling life, 
Study nature, but not strife. 

Friendly Flaccus me excuse. 
Till I round these speaking views. 
Dull is Plato, dry his morals, 
To the forest s floating carols. 
To the woodman's weighty stroke 
Lev'ling low the distant oak. 
To the nymphs with rustic tresses, 
Dancing round the apple presses. 
To the plowman's healthful toil. 
Curling o'er the fallow soil ; 
Now his lusty meal appears. 
Now unyoked his sweating steers: 
Bounteous heav'n twice he blesses. 
Twice bestows the -bearer kisses. 

Some are climbing chestnut trees. 
Others, busy as the bees, 
pulling from the roguish vine 
Subject for their winter's wine. — 
Boys with berry-ting6d cheeks. 
Boats a rustling thro' the creeks. 
Flails resounding to the beaches. 
Maids with aprons full of peaches, ^ 
Grant me oft these scenes to view 
Distant from the artful crew; 
Near my Whiteclay'a virgin stream. 
To enjoy the mid-day dream; 
And with ^0to-Arfe will I live 
Whilst her plains these pleasures give. 

McHemy's best work is seen in brief lyriaa and epigrams, 
like the following: 

Of love, let fair Delia beware; 

'Tis a charm that's destructive to ease. 
That heaps on the heart but despair. 

While it seems to do nothing but please. 

Tho' it comes In a form th' most mild, 

'TIS a quest that is sure to betray ; 
Tho* rob'd like an Innocent child 

It has wings that soon waft it away. 

But if it can pleasure impart 

To know that your passion is known. 
Then know you have pierc'd Damon's heart 

With a flame that does equal your own. 

• s 

What beauty could do Amarillls would try. 
Would know by her absence how many must die; 
So ordered her band-box. and footman and chair, 
Determined to pass through a town in despair. — 
'But Venus, who sometimes to mortals is kind 
The scheme to defeat kept her sister behind. 

4 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. I 

When Cloe shone forth, what a 6yren said L 

She'll murder a score at a stroke; 
She opened her lips, I was ready to die. 

But love flew away when she spoke. 

The radiance of beauty Corinna could boast 

-But managed the thlnff without art : 
To be lov'd by a crowd, or to be the first toast 

iShe gave, till she lost every heart. 

Prom Newark, he returned to Philadelphia and took up 
the study of medicine under the famous Dr. Benjamin Rush. 
Between the teacher and pupil a warm attachment sprang up, 
as is shown by the letters wWch were exchanged in later years. 
There is no evidence that McHenry ever practiced medicine, 
save during his service as surgeon in the army. His letters 
show no trace of a love for the profession, while his easy 
financial circumstances did not force him to earn a livelihood 
from his medical knowledge. Dr. Bush was a friend of Qeorge 
Washington and it has been thought that, through the former's 
influence, McHenry first formed that acquaintance with the 
latter which was destined to exercise so great an influence over 
the life of the subject of this work. 

The patriotic fever of the times seized the young 
physician and, shortly after Washington went to Cambridge, 
McHenry prepared to follow him ^ and drew up an informal 
will. The paper shows clearly the devoutness of McHenry 's 
religious faith and the depth of his affection for his family. 

"Being about to set off for the head Quarters in New 
England, to serve as a volunteer, or Surgeon, in the American 
Army, raised by order of the Continental Congress and 
Provincial Conventions, to defend the liberties of Americans 
and mankind, against the enemies of both — I therefore, 
resign the disposal of myself and soul, in all sincerety and 
lowly reverence to their first giver. And should the events 
of war niunber me with the dead, in the name of the disposer of 
these and all other events, I will and bequeath by this writing, 
all my portion of earthly possessions in the manner following. 

**In the first place I hereby will, order, and devise that the 
one third of the Principal, and the one third of the proffits 
arising from my partnership with my Father Daniel McHenry 
and John McHenry my Brother, both of Baltimore Town, 
Maryland, be equally and impartially divided between the 
said Daniel McHenry my Father, and John McHenry my 
Brother. I moreover bequeath, to my dear and well beloved 

1 There is a poem of McHenry's "To Sirs. M. on leaving Philadelphia 

1753-1775] qf James McHenry 5 

Brother, John McHenry aforesaid — all my wearing apparel 
— military habiliments — books — and physical materials, to 
be disposed of as he may think proper. Preserving only out 
of this bequest 'Beattie on the nature and immutability of 
truth' for my good and worthy patron and friend Capt. 
William Allison of Philadelphia as a slender memorial of my 
gratitude and friendship Also to my much esteemed and 
bosom friend James Dunlap, now apothecary to the Pennsyl- 
Tania Hospital, the eighteen volumes of *Van Sweeten 's Com- 
mentaries on the Aphorisms of Boerhaave. ' 

**As to the manuscript poetry and other rude sketches in 
my chest &c I earnestly desire and request that they may be 
all burnt. 

**I enter not into the formalities of a will, because the 
tender affections, and strong affinities of Father, Son, and 
Brother, render it unnecessary. May every form of success 
attend the struggles of liberty, and every possible felicity my 
dear Father and Brother. Amen. 

** Philadelphia 29 July 1775 

''James McHenry 
"Witness present 
"Will Blair" 




McHENRT'S first service seems to have been without a 
regular commission and we know little of his activities, 
save that he was in attendance in the hospitals ia 
Cambridge in January, 1776, whence he thus wrote his brother: 

**My very dear Brother 

**Am I to conclude by my not hearing from you since the 
30th. Deer. Ulto. that your desire of serving America in a 
military capacity has subsided for the present. Had I 
known some time ago that your thought turned this way, I 
could have procured you a captaincy here. But I imagined you 
were of opinion with myself that one out of our little family 
was its full share. I must confess that I had much rather 
see you pursuing the less hazardous business you have been 
accustomed to than engaged in the army. I do not suppose 
that the cause stands peculiarly in need of your assistance. 
You must consider yourself as the head of a family. Your 
conduct, ought, therefore be such as may be productive of the 
best and most advantageous consequences. These I apprehend 
cannot be obtained by adopting the military plan. Do but 
reflect on the relation in which you stand and how much some 
people depend on your management and prudence. During 
the remainder of the suspension of our trade, our capital 
cannot be much diminished. Trade must soon be again opened, 
with other powers if not with European. A declaration of 
Independency may not be far off. And Prance — Holland 
&c &c will hardly abstain from a commerce which must show 
a very large balance in their favour. 

**As to j'^our scheme of going home, I also confess that as 
yet I have not been able to enter into its propriety. We can 
hardly suppose a reconciliation between England and America. 
Both are too far engaged to recede. Our terms of accommoda- 

1775-1778] qf James McHenry 7 

ikm would be too hmniliating to the false dignity of Britain^ 
and their 's too ignominious for the sons of freedom. Strength 
must decide the present dispute. I have few fears of the 
scales turning against us. We have within ourselves materials 
for carrying on a war of any duration : We have many more 
natural resources than the ministry will confess. And may, 
if wanted, have foreign assistance. Under such circumstances, 
it would be foolishness in the extreme to accept of less than 
absolute independency. For in short we are only to be 
subjugated by pusillanimity and disunion. I would ask you 
if it is not advisable to stay where you are, and content 
yourself in doing a little till a change of times put it in your 
power to do more, or go home with a greater certainty of 
answering the purposes of trade. If for the present you can 
keep the old stock together we may be fully content. In all 
probability the merchant will soon find his usual employment. 
New manufactures — and trades will rise out of our confu- 
sions, and the calamities of war, in a short time be more than 
counterbalanced by a long train of blessings and advantages. 

"But I would not have you think from what I have said, 
Ihat I mean to damp your military ardor. I am willing as 
soon as the cause demands it to give up my fraternal feelings. 
If you suppose this to be the period, when engaged in the 
service, do your duty faithfully and when called into action 
let not the justice of our glorious cause, or the spirit of a 
freeman forsake you. But I am sure these wiU not. ..And if 
you have joined the army I doubt not but tha|:f^ teiw pHl • 
our affairs in proper order and proper hands, ii yifpi'Ukwtt hir 
uncertain when or where you may be called. ""' 

* * If on the other hand you determine to crot» the Atlantic 
I also expect you to make such arranprement and disposition 
of things a.s I mentioned in my last letter to you, thro' the 
mediimi of Capt. Allison. But as I said there, take the 
opinion of people who have more leisure to consider the step 
and a more extensive knowledge of the subject or consequences 
than I have. 

' ' I must be<r that in vour future letters vou will be more 
particular and less desultory. This will lead to a just habit 
of writing as well as thinking. You miKht ere now have told 
me a variety of things which I want to know. You have 
mentioned my father's family. Pray have I any sisters or 
brothers in it? But how many or can you find time to jrive 
me some idea of them? I thank my father for his eompli- 

8 Ltfe and Correspotidence [Chap, n 

ments and be$? you to return him mine, with the inclosed letter. 
You tell me that he lives happily. I am heartily glad of it. 
He has met with some heartaches in his time, so that I am 
pleased to think he is likely to finish his last act in peace and 

**I cannot conclude this long letter, without telling you 
how much I am chagrined and disappointed at your writing 
so seldom. At your not discharging what some may imagine a 
duty which you owe in a peculiar manner, your • • and tend- 
erly affectionate brother. 

** James McHenry 

**I wish that you would see about getting, making and 
forwarding the shirts, if my father cannot. I could buy linen 
but it is a most extravagant price • * that which you soM 
when last with you at • • • is above a dollar per yd." 

He evidently continued with the army after the close of 
the siege of Boston, for, on July 26, 1776, Washington gave 
written consent to his application for a week's leave of absence 
before going to Canada. The trip to Canada was probably 
given up and McHenry continued as a volunteer with the 
army. On August 27, his preceptor. Dr. Rush, sent him the 
following letter, transmitting a very commendatory resolution 
of the continental congress: 


Congress Aug 26 1776 
. *' Resolved that Congress have a proper sense of the merit 
and sei'vices of Doctor McHenry and recommend it to the 
Directors of the different hospitals belonging to the United 
States to appoint Doctor McHenry to the first vacancy that 
shall happen of a surgeon 's birth in any of the said hospitals. 
''Extract from the minutes 

*'Chas Thomson Sec'y-" 

*'Dear Sir 

' * The above resolution of Congress does you as much honor 
as if they had made you a director of a hospital. I need not 
hint to you after this how unjust it will be in you to desert 
their Service especially at the present juncture. You wiU 
please to furnish Dr. Morgan, Dr. Stringer, and the other 
Directors of the hospitals of the States with a copy of the 
above resolution. If there is at present a vacancy in any of 

1775-1778] qf James McHenry 9 

these departments, you are authorised to demand a warrant 
for it. Wishing you my dear McHenry much health, honor 
and happiness I am with great regard your most Affectionate 
humble Servant 

**B. Rush'' 

On August 10, McHenry had been appointed surgeon of 
the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion, commanded by Colonel 
Robert McGaw, and stationed at Fort Washington. McHenry 
remained with the command until the fort was taken by Sir 
William Howe on November 16, 1776. He was one of five 
surgeons taken prisoners among the 2000 Americans who were 
included in the capitulation. Shortly after his captivity began 
he wrote Dr. Rush: 

"My very dear Sir 

**In my last from F. Washington I vainly amused myself 
with a prospect of seeing you in a short time. But the events 
of war are uncontrolable and have taught me of how little 
avail the wisdom and hardihood of a few are against the coun- 
cils and courage of the many. 

**I have not as yet reflected so deeply on the fate of a 
prisoner as to make me unhappy. And perhaps I shall not. 
For I am no admirer of that philosophy which is constantly 
in tears or beating itself to pieces against the impassable bars 
of its prison. Methinks I feel something within me like that 
kindly resignation which when duly attended to never fails 
to befriend the unfortunate. But 

** Altho' I am resigned with regard to my own fate, yet it 
were to be wished that an exchange of prisoners could be 
brought about as soon as possible. The officers thro' the 
goodness of his Excellency General Howe — have the liberty 
of the City — but the privates are crouded into Churches 
and the like. Prodire tenus, si nan datur ultra. 

**Col Magaw is ill of a fever, tho' in my opinion not 
dangerous. I am at private lodgings with him, Col. Miles, 
Atley, Swoope &c. Their evening and morning devotions 
begin and end with Horace's O rus, qiiando ego te aspiciam. 

**I am Sir yours most respectfully sincerely and affec- 
tionately James McHenry. 

**New York 21st No\t 1776" 

On this letter, McHenry endorsed the following reason 
why it was not sent : 

10 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap. ii 

* — — I I , ^ , ^ 

**The commissary of prisoners Mr. Loring rejected this 
letter It would not pass'' 

Of his experience in captivity, we learn from a letter he 
wrote in Philadelphia to Washington on June 22, 1777 : 

** Observing it asserted in Gen. Howe's letter to your 
Excy of the 21st April Ult. that *one half of the sick pris- 
oners were rec'd into the British Hospitals — that the re- 
mainder were attended in their different places of confinement 
by their own Surgeons and lastly that these Surgeons, with- 
out restriction were supplied with medicines for this purpose 
until it was discovered that they disposed of large quantities 
by private sale ; ' I conceive it incumbent on me to give your 
Excellency what information I can on this subject, the better 
to ascertain its credibility, and that it may have its proper 
influence in the settlement of the proportion of prisoners to be 
accounted for. 

**In the first place I would observe to your Excelly that 
Gen Howe seems to have fallen into a mistake in using the 
term B. H. in the sense in which he would have it understood. 
If it be not appropriated to amuse, his information must have 
come from persons whose interest it is that he himself should 
be deceived. For your Excellency is by no means to suppose 
that any of our sick prisoners were, at any one time whilst 
I was in N. Y received into the B. IL, or treated in the same 
manner as their own sick and wounded. 

**That great numbers of our sick and wounded were se|>- 
erated from the rest, and put into houses provided for their 
reception is not to be doubted. But here they wanted, the 
necessary attendance, comforts, and conveniencies which con- 
stitute a hospital : either * through design, or neglect of reason- 
able and practicable care,' Whilst. On the other hand no 
patients could be better taken care of, or better provided, than 
those in B. Hospitals. Had ours received a similar treatment 
no cause of complaint could possibly have arisen on this head. 
But a detail [of] some of their sufferings, and what was 
attempted for their relief in comparison to our Enemies will 
better shew the discrimination. I enter upom it with pain and 

**The condition of the prisoners in gen. the want of such 
assistance as (j. H. had it in his power to supply, & wch was 
compatible with yr situation was at several times represented 
to Gen : Howe by letters from our field officers. No answer 
was received. In DeoiBltoy ?>\eir distresses became more 

1775-1778] qf James McHenry 11 

I)eculiarly interesting. Heretofore the sick were under the 
care of Dr Antil a refugee from . But from this per- 
iod to their leaving N. Y. they were principally under the 
direction of a person who called himself Dr Louis Debute 
a man of a most infamous and abandoned character. 

* * And It was now tho 't advisable to acquaint Doctor Mallet 
(Surg. Gen. and providor to the B. H.) with their singular 
distresses. Accordingly in the presence of Col. Miles, I laid 
before him, and the commissary for Prisoners (Mx. Jos. 
Loring) their present condition. Mentioned their want of 
Hospital bed-bunks, bedding, and coverings — the almost 
total want of fire, in consequence of which several of their 
limbs had mortified — but more particularly their want of 
nurses and tenders to give cleanliness to the place and prepare 
and give them their drinks and nourishment at proper times. 
In short that they in a manner wanted every thing that could 
contribute to their comfort or recovery. 

**Dr. Mallet reply 'd the account was affecting, and he was 
very sorry to hear it. He would look into the matter. But in 
the mean while could assure me that they were allowed the 
same as the patients in the B. H. And because it was thought, 
that it would please our oflScers better, they were under the 
care of one of our own Doctors. If things were peculated or 
misapplied — it was not his fault. This complaint, I an- 
swered was made to him, and Mr Loring because it was 
imagined, it came more immediately under their cognizance. 
My state of their cruel sufferings was a true one. The evi- 
dence was no further off than the Quaker meetinpr house 
where they lay. That Louis Debute who seemed to be ehieiiy 
intrusted with their treatment did not belong to us, nor had 
ever been in our service, as I could learn. That he was notor- 
ious for crimes, and had been pillored some time before we 
evacuated N. York. Moreover That Dr. Oliver who had the 
management of our wounded had lately dismissed him upon 
its being discovered that he disposed of their medicines and 
necessaries. To this Dr. Mallet replied — that he was found 
amongst our people; and he supposed him one of ourselves. 

* * Dr Mallet then requested me to take the direction of the 
house upon myself, and said that if I could procure nurses 
(which I had remarked they wanted more than medicines) ho 
would willingly pay them. To this I answered, that he must 
be sensible my situation in N. York was by no means cal- 
culated to procure nurses. But if nurses or even proper 

12 Uife and Correspondence [Chap. ii 

tenders were provided, and Debute turned off, I would imme- 
diately undertake the business. But altbo' bound as well by 
profession as duty to render the sick service in my power, yet 
the superior regard which I owed my character, must deter- 
mine me from tibe undertaking so long as he was continued. 

**Mr Loring said Debute should not be suffered to pre- 
scribe, but as he was a useful fellow, ihight still be employed 
as an understrapper. I could not engage in the affair, I 
replied, until he was totally dismissed. 

**Notwithstand[ing] this he was continued; tho' a Dp 
Hawkins, mate in the Gen. Hospital, came now and then to 
prescribe. But of his attendance or care they were little the 
better. And Debute was suffered to carry on his inhumanities 
and deceptions as usual 'till a more glaring act of cruelty 
rendered his dismission unavoidable. 

''An officer, prisoner on Long Island, came to our lodgings 
to inform Cols McGaw & Miles that the Doctor who had charge 
of our sick, had that morning in his presence given one of 
them a blow with his stick, in consequence of which the man 
died 15 minutes after. 

**Upon this I renewed my complaints to Dr Mallet with 
this additional circumstance of Debute 's barbarity: and beg- 
ged, as the officer was willing to swear to the fact, that he 
might be tryed for the murder. The Doctor expressed much 
concern, and accompanied me to Debute. The fellow after some 
little hesitation confessed that he had that morning struck one 
of his patients ; but argued that it was the man who lay next to 
him who died. The first detatchment of our officers, in the 
mean while was ordered over to Long Island, and unfortunate- 
ly amongst them the person who was to evidence this fact. And 
the murdered man was already buried with a number of 
others, so that no testimony could be had from inspection. 

, **Now Debute was dismissed from his office and com- 
manded never more to be seen near the sick. This compre- 
hends a period of six week time their crowded situation — 
the effects of severe cold on their limbs — the strong symptoms 
of a long deprivation of water expressed in many of their 
countenances — Exclamations for drink and food, from such 
as had strength left to speak — the groans of the dying — the 
looks of the dead that lay mixed with the living — and the 
insufferable impurity of the house, made up altogether a 
scene more affecting and horrid than the carnage of a field of 
battle wherein no quarter is given. 

1775-1778] qf James McHenry 18 

''These things made impressions too strong to be forgot- 
ten. And I question whether the resentment of the few who 
survived can end, but with their feelings. 

**But from this description which includes a period of 6 
weeks I would in some manner discriminate the wounded, who 
were lodged in a diflFerent part of the Town ; in houses pro- 
vided with fire places, and under the direction of Dr Oliver, 
a refugee from Boston. I also make some distinction between 
the usage of the sick under Dr. Antil who had charge of them 
before Debute. But even under these gentlemen their state 
was often grievous and distressing to contemplate. 

* * Debute left the sick in such a condition that nothing save 
their immediate removal from N. York afforded the smallest 
prospect of a single patients recovery. Wherefore all I could 
do, was to procure that application to Gen. Howe which got 
them out on parole; a copy of which I inclosed to your Ex- 
cellency the latter end of Jany last dated from Hyde 's Town 

**I come now to Gen. Howe's allegation against our Sur- 
geons. I imagine that upon proper enquiry it will be found 
unsupported by admissible evidence: or to depend upon an 
equivoque of the same nature as that on which the assertion 
of our sick being reed into the B. H. is grounded. How far 
the following facts may serve to clear up the matter may not 
be difScult to ascertain. 

** Doctor Hugh Hodge and myself made several applica- 
tions for medicine for our sick officers, but were always re- 
fused. We were obliged to buy them for their use. An 
ounce or two of salts and a few nitre powders from Drs 
Oliver and Antil were all we ever reed. And these we had 
in consideration of our profession, not because they had orders 
to deliver any. For the latter Gent, told Dr. Hodge that Dr. 
Mallet had positively forbidden medicines to be given for 
patients out of his own care. Moreover when Debute had 
charge of our sick I bought from Dr. Browmjohn, and destri- 
buted amongst them medicines in his presence from time to 
time. I except here the dressings &c — which Dr. Oliver 
from time to time furnished the wounded officers, who were 
attended at their own lodgings. Besides Dr. Hodge and my- 
self there were 4 or 5 Surgeons prisoners belonging to Penn- 
sylvania and the New England States. It is natural to sup- 
pose that those were also refused. But as I was not acquainted 
with them, do not affirm it. 

14 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. ii 

''But had medicines been allowed without restriction for 
the use of our sick remaining in their prisons — wherefore pre- 
vented from visiting themt Between the 20 November and 
middle of January, I attempted it several times but never 
obtained admission except in one instance, when I had reason 
to believe that the guard had mistaken me for a British Surgn 

**But further med. to men circumstanced as they were, 
could answer no one salutary purpose. It is even illiberal 
to suppose that any rational person would have prescribed 
them to men so totally unfurnished with those conveniencies 
and necessaries, without which, they are useless, if not hurtful. 
This would have been carrying cruelty to its utmost limits. 
And it ought really to be considered as a mark of O. H. 
humanity, that such a thing was not ordered to be done. 

**This may serve as a commentary to G. Howe's third 
fact. I cannot be mistaken in a single assertion. In every part 
of the testimony I am clear, however it may stand contrasted 
with Sir William Howes. You will therefore use it as may 
best answer the course of justice. For 'Tis well I am G. 
Howes prisoner But this cannot prevent me from dischan?- 
ing the obligations I am under to truth. With all due 
respect I have the honor to remain your Exl most obt and 
very humble servt" 

On January 27, 1777, Surgeon McHenry was paroled, ^ 

1 A rough draft of the report made by McHenry to Lorixiflr, the com- 
missary of prisoners in New York, is among the McHenry papers. Two 
of the letters sent Howe with reference to the prisoners here follow : 

"To his Elxcy. Sir Wm. Hotoe commander In chief of his majesty's 
forces In N. America may it please your Excelly. 

"We being informed by several persons that the severity of the 
contagion in the prisoners' hospital is such as to encrease every disease 
and leave little or no probability of the unfoftunate patient's recovery 
while confined in that place. And notwithstanding the severity of the 
season we are assured by some of the physicians that Uieir removal will 
be attended with less danger than their continuance there. We therefore 
take the liberty of requesting that your fiSxcy. will be pleased to give orders 
for these to be sent away as soon as convenient under the care of some 
of their Doctors, as it appears the only thing that can be done In their 
favor. Signed by 

"Col. Miles 


"And MaJ. Williams" 

"To his Excellency Qeneral Howe commander in chief of his nuigestles 
forces in North America. 

"We should not have presumed one moment on your Excellency's time 
were we not called upon oy the most powerful of motives. The state of 
the sick and wounded prisoners is of toe melancholy a kind for recital 
and the consequences of a general contagion to be dreaded. We as 
witnesses of their situation feel every principle within us interested in 
their favour, and would beg leave to recommend them, In particular, as 
objects not unworthy of your Excellency's clemency. This winter will 

1775-1778] qf James McHenry 16 

as we learn from a letter writen by him to Washington four 
days later from Hydestown: 

**In consequence of the inclosed application to Gen : IIowc 
the sick privates and those who remained of the well were 
ordered off on parole under my care as Doctor, and the con- 
duct of a british officer &c. But as the officer leaves them 
here, he gets no receipt. Six have died since our leaving New- 
York; But I flatter myself, should the weather moderate a 
little that most of the remainder will recover. There is now 
Twenty five. 

**May I hope that your Excellency will free me, as soon 
as convenient from the restrictions of a parole. I have the 
honour to be your Excellency's most obedient and most humble 

Over a year passed, however, before he was released from 
parole. During this time he probably resided in Baltimore. 
Then McHenry received a letter, written by his friend Hamil* 
ton on March 5, 1778 : 

**It gave me pleasure to inform you that Mr. Boudinotte 
has been able to effect your exchange for a Doctor Mentzes. 
Allow me to congratulate you on the event. 

^'We are again on the business of a general cartel with 
Mr. Howe. He seems inclined to meet us on fair ground. 

'' Commissioners from us meet on equal numbers from him 
the 10th. instant. One great and preliminary point to be set- 
tled is the proportion of prisoners that we ought to account 
for. To assist our judgment in this point — we shall be much 
obliged to you by the return of this express, and without a 
moments loss of time to send us your deposition, to the best of 
your knowledge, on the actual state of the prisoners sent out 
at the time of the delivery; and whatever else may serve to 
throw light upon the subject, 

**I am Sir 

**Your most obedt. 
**A Hamilton Esq." 

On the same day, Dr. James Hutchinson, who was a 
Philadelphia surpreon, wrote McHenry from **Moorhall near 
headquarters. Valley Forge:" 

assuredly place them beyond reach of human charity. We would therefore, 
whilst a parole can be of any service entreat that a proper place may be 
agreed to by your Excy. and Gen. W — n where the sick and wounded may 
be conveyed they pled^ns their faith to continue unactive until! resrularly 
exchangred or laid under such restrictions and limitations as may be tho't 
necessary by your EJxcellency and Gen. Washington. Wc bog that we 
may be heard and are your Excellency's most obedient — humble servta/* 

16 Life and Correspofuletice [Chap. ii 

**I would have wrote you long since, but was uncertain 
where you were to be found, and now I only think it probable 
that you may be at Baltimore ; therefore dispatch an Express 
thither, after you to carr>^ this letter, and one which his 
Excellency has desired me to send you, on matters of import- 
ance. I sincerely congratulate you on your exchange, Mr. 
Boudinot has your parole in his possession, and you are once 
more at liberty to serve your Country, in such manner as 
your qualifications render you eminently capable; however I 
will say more to you on this subject when I have the pleasure 
of seeing you, at which time I shall have an opportunity of 
talking over the variety of scenes, which have passed since I 
saw 3'ou in Philadelphia, and since I have entered the army. 

**I beg you to repair hither as soon as you possibly can, 
the Express who carries this has orders to ride night and day 
till he meets you, if you should be at Baltimore, his Excellency 
has Business with you of the greatest importance, and it is of 
the utmost consequence that you should be in Camp in four 
days from this date; I have fifty things to say to you, but am 
desired not to delny the Express, I have therefore no time to 
write half I wish to or to look over what I have already 
wrote. ' ' 

McHenry now took up duties in the hospital and on 
May 17, Dr. Rush addres.sed a letter to him as ** Senior Sur- 
geon of the Flying Hospital, Valley Forge," in which letter 
he says : **It gives me pleasure to see one whofn I had any hand 
in educating filling an honorable and usefuPpost in the line 
of his profession in the army. May you continue to merit 
the esteem of your friends and the approbation of your coun- 
try." On May 15, he was appointed secretary to the com- 
mander-in-chief. McIIenrj' hesitated somewhat before he 
accepted the position and wrote his father to ask his prefer- 
ence in the matter: 

**I find myself much embarrassed to know how to inform 
you of a matter in which my inclinations are deeply con- 
cerned ; but in which I am not at liberty to proceed without 
your concurrence. Circumstances of some delicacy put it out 
of my power at present to be as explicit as I wish withi a 
father — however, I hope to make it in some measure under- 
stood, so far as may be necessary to obtain your opinion and 

**I do not forget the tenderness of our parting, your last 

1775-1778] qf James McHenry 17 

^^ i_ - — -" — - -w— -■ ■ 

injunctions, nor my promise to avoid all places of danger 
not strictly connected with the duties of my profession. It 
is the observation of those which prevents me from entering 
into a post of some danger till I can obtain your approbation. 
The post in contemplation is one not only of the most hon- 
ourable but the most flattering to a young man of any mili- 
tary views ; or who wishes to be distinguished by the first in 
the military line. The idea of my being of use in my present 
station I trust will not be a reason with you why I should not 
change it for one more agreeable to my wishes. But I must 
not influence you in a matter which your own feelings must 
determine. I would only just beg to observe that those who 
believe in a superintending God can have little to fear from a 
change of situation. We are all under his eye, and under 
bis particular providence, whether in the walks of private em- 
ployment, or amidst the hurry and confusion of war and 
battle. We cannot die without his knowledge, nor live with- 
out his protection. 

**It now rests upon you to say what I shall do. Whether 
accept of a post of danger honourable beyond my deserving- 
ness — or continue in a physical station wherein I think I 
can be very useful to the army. 

**Be good enough to write me by return of this express 
and believe me to be — with all due regard and affection your 
dutiful child." 

Daniel McHenry 's answer has not been preserved, but 
must have been favorable to McHenry *s acceptance of the 
.new post offered him. As secretary, he took an oath of 
alle^ance to the United States and renunciation of the Eng- 
lish king before General Nathaniel Greene on June 9. With 
the appointment as secretary, McHenry gave up medical prac- 
tice for the rest of his life. Save for an interesting prescrip- 
tion given Hamilton on the following 21st of September, we 
hear of no more medical work by McHenry. His advice to 
Hamilton was as follows: 

**In order to get rid of your present accumulations you 
will be pleased to take the pills agreeable to the directions; 
and to prevent future accimiulations observe the following 
table of diet. 

'*This will have a tendency also to correct your wit. 

* * I would advise for your breakfast two cups of tea sweet- 
ened with brown sugar, and coloured with about a teaspoon- 

18 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap, ii 

fill of milk. I prefer brown sugar to loaf because it is more 
laxative. And I forbid the free use of milk until your stom- 
ach recovers its natural powers. At present you would feel 
less uneasiness in digesting a pound of beef than a pint of 

**You will not drink your tea just as it comes out of the 
pot; let it have time to cool. The astringuency of the tea is 
more than counterbalanced by the relaxing quality of hot- 

**For your dinner let me recommend about six ounces of 
beef or mutton, either boiled or roasted, with eight or ten 
ounces of bread. Cut the meat from the tenderest part with 
little or no fat. Use the natural juice, but no rancid oily 
gravy whatsoever. For some time I would prefer the beef, 
because it contains more of a natural animal stimulus than 
mutton. Once or twice a week you may indulge in a thin 
slice of ham. Your best condiment will be salt 

** You must not eat as many vegitables as you please — a 
load of vegitables is as hurtful as a load of any other food. 
Besides the absurdity of crouding in a heap of discordant 
vegitables with a large quantity of meat too much of itself for 
the digestive powers. You may eat a few potatoes every day. 

''Water is the most general solvent the kindliest and the 
best assistance in the process of digestion. I would therefore 
advise it for your table drink. When you indulge in wine 
let it be sparingly. Never go beyond three glasses — but by 
no means every day. 

''I strictly forbid all eatables which I do not mention 
principally because a formula of diet for your case should be 
simple and short. 

** Should this table be strictly observed, it will soon be- 
come of little use, because you will have recovered that degree 
of health which is compatable with the nature of your consti- 
tution. You will then be your own councellor in diet for the 
man who has had ten years experience in eating and its con- 
sequences is a fool if he does not know how to choose his 
dishes better than his Doctor. 

''But in case you should fall into a debauch — you must 
next day have recourse to the pills. I hope however that you 
will not have recourse to them often. The great Paracelsus 
trusted to his pills to destroy the effects of intemperance — 
but he died if I forget not about the age of 30 notwithstand- 
ing his pills. Lewis Comaro the Italian was wiser — he 
trusted to an ^^.'g^ and I think lived to about ninety." 




McHENRY now took up a position he was to fill for two 
years and which determined his future life. He was 
a member of Washington's ''military family/' in 
close association with such men as Hamilton, Lafayette, and 
Benjamin Talmadge, all of whom became his friends for life, 
and in such relations to ''the Qeneral^" as McHenry always 
called Washington, that McHenry grew to be one of the few 
with whom that austere man could unbend. McHenry 's sin- 
cerity and purity of soul and his "easy and cheerful temper" 
attracted Uie great man and, though Washington ever re- 
mained a hero to his secretary, yet the intimacy showed itself 
in the easy and often playful style in their letters. McHenry ^ 
was at the battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, and was 
then sent to the rear to look after the baggage, in case the 
result of the battle should be unfavorable to the American 
forces. Before the battle, he met Lee on the march towards 
the enemy and asked him if he had any information to send 
back to General Washington. Lee said the enemy did not 
appear well to understand the roads and that he expected to 
fall in with the rear of the enemy, with great certainty of 
cutting them off. McHenry started with this message, when 
Lee called him back and added, "with fixed and firm tone of 
voice and countenance," that General WajTie and Colonel 
Butler are amusing them with a few loose cannon shot, that 
the enemy are constantly changing their front, which is a 
usual thing with those who retreat. After the conflict, Mc- 
Henry was present, when Washington asked Lee the cause 
of the retreat and noticed his confusion. A third time, he 
saw Lee at Englishtown later in the day, when Lee was 
observing to a number of gentlemen that it was mere folly 

1 Tower's Lafayette in the Revolution. 391, Lee Papers. N. T. Hist. 
See. ill. 77. 191. 

20 Ltfe and Corrcspojidence [Chap, hi 

to make attempts against the enemy where they possessed so 
great a superiority in cavalry. ^ 

While the army was in winter quarters, on December 10, 
Samuel Smith of Baltimore w^rote McHenry from that town : 

*'I arrived here Safe on Thursday last, my Stay in Phil- 
ada. was but 7 days. I was astonish 'd with the Luxuries & 
extravagances of that once Federal City, it is true the At- 
tention they pay to officers, flatters & pleases us. but Such 
prodigality of our Money depreciates it & in the end bids fair 
to destroy it. they talk of thousands as we do of Dollars in 
Camp. I lamented our Situation, & to enforce it, assured as 
an instance of the Impossibility of our staying longer in the 
Service, that my half years pay was spent on my Journey 
home. I was laughed at for my parsimony. I was mistaken 
it cost me 50 Dr. more. — I hope Balto was not so bad. here 
it is true their living is not luxurious, but the Money is of as 
little value, what think you of J. M' Lure betting 200 D. on 
the throw of a Die. one thousand Dolls, to lose or win in a 
Night is peddling. — The consequence of this will be very soon 
Mt by the Army. Pennsylvania says it can supply no flour, 
on this place a very chief dependance is plac'd by the Com- 
misary General, his deputy has made frequent attempts to 
purchase, but to very little purpose, So Soon as he gives a price 
the Speculators give a higher until at length it has got to 
£7.10 & £10 & none buying for the public. A Law has pass'd 
this State but it will have very little Effect, it prevents Monop- 

1 After Hamllton'A death, McHenry defended his reputation while in 
the Revolutionary army in the following communication to "Yundt ft 
Brown's Qasette": 

"In the Aurora of the twenty ninth ulto. the followiner was inserted 
as an anecdote. 

*' 'When Colonel Hamilton aid de Camp to General Washington forced 
General Charles Lee to the field, for ridiculing that General's abilities 
Lee, received his fire; but refused either to retract what he had said or 
to return a shot 

••• "You may fire at me all day Sir, (said Lee) !f It will amuse you; 
what I have said I am not disposed to recall ; — but I should conceive you 
do your patron no great honour by thus assuming his cause; and as for 
returning your fire. I beg to 'be excused. Gen. Lee can acquire no honour 
by the death of Colonel Hamilton." ' 

"We have the authority of a gentleman whose situation in the army, 
during the revolutionary war, and intimacy with the deceased Gen. 
Hamilton, gave him an opportunity of knowing whether the fact related 
in the above anecdote took place, to state, that General Hamilton never 
did call General Charles Lee or any other officer of the revolutionary 
army to the field for any cause. It is possible our informant thinks that 
the mistake may have originated in the following circumstance. Col. 
J<rfin Laurens and Colonel Hamilton, were at the same time aids to 
General Washington. The latter Col. Laurens did call General Lee to the 
field. This gentleman was a son of Henry Laurens, the well remembered 
President of Congress, and was surpassed by few men in genius, aA>ility 
and gallantry. He feU In a skirmish In South Carolina fighting for his 
native country." 

1778-1780] qf James McHenry 21 

olizers but does not prevent Millers from forestalling nor 
farmers from keeping up their grain. Gk)od Men with a part 
of the Army had been Cantoon'd in Maryland. I fear it will 
again want flour, its Distance from the flour CJountry is very 


**The Situation of the Officers is truly distressing they 
not only have the Mortification to See every thing live except 
themselves, but, they see their private fortune wasting away 
to make fat those very Miscreants, they See their Country 
altho yet wanting their Assistance refuse to make any future 
provision for them, or even to give them the Necessary Sup- 
plies, which their Small pittance of pay will not purchase. 
Congress feels not for us, our Countrymen will soon avoid us, 
that they may not be troubled with our Complaint & lest we 
should want to borrow their Money from them. I cannot 
bear to resign & yet what Can I do. my Fathers opulent 
fortune is reduced to Nothing, it was chiefly in cash, exclusive 
of my Love for my Country & the Service, my attachment to 
his Excelly. makes me wish to remain & nothing but dire 
necessity Shall make me resign." 

After Washington and his military family reached Hav- 
erstraw, McHenry wrote an account of the march which gives 
glimpses of the pleasant side of the campaign. 

**In our route to Paramus, where part of the army had 
encamx)ed in order to rest and refresh, we visited the falls of 
Pasaic [on July 10]. We crossed the river at an old bridge 
in very bad repair and in half a mile reached the falls. 

**The rock to which they owe their birth is of considerablo 
compass (covered in general with herbage, some trees and 
shrubbery). But besides the chasm into which the water 
throws itself there are several other fissures and deep dismem- 
berments, formed as it would seem by nature in some of her 
violent operations. The falls tho ' curious in themselves derive 
additional beauties from those objects with which they are 

' * The Pasaic appears to be about 30 or 40 yards broad — 
but the water does not cover at the falls near this extent. 
There a smooth and gentle sheet tumbles down into a deep 
aperture or cleft of the rock, which crosses the channel, while, 
at the same time, several lesser portions seem to steal thro' 
different openings, rudely encounterinj? each other in their 
descent, till they arrive at the bottom where they all mix to- 

22 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap, hi 

gether. This conflict and the dashing of the water against 
the asperities and contrasted sides of the rock produces a fine 
spray that issuing from the cleft appears at a distance like 
a thin body of smoke. Near the bottom of the falls it exhibits 
a beautiful rainbow in miniature. The aperture into which 
the water falls does not seem to be more than from 21 to 22 
feet wide, and about 30 feet in depth, tho' further down and 
towards where the river takes a new turn the distance between 
the walls of rock is much greater and the perpendicular 
depth perhaps not less than 70 feet. Here the water com- 
poses itself as in a large basin of solid stone and then spreads 
into a pretty broad channel, continuing its course uninter- 
rupted to New- York bay. 

''A little above the falls the water glides over some ledges 
of rock of about 3 or 4 feet perpendicular in a very pretty 

**It is observable that all the clefts and dismemberments 
in the several parts of the rock run in the samq direction. 
You may descend into some of them by means of earth and 
stones with which their entrance is made gradual and easy. 
On each side of these fissures is a perpendicular wall of rock, 
overgrown with moss. There one enjoys a delightful cool- 
ness under an intermixture of ruins and the branches of 
trees that form a fine shade. 

** After viewing these falls we seated ourselves round the 
Oeneral under a large spreading oak within view of the spray 
and in hearing of the noise. 

** A fine cool spring bubled out most charmingly from the 
bottom of the tree. The travelling canteens were immediately 
emptied and a modest repast spread before us, of cold ham, 
tongue and some biscuit. With the assistance of a little spirit 
we composed some excellent grog. Then we chatted away a 
very cheerful half hour — and then took our leave of the 
friendly oak — its refreshing spring — and the meek falls 
of Pasaic — less noisy and boisterous than those of Niagara, 
or the more gentle Cohoes or the waters of the Mohawk. 

**From hence we passed thro a fertile country to a place 
called Paramus. We stopped at a Mrs. Watkins whose house 
was marked for head Quarters. But the General receiving 
a note of invitation from a Mrs. Provost to make her Her- 
mitage, as it was called, the seat of his stay while at Paramus, 
we only dined with Mrs. Watkins and her two charming 
daughters, who sang us several pretty songs in a very agree- 

1778-1780] qf James McHenry 28 

able maimer. At Mrs. Provost we found some fair refugees 
from New York who were on a visit to the lady of the Her- 
mitage ; with them we talked — and walked — and laughed — 
and danced and gallanted away the leisure hours of four days 
and four nights and would have gallanted — and danced and 
laughed and talked and walked with them till now had not 
the General given orders for our departure. We left them 
however in Uie spirit of modem soldiership without much 
sighing in pursuit of the dangers of war and pleasures of 

**It was about 6 o'clock in the (15 July) morning when 
we bade adieu to the Hermitage — coasting it thro' narrow 
& stony roads to a place called Haverstraw in Orange County 
the state of New York. 

**Our quarters was engaged at a Col Hay's. The house 
stands about a mile from the North River on an eminence 
commanding a large extent of water and a view of a consid- 
erable compass of Chester County on the opposite shore, and 
some of the heights of Duchess. 

** After dinner I took a ride to a pond or lake — about half 
a mile from the West side of the North River. The lake is 
greatly elevated above the level of the river and affords some 
excellent fish, sun fish, carp &c. &c. 

**It is formed in a bason of very high and commanding 
ground — there are several farm houses along its banks — 
which adds greatly to the view. To get to it you ride around 
the base of a large chain of rocks — which border on the North 
River. We began to ascend these very gradually after 3 miles 
riding — and in a little time came to a fine level and cultivated 
piece of country. 

**0n this elevated ground the lake forms a very pretty 

The harder side of the campaign is revealed in McHenry 's 
letter to his father written from headquarters on August 15. 

**My very dear Father. 

'*I yesterday received your letter dated the 28 of last 
month, your writino^ me thus yourself I take very kindly and 
shall consider it as a great satisfaction if you will but write 
me oftener — and by post, as this conveyance is the most 
constant and certain. 

**The questions you have proposed to me with so much 
cordiality of inquiry I shall answer with \Qvy great pleasure. 

24 Life and Cfirresrpfmdence \Csms. ci 

"I cannot say that the fatigues of our late aiar^fr has ifsoK 
of any diiwcrvifte to my constitntion — in ^eepizur in tile 'jprn 
fields — nnder trees expoi^ied to the ni<zfat air and all «*lisusa 
of the weather I only followed the exarax>le of our 6<£aenL 
Tho' lomf in the army I was bat a hospital sohfior. Wbn 
I joined his Excellency's snite I gave np soft bed* — muiH- 
turbed repose — and the habits of ease and imfalggnee wfdidk 
reign in some departments — for a single blanket — the hard 
floor — or the softer sod of the fields — early riain^ «Tif ^- 
most perpetnal duty. These habitades hi^wever I pn»f4»- to 
those of idlenfrsa and inactivity — they are more eonsistoit 
with the profession of a soldier and repetition has now made 
them agreeable. 

"This however is a description of all in the •^nawrml's 
family. You will certainly suppose that men imder thne 
circumstances have small demands for money. This is ixnHy 
the case: with few or no opportunities to spoid it^ a Tey 
little serves our turn. And this too is one capital reaam wiiy 
I have no occasion to make use of your khid ofifer — of a 
supply. I may however perhaps claim it some other time wIkh 
I have nothing to do but invent the most agreeable and in- 
structive ways of spending it. 

''As you extended your charitable inquiries to my horses 
I can do no less than let you into their history. At present 
they lead a very lazy and indolent kind of life. Tom feeds 
them well and I ride them but little. Perhaps once in die 
two days a circuit of a few miles to the difl^erent places of 
parade or round the encampment: so that upon the whole 
you see the two animals have a very comfortable time of it 
and are much happier than their master if idleness and ease 
can make them s^). 

''I need not UAX you what real and cordial satisfaction I 
would feel in a change of situation for a few weeks; but I 
fear I must go many miles further from Baltimore before I 
can see you. The English have not yet left the United States 
and if they had, still the war would be unfinished We may 
therefore be separated much longer than present appearances 
indicate or than either of us wish. I hope however that we 
will end our days not far from each other, and that the society 
of your sons will serve to make your evening hours not the 
most unhappy of your life. 

**My brothcfr was kind enough to write me from Philada. 

1778-1780] of James McHenry 25 

but I have no reason to expect the pleasure of seeing him at 


** There has been no accounts from Rhode Island since 
the 10th inst. Should any arrive before the post sets out 
which will be to-morrow evening you will have it in another 

"I am dear father yours most dutifully and affectionately. 

**P. S. You desire to know if I want shirts. I would 
wish to have half a dozen with stocks, sent by the first safe 
conveyance. There is a little lace somewhere in my trunk 
wrapi)ed up I believe in a remnant of linen.'' 

During the whole of the remainder of the year, McHenry 
remained with the army at Fishkill. 

The contrast between life in Philadelphia and in the 
camp, shown by Smith 's letter, is also brought before us by a 
letter sent McHenry at Middlebrook by Tench Tilghman from 
Philadelphia on January 25, 1779: 

"Dear Mac 

**I believe I am two or three letters in your debt, which T 
think is no great deal, considering you love scribbling, and 
have time to indulge it. I have hunted in vain for Justa- 
monds translation of Abbe Reynell. I have seen a copy in 
the hands of a private (Jentleman, but am told there is not a 
set for sale in the city. I suppose you think we must be, 
by this time, so wedded to sweet Philada. that it will break our 
hearts to leave it. Far from it I assure you my Friend. I can 
speak for myself, and I am pretty certain I can answer for all, 
when I say, that we anxiously wait for the moment that ^ives 
us liberty to return to humble Middle Brook. Philada. may 
answer very well for a man with his pockets well lined, whose 
pursuit is idleness and dissipation. But to us who are not 
in the first predicament, and who are nol^ upon the latter 
errand, it is intolerable. We seem to work hard, and yet we 
do nothing: in fact we have no time to do any thing and that 
is the true reason why a great assembly do so little. A morn- 
ing visit, a dinner at 5 o'clock — Tea at 8 or 9 — supper and 
up all ni?ht is the round die in diem. Does not the Republic* 
go on charmingly? By the Body of my father as honest 
Sancho used to swear, we have advanced as far in luxurv in 
the third year of our Indepeny. as the old musty Repu])lif!s 
of Greece and Rome did in twice as manv hundreds : But we 

26 Life and Correspondence [Chap, hi 

Americans are a sharp people. And we are in more senses 
than one ; and if we do not keep a sharp look out we shall be 
little the better for the profusion of money and no small 
quantity of Blood that has been spent. All cry out that noth- 
ing but Oeconomy can save us, and yet no one allows that 
he or she is extravagant. I will not touch upon politics. 
They are too valuable to trust to paper and Wax. You shall 
hear much when we fill the sociable Bunks, where all is under 
the secure lock and key of Friendship. Now for domestic 
matters, for we begin to look towards home. Say to Major 
Gibbs that we have heard with infinite pleasure of good Mrs. 
Thompson's arrival at Camp and as His Excellcy has her 
ease and convenience this Winter much at heart, he wishes 
she may have a warm comfortable apartment built for her 
sole use and behoof in such place as he the major shall upon 
due deliberation and consultation with the sage matron judge 
most proper. This will be absolutely necessary, as Mrs. Wash- 
ington will want the Chamber, we at first occupied, for a 
drawing Room, and we remove to the small back Chamber 
which Gibbs lodged in. 

''Make my compliments to all at home and in the neigh- 
borhood and believe me with sincerity Dear Mac 

*'Aflfecty. Yours 

** Tench Tilghman." 

Life in the camp was, however, not all hardship. Of its 
pleasant side we catch a glimpse in a letter Lord Stirling, on 
December 24, 1778, wrote McHenry, that he will be glad to see 
Lieutenant Clive this afternoon, but **it is so cold that for 
his own sake I could wish he would delay the visit till tomor- 
row & that both he & you would come & take Christmas din- 
ner with me." 

From headquarters at West Point, on August 20, 1779, 
McHenry wrote to his future brother-in-law, John Caldwell, 
showing he already was interested in Margaret Caldwell, now 
a girl of seventeen, whom McHenry married four years and a 
half later: 

**My dear Jack 

* ' Since I had the pleasure of seeing you till today, there 
have been no military occurrences worth mentioning. I did 
not therefore think it necessary to trouble you with a letter. 
Besides, Jack, we have no time to spare for letters of cere- 

1778-17S0] qf James McHenry 27 

monyy and very little even to those of friendship. You will 
not lM)weyer I am i)ersuadedy esteem mine the less, for not 
writing^ nor determine the number of your letters by those 
from me. 

''I mix my rejoicings with yours on our late accounts 
from Europe and the success of our ally in the West Indies, 
and let me add for the capture of above 160 of the garrison of 
Powles Hooky by major Lee, on the night of the 18th instant. 
This was an enterprise of great risque — conducted with great 
judgment, and completed with the most inconsiderable loss. 
But you will see the particulars from Congress. 

**I take too much interest in your studies not to inquire 
into them. I suppose them agreeable, and that you are sen- 
sible your reputation and future figure in the world, will de- 
pend on the acquirements you now make, and the conduct 
you may observe for some years to come. Let nothing pre- 
vent you from prosecuting them. 

* * Should your sister come to reside in town, she will natur- 
ally claim some of your attention. The pleasure of giving a 
turn, or proper bent, to her studies and amusements, must be 
very agreeable to a mind like yours. I envy you the enjoy- 
ment. Suppose she cannot have every thing she deserves, yet 
with your care she may have enough to appear very amiable. 
I would not have you forget, on any occasion, that whatever 
you want to obtain either in your or her favor — must be 
attempted with prudence and caution. Your father may be 
persuaded — but he will not be forced. On this scale every 
thing in reason will be granted, with a little chiding. 

"You will remember me to the family — to your sister — 
and believe me yours very affectionately 

** James McHenry." 

We are ignorant of McHenry 's life in 1779, apart from 
this letter, except that he was busy drafting orders for Wash- 
ington and carrying out his commands. ^ 

Dr. Rush wrote McHenry on January 19, 1780, that he 
might have to come to attend the trial of Dr. Shippen and if 
he does ** shall be happy in spending as much time as can be 
spared from the Court in your company!" 

1 On the manuscript of one of Washington's plans of campaign. 
MflHenry wrote: "The General's usual mode of giving notes to his 
secretaries or aids for letters of business. Having made out a letter from 
such notes, it was submitted to the General for his approbation and 
correction — afterwards copied fair, when it was again copied and signed 
by him." 

28 L\fe and Co7Tespo?idence [Chap, hi 

Prom headquarters on March 18, 1780, McITenry wrote 
a jesting letter to Hamilton, then at Amboy as a commissioner 
for ne^tiatini? an exchangee of prisoners: 

**The family since your departure have given hourly 
proofs of a growing weakness. Example I verily believe, is 
infectious. For such a predominance is beauty establishing 
over their hearts, that should things continue to wear as 
sweet an aspect as they are now beheld in, I shall be the only 
person left, of the whole household, to support the dignity of 
human nature. But in good earnest God bless both you, and 
your weakness, and preserve me your sincere friend." 

All this time, as McHenry wrote Washington on July 18, 
**I have acted without pay & it is my intention to receive none 
in future, unless some alteration in my circumstances render 
it necessarj','' but now he desires other rank than secretary; 
thinks of going to Europe, and Tvishes to be a volunteer in one 
of the regiments. These plans he did not carrj" out, but the 
secretaryship was nearly over. ^ 

1 A letter from McHenry to hU friend Dr. Binney ipealca of this 
thought of a European trip. 



Lafayette's aid 

IN Augnst, 1780, McHenry was transferred to Lafayette's 
staff where he remained, until his resignation from the 
army in the autumn of 1781. 

John McHenry, a nephew of Dr. McHenry, left record ^ 
that he had been told by his uncle, later in life, that '* Wash- 
ington feared lest the youthful ardor of the Marquis, entrusted 
when not quite 23 years of age with an important command, 
might outrun his discretion & that he, accordingly, took the 
precaution of plac'ng near him, one whom he knew to be a 
prudent adviser. ' ' It seems that Washington 's opinion of the 
young secretary must have been that of McHenry *s grand- 
son, Ramsay McHenry, who wrote a century later of his 
grandfather : * * His sagacity was very great, his intellect very 
clear and of a considerable compass. He was vivacious, exact 
and active in business, benevolent, prudent, and wise." 

McHenry wrote to Otto Holland Williams from Orange- 
town on August 12. In September, Hamilton married Gen- 
eral Philip Schuyler's daughter and McHenry went to Albany 
for the wedding and wrote the following verses to his friend 
on the morning after the ceremony: 

'Tls told, my friend, In poets lore. 
The muse has an exhaustless store 
From which she draws with wond'rous skill 
Of choicest fancies what she will. 
With these she decks the heroes* hearse 
Or forms with these immortal verse. 
Last night I sought her dear retreat 
And laid me at the fair one's feet. 
She knew my errand, sway'd her wand. 
Then pointed to a rising stand, 
From whence the fairy world was seen 
And you embosomed with your Queen. 
(As thus ye lay the happiest pair 
A rosy scent enriched the air 
While to a music softly sounding 
Breathing, panting, slow, rebounding) 

1 Brown's McHenry, 13. 

80 l^e and Correspondence [Chap. iv 

LfOve arose with pow'rful spell, 
Hence, he cried, to dismal dell 
ImiM who haunt the sloomy breast 
Ehrer Jealous — never blest: 
This is ground for holy feet 
Here the sports and pleasures meet. 
Then in whispers cauffht the ear 
What the gifted only hear. 
'Chains of Priests or modes of art 
"Weakly hold the human heart, 
"Hence my Eloisa said 
"Give me those that love has made.** 
Now his fluttering wings out spread 
Three times he bless'd the bridal bed. 
While o'er it Faith her mantle threw 
And said small care would keep it new. 

Last Prudence came, in sober yulse 

With Pilgrim's pace, and wisdom's eyes; 

Forth from his stole a tablet took 

Which you received with thankful look. 
» Oenius had deeply mark'd the cround, 

^ And Plutus finely edg'd it round. 

This done, he bade you long improve 

In all the sweets of mutual love. 

And now would friendship's voice prevail 
To point the moral of the tale. 
Know then, dear Ham, a truth confest 
Soon beauty fades, and love's a guest 
Love has no settled place on earth; 
A very wan'rer from his birth; 
And yet who happiness would prove. 
Like you must build his hopes on love. 
When love his choicest gifts has giv'n 
He flies to make another heav'n; 
But as he wheels his rapid flight 
Calm joys succeed and pure delight. 
Faith adds to all; for works we're told 
Is love's alloy, and faith the gold. 

Now genius plays the lovers part; 

Now wakes to many a throb the heart; 

With ev'ry sun brings something new. 

And gaily varies every view; 

Whilst Prudence all hLs succour lends 

To mark the point where pleasure ends. 

For, borne beyond a certain goal. 

The sweetest joys disgust the soul. 

He too instructs us how to use. 

What's more a blessing than the muse [wealth] ; 

For well he knows, deprived of this 

That toil and care is human bliss. 

All these attendants Ham are thine, 
Be't yours to treat them as divine; 
To cherish what keeps love alive; 
What makes us young at sixty Ave. 
What lends the eye its earliest fires; 
What rightly managed still inspires. 

To which Hamilton answered as follows : 

"I thank you Dear Mac for your poetry and your confi- 
dence. The piece is a good one — your best. It has wit, 
which you know is a rare thing. I see by perseverance all 
ladies may be won. The Muses begin to be civil to you, in 
spite of Apollo and my prognosis. 

1780-1781] qf James McHenry 81 

**You know I have often told you, you wrote prose well 
but had no genius for poetry. I retract. Adieu 

**Sep. 12. [1780] A Hamilton" 

Shortly after this time, McHenry sought a more definite 
military rank and Hamilton wrote to General Schuyler in his 
behalf. Schuyler answered on September 16, asking Mc- 
Henry to write to him directly. ** Schuyler can obtain from 
the Governor of New York the appointment of Lieutenant 
Colonel in the State levies, which will give McHenry rank, 
when the militia is in the field. While the (Jovemor is well 
disposed towards McHenry, he can not make him even a lieu- 
tenant in the regular forces, unless all the ensigns are pro- 
vided for." 

On September 24, McHenry was with Lafayette as aid 
and, leaving Washington and Lafayette to go on and examine 
the redoubts about West Point, ^ he rode with another aid up 
to Arnold's headquarters to make Washington's apologies to 
Mrs. Arnold for delaying breakfast. Before breakfast was 
over, came that fateful message to Arnold that his treason 
was discovered, which led him to take his horse and flee to 
the British lines. 

A short time after this, Greene ^ was sent to the south 
to take command of the armies there and McHenry was anx- 
ious to go with him. Greene, who had known McHenry for 
some time, ** cherished an earnest wish to have him," but 
McHenry insisted that, if he went, he must not lose rank. 
So Greene wrote to the president of congress, on November 2 : 
** Nothing but a majority will engage him in the service," 
and, **if the indulgence can be consistently granted, it will lay 
me under particular obligations." It was not granted and 
so McHenry took no part in the southern campai^. Greene 
recurred to the matter, ^ in a letter he wrote Washington, 
May 1, 1781, saying: **When I was appointed to the com- 
mand of this army, I solicited Congress to give Dr. McHenry 
a majority, that he might serve me in the character of Aid. 
This they refused. I was persuaded, when I made the appli- 

1 Brown's McHenry. 15. Chastellux Travels, I. 108, 112. On Novem- 
ber 23. M. de Chastellux, traveling through America, met Lafayette at his 
camp near Haveratraw and thence waa conducted by McHenry to Wash- 
ington's headquarters arbout two miles to the nor^h. Chastellux saw with 
McHenry. on his way, a great cataract, which much impressed him and 
remarked that he did not And his companion "much versed in natural 

2 Greene's Greene, Hi. 44. 

3 Brown's McHenry, 14. 

82 Life a?id Correspondence chap. iv 

cation, of the necessity & since have felt it most sensibly. 
Your Excellency can scarcely tell how happy you are in your 
family, &, therefore, can hardly judge of my situation. I 
cannot make a second application to Congi'ess on the subject, 
nor should I have hopes of succeeding if I did; but I shall 
esteem it a peculiar mark of your Excellency's friendship & 
esteem, if you will interest yourself in the matter & get him 
a majority. Your Excellency will judge of the propriety of 
my request." 

This time the effort was successful and, on May 30, 1781, 
McHenry was granted a commission as major to date from 
October 30, 1780. 

Meanwhile, McHenry was serving as the ** confidential 
friend" in Lafayette's military family, of whom the ardent 
Frenchman had an ** affecting recollection" over forty years 
later. ^ In February, he was at home in Baltimore, wMther 
Lafayette addressed him the following interesting letter, com- 
paring French and English liberty. 

**New Windsor, February the 15th 1781. 
''Dear Sir 

** After a Debate on french and British Liberty, I was 
Collecting a few Comparisons in a Letter to a private friend, 
When Happening to See them you thought tiiey Might Be 
Useful, And I Gave to You what I Had Already writen — 
You are pleased to Request A Continuation, But Having No 
Copy of the part in your possession. And Many Months Being 
elapsed Since it came out of My Mind, I can only add, 
therefore. Broken ideas, and do not pretend to Be Answerable 
for Repetitions 

**I Have Been, I think Speaking of French Parliaments, 
and (Correcting the Mistake Which is often Made from A 
Resemblance of Names) I Said that Parliamentary opposition 
was no where essential, And that in France it was More 
Collectively And More Freely Expressed — These French 
Courts of Justice Called Parliaments Must, in My opinion. Be 
Commended for two Advantages — the 1st. that they form 
Several Distinct Bodies, Most of whom Are Situated in 
removed Provinces where they Can See the Social Disadvan- 
tages of Measures they Mean to oppose, where they more 
immediately Can Collect the Sentiments of the people, where 
they keep More Distant from Court Influence And Corruption 

**The 2d is that Men in Parliament form a kind of Sepa- 

1 Scharf's Chronicles of Baltimore, 411. 

1780-1 781 ] q/* James McHenry 88 

rate Class the Greatest part of which Have independant for- 
tunes, and Not Many Belong to Court Families — By their 
Station they Are excluded from Emploiements At Court, in 
the Navy, in the Army, Prom Almost every Appointment 
Which in England Becomes Means of Corruption — From the 
Duties of their profession they Renounce the Pleasures of Dis- 
sipation, their very dress imposes upon them A Sober Way of 
Living Which still Benders them More independent, While 
As a Body they Become Formidable And are Supported By 
Illustrions Families Which ever kept Some of their Branches 
in Parliamentary and Senatorial profession 

**Many Great inconveniences are found in the French 
Mode of Rendering Justice, And Juries are Not Without Some 
— I far prefer the Later, And You Know theyr Advantages — 
It might However Be Said that French Judges Must Be More 
Enlightened, More Used to Business and more strangers to 
Loeal Little Cabals, That if one of the parties think any form 
Has Been Neglected, these are revoked By a Superior And 
Different Board Called the Great Council — But upon the 
whole, the Mode By Juries Seems to Be Preferable — Let us 
now Consider A still more Important Point Viz — The Basis 
itself of Justice, The Law Upon which the fate of citizens Must 
Be Litteraly Decided in Both Countries 

**In France Crimes Are Seldom Capital or imprisonments 
Permitted to what they are in the Laws of Great Britain — 
These Seem to Have Rather Trifled with the life of Men and 
personal Liberty, While Both ii> the French Laws Have Been 
Most Deliberately treated — Next to Personal Laws comes 
Relligious Tolerance, and Here Also France Has the Advan- 

** Tolerance is Much Commended in English writings, and 
No where Less practiced than in that Country — and every 
other protestant Society are persecuted By the Church to 
which their King Presides — Catholics are still More partic- 
ularly A prey to fanaticism And the Greater part of the 
inhabitants in Ireland are for Relligion Sake trampled Upon 
By the minority of their Country Men — The Last Riots in 
London Have Been A Wonder to All europe, and By their 
Violence and Indecency Equal Any thing that Disgraced the 
Barbarous Ages of Ignorance And Superstition 

*'In France there is also A predominant Relligion, But 
persecution Has long Since Vanished, and protestants are 
quiet in eveiy part of the Kingdom — From an Ancient 

84 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, iv 

Institution the Military Order of St. Louis Requires a profes- 
sion of Catholicism^ But an other Ribband to Similar purposes 
with Similar Advantages Has Been Long Ago located for 
Protestant officers — Great places in the Kingdom are filled 
By them, And the Present Minister of Prance is a Calvinist 
— you know how it is in England with Regard to Catholics 
Many Among their Generals and their troops are protestants, 
and few Catholics are to be found in the regiment of Deux 
Ponts now in Rhode Island — Jews are admitted to buy 
manors while they of course Appoint Catholic Clergymen to 
Churches Within theyr possession — And to Give You an in- 
stance of French Tolerance, there is now A Church in tho 
Large City of Strasburg Which Belongs Both to a protestant 
and A Catholic Society, Where the Catholic service is per- 
formed Every Sunday, And when it is over the Protestants 
Congregation Come in to Worship the Same God in a Dif- 
ferent Way 

''An Additional Circumstance is that in England the 
popular cry and the popular maxims are pointed towards the 
Exclusion of Tolerance, While to Prance the Voice of the 
people and the omnipotent Influence of Society are Bent to its 
admission, and are Every Day Checking the Remaining priv- 
ileges of A predominant Relligion, In Support of measures 
Which Are Conductive to the most perfect Relligious Liberty 

**Thus far My Dear Sir, I will go for the present, And if 
any other Matter Occurs to My Mind, An other Letter will 
soon Follow this to Baltimore — Good News Are Coming 
generally from the South Ward And as you will know the 
disaster of the British Fleet, as Partout's affairs at Mauricinia 
must Have Reached the Banks of Chesapeake, My gazette of 
this Day will be very insipid. — Every Body Says You are 
Groing to get into the Gtovemor's Council — If You quit the 
House for the field, I shall Be Very Happy to obtain the 
preference in Your Military employment And Hoping You 
know my tender friendship and Affectionate Regard for You, 
Will not lengthen this letter with assurances from my Heart 
While the Heart itself must be known to You 

**I intend to write to You Again in a few Days and with 
every Sentiment of Attachment and Esteem Have the Honor 
to be 

** Yours 

'*I Have Been Happy to Hear of the Success Which our friend 

1780-1781] qf James McHenry 85 

General Greene Has obtained — The first Letter I received 
from Him was intended to Give me his state of things and of 
Coorce Discourage my coming — The second Has Been to 
announce the Affairs of Morgan, and to tell me that the Glory 
Beaching from it did not Blind Him on His true Situation ' ' 

At New Windsor, just about this time, came the rupture 
between Washington and Hamilton because of the stiff pride 
of the young aid de camp. On February 18, Hamilton wrote 
of it to his friend McHenry. 

* ' I have. Dear Mac, several of your letters. I shall soon 
have time enough to write my friends as often as they please. 

"The Great man and I have come to an open rupture. 
Proposals of accomodation have been made on his part, but 
rejected. I pledge my honor to you that he will find me 
inflexible. He shall for once at least repent his ill-humour. 
Without a shadow of reason and on the slightest grounds — 
he charged me in the most affrontive manner with treating 
him with disrespect. I answered very decisively *Sir, I am 
not conscious of it, but since you have thought it necessary to 
tell me, so we part ! ' I wait till more help arrives, at present 
there is besides my self only Tilghman, who is just recovering 
from a fit of illness, the consequence of too close application 
to business. 

"We have often spoken freely our sentiments to each 
other. Except to a very few friends our difference will be a 
secret, therefore be silent. 

**I shall continue to support a popularity that has been 
essential — is still useful. 

"Adieu my friend. May the time come when characters 
may be Known in their true light. A. H. 

"Madame sends her 
friendship to you." 

McHenry had not been wasting time in Baltimore. On 
his southward route to take command of the continental 
troops in Virginia, Lafayette wrote Washington from the head 
of Elk on March 7, "The State of Maryland have made me 
every offer in their power. Mr. McHenry has been very active 
in accelerating the measures of his State." The day before 
this, McHenry wrote the merchants of Baltimore, ^ asking 

1 SchaiTs Maryland, ti, 437. See Sparks's Letters to Washin^on, 
ill. 255. McHenry himself gave $110.76 V^. 

86 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. iv 

them to form a committee to grive effect and furtherance to 
the measures taken by the public for Lafayette's expedition. 
The general was greatly disappointed by the delays which had 
already occurred and, without general exertions, the expedition 
might be defeated in its commencement. **Such is the deranged 
state of our treasury affairs that public officers find a thousand 
inconveniences & obstacles in the execution of their duty. 
Scarce a wagon can be put in motion, without adding to the 
powers of government that of private assistance. In such a 
situation, it becomes the duty of individuals & of particular 
societies of men to contribute a certain support, beyond what 
may be considered tneir proper proportion. This is looked 
for under all government, but expected more particularly in 
the republican. I need not select, as an instance, the Philadel- 
phia merchants, who have so long kept the northern army 
supplied with provisions • • • The Marquis cannot write you 
himself, in the first instance, nor before he knows your dispos- 
ition or arrangements. If you do an>i:hing, I pray it may be 
instant, that we may have it to say to ourselves, the expedition 
has not failed for want of what support we could give it. 

** As it is probable another detachment will follow this, wo 
shall want more vessels. Your assistance may also become 
essential during the whole course of our operations." 

The merchants called a public meeting in consequence 
of this letter and appointed a committee, composed of Robert 
Purviance, William Patterson, and Mathew Ridley to co-oper- 
ate with Major McHenry in procuring supplies of clotMng, 
money, etc. On the 9th, the committee answered: **We are 
authorized to assure you, in their [i. e. the merchants] names, 
that no exertions, within the compass of their abilities, shall be 
wanting to expedite the enterprise of Major General the 
Marquis de Lafayette & the military subordinate to him, 
they being warmly disposed to aid & give immediate energy 
to his operations against the common enemy." 

The story is told that ^ Lafayette stopped in Baltimore at 
this time and, at a ball given him, was sad, because so many 
of his soldiers were in want of clothes. Learning this fact, 
the ladies set to work to provide for this deficiency and 
Lafayette warmly thanked them in a letter he sent to Baltimore 
by McHenry some time later. 

McHenry went to Annapolis during March, and labored 
Mb the same purpose, though impeded by illness. He kept in 

1 Scharf'B Chronicles of Baltimore, 194. 

1780-1781] of James McHenry 87 

close touch with the merchants, and it was doubtless partly due 
to his efforts ^ that Governor Thomas Sim Lee wrote the mer- 
chants, on March 20, that the state will repay, with interest, 
the money advanced by them and said: **We very much ap- 
plaud the zeal & activity of the gentlemen of Baltimore & 
think their readiness to assist the executive, at a time when 
they were destitute of the means of providing those things 
which were immediately necessary for the detachment under 
the command of the Marquis de la Fayette, justly entitle 
them to the thanks of the public.'* ^ On April 14, McHenry 
wrote from Baltimore to Washington about the Virginia ex- 
pedition. McHenry seems to have been with Lafayette dur- 
ing the whole of the campaign, but we know nothing of his 
services. In 1785, he furnished Dr. William Grordon, who was 
writing a history of the United States, with an account of the 
part taken by Lafayette in the Revolution, but the published 
history contains no mention of McHenry, though it gives 
some anecdotes which were probably taken from McHenry 's 

Greene's friendship and esteem for McHenry continued 
and letters passed between them from time to time, especially 
as Lafayette's command was nominally under Greene's orders, 
as chief of forces in the southern department. 

Greene wrote McHenry from 

**Camp near Guilford 
Court House March 22 1781 
**My dear friend 

** Nothing could afford me greater pleasure than the 
arrival of the Marquis in this department, but I am afraid his 
stay will be short. If we could form a junction of all our 
forces great things might be effected. I wish the Marquis may 
have a latitude equal to my wishes. A few Months may effect 
a great change in this quarter. 

'*I must beg leave to refer you to Col Morris for the par- 
ticulars of the Southern operations. God bless you with 
health and make you as happy as I wish you to be 

** Yours Aff 
''Doctor McIIenrv **N Greene 

Aide de Camp to the 
Marquis De la Lafayette." 

On July 8, McHenry wrote Greene ^ from Ambler's 

1 Vide letter to him from J. B. Cuttln^r of March 29, 1781. 

2 Scharfs Maryland, ii. 437. ^^^ ^^, ioa-s 

3 McHenry's letter is printed in Ma«. of Hist. 1!, 362 (Nov., 190o). 

88 Life and CorreHpondetK'e [Chap. iv 

Plantation (opposite James Island) telling of a brave attack 
by Gteneral Wayne's command on the British forces. This 
letter was answered by Greene from the 

''High Hills Santee 
July 24 1781 
"Dr Major 

**Your letter by Mr Carlyle and those of the 12th giving 
an account of the Skirmish at James town all come safe to 
hand. Upon the whole I am not sorry for the late action, the 
I confess if I have a proper Idea of the strength and constitu- 
tion of the Marquis's Army the maneuver was hazardous. 
However in war you must always risque something and too 
much caution sometimes begets contempt and brings us into 
the very evils we wish to avoid. I am persuaded the enemy 
from their movements, have a proper respect for you. But 
be careful, for you may be assured, his Lord ship is a modern 
Hannibal and is seeking for some capital advantage. I confess 
I am puzzled not a little by his movements on this side of the 
river. When he was returning on the other side I did not 
think it proceeded from fear; or from a desire to avoid an 
action, but from the operations going on against New York. 
But his latter movements seem to contradict that opinion. 
What are they about to the Northward; and what is your 
opinion of the plan, is it serious or only a diversion t 

**I wish you with me exceedingly; but there is no incon- 
venience to which I will not subject my self to oblige the Mar- 
quis. I am persuaded you are useful to him, in moderating 
his military ardor, which no doubt is heated by the fire of the 
Modern hero, who by the by is an excellent oflBcer; and had 
he been here lately would have done something glorious. 

'*Dont let your partiallity deceive you, there is no danger 
of my character rising so high as to be difficult to support. 
We have done nothing splendid and it is only the sensible that 
will give us credit, and those are more steady and uniform in 
their Sentiments through all changes of fortune. — 

** Yours Affectionately 
'*N. B. I shall pay N. Greene 

particular attention to 
Mr Carlyle." 

While with Lafayette at Malvern Hill on July 30, 1781, 
McHenry wrote Thomas Sim Lee, governor of Maryland, as 

1780-1781] qf James McHenry 89 

follows : ' ' The intelligence which remains after the General 's 
letter is fit only to excite conjecture. On the 27th. 19 flat 
bottomed boats, with horse and foot, crossed from Portsmouth 
to Norfolk, the troops there marched towards King's landing. 
The day after, 2 companies of Hessians took the same rout. 
This, one would say, looks to the southward. We have 
nothing ofScial from Gen. Greene, but it is reported that 
affairs are again in his favor. His fortune is a perfect 
resemblance of life, Gten. Wayne and Gen. Morgan are at 
Good's bridge on the South Side of James River Col. Moylan 
and one regiment of light infantry will cross to-day to take a 
post in front, the militia and the remainder of the infantry on 
this side." Lee forwarded McHenry 's letter to the congress 
and wrote that body on August 4, **The State is making every 
exertion to collect such a force as with the regulars here, 
amounting to about 600, under skilful and experienced officers, 
will enable us to confine them within very narrow limits. 
Our people are resolute and determined, they feel that animat- 
ing spirit which diffused itself through all ranks at the 
commencement of this contest. The approach of the enemy 
apparently has banished every sordid, avaricious, and selfish 
view and we trust our people will act like men, sensible of the 
blessings they are struggling for and the miseries which, by an 
abject and dastardly conduct, they most deservedly will feel.'* 
He requested help towards the arming of the militia and 
reminded congress that it had not often been troubled with 
applications from this state and **we flatter ourselves the 
exertions of our people upon all occasions merit every assist- 
ance that can be afforded." 

McHenry was present with the army at Yorktown, whence 
he wrote Otho Holland Williams. 

**Camp before York 

7th Octtr. 1781. 
**My dear Williams. We cannot speak sufficiently of you, 
Howard and our brave troops. How happy I am at all that 
has happened ; that you are safe ; and that every one of your 
army deserves everything from our country. 

*'This seif^ing work is very serious business. We ^o on 
however very briskly. Last night we broke ground upon our 

40 Li\fc and Correspondence [Chap. iv 

first parallel and this morning we are under cover; but we 
shall not open our trenches for some days. When we do it, it 
will be with about eighty pieces of cannon and mortars. 
**Col. Morris is setting out. He will tell vou the rest. 


** James McITenry'' 

At the surrender of Comwallis he was also present and 
among his pai>ers is a return of the number of those who 
capitulated. The service at this siege was the last of Mc- 
Henry's military life. 



ON September 17, 1781, when he must have been still 
in the army before Yorktown, McIIenry was elected 
to the senate of Maryland. The senate at that time 
consisted of fifteen members: nine from the western shore 
and six from the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, and 
was elected for a term of five years, by a body of thirty-eight 
electors, chosen by the people in the counties of the state. 
McHenry held his new post until he resigned early in 1786. 

The acceptance of the senatorship, a noteworthy honor, 
considering how little McHenry had resided in the state, was 
followed by his resignation from the army on December 3. 
Washington wrote him ^ on December 11, that his resignation 
was delivered to the secretary at war and added, **I am con- 
vinced your transition from the military to the civil line 
will be attended with good consequences, as you will be able 
to communicate that kind of information to the body of 
which you are now a member, which they often stand in need 
of, in times like the present.^' Washington promised to cor- 
respond with McHenry on public affairs and with **the high- 
est opinion of the good will & vigor" of the Maryland leg- 
islature, urged McHenry to impress upon them ' * that to make 
a good peace, you ought to be well prepared to carry on the 

January, 1782, found McHenry at Annapolis in atten- 
dance upon the senate. On the 20th, as the session closed, ^ 
he wrote Washington that the *'only novelty which it has 
given birth to, is a man called Intendant, whom we have 
vested with great powers & who is to destroy that disorder 

1 Ford. \x, 418. 

2 On January' 19 and 21, McHenry wrote to Hainllton and Major 
Edward Giles refusing to tell the name of Publlus, but adding that he 
would send Publius, who is not an inhabitant of the state, the proceedings 
of the house of delegates, in the case of Cadwalader against Chase, and 
wiU tell Publius's name, only in case he is wUling to retract. 

42 Life and Correspondence (Chap. v 

in our affairs, which has arisen chiefly from a bad money 
& a want of money. You, who know the confusion which 
reigTis very j^nerally through out the States, will suppose 
that Daniel of St. ITiomas Jenifer, the Maryland Intendant, 
must have a very embarrassing time & that he shall be un- 
commonly fortunate, should his administration be success- 
ful. "^ 

This letter of McHenry's was sent by a lady and was 
answered by Washington on March 12, from Philadelphia. ^ 
He expresses the hope that **good laws, ample means, & suf- 
ficient powers were given the intendant," and speaks of the 
** anxious state of suspense," in which all were with refer- 
ence to affairs in the West Indies. ** Never, since the com- 
mencement of the present Revolution, has there been, in 
my judgment, a period, when vigorous measures were more 
consonant to sound policy than the present.'* He thinks 
the British ministry **will obtain supplies for the current 
year, prepare vigorously for another campaign, & then prose- 
cute the war, or treat of peace, as circumstances & fortuitous 
events may justify; & that nothing will contribute more to 
the first, than a relaxation or apparent supineness on the 
part of these States. * ' Men and money are much needed and 
it is idle now to ** count merely (m voluntary enlistment.'* 
There is no other ** effectual method to get men suddenly, 
but that of classing the people & compelling every class 
to furnish a recruit. Here every man is interested; every 
man becomes a recruiting officer." 

On April 5, ^IcHenry answered from Baltimore that he 
agreed with Washington that the prosecution of the war is 
intended, but feared that Maryland will not class the people, 
in default of which recruiting goes on slowly. Matters were 
worse on July 14, when McIIenry wrote Washington, regret- 
ting the French defeat in the West Indies and saying: **I 
do not calculate upon anything decisive on our coast from 
the operations, at least this season, & how we are to provide 
& carry on the war next year, if we receive no foreign money, 
is to me a great political mystery." Public affairs are in a 
most alarming situation for want of exertion on the part of 
the states. Congress asks Maryland, as her quota, to give 
nearly a million dollars and the state treasury has barely 

1 See Sparks's W^rltlnga of Wa.shln«rton. vIII. 254. He asks for news 
and speaks of the recrultinff bill. 

2 Ford, ix. 459; .Spark.s. vlli. 254. 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 48 

The particular request McHenry makes is of a more 
pleasing character. Mr. Lindsay, the manager of the Balti- 
more Theatre, bears the letter and asks that the band of musie 
among the prisoners at Frederick be paroled to Baltimore, 
where Lindsay will employ them on a salary. This favor 
will increase the pleasures of Baltimore and satisfy the anxie- 
ties of the ladies. 

Washington answered this letter ^ on the 18th, stating 
that he referred the request to the secretary at war and had 
**no doubt of his acquiescence," adding: **If the ladies 
should derive as much additional pleasure from the allure- 
ment of this band, as I wish them, they will be soon at the 
summit of happiness." **At present we are enveloped in 
darkness," because of the naval engagement. ** Providence 
has done much for us in this contest ; but we must do some- 
thing for ourselves, if we expect to go triumphantly through 
with it" 

McHenry was subject to fever, probably of a malarial 
type, and had been ill this summer, but was now recovered. 
Washington suggests: **As your fever has been obstinate, 
may not change of air be of service to youT Whether for 
this or other purposes, allow me to add that I should be very 
happy in your spending some time with us at head quarters." 

McHenry seems to have been as yet uncertain as to his 
future, as is shown by a letter to Hamilton: 

''Baltimore 11th. Aug. 1782. 

**If you are not in the humor to read a long letter, do, 
prithee, give this to the child to play with and go on with 
your amusement of rocking the cradle. To be serious, my 
dear Hamilton, I have been thinking of late upon ray own 
situation & this has led me as often to think of yours. Some 
men, I observe, are so born & tempered, that it is not till after 
long bustling & battling it in the world (and some scarcely 
then) that they come to learn a little prudence. Much I be- 
gin to suspect that you & I want a great deal of this quality 
to bring us on a level with our neighbors and to carry us 
cheerfully through life. Have we not both of us continued 
long enough in the service of the public ? Should not I exer- 
cise my profes.sion or some profitable business & should not 
you, putting off the politician, exert yourself only to acquire 
a profession? I find that to be dependent on a father is 
irksome, because I feel that it is in my power to be indepen- 

1 Ford, X. 49. 

44 IJ^fe and Correspondence [Chap, v 

dent by my own endeavours. I see that the good things of 
this world are all to be purchased with money and that the 
man who has money may be whatever he pleases. 

** Hamilton, there are two lawyers in this Town, one of 
which has served the public in the General Assembly for 
three years with reputation and to the neglect of his practice. 
The other has done nothing but attend to his profession, by 
which he has acquired a handsome competency. Now the 
people have taken it into their heads to displace the lawyer 
which has served them till he is become poor, in order to 
put in his stead the lawyer who has served himself & become 
rich. Let me add to this anecdote a bon mot of our friend 
Fleury's. Talking to me the other day. 'You are a Senator,' 
said he, *pray what is your salary.' I told him it might 
perhaps defray about two thirds of our expenses while at- 
tending the Senate, and that we were only paid during our 
attendance, provided one was unmarried & lived frugally. 
*Then,* said he, *I pity Maryland, for her Senate must be 
composed chiefly of rich fools.' What is the moral of all 
this, my dear friend, but that it is high time for you and I 
to set about in good earnest, doing something for ourselves. 

**I hear you are chosen a delegate to Congress. Will 
you forgive me for saying that I would rather have heard 
that you had not been chosen. If you accept of the office, 
there is a stop to any further studying of the law, which I 
am desirous you should finish, because a few years practice 
at the bar would make you independent, and do you more 
substantial good than all the fugitive honors of Congress. 
This would put it in your power to obtain them and to holil 
them with more certainty should you still be inclined to 
risque in a troubled sea. The moment you cease to be a can- 
didate for public places, the people will lament your loss and 
wait with impatience tUl they can persuade a man of your 
abilities to serve them. In the mean time, you will be doing 
justice to your family. Besides, you know that there is noth- 
ing at present to be had worthy your acceptance. The nego- 
tiators for peace have been long since appointed. The great 
departments of Government are all filled up. Our foreign 
ministers sit firm in their seats. It is not to be expected that 
any new ministers will be created before a peace. And when 
this comes, be assured, long residence and large possessions 
in this country will prelude superior merits. 

**I wish, therefore, my dear friend that I could prevail 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 4A 

upon you to avoid a disappointment & a loss which I think 
I foresee. For, should you go to Congress, you will lose an- 
other year of time that is become more precious than ever and 
retire, perhaps in disgust, to renew your studies and to those 
domestic endearments which you will regret to have forsaken. 
How would it vex me to learn that you had exclaimed in the 
stile of an English Cardinal — If I had best served my family 
as faithfully as I have the public, my affairs would have 
been today in a very diflferent order. 

**It appears to me, Hamilton, to be no longer either nec- 
essary or a duty, for you and I to go on to sacrifice the small 
remnant of time that is left us. We have already immolated 
largely on the altar of liberty. At present, our country 
neither wants our services in the field or the cabinet, so that 
it is incumbent upon us to be useful in another line. By 
pushing your studies to a conclusion, you at once perfect your 
happiness. But I wonder, nor recollect, whilst my own life 
runs on in idleness and small follies that I stand in most need 
of the advice which I am presuming to offer. You have a 
wife and an increasing offspring to urge you forward, but 
I am without either — without your incitements to begin a 
reform or your perseverance to succeed. Write me then, what 
you are doing — What you have done and what you intend 
to do, that I may endeavour to follow your example. And 
be full, for I really intend to be wise and you sludl be my 

"I have been a second time on the point of gaining im- 
mortality by a fever. It seized me a little after the arrival 
of the French troops here and has only permitted me to come 
abroad a few days since. Mrs. Carter & Miss Peggy are with 
us and of course you will think I have been often with them. 
But I must tell you something of your relations. Mr. Carter 
is the mere man of business and I am informed has riches 
enough, with common management, to make the longest life 
very comfortable. Mrs. Carter is a fine woman. She charms 
in all companies. No one has seen her, of either sex, who 
has not been pleased with her and she pleased every one, 
chiefly, by means of those qualities which made you the hus- 
band of her sister. Peggy, though perhaps a finer woman, 
is not generally thought so. Her own sex are apprehensive 
that she considers them poor things, as Swift's Vanessa did, 
and they, in return, do not scruple to be displeased. In short, 
P^g^% to be admired as she ought, has only to please the 

46 Liife and Correspondence [Chap, v 

men less and the ladies more. Tell her so. I am sure her 
good sense will soon place her in her proper station. ^ 

''My dear Hamilton, adieu. Remember a man who lives 
in this world, without being satisfied with it. Who strives 
to seem happy among a people who cannot inspire happiness, 
but who thinks it unbecoming the dignity of man to leave 
his part, merely because it does not please him. I am melaii- 
choUy you perceive. This plaguy fever has torn me to pieces 
and my mind yet shares in the weakness of my body. But 
I will recover spirits, as I recover strength. In the mean 
while do not fail to write me. Again my friend & philosopher 
adieu. James McHenrt 

**I wrote you between my fevers on the affair of Chase, 
which letter I inclosed to Secretary TumbuU. Has it been 
received? It contains what you asked for." 

Four days later, Washington addressed two letters to 
McHenry. One of these hitherto unpublished, in playful 
vein, chides him for not informing him as to matters. 

''Newburgh 15th Aug., 1782. 
My dear McHenry, 

Let me congratulate you, and I do it very sincerely, 
on your restoration to health. I was in pain for y(m. I was 

in some for myself — and wished for my P T of M ; 

and both my P— — e L in I ; resolving (like a man 

in the last agony) not to follow the trade & occupation of a 

Q . any more. 

''I attributed all the delays, & my disappointments in 
this business, to your sickness; for otlierwise I should de- 
nominate you an unfeeling — teasing — Mortal. In proof 
of it, I would assert that in March last, I committed a mat- 
ter to your care of which you took no notice till July follow- 
ing — and then in such a way, as to set afloat a thousand 
ideas ; which resolved themselves into almost as many anxious 
questions. These again, you acknowledged the rect. of on the 
26th of July, — and on the 3d. of August promise an answer 
— when? three or four Weeks from that date; during this 
time my imagination is left on the rack. — I remain in the 
field of conjecture. — unable to acct. for causes of somethings, 
or to judge of their effect; — In a word, I cannot develop 

1 Mr. and Mrs. Carter are John Carter ChuT<^. an En^^lahman, and 
Oeneral Philip Schuyler's eldest daughter, Angelica, who eloped with 
Church, then known as Carter, in July. 1777. Liossing's Schuyler, ii, 206. 

178M783] qf James McHenry 47 

some misterieSy the appearance of which ^ave rise to those 
queries which were made the contents of a letter. 

**Do not my Dear Doctor tease your Mistress in this 
manner — much less your wife, when you get one. The first 
will pout — & the other may scold — a friend will bear with 
ity especially one who assures you, with as much truth as I 
do, that he is sincere. 

** adieu 

*'Go. Washington." 

In the other letter of the same date, Washington writes : ^ 
**My dear Doctr. 

**If the Commanders of the Fleets and Armies of our 
late, most Gracious Sovereign, in America are not guilty of 
more duplicity than comports with candid minds, we are now 
advanced to that critical & important crisis, when our hands 
are to be tried at the Arts of negotiation. — 

**In a letter which I have received and forwarded to 
Congress, from Sir Guy Carlton and Admiral Digby, are 
these words *We are acquainted, Sir, by authority, that ne- 
gotiations for a Perm't Peace have already commenced at 
Paris, and that Mr. Oreville is invested with full powers to 
treat with all Parties at war, and is now at Paris in the exe- 
cution of his Commission. And we are likewise, Sir, further 
made acquainted, that his Majesty in order to remove all 
obstacles to that Peace which he so ardently wishes to restore, 
has commanded his Ministers to direct Mr. Oreville that the 
Independency of the thirteen Provinces should be proposed 
by him in the first instance of making it a condition of a gen- 
eral Treaty ; however, not without the highest confidence, that 
the loyalists Shall be restored to their possessions, or a full 
compensation made them for whatever confiscations may have 
been taken place. 

J >> 

Washington adds that this seems a **solid basis for our 
commissioners to raise their superstructure upon, & things may 
& probably soon will be brought to a speedy & happy issue.*' 
He urges that preparations be still pressed with vigor, for noth- 
ing will hasten peace more, and states that news of the proba- 
bility of peace ** spread universal consternation among all the 
tribes of refugees*' in New York. 

The same doctrine, that we must prepare for peace by 

1 Partly printed. Ford, x, 52. 

48 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. V 

preparing for war, ^ was taiig:ht by Washinprt^n, in his let- 
ter of September 12, to McIIenry, when the prospects of peace 
seemed less. The general wrote also: 

*'I am pained to find by your letter of the 30th. ulto. 
that you cannot get rid of your fever. Try change of air — 
come to the Camp — anything to remove a disorder which 
seems to pursue you with unabating obstinacy, and may, if 
suffered to run on you any longer, become too powerful for 

**The army has at length taken the Field, and is en- 
camped at this place; awaiting a junction with the French 
Corps, which will, I expect, take effect in the course of thia 

McHenry was in wretched health all the summer and 
early autumn ^ having five severe attacks of fever, but was 
keenly anxious for news from Washington and hopeful for 
peace. When his health was restored in October, he wrote to 
Washington, asking that the general aid him to obtain pay 
and depreciation certificate. 

The Maryland law made no allowance to the general's 
secretaries and no new law of congress can affect the exist- 
ing Maryland law. McHenry relied on getting this allow- 
ance and bought land on the Monocacy, for which he now 
must pay, and asks that Washington write Robert Morris, 
head of the treasury department, suggesting that McHenry be 
paid out of the federal treasury, for the time of secretaryship 
only, as this is all the pay McHenry will ever receive and he 
will, otherwise, get nothing for seven years' service. 

Washington wrote at once to the secretary at war as 
follows : 

**Head Quarters 22d. Octr. 1782. 
**Dear sir 

**Upon your return to Philadelphia, I beg leave to re- 
quest your particular attention to the following matter, I 
look upon myself bound to procure the Qentleman interested, 
a full compensation for his services, while in my Family. 

**Mr. McHenry, formerly one of my Secretaries, writes 
me, that upon application to the Auditor of the State of 
Maryland, of which he is a Citizen, to settle his arrearages 
of Pay and depreciation, he refused to do it upon a supposi- 

1 Ford. X, 77 ; Sparks, vlll. 344. 

2 See McHenry '8 letter of S*»ptomber 30 and October 10. 

178M783] qf James McHenry 49 

tion that the Resolve of Congress recommending to the State 
to make settlements of that kind, only extended to Officers 
properly belonging to their respective Lines. This has in- 
volved Mr. McHenry in the following difficulty, — Upon a 
presumption that the State would settle with and give him 
Certificates, as to their Officers, he purchased a quantity of 
Lands appropriated by the State to making good arrearages 
of Pay and depreciation, & which were to be paid for in Cer- 

'^ — He now finds himself like to be excluded from this 
benefit, for want of the Certificates ; — If he cannot procure 
them, he must give up his purchase. As there seems a doubt 
whether Mr. McHenry, as one of my Secretaries, is included 
in the recommendatory Resolves already passed, I could wish, 
should it not be deemed improper, that you would apply to 
Congress to pass a short R^lve in his favor, recommending 
to the Secretary to make him the same allowance as to Officers 
of their Line." 

But to McHenry he wrote ^: ''I am pained because I 
cannot answer the expectations & request of your letter • • 
to your satisfaction." He knew there was no hope in applying 
to the financier, for the United States had no money and he 
had been told that the only mode to help McHenry is to ask 
congress to recommend hk case to the state of Maryland, 
which he has done. He goes on as follows: 

**We have been at this place, Verplank's point, ever since 
the last days of August, and are upon the point of retiring 
into Winter Quarters. The French Army (except the Legion 
of Lauzon) have marched Eastward for theirs. We go 
Northward to the vicinity of West Point. We have long 
expected to hear of the evacuation of Charles Town, as the 
Enemy in New York do not scruple to say that it is a measure 
determined on — but how far a change of men may produce 
a change of measures, you can judge as well of as I. No 
man on this side of the water I believe (not even Sir Guy 
Carleton himself) knows the result of the British Councils. 

SY opinion of the matter is that they are yet dependant upon 
e events of the Campaign. You will readily infer from 
hence that I have no idea of a speedy evacuation of New 

* * Mr. Greville has certainly left Paris but he is succeeded 

1 Partly printed. Ford, x, SO. 

50 Ltfc and Correspondence [Chap, v 

by a Mr. Fitzherbert and the negotiations are yet going on 
but limpingly. • • 
**P. S. 

** Since writing this 
letter I have conversed 
with the Secretary at War 

on the Subject of it who assures me that there will be no 
difficulty at all in the way." 

Before he had received Mellenry's letter, Washington 
had written him on the 17th in answer to McHenry's letter 
of September 30, stating that there is no news and that we 
must not **be lulled by expectations of peace" which would 
** prove the ruin r)f our cause & the disbanding of our army." 
The army is in hard straits and Washington writes that he 
must ** stick very dose to my flock this winter." ^ 

On November 26, 1782, McHenry lost his father, who 
died in Baltimore. With the death of the father, James 
McHenrj' seems to have decided to take his place in the 
mercantile business in partnership with his brother. The 
death of his father also made him financially independent. 

On February 2, 1783, McHenry writes a bright note to 
Washinjrton asking for the dismissal of Mrs. Nancy Dulany's 
negro Jacob, who nlisted in Bradford's company in October, 

**One of the best old ladies in the world, who has one of 
th(^ cleverest ladies for • ' --'' 'endeav- 

ours for the recovery c I 

inclose you a note on the subject & have to entreat your 
Excellency that you will order an inquiry & have the negro 
restored. I recollect to have been told by Major Reed in 
Virginia something of that affair. At that time I could not 
take the necessary steps to have justice done to the good old 
lady. I need not add, if Mrs. Dulany is known to your 
Excellency, how much it will oblige me to see the negn> 
restored, on account of her great virtues & because it wilj 
be a great relief." 

Over two months later, on April 15, McHenry wrot? 
Washington again from Philadelphia: 

** Because I have no reason to believe myself forgotten, 
notwithstanding you have not written me for a long time, I 
would not leave Philadelphia without congratulating with 

1 Ford. X, 94. 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 51 

you upon an event the most glorious for my general. You 
have carried us through a long war ; you have not sunk under 
the severest trials & you live to see a country enjoy the 
blessings of peace & the result of your struggles. I know 
that you will not have it in your power to return to your 
seat for some time ; but, when you do, pray Stop over a day 
in Baltimore. ' ' McHenry adds that he wishes to go to Europe 
in the diplomatic service and requests Washington's help. ^ 
Washington wrote at once to R. R. Livingston and James 
Madison concerning the matter and told Hamilton ^ that he 
spoke to them of McHenry **in warm terms and wish him 
success with all my heart." He then wrote to McHenry as 
follows : 

''Newburgh 24th April 1783. 
*'Dear Sir, 

** Immediately upon the receipt of your letter of the 15th. 
expressive of your wish to go to the Court of Versailles, or 
London, as OflScial Secretary to the Embassy:, I wrote to 
Messrs* Livingstone & Madison on the subject & mentioned 
you in warm terms to them — the Letters will go by this days 

**I thank you very sincerely for your kind congratulation 
on the approaching Peace; — none can enjoy it with more 
heart felt satisfaction than myself; but when I shall be able 
to leave this place is uncertain — there are many embarrassing^ 
matters to settle first, and I am at this moment surrounded 
by more perplexing circumstances than you can have an idea 

** As I shall have pleasure in spending a day at Baltimore 
on my return home, I can have no merit in complying with 
what you say is the wish of the Citizens of that place; from 
whom I have received many marks of polite attention 

**I am with much truth 
'*Dr Sir 
**Tour most obedt. & aflPet. Servt. 
*'Go. Washington. 
"P. S. 

'*The inclosed 

is copy of a letter written to you agreeably to its date. 
Colo. Vose is not now with the Army. ' ' 

1 On March 23, 1783, Washlngrton wrote Lafayette (Ford, x, 196): 
"McHenry has left the military & embraced a. civil walk of life. By 
which act he has disqualified himself from answering your purposes," 
whatever they may have been. 

2 Hamilton's Works, 1, 365. 

52 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. v 

To Washington's letter Madison answered as follows: 

**PhUada April 29, 1783. 

*'I have been honored with your Excellencys favor of the 
22d. inst. bearing testimony to the merits and talents of Mr. 
McHenry. the character which I had preconceived of this 
Gtentleman was precisely that which your representation has 
confirmed — as congress has not yet fixed the peace estab- 
lishment for their foreign affairs and will not probably fill up 
vacancies, unless there be some critical urgency — until such 
an establishment be made, it is uncertain when an opportunity 
will present itself of taking into consideration the wishes and 
merits of Mr. McHenry. should my stay here be protracted 
till that happens, which I do not at present expect, I shall feel 
an additional pleasure in promoting the public interest from 
my knowledge that I, at the same time, fulfill both your 
Excellencys public judgment and private inclination. 

* * I have the honor to be with perfect respect and 
sincere regard yr Excellencys Obedt & 13\Aq Sv 

**J. Madison Jr.'* 

Livingston's reply soon followed from Philadelphia on 
the 2nd of May, 1783. 

''I am so sensible of Mr. McHenrys merit, that even 
independant of the advantagious light in which your Excel- 
lency 's recommendation places it, I should think my self 
happy to obtain his services in a line in which I am persuaded 
they will do honor to his country. Congress have it not in 
view at present to make an immediate appointment to London ; 
and while Doctr. Franklin continues at paris it would be 
painful to him to have any other secretary than his grandson, 
who tho' not secretary to the embassy exercises the duties of 
one, and has lately been provided for as such by (congress. 

** Should any opportunity offer of sending out Mr 
McHenry in such character as would be acceptable to him, 
during the short time of my continuance in office, you may be 
persuaded that your Excellency's recommendation will render 
me particularly attentive to avail my self of it. " 

These letters Washington transmitted to McHenry with 
the following note : 

'^Newburgh 14th. May 1783. 
''Dear Sir, 

**You will see by the inclosed Copies, which are answers 

1781-1783] of James McHenry 58 

to my letters to Mr. Livingston and Mr. Madison, upon what 
footing the appointments to Foreign Courts stand. 

**If these Grentlemen should leave Congress previous to 
the taking place of the event — Your friends in Congress 
should advise you thereof, & of the time at which these 
elections may probably be made, — and I can facilitate your 
wishes by addressing any other Members (with whom I have 
an acquaintance) in your behalf you may freely lay your 
Commands on 

''Yr Most Obedt. and 
** Affect. Hble Ser\i;. 
*'Go. Washington." 

But McHenry 's desires failed of fulfilment, and he en- 
dorsed on the letter just quoted : ^ 
**N. B. 

*'The first foreign appt. made by Congress, was 
to Mr. John Adams, then minister at the 
Court of London. 

"Having changed my plan of life, in other words 
about to be married, I declined being a candidate, 
in favour of Wm. S. Smith, who was appointed and 
afterwards married one of the 
ministers daughters." 

Towards the end of April, McHenry left Philadelphia, 
where the attractions of Miss Caldwell had made deep impres- 
sion on him and of his journey to Baltimore he wrote on the 
first of May, 1783, to Major John Armstrong, the author 
of the Newburgh addresses to Washington: 
"My dear Major 

"Once on a time, I remember, in a pensive route to our 
modem Capua, a young lady descended from a flaming chariot, 
and entered the tavern at which I had stopped. Betsy, said 
she, with a look of blended gaiety and giddiness that bespoke 
a heart perfectly at rest, hasten to me with paper, for I would 
die were I not to write to my friend at every remove. Sweet 
insensible, said I to myself, as she tripped lijjfhtly along, 
followed by the girl whose face betrayed the sunshine of 
better days and the deep traces of some affecting disappoint- 
ment — of what would you die — or of what would you write 

1 Lafayette wrote Hamilton (Hamilton's Works, 1. 327). asking to 
be made envoy extraordinary of the United States to Great Britain to 
ratify the treaty and added "send MoHenry to me." 

54 Li\fe and Correispondence [Chap, v 

— you who never felt the uncertainties of love — or the pains 
of the wretched. But checking these reflexions — trifles, I 
perceive make you happy, and sensibility, perhaps, would 
render you otherwise. Qo then — and write — and dress — 
and talk — and throughout life think your heart interested — 
but as now let it be always — by trifles. Having shook oflf the 
dust of my journey, of which bye and bye, and being some- 
what in the humor of this fair itinerant, I called for my 
writing apparatus — that I might trifle with you half an hour^ 
and that you might be able to find me when disposed either in 
seriousness or levity to do the same. 

** To-morrow, then, I go to be very grave at Annapolis, 
and heaven knows, how much more I incline to be gay at 
Philadelphia. For, of those few things in this world which 
afford pleasure, I more than suspect — that solemnity and 
wisdom give the least. Vive la bagatelle, said Swift, oftener 
than he said his prayers — and what adds weight to this 
maxim, is, that he did not venture to pronounce it — before 
he had discovered by deep study and long intercourse with 
mankind — that no one could get fat upon wisdom — which 
between ourselves, I take to be the great cause of your leanness. 
Were other authorities necessary to support this maxim, 
besides the lady's I have quoted — Dean's — and my own 
invariable practice — I would mention the two celebratetl 
Romans, spoken of by Cicero who would leave the business of 
government — to play marbles, and gather shells and peri- 
winkles at Gaeta and Laurentium. 

** Thinking in this manner I entered Phila, the capital, 
and without any material change of sentiment, I mounted the 
curricle that hurried me from it — satisfied that I had lost 
no flesh by the visit. In a moment we were out of sight of the 
ships — the buildings — the spires and the smoke. The sun 
shone benignly on the earth. On each side of the road was 
spring just beginnine her frolicks — behind me lay the sleep- 
ing beauties of Philadelphia, and before me their sisters of 
Maryland — so that whir»hever way I looked — nothing pre- 
sented me but objects of pleasure. We breakfasted at Chester, 
like hungry lions — passed through Wilmington, like a squib 

— dined at New-port, like jsrluttons — ate supper at the Head 
of Elk like fools for we had no appetite — and here we took 
up our lodgings for the night. About eight o'clock the next 
morning, fresh and cheerful as young bridegrooms, we crossed 
the Susquehannah — more lovely than your Schuylkil — in 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 55 

its banks — its islands — and its windings — and by evening 
arrived at a place renowned for — its dirt — its dust — and 
its dulness. 

"And, now, Sir, will you do me the favor, while I drink 
tea with some ladies, to hasten to the circle in which I lately 
found you. There single out the fair who possessed you for 
that evening — but do not press her hand so much — nor sit 
80 long near her — for, believe me, you are no anchorite thus 
cautioned — assume the attitude of persuasion — awake her 
feelings by some well chosen story — take care at the same 
time of your own — then pause — and while, as she is wont, 
she casts her eyes thoughtfully, languishing on the ground — 
tell her — that although the edges of her little silky present, 
are much fretted by the attention paid to it — and here and 
there a thread actually destroyed — yet what is left — which 
I intend to wear round my neck as an amulet — still retains 
the power which she gave it entire and undiminished. Oh 
my soul I am heartily glad that her sister is at home with her 
fine eyes and her penetrating wit — because the shrewd girl is 
forever susx>ecting insincerity under a compliment — and here 
I would not have my veracity even called into question. But 
my good Sir, it is time to leave this lady — as the nymph of 
the fete has remarked the length of your conversation. But 
— alas — my half hour is spent — and I have only time left 
me — to wish you a favorable wind to clear of her spells, and 
carry you roimd the rest of this dangerous circle — for at this 
instant — one of the whitest and prettiest hands in all Balti- 
more — is going to pour me out a dish of imperial tea — and if 
I stay another moment, I shall undoubtedly — lose the pleas- 
ure of drinking it. Adieu therefore — and believe me yours 
verv sincerelv*' 

On April 24, 1783, the Maryland legislature was called 
together, but McHenry did not appear at Annapolis until 
May 6, and Governor Paca's niessaf^e was received on the 
following day. Five days later James McHenry and Thomaa 
Johnson were chosen to fill vacancies in Maryland's represen- 
tation in the continental confess. ^ In those days, the two 
positions were not deemed incompatible and so McHenry sat 
in both the confederation cono^ress and the Maryland senate. 
The news of the treaty of peace had just come and General 

1 Jas. Lloyd, Nathaniel Ramsay, and Thos. Wright, were also voted 
for. McHenry accepts on June 1, the last day of the session. 

56 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. v 

Greene had written him as follows from Charleston on April 


**My dear friend 

**I have only a moment to salute you with eongrdtulations 
upon the joyful issue of the war; and to assure you that 
however fortune may dispose of me in future I shall always 
feel a lively friendship for you. Major Swan is just on the 
wing and will not allow me time to say more. I expect to be 
to the Northward this Summer and to have the pleasure of 
taking you by the hand as well as all my other Maryland 

As a representative of the commercial classes, we are not 
surprised to find that McHenry introduced in the senate 
tonnage and port warden's bills. Education, communication 
with the west, and readjustment of relations with loyalists 
receive attention at this session and Annapolis is oflFered the 
confederation as the seat of the general government. 

During the summer, McHenry joined the continental 
congress at **Princetown,'* where he served on the committee 
on foreign affairs. Congress had been driven to Princeton 
by the mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops at Philadelphia. 

On July 3, he wrote to Washington, as chairman of a 
committee appointed to consider a letter of Washington's 
which complained of his disagreeable situation, saying that 
congress wished Washington to come before it. Originally 
it had been planned to ask Washington about a peace estab- 
lishment. Rhode Island wished to have none, so the clause 
was left out, but McHenry asks Washington to give his opinion 
on the matter, in any case. Evidently the letter was delayed, 
for Washington wrote to him on August 6, ^ asking why con- 
gress had sent for him, as follows : 

** After a tour of at least 750 miles (performed in nineteen 
days) I returned to this place yesterday afternoon when I 
found your favour of the 31st ulto. intimating a resolution 
to Congress for calling me to Princeton, partly as it would 
seem, on my own account, and partly for the purpose of giving 
aid to Congress; but the President not having sent on the 
Besolution. • • • 

**I wish you therefore, my dear Sir, to transmit to me by 
the earliest opportunity, a copy of the Resolutions with an 
explanation of the particular reasons & motives which have 

I Ford. X, 291 ; Sparks, vlll, 469. 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 67 

influenced Congress to pass it, that I may be enabled to regu- 
late my conduct accordingly. 

**With the greatest esteem & much 
** Affectionate regard 
**IamDr. Sir 
**Yr. Obedt Serv. 
**Go. Washington.'* 

McHenry answered Washington's letter on the 11th stat- 
ing that the first motive in asking him to come **was to get 
you out of a disagreeable situation to one less disagreeable." 
The second was **to get your assistance & advice in the ar- 
rangements for peace. It may be necessary besides to consult 
you respecting promotions & on a variety of military sub- 
jects." Washington came, occupied a house provided for 
him by congress at Rocky Hill, between throe and four miles 
from Princeton, and remained there until November. 

During the debate concerning the punishment of the 
Pennsylvania mutineers, McHenry spoke urging mercy: 

** Before passing upon this proclamation I beg leave to 
say a few words. 

**It is impossible that any set of men can be engaged in a 
business more serious or more solemn, than in deliberating 
upon an act that is to deprive a human being of his life or 
charctcter. It will occur to the house that the operation of this 
act does not merely respect the life or character of Casberry & 
Sullivan, but extends beyond them, to their relations and even 
to all those of the same name. If a soldier falls in battle — if 
an honest man is killed by a robber, or murdered by his 
enemy, this neither injures his fame, or refieots dishonor on 
his relations. But the case is far otherwise if he dies under 
the hands of the law or the executioner. His memory thence- 
forward is rendered infamous, and to be his relation or to bear 
his name, is to carry about one a mark of indelible disgrace. 

** observations are recalled to the recollection of the 
house, to shew us the importance of what we are about. 

'*Let us now for a moment consider the crime of these 
unfortunate exiles. They were both officers at an early period 
of the war, and uniformly and till its close, beluived with that 
fortitude and patience which have so distiiicruished our army. 
The situation and circumstances of the army before and at 
the time of the meeting need not be discredited. They dis- 
played great virtues — they are pregnant with instruction to 
this country' and full of excuse for the criminals. These 

58 Life and Correspondence [Chap, v 

unfortunates worn down by poverty and grown desperate 
by necessity, that power which few persons can resist, formed 
a plan to relieve their wants. 

**It is certainly an extenuation of their crime, that its 
object was founded in justice, and that violence was done to 
either life, person, or property. It is true the soldiers, whose 
motions they are said to have directed, had arms in their 
hands when they surrounded the state house — but it is also 
true that they did not use their arms. 

**But other and more urgent reasons plead that their 
crime should be forgiven. Let the services and long suflFer- 
ings of the army be remembered ; and let the failings of these 
men be forgotten in their former merits and in the merits of 
the army. And let not the first fruits of their long and 
perilous contest, our peace, be watered with the blood of two 
of their companions. 

* * I hope it will not be urged that the measure is necessary 
for the support of our national character. Our nationsd 
character can never be supported by a sacrifice of national 
humanity. I have always thought, and the history of all 
nations teach me that I am right that acts of mercy serve more 
to dignify and raise the character of a government than acts 
of blood. It is said that Draco's laws were written in blood 
— but no one has ever dared to praise them." 

During the autumn, McHenry wrote to Hamilton ^ 
praising him and telling him that his ** Congressional homil- 
ies" were still remembered with pleasure. Were he ten 
years older (Hamilton then was twenty-six) and £20,000 
richer he might have the highest office in congress's gift. 
Cautious men ** think you sometimes intemperate, but seldom 
visionary • • •. Bold designs, measures calculated for their 
rapid execution — a wisdom that would convince from its own 
weight, a project that would surprise the people into greater 
happiness, without giving them an opportunity to view it & 
reject it — are not adapted to a council composed of discord- 
ant materials or to a people which have 13 heads, each 
of which pays superstitious adorations to inferior divinities." 

The ^faryland Legislature began its autumn session on 
November 4, but McHenry did not take his seat until the 19th, 
having been in Philadelphia in the meantime. On the 23rd he 

1 J. C. Hamilton, III, 8; Hamilton's Works, I, 411. Letter dated 
October 22. 

178M783] qf James McHenry 59 

was appointed with John Smith to ask the delegates to come 
and qualify the incoming governor and, on the 24thy he was 
placed on tiie joint committee on the governor's message about 
a threatened disturbance in Annapolis. Two days later, he 
was nominated for congress ^ and elected with Thomas Stone, 
Samuel Chase, and Edward Lloyd. The session of the legis- 
lature continued until December 23, and McHenry took quite 
an active part, bringing in a tonnage bill and one to regulate 
theatrical entertainments, and serving on the joint committee 
to provide proper accommodations for Washington. The 
delegates in congress were expected to report to the legisla- 
tures and we find that such reports were made in writing by 
McHenry and Daniel Carroll at this time. Congress met at 
Annapolis in November and on November 27, the senate in- 
vited that body to use its room, removing to the intendant's 
office and, a week later, voted to encourage congress to make 
their permanent seat at or near Georgetown. 

Prom **Princetown*' McHenry made a trip to Philadel- 
phia to see Miss Caldwell whose declared lover he now was, 
and to her he wrote on the 15th of July : 

"When I retired from the presence of my dear Peggy, 
the disquieting idea of not seeing her again for some time 
became more powerful than the pleasure I had just experi- 
enced. The hour you had given to my affection and endeared 
by your delicate sensibility served but to make me more 
conscious to the approaching separation. I was going it was 
true, only to Princetown,- but the obstacles to a return far 
exceeded the distance, and that alone was sufficient to excite 
reflections inexpressibly painful. Well aware that you would 
not wish me to be accused of levity in business, or suffer me 
to be suspected of preferring even the gratification of my 
heart to the interests of my country, I said to myself, a public 
station is an enemy to peace, and there is no happiness but 
in the arms of my Pegg>% I will, therefore, renounce its vain 
consequence to others ; I will overcome my fears and speak to 
her parents tomorrow; she shall be mine, and the rest of the 
w^orld may belong to the disciples of folly or the dupes of 
ambition. An instant however told me that to please you, I 
must not desert the station in which I had been placed and 
incur a public censure, but relying on the promise you had 
made to sweeten absence with an intercourse of letters, forbear 
to be precipitate or to hurry you into a new condition of life, 

1 He accepted the honor on December 2. 

60 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap, v 

before I could render it agreeable to the sole guardian of my 
fate. Thus my amiable and beloved charmer, I felt and I 
thought till the appearance of the punctual Davy informed 
me it Tvas time to commence my journey. I stole softly to 
your room door, and gently kissed it, and prayed that your 
slumbers might be light, and your hours tranquil, till I again 
lost my speech in looking at my Peggy, and again felt from 
her head tenderly reclined on my arm, more substantial pleas- 
ure, than a monarch experiences when first seated on his 
throne, or a conqueror enjoys in the moment of his victories. 

**0h! my dear Peggj'', till then, enliven the dull drudgery 
I must be engaged in by your cordial letters. You are to*) 
sensible, after my plighted faith, to think writing to me 
improper, and I am too much interested in whatever you do» 
to require, what if done, would diminish my regard. Will 
my Peggy, too, penetrate the disposition of her mother, re- 
specting my passion and hasten to remove a siispense which 
she must Imow is insuflferably distressing. Let me but read 
your letters and have ease on this point, and I shall count the 
hours of absence as only interposed to heighten the hap- 
piness that awaits my return. Adieu my dear and beloved 
Peggy and believe me unchangeably yours 

* 'Jambs McHenry 

**Thi8 is tuesday night, but as I cannot trust a letter to 
my Peggy to the common stage box I must keep it for a 
conveyance to which I can confide a name so very dear to my 
present and future felicity. As settled between ua this will 
be delivered you by your brother.'* 

It is amusing to see that McHenry 's love for his Peggy 
did not deprive him of the ability to enjoy the society of other 
women, as may be seen from verses he wrote three days later. 

** Extempore, on a young Quaquer lady 
who very reluctantly shewed some poe- 
try and wondered how it could be 
known that she wrote any. (Miss 

*'Princetown Jersey 18 July 1783 

"Bashful as a flrst-day bride, 
With the muses at your side, 
Long you could not hide your art; 
Soon you snatched them to your heart. 
From such fondness I could tell 
Without help of charm or spell, 
Sweet companion of the nine. 
That the laurel crown was thine." 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 61 

In spite of his official duties, McHenry found time to 
write frequently to his betrothed. From Annapolis on the 
night of the 19th of November, 1783, just after his arrival, 
he sent her a letter. 

''What a change has one hundred and thirty miles 
wrought upon your friend. I sit down to write my dear 
Peggy under a gloom of sentiment that I have never before 
experienced. The heaviness of absence has doubled with the 
distance. I dined today with the Governor and he would 
have it that I had met with some disappointment. In the 
evening I drank tea with your great rival, and she would have 
it that I was actually married — because I looked so grave. I 
endeavoured in vain to recover my spirits : I attempted some 
compliments to the lady: I failed however to please myself, 
and took leave of the company to try the effect of conversing 
with my Peggy. It is not easy, my amiable friend, all at once 
to assume a careless behavior, when the heart is wrought upon 
by the disquietudes of absence. I have involved myself in 
politics and high stations, while to preserve the latter I do 
violence to my heart. I followed a false light that never led 
any person to happiness. I have been more than once tempted 
to give up all public pursuits upon finding what appeared 
desirable while sought after, insipid or unsatisfying when 
attained. Since my affections have been interwoven with 
yours the nothingness of public honors have become more 
apparent, and the strongest conviction has arisen, that peace, 
pleasure & content are x>eculiarly the inmates of a domestic 
circle. Still however I continue to seek after phantoms, or 
to work for what cannot increase ones happiness. How is it, 
my love, that not withstanding history is filled with precepts 
expressive of the delusory nature of ambitious pursuits, and 
the complaining of men who have been favoured to the extent 
of their projects that their successors should continue to tread 
in the same path which leads to the same disappointments. 
Why my Pe^gy have I left you — why do I remain here a day 
longer — Why do I not give up all public emplo>Tnents and 
return to the bosom of my beloved — Why do the deceitful 
sounds of love of country oppose the bent of my heart, and 
hold me from you even against the strong current of my 
inclinations. Is there not in the human constitution princi- 
ples that draw contrary ways at the same time. I would go to 
Philada. and yet I do not go. Your heart would persuade 
you to be with me, and yet you feel the honest sensations at 

62 Life and Correspondence (Chap. v 

the thought of separating from those connections who have 
grown dear to you from habit and course of kind offices. 

**You pereeive my charmer that I am illy at rest, and by 
no means in a humor to be satisfied with my present condition. 
Several circumstances besides my being forced to leave you 
have associated to encourage this temper. The arrival of Mr. 
Carroll and myself do not make a senate — so that no business 
has been done, and we must wait here several days till our 
brethren think proper to come forward to their duty. This 
of course will make the session of Assembly longer than I 
expected. The reception I have met with from my friends 
in the house of delegates altho' very flattering does not coun- 
terbalance this circiunstance. But I will not trouble my 
Peggy with more of my complaints, but wait for that consola- 
tion which her promised letter will bring with it. 

**One thing however I cannot but mention. When I 
spoke to your mother on the subject of our marriage I sug- 
gested that you were desirous of delaying it till spring, but 
that I had my heart fixed upon an earlier period. I then 
spoke of January but at the same time told her what I told 
you that I wished to have a better house to bring you to than 
the one my brother lived in — but that this would be diflScuJt 
to get in the winter. Your mother who is all goodness lessened 
this difficulty by proposing that I should come up as soon as I 
could leave Congress and that we might then be married after 
which I might return to Congress and in the mean time indulge 
her with your company until spring when it would be better 
traveling for you. I did not relish the idea of leaving you 
behind me, but since I have considered all the objections to 
your removal during the winter and that by spring I may 
have everv thing arranged for your reception I must plead 
with my dear Peggy for her consent. 

"Will you then consult with your own heart on this 
question and with your mother and write me the result. I 
anticipate a favorable answer to this proposal because it will 
be more agreeable than an immediate separation from your 
parents and because it will in a great measure lessen the 
distress I must experience should our marriage be delayed 
till spring or till every arrangement is complete for your 
reception. We shall also be certain of your brother's presence 
and this is a circimistance which I know we both wish for. 
If my dear Peggy should approve of this plan I would hope 
to see her in January and would endeavour to be with her at 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 68 

least throughout that month. I shall bring no company but 
my brother and the marriage may be conducted with that 
privacy which I know is most pleasing to you. *' 

To the above letter he added a postscript on the 21st. 

"To day is to brmg me your letter and to carry this to 
your hands. I can safely pronounce that no one can be a 
philosopher and in love. To be patient and acquiescent under 
every change of circumstance is not within my power. I 
betray myself. I may however in a few days become more 
reconciled to my situation. When we make a senate I shall 
have full employment, and this will call my attention from my 
own feelings to that of others. I find that it would be no 
easy matter for my enemies should I have any to leave me out 
of Congress. Almost every person seems pleased with my 
conduct and attendance." 

Early in December, McHenry determined to go to Balti- 
more, to make preparations for his marriage and attend to 
other affairs and wrote on the 7th, Sunday morning, to Miss 
Caldwell : 

** Every day, my charming preacher, offers some lesson 
or other, which, to use your own words, may instruct us in 
our duty, and teach us to attend to it with sincerity and 
diligence. He must indeed, one would suppose shut his eyes 
on society who does not find its numerous follies, miseries, and 
misfortunes, produce improvement, excite charity or move 
compassion; who does not reflect on the provisionary steps 
requisite to meet that awful change of condition, which re- 
peated examples prove to be inevitable. And yet so it happens 
that these things though daily seen and talked of are unat- 
tended to and forgotten. We continue to live in the midst of 
them as it were without thinking of them : we swim carelessly 
down the insidious current of time, and are even observed to 
put forth fresh sail on the brink of the cataract into which 
we are just plunging. Hence it is, perhaps, my gentle moralist 
that earthquakes, volcanoes and inundations become necessary 
in the order of things to rouse men to a sense of their situation, 
and accomplish by a dreadful novelty what could not be 
affected by a succession of small examples. 

**But, my beloved Peggy, you, and all those, who are 
endeavouring to do what is right need be ashamed of no 
inspection whatever, nor afraid of meeting the last convulsions 
of nature, whether in a ball room or a church at a wedding 

64 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, v 

or a funeral; because, in all places you will be found in a 
temper of mind, and with a purity of heart which the deity, 
himself cannot disapprove. 

**And what is it my sweet friend, but this temper of 
mind and this purity of heart that keeps one always in good 
humor and without which no one can be happy. 

**But I must put an end to my moralizing in ten minutes 
I shall be on horseback, and in five hours I expect to be in 
Baltimore. Adieu. Adieu. ' ' 

After arriving at Baltimore, he wrote again, on the next 
evening : 

''I got to this place last night, later than I said^ because 
I was detained some hours longer than I expected. 

*'To write to my Peggy from the place where I one day 
hope to see her and that not a very distant one, excites sensa- 
tions of the most agreeable kind. Half of my business thither 
was to communicate to my brother my plan of being with you 
in January. He will be prepared to accompany me the 
moment I can withdraw myself from Congress. How I long, 
my friend for that moment — not that I want any new proof 
of the sincerity of your regard, but that I wish to be yours 
beyond the possibility of hazard of mischance. My Peggy 
will forward and complete all those little preparations she 
speaks of and if she is in sentiment with me she will also be 
desirous that the wedding should rather be private than other- 
wise. You know your father loves economy, so that we shall 
in this instance find our feelings gratified, by avoiding a very 
superfluous and fatiguing parade. But I am my love wholly 
under your direction." 

His stay in Baltimore was short and from Annapolis on 
the 14th of December, Sunday, he wrote, urging an early date 
for the wedding : 

**Let it suffice, says my charmer, that I have good reasons 
for requesting you will not think of coming the first of next 
month. I can assure you I did not think of doing anything 
that might contravene the wishes of my Peggy. I had just 
returned from disposing matters with my brother for our 
being in Philadelphia the first of January. I had flattered 
my self from some parts of former letters, unless some weighty 
reason opposed it — my friend would not. My fancy had 
done more ; It had placed me by your side, as I received your 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 65 

letter, where I was enjoying in that imaginary situation all 
the waking certainties of human happiness. I made to your 
letter some answer in a tumult of opposition. But you would 
X)ereeive this and forgive what sensations was hasty or im- 
proper. I now write in a moment of greater composure, and 
may I not also add of greater submission. I know what I 
ought and I do struggle to conform to your interdiction. But 
my Peggy will consider, that should I leave Annapolis by the 
first of January and it will be almost impossible to leave it 
sooner, that I must be some days on the road, and some days 
in Baltimore, all of which conjoined must put off our marriage 
till within a few days of the period to which I am limited. 
May I hope that this arrangement, which is so near to that' of 
my friends will comport with her ideas of propriety ; and that 
it will not be defeated by any insurmountable obstacle. My 
beloved will observe that I have not taken into this calculation 
allowances for bad weather. But I fear I distress you — and 
I have promised you an entertainment at the Gtovemor's. 

"Well then — I got to this place of gaiety and business 
on Wednesday. Alass Peggy I am called unexpectedly from 
my promise — you will excuse me for delaying it's perform- 
ance till next Sunday — and believe that I regret being obliged 
for today — to bid my beloved adieu. ' ' 

Later in the week, he wrote again : 

* * Friday morning. 
'^9 Deer. 

'*To day, my dear friend, I expect your letter, and with it 
a fresh source of agreeable sensations. Without being much 
pleased, I have been very busy since your last, and which 
increases my solicitude for a new conversation because this 
never failed to restore me to myself however wayward I may 
be or however disposed to be dissatisfied. I find, my Peggy, 
a consolation beyond expression in your visits — in hovering 
round you in the hall-room, in the attentions of your Spaniard, 
or waiting upon you to your own fire-side — in listening to the 
little Jane and hearing her sometimes please and sometimes 
alarm you. Such incidents as these bring with them a world 
of satisfactions, nor would I exchange them for all the gaie- 
ties and pleasures of Annapolis. There are routs — dinners 
and dances — but what are these when you are in Philadel- 
phia. There is a variety of beauty — but none of it can 
satisfy. I flit through a roimd of company; I debate with 

66 Ij\fe and Correspondence [Chap, v 

politicians or I converse with philosophers: I feel interestetl 
for the moment but when I retire I do not find my charmer : 
and then Peggy I grow sullen and out of humor and sometimes 
desperate enough to resolve upon seeing you even against 
your consent. 

^'But my love I am getting into a serious mood and it is 
time to go to Congress. I shall take this with me and send 
John to his station earlier by two hours than he went last 
post day. 

' ' Good morning my beloved. ' ' 

** Annapolis, 21 Deer. 
** To-morrow carries me from this place — but the day 
recalls to my mind a promise I made to my [friend] some 
weeks ago of an entertainment at the governors. When I 
got hither from Baltimore which was on Wednesday about 
noon I found every body preparing to go with the rest. It 
exhibited a strange mixture of men and characters. The 
lords of the old government, with some of the sovereigns and 
citizens of the new (if we may calculate on finding them 
together) seemed to have forgotten all former ideas of 
precedence and distinction. Sir Robert Eden would have 
persuaded one by being of the party, that he had lost all 
remembrance of his having been the owner of the house in 
which he danced, and late governor of Maryland — but the 
thing could not be, where every person he met, and every 
picture and piece of furniture he saw, served to remind him 
of the past, or brought up the recollection of pleasures he 
could no longer repeat. This state has taken away his prop- 
erty, and a libertine life his constitution. He finds himself a 
dependent on x>ersons he despised, and insignificant on the 
spot where, but lately he was every thing. He sees his old 
parasites and companions enjoying places under the pres- 
ent government, and devoted to new interests. He is 
without a train of followers obedient to his pleasing will. 
He perceives, that even the hearts he is said to have subdued 
by his entertainments or warmed by his gallantries have 
altered by time or submitted to other seducers. If we look 
for the cause of his return to this place in his pride — that 
would not suffer him to sue for favors, from men he so lately 
considered as rebels. If in his interest, he will be blamed for 
meanness. If in his poverty, he is certainly to be pitied. So 
situated and circumstanced I could neither believe him happy 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 67 

or at his ease, unless I had supposed, that, with his estate and 
constitution he had lost his sensibility. 

**Mr. Harford is a young man, and excites more favorable 
ideas. He has no prejudices to encounter because this is his 
first visit to America. The natural son of the late lord 
Baltimore and heir to his estate which we have taken away, 
He is handsome, sensible and of polite manners, and withal 
seems to be governed by a discretion beyond his years. All 
this speaks in his behisilf, and disposes one to wish, that 
amongst the virtues of the couatry w^ could reckon magnan- 

**Sir Robert danced with Mrs. Plater. Mr. Smith, his 
secretary, with her daughter. Mr. Clapham formerly receiver 
of rents, was at the card tables. Mr. Harford did not dance, 
but was seen sometimes chatting with the ladies and sometimes 
with himself. 

*'Such a blended assembly — men of so opposite princi- 
ples and manners — those who had lost estates and those who 
had them, — those who were once the greatest, and who were 
now among the least — those who were once nothing, and who are 
now every thing — ^ladies who shone under the late constitution, 
and some few of both sexes, whose value and merits no revolu- 
tions could diminish — all conspired to excite reflections and to 
afford amusement. The scene did not cease to be interesting 
till near twelve o'clock — when I retired to my apartment — 
took out a little amulet from my bosom — kissed it twice and 
went to sleep. 

**But know my charmer, that the dear image the amulet 
presented did not leave me, but continued almost throucrhout 
the night to give birth to the tenderest and most agreeable 

**This being the last engagement I had to discharge in 
Annapolis I hasten to join my amiable friend and interchange 
those solemn vows which are to make us one throughout time 
and eternity. Adieu, my beloved adieu, and may satui'day 
bring your presence your truly affectionate 


When congress arrived, it found that it was necessary to 
make arrangements for Washington's resignation of his com- 
mission as general and Jefferson, Gerry, and McHenry were 
appointed a committee to attend to this. On December 10, 

68 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap. v 

Washington wrote ^ McHenry from Philadelphia that, as 
New York had been evacuated by the British, he was on his 
way to Annapolis to ''get translated into a private Citizen." 
Ten days later, he notified the president of congress that he 
had arrived in Annapolis and, on the 23rd, he read his address 
to congress in the senate chamber of the state house. The 
war was over and the commander, to whom the new country 
owed so much, felt he could now take his ''leave of all the 
employments of public life." The original draft of the 
address was given to McHenry and has been preserved by his 
descendants to this day. 

At this time McHenry was much distressed at not hearing 
from Miss Caldwell and wrote her on Monday, December 22 : 

''Could my love but know the uneasy hours I have spent 
since last post; and the fears that have been perpetually 
intrusive whenever I felt a moments serenity, I would become 
the object of her utmost compassion. At Uus instant I am on 
a rack of suspense. You may be sick and I must not know 
of it ; nor have it in my power to be with you, or near you, or 
where I could in any manner be administering to your relief. 
€k)od Gk)d should this be the case, and Jack have neglected to 
write me out of a mistaken delicacy, I shall become mad. But 
I am nearly so at this instant. I was to have spent the evening 
with some ladies but I have sent an excuse. I wonder what 
they are to me. I was to assist in writing our answer to 
General Washington's resignation — but I am unfit for this 
purpose. If you are not sick I know the neglect did not lay 
with you. You certainly wrote me for I cannot suffer myself 
to think that I am all at once become so wretched as to be 

"Forgive me, forgive me, my love, my beloved — I am 
indeed, almost beside myself by this incident. Only see what 
a change it has produced in my situation. I had reconciled 
myself to the time you asked for in your last letter. I had 
supposed, my friend had good reasons which respected the 
preparations, why I should not see her till the middle of the 
next month; or perhaps, that she wished to keep me at my 
duty as long as it was possible. When I admitted the latter, 
I admired your Bomanlike virtue: when the former I could 
not be otherwise than satisfied. If it is destined, I cried, 
that my Peggy should always have the same commanding 

1 Ford, z, 836. A photoffraphio facsimile of Washington*! manu- 
script address on the occasion of his resigning his commission was printed 
In Mag. Am. Hlsft, vli, 104. 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 69 

power over me that she now possesses I feel that I am destined 
to be happy. And have I not a certainty of this, I continued, 
in her gentle spirit that subdues by yielding : her delicacy, that 
promises to be unchangeable in the arms of a husband: and 
her good sense that will always direct her behaviour so as to 
promote a constant exchange of tender and faithfully aflFec- 
tionate offices. I was lost in these delicious anticipations, and 
believed myself the happiest of mortals when the post arrived 
without one word from my Peggy. 

**0h Peggy Peggy — but my sufferings if you are sick 
will not comfort you : and if well, as I hope and pray you are, 
I do not wish to make you melanchoUy by their recital. Adieu 
then, adieu — nor think what I shall suffer till I hear from 

McHenry 's account of Washington's resignation, written 
to Miss Caldwell that very night, gives a vivid picture of the; 

**Had I been obliged to count the sands as they fall from 
an hour glass, since last Friday, I could not have done it with 
more exactness than I have counted the minutes of each day. 
It is, my dear Peggy, impossible for me to tell or you to feel 
the solicitudes and suspenses I have experienced. I am now 
become reasonable and do not think you are sick : but this does 
not relieve me. I do not think you have neglected me ; but this 
does not place me at rest. I suppose that some sufficient cause 
must have intervened to prevent me getting your letter, as 
clouds intervene and prevent the sight of the sun. But I vnW 
say no more on this subject, for I do not wish to communicate 
any distress this incident has caused me to my affectionate 


**To day my love the General at a public audience made 
a deposit of his commission and in a very pathetic manner 
took leave of Congress. It was a solemn and affecting spec- 
tacle ; such an one as history does not present. The spectators 
all wept, and there was hardly a member of Conp:ress who did 
not drop tears. The General's hand which held the address 
shook as he read it. When he spoke of the officers who had 
composed his family, and recommended those who had con- 
tinued in it to the present moment to the favorable notice of 
Congress he was obliged to support the paper with both hands. 
But when he commended the interests of his dearest country 
to almighty God, and those who had the superintendence of 

70 JL}fe and Correspondence [Chap. v 

them to his holy keeping, his voice f aultered and sunk, and the 
whole house felt his agitations. After the pause which was 
necessary for him to recover himself , he proceeded to say in 
the most penetrating manner, 'Having now finished the work 
assigned me I retire from the great theatre of action, and 
bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body under 
whose orders I have so long acted I here offer my commission 
and take my leave of all the employments of public life. ' So 
saying he drew out from his bosom his commission and 
delivered it up to the president of Congress. He then returned 
to his station, when the president read the reply that had been 
prepared — but I thought without any shew of feeling, tho* 
with much dignity. 

**This is only a sketch of the scene. But, were I to 
write you a long letter I could not convey to you the whole. 
So many circumstances crowded into view and gave rise to so 
many affecting emotions. The events of the revolution just 
accomplished — the new situation into which it had thrown 
the affairs of the world — the great man who had borne so 
conspicuous a figure in it, in the act of relinquishing all 
public employments to return to private life — the past — 
the present — the future — the manner — the occasion — all 
conspired to render it a spectacle inexpressibly solemn and 

**But I have written enough. (Jood night my love, my 
amiable friend good night." 

''26 Deer. 
'*3 o'clock. 

*' Thank fortune my dearest friend that our session of 
assembly is at last finished ; and that there is one reason less 
for my remaining much longer in this place. Having seen the 
laws signed & sealed I made haste to the post office, but I did 
not find there the consolation I sought. It now snows most 
vehemently and this may detain the post rider perhaps till 
late in the evening. This my love is no little misfortune, for 
notwithstanding all I have written you, and argued with 
myself still I am far from being perfectly composed. Fears 
that you are sick or of some disagreeable mischance, will every 
now and then intrude — but let me also tell you, that I do not 
even suspect that you have been neglectful. You could not, 
I am sensible, torture me, even if you did not love. 

**I go to dine at the president of Congress's. John is 

178M783] cf James McHenry 71 

posted to bring your letter. Oh ! may it soon arrive, and with 
it an evidence of your health and my happiness. Adieu — I 
take this in my pocket — adieu. 

**It is 6 o'clock. I have your letter and am happy. You 
speak tender things to me in the tenderest manner, and have 
removed inquietudes which I hope never again to experience. 
I will blot out nothing of what I have written. It is but 
reasonable that you should know what I have felt, and 
improper that I should conceal anything from you. You will 
extenuate where I have exceeded or forgive where I may have 
offended. I trust all to my friend. 

'"I have mentioned that the session is closed. I can only 
be detained now by the definitive treaty. I shall however 
leave this in the hands of my colleagues, and leave this the 
beginning of next week. I must stay a few days in Baltimore, 
where I expect to receive your next letter, or from which 
place I will write you the day I expect to be in Philadelphia. 

**You will write me unless you hear from me. 

"God almighty bless my dear Peggy, and make me to 
her what will make her happy. 

**I go to write a few words to Jack. Adieu my beloved 
— Adieu. 

"9 O'clock. 
''I am in my chamber, and cannot go to sleep or close 
your letter without a few words in addition to what I have 
X>encilled. It is most likely my dear friend that the signing 
of this same definitive treaty will keep me here till the middle 
or last of next week. You will therefore write me. Should 
I be able to leave it sooner, you will hear from me, by a post 
that leaves this on tuesday evening or Wednesday morninf^, 
which gets to Philadelphia on Friday — If I should however 
be in Philadelphia the last of next week, my beloved, will not 
be surprised. I do not think however that the thing is prac- 
ticable; altho' it may take place. The post sets off early in 
the morning.'' 

On his return from Annapolis, McHenry wrote on Decern- 
ber 30, to Miss Caldwell, to tell her of his plans for the 
journey to Philadelphia: 

*'See my love the use that I make of your indulgence. I 
am here, but my expectations of being with you on Saturday 
are not so strong as when I left Annapolis. Jack is to accom- 
pany me, and he has yet many things to do. He was also to 

72 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, v 

have done some business for me and that is still to be done. I 
do not mean however that he is in fault altho' somebody is. 
Notwithstanding this I shall endeavour exceedingly to get oflE 
on Friday. But if I cannot accomplish this, I shall on Mon- 
day, and on Tuesday be in Philadelphia should the roads 
admit of such traveling. It will be no crime I hope to set 
out on Sunday I know that in setting out even on Monday I 
encroach on your original plan, but my beloved friend will 
consider my solicitudes to be with her, and those countless 
anxieties and suflferings which I must continue to experience 
till they are lost in her arms. 

"I shall hope that my Peggy will fix upon some day in 
next week for this event : for the performance of those nuptial 
rites that are to give us to each other by the tenderest and 
dearest of all names and affinities. I shall rest upon this 
delicious hope. It will cheer me on the road and do more to 
sweeten the hours which I must still be absent, than all the 
amusements and philosophy in the world. Even at this 
blessed instant it lights up in my bosom a flame of the purest 
and most perfect delight. 

''But I would upon another account entreat the day 
being in next week. This would at once relieve my beloved 
from those busy set of inquirers and questioners, who heed not 
or feel not the pain they excite in a delicate mind by their 
injudicious curiosity. 

**I expect to arrest your letter on its passage to Annapolis. 
If the return of the post does not bring you one on Monday 
it will be because I shall expect to see you on Tuesday. 

'*My friend my beloved adieu. 

** Tuesday night. 

'*It has snowed all day, which has detained Armstrong 
and given me time to write your parents. I have mentioned 
a private wedding which I know you have much at heart, and 
if it can be accomplished with propriety I know they will 
comply. However what they think right we must not think 
wrong. » 

**A thousand sweet and tender agitations oppress and 
delight me. I hope there can be no reason why we should not 
be married next week. I rely upon your goodness. Do not 
oh do not disappoint your expecting hoping trembling '^ 

1781-1783] qf James McHenry 78 

To Captain Allison, McHenry wrote : 

"My dear Sir 

**I have taken leave of Congress for some time and 
expect to see you the beginning of next week. As I wish for 
many reasons to have our marriage over as early as possible. 
In a letter I have written to Mrs. Allison on the subject of my 
marriage, but I want also to say a few words to yourself. I 
am as well as Peggy desirous to avoid as much as possible that 
parade of visits which you know is common on such occasions, 
but which has nothing to authorise them but custom. For my 
own part I am of the opinion that a few friends and a supper 
is all that is necessary or proper; and that all that follows 
had much better be omitted. A private wedding would ex- 
clude all this foolish formality. But as I said to Mrs. Allison 
I must leave all these matters to be arranged by those who 
understand them much better than I do. I have only to bei< 
of you, that if you think as I think and see no impropriety in a 
private wedding that you would add your reasons to mine, 
provided Mrs. Allison is of the same opinion. 

'*I know not whether I shall be fortunate enough in 
prevailing upon Peggy, that our marriage should be next week. 
I set out however under this impression and with the hope if 
ought depends upon you I will not be disappointed." 

The letter to Mrs. Allison was in the same vein : 
**My dear Madam. 

'*I have got this far on my way to Philadelphia, but will 
be detained in this place till the last of the week. I have in- 
treated Peggy to fix some day in the next week for our mar- 
riage. Should my wishes meet your approbation, and prove 
agreeable to -her it would add greatly to my happiness. I 
need not explain the reasons why the marriage should take 
place as soon as may be after my coming up, as they will 
occur to yourself. There is one thing however which I would 
beg leave to mention and which I am extremely anxious to 
have accomplished if it can be done without too great a viola- 
tion of established forms. If the cerimonial part of the busi- 
ness could end with the supper, at which I hope there will be 
only a few friends, I am sure it would be relieving us all 
from very idle and very useless visits. Might not these and 
the parade usual on such occasions be all avoided by consid- 
ering the marriage as private? If private, visits would come 
only from those one would wish to see or that would be in- 

74 LJtfc and Correspondence [Chap, v 

vited. But I know too little of these matters to direct, and 
if I knew ever so much I should not. You will therefore 
do what you please, and I will be pleased with whatever is 

"I hope if there is no good reason against next week 
you will dispose the mind of my dear Peggy for the event 
and thus give me a new motive to love and esteem you. 

''Sincerely and affectionately I am my dear Mrs. Alli- 
son. " 



McHENRY reached Philadelphia safely and married on 
January 8, Margaret, only surviving daughter of 
David Caldwell, merchant, of Philadelphia. She was 
bom October 8, 1762, and died in Baltimore November 20, 
1833. Her father, who died in Philadelphia, the year in 
which she was bom, married in Ireland Miss Grace Allison. 
She married secondly, her cousin, Captain William Allison of 
Philadelphia, a near relative of the Rev. Patrick Allison, first 
pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, in 
which both James McHenry and his wife were communicant 
members, McHenry also serving in 1786 as one of the original 
trustees of the graveyard of that church. Mrs. McHenry 's 
only brother, John Caldwell, to whom frequent reference is 
made in this book, was bom in 1759 and died at Baltimore In 
1820, leaving three sons. He married his cousin Margaret 
Caldwell of Philadelphia and settled in Baltimore as a law- 

James McHenry and his wife had five children, who may 
well be named here : Grace, the eldest, was bom on November 
2, 1784, baptized on December 4, and died in infancy, March 
24, 1789. Daniel William, the second child, was named for 
his grandfather, was bom November 12, 1786, baptized on No- 
vember 26, and died suddenly June 30, 1814. After his mar- 
riage, he removed to Allegany County where he possessed 
an estate. On June 23, 1812, he married Sophia Hall Ram- 
say who was born on October 23, 1794, and died on December 
13, 1874. She was daughter of Colonel Nathaniel Ramsay, a 
distinguished officer in the American revolution. Daniel Mc- 
Henry had one son, Ramsay, bom January 15, 1814, baptized 
Februarj^ 16, died August 13, 1878. He lived at Monmouth, 
Harford County, as a country gentleman and never married. 
He took great interest in agriculture and possessed fine herds 
of imported cattle. He served several terms in the Maryland 
legislature. The third child was ^Vnna, bom November 20» 

76 L,\fe and Correspondence [Chap vi 

1788, baptized January 4, 1789, married James Pillar Boyd, 
an attorney of Baltimore, February 4, 1808. She died April 
16, 1837, having had four children, viz: Mary, bom March 
2, 1810, and died October 7, 1811; James McHenry, bom 
December 15, 1817, died December 4, 1847, married December 
4, 1847 on his deathbed Annie Eliza Hall, a granddaughter of 
Colonel Nathaniel Ramsay (she is still alive, having married 
again Major-General John G. Barnard) ; Andrew, bom No- 
vember 9, 1811, died January 15, 1815 ; and John Pillar, bom 
August 3, 1816, died March 21, 1826. 

All the living descendants of James McHenry are de- 
scended from his second son and fourth child, John, who was 
bom March 3, 1797, baptized May 7, and died at Mercersburg, 
Pa., of fever on October 6, 1822. He married ^ on December 
7, 1819, Juliana Elizabeth, a daughter of Colonel John Egger 
Howard. She was bom on May 3, 1796 and died May 22, 
1821. John McHenry was educated for the bar and left one 
son, James Howard, bom November 11, 1820, died October 
25, 1888. He married, June 25, 1855, Sarah Nicholas Cary, 
the daughter of Wilson Miles Cary of Baltimore, and had 
seven children : Juliana, who died in 1900 ; James and Charles 
Howard, who died in infancy; Wilson Cary, who married 
Edith L. Dove of Andover, Mass. ; Ellen Carr, who marrieil 
R. Brent Keyser of Baltimore; John, who married Priscilla 
Stewart of Baltimore County; and Sophia Howard, who mar- 
ried Charles Morton Stewart, Jr., of Baltimore County. 
James McHenry 's youngest child was Margaretta, who was 
bom March 7, 1794, baptized March 27, and died of consump- 
tion November 26, 1809. 

McHenry 's marriage was very happy. His wife returned 
his devotion and their love did not weaken with the passage 
of the years. The wedding was a surprise to his friends. He 
had written to his friend Cochran some time before: 

*'I had reasoned with myself a thousand times upon mat- 
rimony. You know I could not pass over this subject. That 
I had go ne on to build houses and plant vineyards, and after 

1 Mrs. McHenry wrote thus to a friend of this marrlagre : 
"The only information I have to give you of a pleasant kind Is that of 
the marriage of my son with Howard which took place last Deer. This 

event did indeed produce feelings of Joy & grt/tification which my heart 

>pe of sincere thankfulness that 
only & deservedly beloved son had been directed to so good a choice. 

had long been a stranger to & I hope of sincere thankfulness that my 

She is the very person we would have chosen for him : her mind so well 
improved. She is discreet ft very amiable. When i say that he is 
deserving of her, you will 'be pleased to know that he also is of an amiable 
character. This union was long in contemplation, &, much desired by the 
friends on both sides for they are worthy of each other." 

Rfprflduoed in origba] tiu ham tdini 

Di. Jusa M<^Haar 
<CopuHrii. 1907. Tilt fflurmra SrXAoi Csm 

1784-1786] qf James McHenry 77 

looking at them a little, either capriciously or wisely (I did 
not say which) determined not to enter into one of them. 
Then I went on to say that I was a poor philosopher, and that 
in a hovel, with only a cabbage garden annexed to it, could 
not be happy with a wife.'* 

Mrs. McHenry was a woman of a deeply religious nature, 
a good mother and housewife, not greatly interested in public 
affairs. To her McHenry wrote from time to time brief 
poems like the following: 


To Mrs. McHmnht. 

Oh how I long my weary head to reel 
On the soft pillow of my Peggy's breast: 
To taste with you the warb'Ungs of the grove ; 
The shades of Bloom-hlU and the sweets of love. 

To lead through clover'd fields your dewy feet. 
At glimmering mom the opal clouds to greet; 
To help you o'er the fence and up the hill; 
And hear you talk and praise your rural skilL 

To see you plasrful skim the banks that shelve 
As when that I was twenty thou but twelve. 
Just seem to fall then rise with sudden grace. 
With eye averted and with blushing face ! 

At silent noon hard t>y the osler^d brook. 

To read with you some philosophic book; 

To wring the heart with Shakespear's glowing page 

Old Lear's madness or Othello's rage. 

At eve to sip the dairy's nicest cream 
Or help our Grace to paddle thro' the stream ; 
Hear the hens cluck to roost their seatter'd brood 
And distant cattle lowing o'er their food. 

See the starr'd night lead forth her fairy train 
And jocund hamlets smoke along the plain: 
Then, to retire from ev'ry mortal view 
And pass till mom the wedded hours with you. 

When Uriah Forrest heard of the marriage, he wrote 
McHenry thus: 

** Although you do not merit it, I cannot forbear ray 
congratulations on your success. McHenry married ! is it pos- 
sible — myself & several of our friends have been years in 
pursuit of that happiness without effect & the man who upon 
all occasions reprobated the Idea — the first that has put it 
in practice. 

**What are going about now you have got married? I 
do not mean to ask in what manner you mean to treat Mrs. 
McHenry ; but do you mean to continue Politician, return to 
Physic, adopt the Law, or commence merchant. Salute Mrs. 
Mc for me — Say to your brother I very much respect him — 

78 L,\fe and Correspondence [Chap, vi 

& to yourself I will say you have the most perfect wishes for 

every Happiness that you can desire 
& be assured of the affection of me 
while you possess that worth that first 
commanded U. Forrest." 

McHenry had known his wife from her tenth year and 
some time after her marriage wrote from Philadelphia to her : 

* * My dear Peggy. I am in the old house in which I first 
saw you and writing at the very desk on which I taught your 
fingers to form the first letter they ever made. My feelings 
correspond to my situation." 

He seems to have remained in Philadelphia until the lat- 
ter part of March, when he left his wife with her mother and 
came to Maryland to attend the sessions of the legislature and 
of congress, both of which were to meet in Annapolis. On the 
way, he stopped at Baltimore and wrote Mrs. McHenry on 
March 25: 

"When i left my dear Peggy, the great difficulty was 
got over, and I neither cared or thought about the badness 
of the roads ; they were not however as bad as we were told, 
for we got that ni^t to the Head of Elk, and yesterday morn- 
ing to this place. You will naturally conceive my anxiety 
to hear from you, and will have written me before this can 
reach you. I shall receive your letter at Annapolis where I 
go tomorrow to consign myself to some weeks unavoidable 
drudgery and to wait with sullen impatience that moment 
when I may leave it to embrace what I hold most dear in this 

After arriving at Annapolis, he wrote her constantly. 
Some of the letters are of interest, showing his character and 
the social side of the legislative duties. 

''Sunday 28th March 1784 

**I have said that the great difficulty was to leave you — 
but I was mistaken, for I am hardly two days in Annapolis 
when I find that to keep from you, is yet more difficult. Ah 
PcgRy> liow was I softened and tried in the moment of our 
parting, by your tender embrace, your restrained emotions, 
and your melting tears. Even now they speak to my very 
heart, and almost persuade me to relinquish a service which 
has been gradually losing its charms ever since you gave me 
your love. In truth, I am no longer anxious to please my 
state, seeing it cannot be done without sacrificing too much 
of your company. It is time too that I should accommodate 

1784-1786] qf James Mc Henry 79 

my leisure and industry to our prospects and circumstances. 
Neither of us can be happy under a long separation ; nor can 
our interest be promoted by my sitting in Congress. My first 
object was to get you to Baltimore, to see you mistress of 
your house, and pleased in your new situation — but a strong 
hand restrains me where I am and delays that necessary event. 
I fear my beloved that I shall not have it in my power to move 
from this place sooner than the first of May. It is a tedious 
period — but unless I do what I have censured others for 
doing I cannot make it shorter." 

** Tuesday evening. [March 30] 
"Most of my visits are made, and I have received the 
usual compliments and answered the usual enquiries. Your 
health has been asked for by those who never saw you, and you 
cannot think how prodigiously happy it made them to hear 
that you were well. I often regret that so endearing a stile 
should have obtained a currency, without possessing any value. 
Adieu till post day. 

"This is thursday night [April 1] and no post or letter 
from my Peggy. It has happened to me to dine at different 
houses every day this week, but I have not felt less solicitude 
on account of this variety. I have also been very busy in Con- 
gress, but even there I found moments to be anxious and un- 
easy. To-morrow I hope will bring me an evidence of your 
health and console me as much as I can be consoled in your 
absence. It is late and I am not quite free from a headache — 
good night my friend, my beloved good ni^ht. 

"The second of April is arrived without bringing the 
post. It must however be here sometime to-day, so that 
I go to Congress in hopes that Patton, the doorkeeper, will 
bring me a letter while we are sitting. Be assured I shall 
not complain if it should interrupt me in the midst of a 
speech. — good morning. " 

"Sunday morning 4th of April. 
"When I was about to despair of the post he arrived and 
brought me your letter. It was late before he came in last 
night, and he goes off at nine o'clock this morning. The new 
name under which you write excited a thousand new emo- 
tions. I no longer saw the name that I formerly kissed with 
rapture, but one still more dear and interesting. I would give 
a great deal to be assured that the mind of my Peggy was 

80 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap. vi 

composed and at ease. But now the roads are better, we 
shall have two posts in the week, and this will give me an 
opportunity of being frequently informed of your health. 
Adieu, my beloved Peggy adieu — '' 

''Wednesday night 7 April 1784 
''I snatched a few minutes on monday last to thank my 
dear Peggy for her letter of Sunday, but I was so straitened 
for time that I could not thank her enough. Indeed I feel 
that I ought to be satisfied with so much tenderness and affec- 
tion, notwithstanding this very tenderness and affection serves 
to embitter separation. But I am far from being unhappy, 
nor must you ^ink me so, since it is true that the very agonies 
of parting and the distress of absence are accompanied with 
some cordial emotions. At this moment however mine are 
of the pensive kind, and I forbear to cast a longing look at 
Philadelphia. I believe you to be well and that you will be 
eareful of your health; but this belief, though it may some- 
times soothe, is rarely satisfactory. Whenever I count the 
days I have been gone from you, and the days that must 
elapse before my return to you, I sit down more dissatisfied 
than pleased. But I will write you no more to-night, lest 
you should catch my present disposition, and be discontented 
as I am. Gk)od night then, and may you experience no tooth 
ache to rob you of your rcart." 

''Thursday night. [April 8] 
"It is exactly three months this night since my dear and 
amiable Peggy relinquished the name she had from her in- 
fancy, for that she now bears, and I can safely say, that no 
three months of my life comprehended less pain more hap- 
piness. But you ought not to reckon me just, were I to stop 
here. It is a common opinion that lovers generally find an 
abatement of their passion soon after their marriage — but 
you are still to me the same charming Peggy you were before 
this event, nor has marriage deprived you of one of those 
maiden decencies so essential to the existence of love, and the 
permanence of affection. I owed to you this little tribute 
of acknowledgement, and I could not go to sleep without pay- 
ing it. I left a large company of ladies at the president's 
that I might not neglect it, but there was no sacrifice in this — 
for you were not of the party. Adieu Adieu." 

1784-1786] cf James McHenry 81 


*' Sunday morning 11 April. 
I removed from the tavern yesterday and am fixed in 
private lodgings. The room in which I write overlooks the 
Bay and discovers an agreeable corner of the country just 
be^nning to shew the first operations of Spring. I am of 
course more at my ease and less subject to interruption : and 
were the i>ost but to arrive I should have little to complain 
of to-day, except what is unavoidable, and to which it seems 
I must submit There has been no mail since last sunday, 
nor is one expected before tomorrow, after which perhaps the 
post will arrive regularly and on stated days twice a week in 
this place, and as often in Philadelphia. I hope to hear that 
the tooth ache has been less troublesome. If it has not I 
think you had better try another ounce of the bark, taking 
a doie twice a day. It may do good, and it cannot do hurt 
I would also when the fit is on, hold a bit of salt petre over 
the aflBicted teeth, till it gradually dissolves, rincing the mouth 
afterwards with a little warm water. 

'^ Doctor Allison [Dr. Patrick Allison of Baltimore] has 
been with us since thursday, and is to give us a sermon this 
morning in the state house. I am going to hear him. We 
dine together, and shall no doubt taUc at least a little about 
T^y P^Sfiy- Good morning my beloved ; good morning. " 

* * Thursday morning. 13 April. — 
**My Peggy who is every thing that is tender good and 
affectionate has this moment blessed me with her letter, and 
indeed I wanted it as much as I wished for it. If it is not 
among the impossible things it is surely among the most dif- 
ficult, to be at peace or to be easy under my circumstances. 
My only consolation is that you are in the bosom of your 
friends, and that there is not one of them who does not love 
you, and who will not endeavour to make you happy. I feel 
that I shall love them the better for their endeavours. I hope 
also that the little preparations for your removal will afford 
some amusement, or employment, which as it engages the mind 
is often in the place of amusement. You ask me respecting 
some furniture — but I am told the post sets off immediately, 
so that I must answer you in my next letter, which I sup- 
pose will go by Friday's post. Adieu then my dearest Peggy 

''Thursday 15 April. 
**Do we not possess each others affections, and are we 

82 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap, vi 

not inseperable though separated? In this thought there is 
a shew of solace and support, there is not however enough 
to satisfy the heart; for the heart that loves cannot be satis- 
fied in absence. I am anxiously striving to hasten my de- 
parture from this place, that I may be with you by the be- 
ginning of May. In the mean while, my Peggy, do not siiffer 
the mere apprehensions of fancy to alarm you. All is as 
it ought to be, and all will be well with you. Only take care of 
your health, and every thing must terminate happily. But, like 
you my beloved, I feel myself too tenderly interested to write 
more on this subject; and shall conclude with telling you, 
that I expect the post to arrive to-morrow but do not expect 
any letter from you, as you may not yet be acquainted with 
the days of his leaving Philadelphia; or if you were, may 
not have time to write me twice a week. In this perhaps I 
shall fail myself, because there are some hours that I cannot 
call my own. 

**But I must tell you the news, adjournment of Congress 
has been tried and I believe will be carried ; so that it is likely 
about the time we get settled in Baltimore the adjournment 
will take place to Trenton. After leaving this town, there 
will be a recess till perhaps the last of the year. A conmiittee 
of the states will be appointed, I imagine, to sit in the recess 
of Congress. This is composed of a member from each state, 
whose powers are defined by Congress. I write by this oppor- 
tunity to your father, lest he should think that I neglect 
him. Adieu my dear and beloved Peggy." 

** Wednesday night 21st April 1784 — 
** Whenever the objects around me cease to interest. I 
have recourse to recollection. I was in this situation this 
morning when I brought into review, the letters you have sent 
me since I got to this place ; the little impression that gave me 
so much pleasure at Princetown, which you have repeated; 
and the new signature under which you write; but I soon 
perceived, notwithstanding these precious circumstances, that 
I wanted what they could not give me, that I wanted yourself. 
I then said as you had instructed me, there remains only a 
little interval of absence, when we shall again be with each 
other: but although I believed in what I said, I found it 
brought me no nearer to you. At this moment I became po- 
etical, and seizing a pen wrote the following lines. 

1784-1786] qf James McHervry 88 

Tou. only you. with wond'rous skill 
Can make my hours just what you will; 
Can soothe the troubled mind to rest. 
Or raise a heaven within my breast. 

I'll strive against the stream no more. 
That drives me to a happier shore; 
Blow fresh ye sales, no wind alarms 
That bears me back to Emma's arms. 

** There is no doubt but the poetical wind would have 
carried me to Philadelphia, had I not been interrupted by the 
appearance of the minister of France, who convinced me that 
I was still in Annapolis. Adieu." 

** Friday morning 23 April 
*'My ever amiable and beloved Peggy thus to soothe and 
delight your absent friend — but I have time at this moment to 
write little more than an acknowledgement of your Sunday's 
and monday's letters. The post goes out in half an hour. 
I had planned to have left this to-day and felt lighter by 
many pounds in consequence of it — as Mr. Chase and Mr. 
Stone were both in town. But I am prevented most effec- 
tually by one of the delegation being taken suddenly ill, nor 
can I have the smallest expectation, from the nature of his 
complaint, of getting away till some time in the next week. 
It may perhaps be the last of it ; and the last of the week fol- 
lowing (it will be necessary to stop to stop a few days in Bal- 
timore), I shall hope to be blessed with your presence in 
Philadelphia — On this plan then, the last day of April I 
shall leave this place and the last of the first week in May 
be with my beloved. In the mean while, you will continue to 
address your letters to Annapolis; because if I am not here, 
I shall take them out at Baltimore. — 

** Farewell my beloved, I shall write you on this subject by 
the next tuesdav's post. — " 

Sunday 25 April 1784 


I strive, my Emma, but In vain 
To lighten absence, sweeten pain. 
Since In whate'er I say or do 
I And I'm absent still from you. 

Not e'en the precious pledge I bear 
The dear resemblance of my fair. 
Or warms my heart or makes it beat, 
For like the moon it gives no heat. 

But ril no more or say or do 
But hasten back to love and you ; 
For you alone can warm my heart. 
Can sweeten pain or peace impart. 

Who would not quit the cares of state. 
The subtle crew, the vain debate: 
Who would not leave a wrangling life 
For such a woman — such a wife I 

84 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. vi 

**I shall make no excuse to my love, for conveying my 
feelings to her in this manner. I know that a kind wife can- 
not be a severe critic ; but what is of more consequence, I know 
you will not doubt my sincerety whether I speak to you in 
numbers or in prose. I shall only add, that if I can confirm 
the prophetic part by tuesday's post, I shall then be your 
happy as I am now your affectionate 

"McHbnby— '• 

** Monday Ynoming 26th April — 
*'It was not till I read your letter of the 19th that I 
could flatter myself that you were tolerably at ease; for 
amidst all your endeavours to please me I could not find that 
you were content. On this account that letter has given me 
more pleasure, than any I have received from you since I 
left you. You now visit and the hours are less tedious and 
cumb'rous, and yourself more lively; in consequence of which 
I am just what you wish me to be. I am not gloomy, I am 
not discontented — I am not like patience on a monument, but 
like one who sees happiness before him and expects soon 
to enjoy it. I am strongly flattered that I shall be able to 
leave town this week for Baltimore. 

''As Hoffman does not leave his house before the 1st of 
May, which is next Saturday, of course we cannot move into 
it or make any alterations till the monday following. I ahaU 
write you by the tuesday's mail our progress, and my time of 
leaving Baltimore, should no untoward accident keep me in 
this place — after f riday — Good morning my beloved. I go 
to Congress, and expect a letter from you to-day — and yet 
I do not expect it, for I know of many things that may pre- 
vent you from writing by the second post to your 

''McHenby — 
''For some days past I have been troubled with a slight 
inflammation in the throat, but you will conclude by my going 
to Congress, without my telling you, that it is not very trouble- 
some. Oh Peggy, how rejoiced I am that your tooth ache has 
remitted its severity. Mr. Smith — Sir Robt Eden's secre- 
tary brought in from England a receipt for the toothache 
which I have got from him and inclose, from which he gets 
much relief. You will use it in the same manner that yon 
would use the liquid laudanum. Adieu again my love adien 
— I shall seal this last I should not have time in Congress 
should the post arrive while we are sitting." 

1784-1786] cf James McHenry 85 

** Annapolis 28th April 1784 
*' Every new day brings me a day nearer to that town 
which alone can receive and return my affection: and yet 
my love, every day that is still to hold us separate must seem 
tedious; even the last one that gives me to your bosom. It 
is true however, that the days are not so irksome now as they 
were at first, and that the nearer they bring me to you, the 
more I am disposed to be pleased with them: but, perhaps 
this arises from my seeing, or thinking that I see, in your 
letters, an air of satisfaction and resigned composure ; which 
while it enhances your character secretly increases my hap- 
piness. It is certainly among my greatest blessings, that 
whether I am with you or absent from you, I find you con- 
stantly attentive to what is becoming and always agreeable so 
that the more perfectly I know you, the more interesting and 
amiable you appear in the eyes of your friend. But — It is 
the hour of business — adieu — ** 

''Thursday 29. 
** Another day, and would I could say the last, but altho' 
it is not, the last is not far distant, since I expect to leave 
this place on Saturday, and know of nothing to prevent me, 
my colleagues being able to attend Congress, and I in perfect 
health. The last then of next week (for I must spend some 
days in Baltimore) I shall hope to be blessed in the sight of 
my Peggy, and be restored to all the pleasures of her society. 
This letter will be the last you will receive from me, (unless 
I am obliged to stay longer in Baltimore than I have reason 
to expect) altho' I shall perhaps get one from you to- 
morrow in this place, and another next tuesday in Baltimore, 
which will be the last I shall receive from you. Again to 
Congress, and I do assure my Peggy, that I go more light than 
I have for a whole month past, adieu — adieu. — *' 

30th — Friday morning 8 o 'clock — 
My love. I set out in less than half an hour from An- 
napolis, and shall leave this in the post-office for you, lest I 
should not be lucky enough to hit upon the post's hour of 
passing through Baltimore. I come nearer to my Pegg>% and 
my heart beats with new sensations — but it will be one whole 
week before I see you — but I shall be employed during that 
week in hastening the preparations for your reception. God 
bless my Peggy, and may our meeting be propitious. I go 
to Baltimore — farewell my beloved farewell — " 

86 L{fe and Correspondence [Crap. vi 

While at Annapolis, McHenry received a letter sent by 
his friend, Hmnphi^ySy and dated from 

*'New Haven April 2nd. 1784. 

''Cannot the man who had so much agency in inducing 
Congress 'to charge themselves with the interests &c' which 
to me appear to be words of no small import have an equal 
influence in persuading them to take effectual measures for 
carrying their Resolution into execution! Well do it then 
my dear friend ! ei eris mihi magnus Apollo. — 

"It was extremely unfortunate for me that I had not 
the pleasure of seeing you on my return from Virginia ; but 
you will perceive my inclination to be employed in the pub- 
lic service, by recurring to the files of Congress where you will 
find a letter from the late Commander in Chief & another 
from myself on the subject : I have addresed a second by this 
conveyance to His Excellency the President in order to bring 
the matter to a speedy decision. 

"Belying on your patronage and friendly assistance, I 
need say no more than that, I dare almost pledge myself to 
accept of any Appointment which in your judgment shall be 
deemed respectable & proper. — 

"You will be pleased to recollect that there was some- 
thing in agitation respecting presenting miniature likenesses 
of General Washington to the Gentlemen who composed his 
family at the close of the War including the Adjutant Gen- 
eral; I dare say this would be esteemed by those Gentlemen 
as the most grateful token of the sovereign approbation which 
could possibly be conferred on them. — 

"With the greatest regard and esteem I have the 
honor to be 

"My dear Sir 

"Your most obedt. servt 
"D. Humphreys. 

"P. S. It is probable, I presume, that Commissionei*s 
may be appointed to treat with the Indian Nations; or that 
a Person or Persons will be commissioned to negociate some 
public business in Canada or at the Western Posts, in case 
nothing should occur in which I could be more usefully em- 
ployed, I should have no objection to either of these appoint- 

McHenry was now to continue his mercantile business in 
Baltimore and his dual legislative office for several ^ years. 

1 In the confederation congress, McHenry seems to have been in 

1784-1786] qf James McHenry 87 

In all these relations, he corresponded with his friend, Lafa- 
yette, who wrote him on December 26, 1783, from Paris : 
**My dear McHenry 

**Had you not Been employed in Quartering the Conti- 
nental Congress, I would find it very ill in you not to Have 
writen By Colonel (Jouvion — I wanted to Hear from you^ 
about you, and then I wanted to know your opinion upon 
several matters — my letter to Congress will let you know 
what intelligences we Have in this Quarter — my letter to 
Mr Moris will acquaint them with some late measures I Have 
taken Respecting American Commerce — it contains one let- 
ter from M. de Vergennes, two from M. de Calonne, and a 
piece from me to Government which I also inclose to you, 
and which, for reasons obvious, I Request may not Be spread 
out of Congress — it is on that Account, and Also for a Good 
translation that I send it to you, and thirdly Because that en- 
trusting temper which you know me to Be possessed of. Now 
and then is Altered By the selfishness of others — when I Hear, 
By way of example, that your plenipotentiary's letters, Rather 
Gave a Ground to think I Have not Been so Active as they 
in winning the last six millions, I Cannot Help Remembering 
that Jay and Adams never went to Versailles But twice, I 
think, when I pushed them to it, that M. Franklin did Repose 
Himself upon me who went so far as to say that I Had 
Rather delay the departure of 8000 men and nine ships wait- 
ing for me at boat than to go without an assurance of the six 
millions — in Consequence of which I went in my travelling 
dress to Count de Vergennes *s and upon His table wrote a 
Billet to doctor Franklin insinuating He should Have the 
Money — But never mind that, and Be so kind only as to take 
care my Commercial efforts Be known in America, and Also 
that Congress had instructions Respecting trade, least the 
matter should Be dropped as Has Been my very well Begun 
Spanish Negotiations 

*'The institution of the Cincinnati Has pretty well suc- 
ceeded in France, the officers who Have Been in America set 
a great value By the Mark of the society — a few objections 
Have Been made By the public to some part of the institu- 
tion which may Be either mended or improved — But it lias 

regular attendance. He voted In the negative against Daniel Carroll on 
the question whether any hut citizens of the United States could bo con- 
suls. On April 1 and 2. 1784, he moved In the unsuccessful affirmative on 
the report on commercial treaties : on May 5, he was appointpd on a com- 
mittee to determine what civil offices may be discontinued, and on Juno 
1 and 2, he voted on questions concerning foreign relations. 

88 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, vi 

Been found very interesting, and even some what affecting, 
and people in General Have Been pleased with that Brotherly 

[One half page missing here.] 
** whereas I Have well served America in the field and Cab- 
inet they expect my assistance in settling their Commercial 
affairs with some European Nations — my station in life, 
Knowledge of Courts, and facility of accompanying those 
Sovereigns Both in their Camps of peace, and in their private 
parties would enable me to introduce to Advantage an Ameri- 
can Consul — it ought to Be immediately settled, and orders 
sent by the Washington 

**the second point is that I do not choose to quit the 
American service — it is the only way I Have to make a kind 
of official Representation in favour of America — independant 
of that Affectionate love for Her which makes me proud of 
Being Among Her Citizens and 

[One half page missing here.] 

**My letters Have acquainted you of the measures 

• • • taken with respect to Madame le Vacher — there is 
very little to Be got — But I am in pursuit of the affair with 
the same eagerness, as if it concerned my own sister — as 
to M. Chace a memorial Has Been Required from Him By the 
Naval Minister 

**As an ardent lover of America I am glad to Hear of tiia 
influence you are said to Have in Congress — as your most 
affectionate friend I shall Be glad whenever you Have an 
opportunity to display your abilities — if Congress do not 
send me any Commands, I shall most certainly embark in the 
spring — if they Have Commands for me, I would Be twice 
Happy to Receive you along with them, and to make with you 
French and European travels. You ought to make them 
charge you with some political commission to Courts in Eur- 
ope and I would like going as a volunteer with you. • • 
** family and friends — Most affectionately I am for • • • 

* * Lafayette 
*'the Washington will probably arrive at the end of January 

— Your answers may Be Here at the end of March — for, 
if I am to go, I would like embarking for America in April 

— You may as soon as you Receive this write me By several 
opportunities in such a way as I will easily understand, altho' 
post oflSces will not understand it — By the way when I think 
of it, you ought to advise Congress voting for the general's 

1784-1786] qf James McHenry 89 

statue which Has not yet Been ordered — should Mr. Greene 
Be entitled to some Honour of the kindt adieu my dear 

The Maryland legislature met on November 1, 1784, and 
on December 2nd, elected McHenry as delegate to congress and 
granted the delegates a per diem allowance of £3 currency, 
while in congress and on the way to or from that body. Mc- 
Henry did not come to Annapolis until December 8, and was 
absent from the 18th to the 21st. The early part of the session 
was largely occupied with consideration of Samuel Chase's 
conduct, as agent in connection with the Maryland Stock in 
the Bank of England. McHenry went to congress about Janu- 
ary, and does not seem to have returned to Annapolis during 
the session. ^ 

The condition of federal affairs steadily grew more criti- 
cal and the point of view of the Federalists may be gained 
from a letter sent McHenry by Jenifer at Annapolis on Feb- 
ruary 17, 1785. 
"'Dear Sir. 

**I shall be very much obliged to you to forward the 
enclosed letters by the March Packet — In consequence of a 
late information from Congress to our Executive, it seems to 
be the opinion of some members that the Assembly should be 
called immediately. I am fearful that such a measure if 
adopted would not be productive of the expected consequence, 
i. ql, the raising an immediate supply of money, whether this 
measure be adopted or not, I shall hasten the remittance of 
every shilling that comes into the Treasury from the funds 
appropriated to Congress which may soon amount to 80.000 
dollars, from arrearages, as to this year's appropriations they 
will not be paid into the Treasury till midsummer & Novem- 
ber, but when collected will be considerable as % th of the 
duties of 2 p. ct. on commerce besides those on enumerated 
estates & 7 p. ct. upon property are to be remitted to Con- 

*'But my friend Requisitions will never do; Congress 
must have permanent funds the 5 p. ct. is the most elegibie 

1 In the confederation congress, he Is recorded as having voted with 
the minority to let Franklin come home when a succoasor was appointed 
on January 21, 1785; to postpone fixing a term to the continuance of 
foreign ministers in office and, for the three years' term of foreign min- 
isters proposed by Pinckney on February 17. He nominated W. S. Smith 
as secretarj' of legation to Great Britain on March, and reported on the 
ceremonial for the reception of Gardoqui, the Spanish minister, on June 
17, and on the attempt to secure the free navigation of the Mississippi 
on August 25. On October 27, he voted for the ordinance of consuls. 

90 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. vi 

methojd in my opinion that can be adopted for the purpose 
of raising a revenue. Cannot Rhode Island be brought in the 
measure. Is that state to frustrate so salutary a measure, 
is her veto to be of equal force with that of a tribune of Anct. 
Rome. If this state should continue to be inflexible, I fear 
there must be a new convention especially appointed by all 
the states to encrease the powers of Congress, or it will be 
obliged from necessity to assume them, as Politicial bodies 
have heretofore generally done. 

"Inform me how your friends stand, by my calculation 
if you received the money for my order on Mr Mclaughlin, 
you would have received an allowance to the 1st of April. I 
have wrote to Messers Willing Morris & Swanwick to supply 
you from that time with £90 per month you possibly may be 
in want before that time if you should inform me and I shall 
remit money for this purpose immediately in haste. 

**I am with great respect 
dear Sir 

**Your obedt. servt. 
'*Danl. op St Thos. Jenifer" 
. On August 14, 1785, McHenry wrote Washington from 
New York, ^ on the proposed federal regulation of commerce 
and incidentally mentioned that Lafayette is writing by every 
packet and frequently tells congress news which they get 
from no other quarter. Congress is about to recommend that , 
they be given power to regulate interstate and foreign trade 
by vote of nine states, that they may retaliate for heavy for- 
eign duties. The eastern states. New York and Pennsyl- 
vania, seem anxious for this, but the southern states oppose 
and McHenry joins them, fearing that the eastern states 
wish to monopolize the carrying trade. Will not the southern 
states have fewer purchasers if only American vessels can 
transport exports, and will not the price of foreign goods be 
higher, if fewer of them are imported? When the South is 
as well peopled as the eastern states, naval defense will be 
easily established, or will come of itself without restraint. 
Till then **it would seem to be good policy in the Southern 
States to encourage the number of buyers for what they have 
to sell & the number of importers of those articles they must 
buy." Why do we want a navy or navigation actst When 
Great Britain took them up, she was well peopled and had 
much shipping. For a compromise, McHenry suggests a nav- 

1 Sparks, Ix, SOl. 

1784-1786] qf James McHenry 91 

igation act framed so that its operation would, gradually and 
slowly, tend to augment the seamen and shipping of the States, 
without sensibly wounding in its progress the interests of any 
state. Then the States could see what they had to give and 
could repeal the law, if inconvenient. 

Washington answers, on August 22, in a strong national 
letter : ^ 

**A8 I have ever been a friend to adequate powers in 
Congress, without which it is evident to me we never shall 
establish a national character or be considered on a respectable 
footing by the powers of Europe, I am sorry I cannot agree 
with you in sentiment not to enlarge them for the regula- 
tion of commerce • • • . Your argument against it, 
principally that some States may be more benefitted than 
others by a commercial regulation, applies to every matter of 
general utility • • • We are either a United people 
under one head & for federal purposes, or we are 13 inde- 
pendent sovereignties, eternally counteracting each other. If 
the former, whatever such a majority of the States as the 
Constitution requires conceives to be for the benefit of the 
wholCy should in my humble opinion, be submitted to by the 
minority.'* If the southern states were always represented 
in congress and acted together, there would be no danger of 
the passage of measures prejudicial to their interest. * ' I can 
forsee no evil greater than disunion, than those unreasonable 
jealousies (I say unreasonable) because I would have a proper 
jealousy always awake & the United States always upon the 
watch to prevent individual States from infracting the Con- 
stitution wath impunity, which are continually poisoning our 
minds & filling themselves with imaginary evils to the pre- 
vention of real ones. " Great Britain needs our trade and will 
only do justice to us, when forced to do so by retaliatory 
measures. Probably the carryinp business will not ** devolve 
wholly upon*' the eastern states, nor ''remain lon^ with 
them, if it should." ** Either Great Britain will depart from 
her present selfish system/' or the southern states **will de- 
vise ways & means to encoura^re seamen for the transportation 
of their own produce, or for the eneourapement of manufac- 
tures, but, admitting the contrary, if the Union is considered 
as permanent &, on this I presume all superstructures are 

1 Ford, X, 490; Sparks. Ix, 121. Both print tho letter carelessly. 
From a careful comparl.son of the original of the letters of Washington 
to McHenry, there seems little reason for Ford to be praised ovj^r Sparks 
as an editor. He is little more careful and often merely builds on 
Sparks's foundation. 

92 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. vi 

built, had we not better encourage seamen among ourselves 
with less imports, than divide it with foreigners &, by in- 
creasing them, ruin our merchants & greatly injure tiie mass 
of our citizens.** Without federal commercial power we 
stand ''in a ridiculous point of view, in the eyes of ttie nations 
of the earth ; with whom we are attempting to enter into com- 
mercial treaties, without the means of carrying them into 
effect, & who must see & feel that the Union, or the States 
individually, are sovereigns, as it best suits their purposes. 
In a word, that we are a nation to day & 13 tomorrow — Who 
will treat with us on such terms?" 

On November 17, 1785, the Maryland legislature met 
again, but McHenrj^ does not seem to have been present at 
the session. He was ineligible for re-election to congress, in 
which body his term consequently ended in December. 

On January 7, 1786, McHenry resigned his seat in the 
senate, because of **my long absence from my own affairs 
& their absolutely demanding my presence." Of his life dur- 
ing this year we know almost nothing, save that he was elected 
a member of the American Philosophical Society on January 
20, though we have two pleasant letters from Washington to 
him on private matters. 

** Mount Vernon. 

**My dear Sir, 

*'I met your favor of the 5th. in Alexandria yesterday. 
To day I dispatch one of my Overseers and two Servants for 
the Jack and Mules which are arrived at Baltimore. The 
Pheasants & Partridge, I pray you to procure a passage for 
them by water, in the Packet. To bring them by land would 
be troublesome, & might perhaps be dangerous for them. 

''Be so good as to let me know the expence of these and 
the cost of their detention in Baltimore. It shall be imme- 
diately be paid, with many thanks to you, for your obliging 
attention to the business. — 

"If you have any particular information from my good 
friend the Marquis de la Fayette, respecting the above thmgs, 
I shall be obliged to you for it; his letter to me takes • • 
• • • two of them, altho I had for some time expected one 
Jack and two she ase^^s through his medium — but by no 
means as a present. — 

"One of the Servants, who accompany my Overseer, be- 
longs to the Honble William Drayton of Charleston So Ca. 
This Gentm spent a day or two here on his return from New 

1784-1786] qf James McHenry 98 

Yorky and at Dumfries (proceeding on) the above fellow 
ran away from him & came here. He goes to Baltimore 
under the impression of assisting in bringing the Jack & 
Mules home, but the real design of sending him there is to 
have him shipped for Charleston, if the Packet (which I am 
informed is regularly established between that place & Balti- 
more) or any other vessel is on the point of Sailing for the 
former. — 

''Mr. Drayton will readily pay the Captn. for his passage, 
and the other incidental expences, having intimated lliis in a 
letter to my Nephew ; but if any doubt is entertained of it, I 
will see it done. — 

** Under this rela- • • • • • Circumstances at- 
tending • • • I would beg of you, • • • (if an op- 
portunity presents) to have him shipped, & previously secured. 
The fellow pretends a willingnes to return to his Master, but 
I think it would be unsafe to trust to this, especially as he 
has discovered an inclination to get back to Philadelphia 
(with a view he says of taking passage from thence) 

''Why will you not make a small excursion to see an 
old acquaintance. It is unnecessary I hope to assure you of 
the pleasure it would give. 

"Yr. Obedt & aflfect & Hble Serv. 
"Go. Washington, 

"P. S. 

"Engage the Master of the 

Packet Boat to drop the Birds at this place 

as he passes by — otherwise I shall have 

to send to Alexandria for them. — " 

"Mount Vernon 29th, Novr 1786. 
"Dear Sir, 

"Your letter of the 18th. by the Packet, & 19th. by the 
Post, are both at hand — The Birds were landed yesterday. 
A Partridge died on the passage. — 

' * If Monsr. Campion 's information is to be depended on, 
he had no letter from the Marquis de la Fayette or any other 
characters in Prance for me; nothing confidential therefore 
could have been disclosed by the loss of his pocket book, unless 
it was deposited in your letter. — 

"His acct. is that he was ordered to repair to L 'Orient 
with the Asses & Birds, from whence he & they were to be 
shipped by the messrs Baraud. That the Marquis told him. 

94 Life and Correspondence [Chap, vi 

letters should follow, and he supposes they will arrive in the 
French Packet. — 

"By Monsr. Campion^ I send the guinea you paid for 
his board; if there are any charges yet behind, I wish to be 
informed of them that they may be immediately paid. 

**My sincere thanks are due to you, My dear Sir, for 
your kind attention to this business. Having received no 
intimation at, or previous to the arrival of Monsr Campion 
respecting the light in which he ought to be viewed, I thought 
it best to be on the safe side, and therefore took him to my 
table, where he has conducted himself with modesty & pro- 

** Under full conviction that the Asses were never in- 
tended as a present, and that the Chinese Pheasants (instead 
of costing 16 Gus [t] a pair as the Baltimore para- 
graphist has anounced to the public) came from the Kings 
Aviary as a present to the Marquis for me (for so says Monsr. 
Campion) I am concerned that such information should have 
been exhibited in a public gazette as appeared in the B. Poet, 
for it may be viewed as contrivance to bespeak, what I should 
industriously have endeavoured to avoid, had I supposed it 
was so meant — A present — Was this publication confined 
to Maryland, or over the United States, there would not be 
so much in it ; but as these paragraphs for want of other mat- 
ter to fill a Paper, are handed from one to another, and ulti- 
mately get into the British & French Gazettes; the Marquis 
will ent ertain a queer idea of it, if nothing more is meant 

1 Mount Vernon May 8th. 1788. 

Dear Sir, 

To a letter which I wrote to you somedays ago, I begr leave to refer 
you. I congrratulate with you on the happy declnlon of your Oonvention; 
havlngr no doubt of its weight on those States which are to follow. 

In a letter (just received) from Colo. Spaight of North Carolina he 
Informs me of his having sent a small bag of peas to your care for me. 
Have you received them? If so be so good as to forward them by the 
stage (the cost of which I will pay; without dispatch they will oome too 
late) to Alexandria. 

A Monsr. Campion who brought oveiv my Asses, says he is In dlstresB* 
and has written to me for money. Pray what is his character in Baltimore 
and what has he been employed about this year and half. In that placet 
Though he had no demand upon me for the service he performed, yet I 
gave him a sum of money as an acknowledgment of my sense of the proper 
discharge of the trust reposed in him. He told me at that time (nil 
was twelve months) that he should spend the winter in Baltimore ft sail 
for France in the Spring. In the spring (as I was going to Phlla) he 
told me he should sail in the Fall. In the fall, as I returned thence, he 
assured me he should sail in a fortnight Since which I have heard noth- 
ing from or of him till now, hie application to me for money. Tour 
answer (soon) to this part of my letter will t>e very acceptable to 

Dear Sir 
Yr. Most Obedt ft Affect Servt. 
Ck>. Wabhinqton. 

To James McHenry 

1784-17861 qf James McHenry 95 

than what was promised, & expected — that is — to be the 
instrument through the medium of Adm. de Suffran (Gk)vr. 
of the Island of Malta or head of the order) of procuring & 
forwarding them from that place to me. That he should 
have paid all the expences which attended the getting, an<l 
shipping them is beyond a doubt — It could not well be 
otherwise, as their procuration was a doubtful essay. As I 
have not however received a single line respecting these ani- 
mals, I do not undertake to contradict the report, but think the 
evidence of it — the cost &c appears to have been too slight 
to hand it in such a dress to the public. — 

*'With sincere esteem & regard 
**I am — Dear sir 
'*Yr most obedt & 
** affect Servant 

**Go. Washington.'' 
McHenry was keenly interested in the discussion as to 
whether the constitution of Maryland permitted the people 
to instruct the legislature. Chase held that it did; but Mc- 
Henry took the other side, in an article written February 20, 
1787, and published in the American Museum ^ over a year 
later. He maintained that sovereignty is lodged in the law 
enacting power, that is, for Maryland, in the Greneral As- 
sembly. The constitutional compact does not allow all to 
participate in the government and those who may participate 
by frequent elections have an opportunity to change the ** trus- 
tees of the sovereignty." *'This organization fixes the de- 
liberative power with the sovereignty and the elective with the 
people." To prevent **the abuse of this deliberative power 
are the constitutional provisions and the right to amend the 
constitution and to revolt. One of the privileges of the peo- 
ple is that to petition" and no one ever stipulates for an in- 
ferior privilege and expects to enjoy a superior, one ** which 
the right to instruct would be. If the relation of representa- 
tive to constituent is that of principal and deputy, the former 
would be subject to recall by the people, which he is not." 
The right to instruct the sovereignty places the deliberative 
power in the people and brings everything back to that chaos 
which existed before the compact. Even if the right of in- 
struction is admitted, who shall exercise the power, shall non- 
voters, or even voters who are not qualified for seats in the 
assembly? If so, **then are men, whom the compact disquali- 

1 Am. Museum, iv, 332. 

96 Ltfe and CorreqKmdence [Chap, vi 

fies from exercising the sovereignty, greater than the sover- 
eignty." Further^ ''a government by instmction is a govern- 
ment never ending still beginning, in which everything fluo- 
tuateSy in which nothing is stable.'* Much to be preferred 
to the right to instruct is the existing right to discontinue^ 
which gives the people efficient control over the ddib^rativd 

About this time, McHenry obtained the greatest privil^p^ 
of his life, by being elected a member from Maryland of the 
eonvention which met at Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 
and drafted the United States constitution. 


! if 




McHENRY was the only one of those first elected as 
delegates from Mary'land to the Philadelphia conven- 
tion who accepted the position. John B. Cutting^ 
wrote Jefferson, in July, 1788, that Charles Carroll and 
Thomas Johnson, the first choice, ** declined quitting Mary- 
land, even upon the important business of new framing the 
National government, Mr. Chase having just before menaced 
the senate for rejecting an emission of paper money and ap- 
pealed to the people against them. They had joined in that 
general issue and could not venture to relinquish, to a violent 
and headstrong party, their active influence in the senate, as 
well as in the lower house, at the very moment when it was so 
essentially needed to stem the torrent of the populace and for 
the paper. Those gentlemen, therefore, remained at home, 
convinced their fellow citizens of their superior rectitude and 
wisdom, and defeated that favorite measure of Mr. Chase." 
By later elections ^ there were associated with McHenry, Dan- 
iel Carroll and Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, who were na- 
tionalist in their tendencies, and John Francis Mercer and 
Luther Martin, who were so opposed to a strong federal gov- 
ernment that they refused to sign the constitution and strove 
to prevent Maryland's ratification of the document. Between 
these two extremes, McHenry took a middle ground, though 
his own views were not strongly in favor of much centraliza- 
tion of power. In the convention he was seldom heard ^ and 
an absence of two months, on account of his brother's ill 
health, deprived him of the opportunity of being present dur- 

1 Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc. (2nd SpHps). xvli, 503: Doc. Hist. Const., Iv, 
770. McHenry's Journal is printed in Am. Hist. Rev., xi, 595. 

2 May 22, 1787, after the date of the convention's call. 

3 Pierce's Notes. Am. Hist. Rev., 111. 3.3f>. "Mr. McHenry was bred a 
physician, but he afterwards turned SoldUr and acted as Aid to Genl. 
Washington and the Marquis de la Fayette. He is a man of Specious 
talents w^ith nothing: of genlous to improve them. As a politician there 
Ik nothing remarkable in him, nor has he any of the graces of the Orator. 
He is however, a very respectable young Gentleman, and deserves the 
honor which his country has bestowed on him. Mr. McHenry is about 
32 years of age." 

08 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap, vii 

ing a large part of the sessions. ^ Yet several portions of 
the constitution owe their present form to McHenry's efforts 
and he may well be taken as a type of the average member of 
the convention — one of those useful men who made it possible 
by their action to have a **more perfect union." While at 
Philadelphia he kept a diary for the only time in his life, so 
far as I know, and its pages show his influence in forming 
some of the clauses regarding commerce and also give a clearer 
picture than is elsewhere found of the conferences between 
members from the same state which must have taken place 
almost daily between the sessions of the convention. 

Mr. McHenry 's correspondence with his wife during the 
sessions of the convention is disappointing, in that it gives 
no information, except as to personal and family affairs. On 
his way to Philadelphia he wrote her: 

**When there is a handsome woman and opium to be had, 
says a Turkish maxim, one never thinks of one's wife. Ther»3 
are at this instant two very handsome girls chattering about 
sweet hearts in the next room, and wine before me, which 
you know is as good as opium, and yet I could not be at rest 
till I got the materials that enable me to contradict the Turk. 
That people, I find, ought not, my Peggy, be considered as 
judges of what constitutes happiness — or they have no good 
wives in their country. But why am I at Bush townt I 
will tell you. A poor devil of a traveller who had his sulky 
dashed to pieces against a stump, happened to want assistance 
which I forsooth most courteously giving did not arrive at this 
place till the evening was shut in, and some rain had begun 
to fall — so that I was fain to take up my lodging for the 
night twelve miles short of the Ferry. 

**This is my little history and now I have one question 
to ask you. Why is it, that I who love you should wish, that 
I could have got twelve miles further from you! 

**Qood night and God bless you, prays your 

''James McHenry** 

Shortly after the opening of the convention he wrote 

'^Philadelphia Sunday 27 May 1787. 
"I would not for ten thousand pounds be the wretched 
husband who can leave home without regret and return to it 

1 He seems to have been paid for seventy-two days attendance at the 
rate of thlrty-flve shillings per day by the state, which record would 
show that he was paid whether present or not. The assembly had voted 
to pay the delegates as delegates in congress were paid. 

1787-1788] qf James McHenry 99 

without pleasure. My impatience for the arrival of your let- 
ters, and the delight they brought with them will be a new 
proof that you still retain over my heart the most interesting 
influence a woman can possess. What shall we do to perpet- 
uate this influence? 

"If we take a survey of the marriage state we shall find 
this influence strongest in the first years, after which, if not 
guarded with great care, it gradually diminishes and at length 
disappears, leaving in its room indifference or disgust. When 
the novelty of love ceases and the cares of a family succeed, 
it is full time for the parties to attend minutely to every 
thing which can render home a place of tranquility. The>' 
may have studied each others character before marriage, but, 
generally speaking, it is now only that they begin to know 
each other and, if they do not make a proper use of this knowl- 
edge, they have no just cause to complain of their mutual 
unhappiness. Many precepts have been administered as nec- 
essary at this crisis, but they may be all comprehended in 
one. What the husband does not like to hear or see he should 
hear or see, only when he can interfere with propriety and to 
advantage ; and what his circumstances will not permit him to 
alter or amend is to be endured without murmuring, unless 
it is of such a nature as to affect the source of felicity, when 
sympathy may abate its force or participation render it less 
oppressive. The same rule applies to the husband who will 
avoid complaints which can only distress, unless where they 
are required by the laws of love and conjugal confidence. As 
yet we are in the first stage of marriage and may think we 
do not stand in need of these precepts : but while we are dear 
to each other it may not be improfitable to contemplate the 
rocks upon which so much human happiness has been ship- 

Two days later he wrote her again: 

**We are beginning to enter seriously upon the business 
of the convention, so that I shall have but little leisure to give 
to my Peggy, except to the reading of your letters. You are 
all well, and here we are all well. Adieu affectionately" 

His notes indicate that he was in Philadelphia as early 
as the 14th of May, but he did not appear in the convention 
until May 28, probably awaiting for some of his Maryland 
colleagues. The first of these, Jenifer, did not arrive until June 2. 

On the 25th of May, the convention had organized by 
the election on the part of the seven states then represented, 

100 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap, vii 

as president of the man whom McHenry always knew as 
**the General." In addition to Washington, McHenry found 
his intimate friend Hamilton among the members. McHenry 
recorded fully Edmund Randolph's speech and the resolu- 
tions introduced by him, but before the work of preparing 
the constitution had more than begun, an ** express from 
home,'* with the news that his ** brother lay dangerously sick," 
caused him to set **out immediately" for Baltimore. 

As John McHenry grew better, it was possible for James 
McHenry to leave Baltimore on August 2. Arriving at Phil- 
adelphia two days later, he found the committee which was 
drafting the constitution ready to report and Dunlop, the 
printer, striking off copies of the report for the members. On 
the 6th, the report was brought in by Rutledge and the con- 
vention adjourned, **to give the members an opportunity for 
consideration." McHenry at once proposed to the Maryland 
delegates that they hold a conference and prepare to **act in 
unison." At Carroll's lodgings that afternoon, McHenry 
** repeated the object of our meeting" and proposed that "we 
should take the report up by paragraphs and give our opin- 
ions thereon." All five of the delegates were present and 
Mercer at once asked McHenry whether he thought Mary- 
land would embrace such a system. **I do not know," was 
the answer, but **I presume the people would not object to 
a wise system." Mercer then asked the others their opinion. 
Martin said the people would not accept it. **That he was 
against the system, that a compromise only had enabled its 
abettors to bring it in its present stage, that had Mr. Jenifer 
voted with him, things would have taken a different turn. 
Mr. Jenifer said he voted with him, till he saw it was in vain 
to oppose its progress." Fearing the members would indulge 
in personal controversy, McHenry ** begged the gentlemen to 
observe some order to enable us to do the business we had 
convened upon. I wished that we could be unanimous and 
would make a proposition to effect it. I would join the 
deputation, in bringing in a motion to postpone the report, to 
try the affections of the house to an amendment of the 
confederation, without altering the sovereignty of suffrage, 
which failing, we should then agree to render the S3rBtem 
reported as perfect as we could. In the mean whfle, to 
consider our motion to fail and proceed to confer upon the 
report, agreeably to the intention of our meeting, i. e. That 
we should now and, at our future meetings, alter the report 

1787-1788] qf James McHenry 101 

to our own judgement, to be able to appear unanimous, in 
case our motion failed." 

Carroll could not agree to this proposition, because he 
did not think **the confederation could be amended to answer 
its intentions. ' ' McHenry said he * * thought it was susceptible 
of a revision, which would sufficiently invigorate it for the 
exigencies of the times." Mercer and Jenifer thought other- 
wise and so McHenry 's conciliatory resolution was rejected. 
Martin now stated that he was against having two branches 
of the congress, against popular elections of representatives, 
and that **he wished to see the States* Governments rendered 
capable of the most vigorous exertions, and so knit together 
by a confederation as to act together on nation^ emergencies." 

McHenry found that they could codji^^ no conclusions 
and recommended that a second meetifigof the delegation be 
held on the morrow, stating, ** unless we could appear in the 
convention with some degree of unanimity, it would be unnec- 
essary to remain in it, sacrificing time & money, without 
being able to render any service." All agreed to this, except 
Martin, who said he was going to New York for a few days. 

Feeling it of ''importance to know & to fix the opinions 
of my colleagues, on the most consequential articles of the new 
system," McHenry prepared four queries as follows: (1) 
Art iv. Sec. 5. **Will you use your best endeavours to obtain 
for the Senate an equal authority over money bills with 
the House of Representatives?" (2) Art xii. Sec. 6. *'Wili 
yon use your best endeavours to have it made a part of the 
system that no navigation act shall be passed without the 
assent of two thirds of the representation from each State?" 
(3) **In case these alterations cannot be obtained will you give 
your assent to the 5 section of the iv. article and 6 section of 
the xii. article as they stand in the report? (In other words 
will you accept a greater authority over money bills in the 
House of Representatives and allow a majority of the mem- 
bers of Congress to pass a navigation act?) " (4) *' Will you also 
(in case these alterations are not obtained) agree that the 
ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be suffi- 
cient for organizing the new constitution?" 

During the interview, McHenry noticed Mercer make 
out a list of the members of the convention and mark for and 
against, opposite most of the names. This led McHenry to 
ask, carelessly, **what question occasioned your being so 
particular?" At this, Mercer said laughingly, *'that it was 

102 U^e and Correspondence [Chap, vii 

no question, but that those marked with a for were for a 
king." ^ McHenry then asked, ''how he knew that^" to which 
he said : ''No matter, the thing is so," and permitted McHenry 
to copy the list Martin saw this list and asked what it was 
and learning Mercer's account, induced McHenry to let him 
copy it also. 

The next morning; McHenry showed his propositions to 
Carroll, Jenifer and Mercer in the convention and ''they said, 
in general terms, that they believed they should accord" with 
them. At five o'clock that afternoon, McHenry went to 
Carroll's lodgings and, finding him alone, began to discuss 
the four queries. Carroll agreed with McHenry that "the 
deputation should oppose a resolute face" to the provision, 
lodging in the House of Representatives the "sole right of 
raising and appropriating money upon which the Senate had 
only a negative," as it "gave the former branch an inordinate 
power in the constitution, which must end in its destruction. 
The article should be rejected and its tendency was clear. 
Without equal powers, the houses were not an equal check upon 
each other." Carroll also agreed, that the Maryland delegates 
should, in no event, consent to the passage of navigation laws 
by a mere quorum of the houses, as that would place the 
"dearest interest of trade" under the control of four states, 
or of seventeen members in one branch and eight in the other. 
The powers to regulate commerce and lay taxes were so great 
that McHenry recorded that "we almost shuddered at the 
fate of the commerce of Maryland, should we be unable to 
make any change in this extraordinary power. We agreed 
that our deputation ought never to assent to this article in 
its present form, or without obtaining such a provision as I 
proposed." As to the ratification of the constitution by nine 
states, McHenry said: "We had taken an oath to support 
our State constitution and frame of government. We had been 
empowered by a legislature, legally constituted, to revise the 
confederation and fit it for the exigencies of government and 
preservation of the union. Could we do this business in a 
manner contrary to our constitution t I feared we could not ; 
if we relinquished any of the rights or powers of our govern- 
ment to the United States of America, we could no otherwise 
agree to that relinquishment, than in the mode our constitu- 
tion prescribed for making changes or alterations in it." Car- 
roll answered that he doubted the propriety of the article on 

1 Carroll's name was on this list. 

1787-1788] qf James McHenry 108 

ratifications, **afi it respected Maryland, but he hoped we 
should be able to get over this difficulty." Jenifer now came 
in and ''agreed to act in unison" with the others, though 
McHenry thought he ** seemed to have rather vague ideas of 
the mischief of the system, as it stood in the report." 

Wishing to impress Jenifer with the necessity of support- 
ing **them, McHenry touched upon some popular points," sug- 
gesting **11ie unfavourable impression" the new government 
** would make upon the people on account of its expense An 
army and navy was to be raised and supported, expensive 
courts of judicature to be maintained and a princely president 
to be provided for. That it was plain that the revenue for 
these purposes was to be chiefly drawn from commerce. That 
Maryland would have this resource taken from her without the 
expenses of her own government being lessened. That what 
would be raised from her commerce and by indirect taxation 
would far exceed the proportion she would be called upon to 
pay under the present confederation. An increase of taxes, 
and a decrease in the objects of taxation, as they respected a 
revenue for the State, would not prove very palatable to our 
people, who might think that the whole objects of taxation 
were hardly sufficient to discharge the State's obligations." 

While McHenry was speaking, M[ercer **came in and said 
he would go with the deputation on the points in question. 
He would wish to be understood, that he did not like the 
system, that it was weak. That he would produce a better one, 
since the convention had undertaken to go radically to work, 
that perhaps he would not be supported by any one, but, if 
he was not, he would go with the stream." 

It is curious to see McHenry 's objections, and the fact 
that he was closely connected with a mercantile establishment 
makes his objections more interesting. That so ^ood a lover 
of the Union as he should oppose so stron^rly the grant of 
extensive powei*s to the central provernment shows clearly that 
the constitution was ** wrung from the grinding necessities 
of a reluctant people." 

On August 8, the provision giving the sole power of 
raising and appropriating money to the house of represen- 
tatives was expunged and, on a reconsideration of the question 
on the 13th, McHenry joined Carroll, in stating that the most 
ingenious men in Maryland are puzzled to define money bills 
and added an instance of extraordinary subterfuge, from his 

104 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap, vii 

experience in the state senate, to get rid of the apparent force 
of the constitution. ^ 

We next hear of McHenry , as a member of the committeeon 
the assumption of state debts,' appointed on August 18. Three 
days later/ he showed his fear of granting too much taxing pow- 
er to the federal government, by seconding Martin's motion that 
no direct tax be laid until a requisition on the state has been 
made and failed. On the same day, he stated that he con- 
ceived an embargo might be laid under the war pow^.^ 

The next day, ^ he joined with Gerry in proposing that 
congress be forbidden to pass a bill of attainder or any ex 
post facto law. The Maryland delegation, on the same day, 
agreed to bring forward some restrictive clauses drawn by 
Martin on the federal power to regulate commerce. These 
amendments^ were brought in by the delegation on August 
25, and provided that no preference should be given to any 
state in duties, nor should vessels in the coasting trade be 
obliged to enter or clear, and that congress could establish 
no new ports of entry unless the states failed to do so after 
application made by congress. 

On the 23d of August McHenry wrote his wife: 
"My dear Peggy 

**It is altogether uncertain when the convention will 
rise ; but it is likely to be about three weeks hence. As soon 
as this happens, it will be necessary for me to go to New Ark 
in Jersey to settle an account with a Mr. Mackay which may 
take up eight days more, so that it may be five weeks before 
my return. This, you may be assured, excites no one com- 
fortable sensation ; yet when I cast my eyes homeward ; when 
I venture to anticipate our future prosx)ects; my heart tells 
me that my dear Peggy will condense in one week as much 
happiness as to countervail the pains of two months absence/* 

On the 27th, he joined with Madison to tiy to prevent 
an increase ^ as well as a diminution in the salaries of judges. 
On the 30th, McHenry tried in vain to have the commercial 
questions considered^ "before the system is got through." 
On the following day, the convention finally voted to have the 

1 Doc. Hist. Const, iil, 522. Madison's Notes. 

2 Doc. Hist. Const, 111, 668. ^ ^ „ . ^ ^, 

5 Doc. Hist Const, HI. 678. Jenifer and CarroU voted Na Ifarott 

4 Doa Hist Const, HI. 681. 

6 Doc. Hist Const, HI, 692. 
4 Doc. Hist Const, HI. 619. 

7 Doc. Hist Const. Ill, 626. 
BDoc. Hist Const, 111, 666. 


1 Doc. Hiat Const, 111, 661. 


, 1 

qf James McHenry 105 j. * 




institution go into effect, when ratified by nine states. > 

Tashington was in favor of as small a number as seven and ^ 

Maryland was alone in striving for thirteen. In the debate, 

cHenry advanced his point that the officers of government in A §.] 

aryland were under oath to follow ''the mode of alteration 

rescribed by" the state constitution. ^ \ 

The same day, however, the Maryland men were gratified 
r the adoption of part of their commercial clauses, which ) 

•evented preference of any state and freed the coasting \ 

ade. In the debate, McHenry remarked that the clause j 

Duld not ''screen a vessel from being obliged to take an \ 

Beer on board as security for due entry," and so avoid ■ 

niggling of goods into states below the point of entry, as ^ 

the case of vessels bound for Philadelphia. We hear no 
ore from McHenry on the floor of the convention until ^ 

^ptember 12, when he voted, vainly, to require three-fourths 
• the houses to override the president's veto. ■ 

During this time, however, he was not idle but employed 
mself , especially in trying to amend the commercial clauses. 
a September 4, he wrote in his note book: ''Upon looking 
"er the constitution it does not appear that the national 
gislature can erect lighthouses or dean out or preserve the 
ivigation of harbours. This expense ought to be borne by 
mmerce, of course, by the general treasury, into which all 
e revenue of commerce must come. 

"Is it proper to declare all the navigable waters or rivers 
^ within the U. S. common highways T Perhaps a power to 

strain any State from demanding tribute from citizens of ^ \ 

LOther State in such cases is comprehended in the power to 
golate trade between State and State. 

"This is be further considered and a motion to be made 
I the light house &c. tomorrow. ' ' The morrow was consumed 
r discussion of the election of president, but, on the 6th, 
cHenry spoke to (Jouveneur Morris, Fitzsimmons, and Gtor- 
un, about the insertion of a "power in the confederation 
tabling the legislature to erect piers for protection of ship- 
ng in winter & to preserve the navigation of harbours." 
orham opposed, the others favored this and Morris thought 
might be done under the power to "provide for the common 
ifence and general welfare." Whereupon McHenry remarked, 
[f this comprehends such a power, it goes to authorize the 
^slature to grant exclusive privileges to trading companies, 


' I 

- * 

i: ■ 

! : 

i • 



106 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. vii 

etc." The commercial question still disturbed the Maryland 
men and on Saturday, September 8, they gave notice that they 
had a proposition of much importance to bring forward. This 
was brought forward on the 15th ; but, meantime, the commit- 
tee on style had reported the constitution and McHenry, 
making a careful study of the draft on the ISth, found the 
Maryland propositions as to preference of one state over 
another had been overlooked and secured their insertion in 
the proper place. 

Maryland's new proposition, ^ introduced by McHenry 
and seconded by Carroll, was that **no State shall be prohib- 
ited from laying such duties of tonnage, as may be siUSScient 
for improving their harbours & keeping up lights, but all 
acts laying such duties shall be subject to the approbation or 
repeal of Congress." Mason joined the Marylanders in advo- 
cating their proposition, because the '' situation of the Chesar 
peake peculiarly required expenses of this sort," and the 
proposition was carried with but slight amendment, by a vote 
of six states to four, with Connecticut divided. 

Although the two-thirds majority for the passage of 
navigation acts was defeated on the same day, Maryland had 
gained so much of her desires, that Jenifer felt sure the state 
would accept the constitution. When Martin said to him, 
**ni be hanged if ever the people of Maryland agree to it," 
Jenifer quickly replied: **Then I advise you to stay in 
Philadelphia, lest you be hanged." 

On Sunday, September 9, 1787, McHenry looked forward 
to the close of the convention in a letter to his wife : 

** After all the researches of ambition and curiosity, it is 
only, my dear Peggy, in the bosom of one's family where man 
is bom to find real enjoyment. Whenever we suffer ourselves 
to be allured from this spot, the mind is dissatisfied, till we 
return again to it. We may indeed flatter ourselves that every 
thing ought to be sacrificed to certain popular objects ; but we 
may also distrust a philosophy which is daily contradicted by 
lessons of disgrace or disappointment. Home then possesses 
a power over the human heart that is nearly irresistable when 
aided by the endearments of an affectionate wife and the 
prattle of a tender ofspring. Still however it is true, that a 
home having these attractions may be left : but it will be left 
with regret, and soon rejoined with increased delight, I shall 
soon I hope rejoin this home as it is likely the convention will 

1 Doc. Hist. Const., Ill, 751. 

1787-1788] qf James McHenry 107 

finish their business in about eight days. In the meanwhile, 
I pray God to bless my dear Peggy and our little ones. Adieu 

The next Sunday on the eve of the convention's final ad- 
journment he wrote her : 
•* My dear Peggy . 

** Yesterday evening the plan of government passed by an 
unanimous vote, and to-morrow we shall determine the mode 
to promulge it and then put an end to the existence of the 
convention. This done, I shall have nothing to detain me in 
this place, but the repartition of the effects of the Estate which 
I hope may be accomplished in time to permit me to make use 
of the friday's stage. I must add, however, that I do not 
expect to leave this sooner than f riday, and scarcely then ; but 
I will write you by Wednesday's mail, when, perhaps, I may be 
able to speak with more certainty." 

On Monday, September 17, the engrossed constitution 
was read and slightly amended. ** Doctor Franklin put a 
paper into Mr. Wilson's hand to read, containing his reasons 
for assenting to the constitution. It was plain, insinuating, 
persuasive," wrote McHenry, *'and in any event of the system 
guarded the Doctor's fame." 

Then McHenry signed the constitution with Jenifer and 
Carroll ; Mercer and Martin refusing to do so. 

The injunction of secrecy was taken off, the convention 
adjourned sine die, and the members dined together at the City 
Tavern. McHenry had hesitated about signing and wrote a 
justification of his course in so doing in his note book, as 
foUows : ** Being opposed to many parts of the system I make 
a remark why I siprned it and mean to support it. Istly. I 
distrust my own judgement, especially as it is opposite to the 
opinion of a majority of gentlemen whose abilities and patriot- 
ism are of the first cast; and as I have already frequent 
occasions to be convinced that I have not always judged right. 
2dly. alterations may be obtained, it being provided that the 
concurrence of 2-3 of the congress may at any time introduce 
them. 3dly. Comparing the inconveniences and the evils 
which we labor under and may experience from the present 
confederation, and the little fjood we can expect from it, with 
the possible evils and probable benefits and advanta<res prom- 
ised us by the new system, I am clear that I ought to give it 
all the support in my power. 

*Thilada. 17, Sept. 1787. James McHenry." 

108 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. vii 

On his return, McHenry was nominated as one of Balti- 
more Town 's two delegates to the state ratifying convention ^ 
and was summoned, with the crther delegates to Philadelphia, 
to appear at Annapolis before the house of delegates on 
November 29 and report on their work. Mercer did not come, 
but the other four did and all but Martin supported the new 
document, though the speeches of the three Federalists have 
not been preserved. ^ It is not known whether McHenry 
participated in the fierce war of newspaper articles which 
followed, but Daniel Carroll, Jenifer, and A. C. Hanson seem 
to have led the Federalists and McHenry appears to have taken 
rather a minor part in the campaign. 

At the election, early in April, 1788, McHenry and John 
Coulter, the Federal candidates from Baltimore Town were 
elected, by votes of 962 and 958 respectively, to 385 and 380 
for Samuel Sterrett and Daniel McMechen, the Anti-Feder- 
alists. Cries of fraud were raised by the defeated party, but 
no contest was made in the convention. 

Just before the state convention met, Charles Thomson, 
secretary of congress, wrote McHenry: 

**New York April 19. 1788. 
"Dear Sir. 

''I am sorry I have not been able sooner to answer jroor 

1 See Stelner's Md.'8 Adoption of the Federal Const, Am. Hist Rev., 
V, 2^8-20J. Tench Coxe (Doc Hist Const iv. 62S) wrote ICadison Feb- 
niarr zo, 1788. that he has forwarded Contee a large paOket of pamphleti 
sent him by Judge Hanson who writes "there is no doubt in ICaryland.** 

2 Doc. Hist Const, iv, S78. Samuel Powell wrote WaehingUm from 
Philadelphia on November IS, "In Maryland there Is a secret oppoaitloo 
from a member of the assembly but it is t>elieved that his poUtlos will 
not succeed.** Doc. Hist Const, iv, S96, Bftadison wrote Jefferson on De- 
cember 9, that Bfaryland "has copied" Virginia's example in "opeoJag a 
door for amendments, if the Convention there should chuse to pr o poee 
them. . . A more formidable opposition is likely to be made in Ifarylmad 
than was at first conjectured. Hr. Mercer, it seems, who was a member 
of the convention, though his attendance was but for a short time, is 
beoome an auxiliary to Chase. Johnson, the Carrolls, €k>vr. Lee and inoet 
of the other characters of weight are on the other side. Mr. T. Stone 
died a little before the €k>vemment was promulged." Doc. Hist Cooet, 
iv, 408, Jefferson wrote Carmichael on December 16, "Maryland is tlioaght 
favorable to it; yet it is supposed Chase, A Paoa will oppose It" Do& 
Hist Const, iv, 4S6, Washington on January 10, 1788, wrote KnoK. 
"Maryland must unquestionably, will adopt it;" and on the 18th wrote 
Samuel Powell (Doc. Hist Const., iv, 449) "Of Maryland there can be 
little doubt*' Masa Hist Soc. Proc (2nd Series), xvil, 484. Daniel Car- 
roll wrote on October 28, 1787. that Maryland will probably ratlfr the 
constitution and Johnson has told him he is in favor of so doing. J. Ijee 
and Potts were chosen delegates in congress, with a view principal^, of 
preventing mischief and forwarding this great object Cnase's aitiolei, 
signed "Caution," showed an adverse disposition; but he has bound htai* 
self to propose a state convention and, if chosen as a member of tldfl 
body, will be bound to ratify the proposed plim, "the Impression In Bal- 
timore being BO strong for it" 

1787-1788] qf James McHenry 109 

letter of the 19 of last month. I happened to be in Philadel- 
phia, when it reached New York. It was transmitted to me 
and, when I received it, I was in hopes I should have finished 
my business & returned in a few days. Therefore I immedi- 
ately sent back the letter which was enclosed therein to be 
forwarded by the packet and deferred writing to you until I 
returned. My stay was longer than I expected, and after my 
return here I rec 'd your second letter of the 12 of this montli 
and, at the same time, an account of your election. I hope, not- 
withstanding the choice made by the counties of Anne Arundel, 
Baltimore and Harford, that the elections • • • are such as 
will ensure the adoption of the new constitution, for, unless 
that take place, I confess to you my fears for the safety, 
tranquility and happiness of my country are greater than at 
any period of the late war. The present federal government 
is at the point of expiring. It cannot, I think, survive the 
present year and if it could, experience must have convinced 
every man of reflection that it is altogether inadequate to the 
end designed. What remedy then have we prepared for the 
train of disastrous events which must necessarily ensue from 
a dissolution of the union, what security for our independence, 
peace & happiness as a nation ? 

**You ask me what is the amount of the foreign and do- 
mestic debt. With regard to the foreign debt, I beg leave to re- 
fer you to the enclosed schedule of the French and Dutch loans, 
shewing the periods of their redemption, the annual interest 
payable thereon, & the instalments stipulated for discharging 
the principal. To this, you must add about 150,000 dollars due 
to Spain, 186,427 dollars due to foreign officers also a million of 
florins which, from the failure of the states, congress were 
under the necessity of borrowing last year to defray the 
interest of the dutch loans & other demands in Europe. As 
to the domestic debt, I have to inform you that, by the last 
estimate which the board of treasury laid before congress, the 
amount thereof, as then liquidated, is 28,340,018 dollars. How 
much of this has been actually extinguished by the sale of 
western territory, I cannot certainly say. The tract which 
the Ohio company have in view to purchase is supposed to be 
between 5 & 6 millions of acres, but I believe they have only 
paid 500,000 dollars. The residue of the purchase money is to 
be paid by yearly instalments and the company by their agree- 
ment are at liberty to confine their purchase within the com- 
pass of their abilities & to take no more land than they are able 

110 Li\fe and Corretpondenc [Chap vii 

to pay for. The tract which Symmes has agreed for is said to 
be 2 million acres & Flint Parker & Co. have applied for 
the purchase of 3 million acres ; but I believe neither of these 
have yet paid any money. The quantity of land purchased ft 
laid out into townships, agreeably to the land ordinance, is 
upwards of 700,000 acres but of this there is only about 
100,000 sold. As to the land unsurveyed, the quantity is 
immense and, in my opinion, adequate to the extinquishment 
of the whole debt of the Union, provided we can have a firm, 
stable federal government ; but without this I am apprehensive 
the Union will derive little benefit from it. As to the amount 
of the duties on a 5 per cent import & the expense of the civil 
list under the new government, it is altogether conjectural, 
but of this I am confident that the new government, if estab- 
lished, will from prudential motives encrease the former and 
lessen the latter, as much as possible, and however proper it 
may have been judged to vest it with the power of direct 
taxation, it will not proceed to the exercise of that power 
except in the last necessity. 

''Enclosed I send you the first volume of the federalist 
the second volume is in the press & will, it is exx>ected be out 
in the course of a week or two. As soon as it is published I 
will forward it to you." 

On April 21, the convention met at Annapolis with a 
decided Federal majority^ and, in spite of the protests of 
Samuel Chase and William Paca, who led the minority, 
resolved to adopt the constitution. Amendments to the con- 
stitution were referred to a committee of thirteen, on which 
McHenry served, and after considering them, the committee 
voted eight to five, McHenry being in the majority, that there 
be no amendments reported to the convention, but that the 
constitution be ratified unconditionally without amendment. 
This advice was accepted and there was no danger that the 
cause of federalism in Virginia should be injured by the 
recommendation of such amendments, as McHenry wrote to 
Washington he had feared. * 

McHenry 's letter, dated April 20, stated that while pres- 
ent appearances in Maryland are fiattering, he thinks that the 

1 McHenry came on April 22. S«e JeJnlfer to Waahtnffton April 15, 
Doc. Hist. Const., iv, 680. Shippen to Jefferson April 22. Doc Hist ConsL, 
fv, 586. Washlniirton to Jenifer, Doc. Hist. Const, Iv. 696. Smallwood to 
t>resldent of Conerress, Doc. Hist Const, Iv, 604. Griffin to Madison. Doc. 
Hist Const, iv, 609. 

2 Bancroft Hist, of Const, 11, 282. See Nicholas's letter of April S 
to Madison, Doc. Hist Const, iv, 551. and of May 9. Doc Hist Const, tv; 

1787-1788] qf James McHenry 111 

adjournment without ratifying the constitution would be 
equivalent to rejection, both there and in Virginia, and asked 
Washington how matters were in Virginia and that he give his 
sentiments, which may be useful. Washington replied as 
follows : 

'Mount Vernon 27th. April 1788. 

*'Dear Sir, 

**Not having sent to the Post OflBce for several days, your 
favor of the 20th. Inst, did not get to my hand till last night 
I mention this circumstance as an apology for my not giving 
it an earlier acknowledgment. 

**As you are pleased to ask my opinion of the conse- 
quences of an adjournment of your Convention until the 
meeting of ours, I shall, tho' I have meddled very little in this 
political controversy — (less perhaps than a man so thor- 
oughly x)er8uaded as I am of the evils & confusions which will 
result from the rejection of the proposed Constitution ought 
to have done) — give it as my sincere and decided opinion, 
that, a postponement of the question would be Tantamount 
to the final rejection of it — that the adversaries to the plan 
consider it in this light, — and for this purpose are using 
every endeavour to eflfect it. To advance arguments in support 
of this opinion is as unnecessary as they would be prolix. 
They are obvious — and will occur to you upon a moment's 

** Though the period to which the adjournment in New 
Hampshire was fixed, had no respect to the meeting of the 
Convention in this State, but was the effect, solely, of its own 
local circumstances, yet, the opposition here ascribe it wholly to 
complaisance towards Virginia — make icrreat use of it — and 
undertake to pronounce that all the succeeding determinations, 
preeeeding hers, will be similar thereto ; — of course that those 
which are to follow will take the tone from it. Should Marv- 
land fulfil this prognostic, So. Carolina may indeed be sta<^- 
gered, and the prediction with respect to the rejection of the 
Constitution, be realized ; for the assertion, so far as it applies 
to No. Carolina, I believe is well founded ; and it is well known 
that the opposition in New York would catch at straws, if 
they would subserve their purpose by it. 

**The sentiments of the Western (or Kentucky) districts 
of this State are not yet brought to my view. 

** Independently thereof the majority, so far as the opin- 
ions of the delegates are known, or presumed, is in favor of 

112 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. vii 

the adoption, and this spirit, according to my information, is 
increasing, — but as the parties, by report, are pretty equally 
poized, a small matter cast into either scale, may give it the 
preponderancy. Decision, or indecision then, with you, in 
my opinion, will determine the fate of the Constitution, and 
with it, whether peace & happiness, or discord & confusion, is 
to be our lott. The federalists here see & deprecate the conse- 
quences of indecision with you — their opposers, seeing that it 
is the dernier resort, are using all their endeavours to effect 
it. Thus stands the matter in my eye. With very great 
esteem & regard 

**I am Dear Sir 
**Yr. Most Obedt & Aflfect Servt. 
**Go. Washington" 

On this letter is endorsed in McHenry's handwriting: 
**The Maryland convention should not postpone its action 
on the qu. of Adoption of the new Constitu. until 
learning the decision of Virginia." ^ 

Again on May 8, Washington wrote, *'I congratulate you 
on the happy decision of your convention; having no doubt 
of its weight on those States which are to follow." Ten days 
later, McHenry answered, ^ **You will have concluded from 
the address of our minority that the convention was a little em- 
barrassed on the subject of amendments. A very good friend 
of yours, for whom I have the greatest respect (i. e. Thomas 
Johnson,) brought us into the difficulty & we were obliged 
to leave him to get out. The amendments were intended to 
injure the cause of federalism in your State &, had we agreed 
to them, they were well calculated to effect it." McHenry 
wrote Madison ^ on June 17 that he sends ''authentic inform- 
ation respecting the present state of the opposition to the 
Constitution in Pennsylvania," in the shape of a letter from 
the chief justice and a certificate from the clerk of the general 
assembly. **I find the same misrepresentations have been 
played upon the uninformed with you which was practised 
with us." He hoped soon to hear the ''desirable news" that 
Virginia had adopted the constitution. On July 27, McHemy 
wrote Washington again: "It is whispered here that some 
leading characters among you have by no means, dropped 

1 Printed In Doc Hist. Const., iv. 594. See also Washington to Lin- 
coln May 2, Doc. Hist. Const., iv, 606, and to Madison of same date, Doc 
Hist. Const, iv, 607. and to Morris of same date. Doc. Hist ConBL, iv, 605. 

2 Doc. Hist. Const., iv, 618. 
8 Doc. Hist. Const., iv, 707. 

1787-1788] qf James McHenry 118 

fheir resentment to the new constitution, but have determined 
on some secret plan to suspend the proper organization of the 
govemmenty or to defeat it altogeUier. Have you heard of 
thisf " Anti-federalists must be kept out of the legislature. ^ 
Pour days later, Washington answered ^ that he feels deeply 
the great importance of selecting proper members for the first 
congress and hopes the ** Omnipotent Being" will not yield 
the United States a *'prey to anarchy or despotism/' Going 
little from home, he has no news, but fears the Anti-federalists 
may make combinations to change the constitution. By this 
time, nine states had ratified and it was certain that the con- 
stitution would go into effect. In this connection, it is inter- 
esting to note that J. B. Cutting wrote to Jefferson ^ on July 
11, ''a superficial examination of the liberal and patriotic 
convention of Maryland would lead to the thought that the 
objections of the minority were treated with too much levity 
and even disdain, but minute scrutiny disproves this. The 
opposition to a thorough reform of the federal government 
began in Maryland, even before the Philadelphia convention. 
So far did Luther Martin proceed in his avowed hostility as 
even to detail, in the face of decency, before the assembled 
legislature of Maryland, the petty dialogues and paltry anec- 
dotes of every description that came to his knowledge in 
conventional committees and private conversations with the 
respective members of the convention in Philadelphia. So 
when the convention at Annapolis met, whatever proposition 
eaane from Messrs. Chase, Paca, Martin, or Mercer was 
received with jealousy or disgust and generaUy rejected by 
a great majority."* 

1 Doc. Hist. Const, Iv. 821. 

2 Doc. Hist. Const.. Iv, 827. 

3 Doc Hist. Const, Iv, 770. 

4 On October 10, 1788, Thomas Johnson wrote Washlngrton of hli 
own position in the Annapolis convention, that he does not "recollect any 
conduct of mine which can be called active to bring about amendments. 
I wa4i not well pleased at the manner of our breaking up. I thought it 
to our discredit and should be better pleased with the constitution with 
some alterations, but I am very far from wishing all that were proposed 
to take place." As a faithful friend of Washington, he says the United 
States need his further services. "We cannot, sir, do without you and 
I and one thousand more can explain to everybody but yourself, why wd 
cannot do without you." On the Maryland ratifying convention, see also 
Jefferson's letter to Dumas of May 15, Doc. Hist Const., Iv, 614. Car- 
roll to Madison, May 28, Doc. Hist Const, iv, 636. Brooke to Stuart, 
July 10, Doc. Hist Const., iv, 769. 



IN the autumn of 1788, McHenry was nominated with John 
Coulter by the Federalists of Baltimore town for mem- 
bership in the house of delegates and was elected, af- 
ter an exciting campaign. The opposition candidates were 
Samuel Chase and David McMechen, who issued a broadside 
on October 3, attacking McHenry for refusing to permit the 
state convention to submit amendments to the federal con- 
stitution and for refusing with Coulter to make proper ar- 
rangements for voting in the election. ^ The Federalists, on 
the other hand, scattered handbills, threatening to publish the 
names of those who voted in the opposition, as enemies to the 
new federal government. The election occurred from October 
6 to 10 and resulted in the election of McHenry and Coulter, 
who received 635 and 622 votes respectively, while Chase's 
vote was only 505 and McMechen 's 494. On the first day 
of the election, the Federalists paraded through the town, 
carrying a ship and a pilot boat, with drums beating, fifes 
playing and colors flying. The ** respectable characters,*' aid- 
ed by some non-voters, took possession of the poUs and all 
access to the hustings depended upon their pleasure. On the 
second day, the Anti-Federalists did the same, but were forced 
from their position by violence. 

When the assembly met on November 4, a petition was 
presented, praying that the election be declared void for acts 
of violence committed and threats used by the Federalists to 
elect their candidates. The Anti-Federalists also complained 
of a large sum of money subscribed, by one of the successful 
candidates, to the Federal campaign fund. On November 6, 
the house voted ^ to read the petition for a second time on 
the 14th, and gave notice that the parties should call wit- 
nesses. A vote was also passed that the contestants need not 

1 ScharTs Baltimore City and County, 116. 

2 The vote was 31 to 24. The house voted 85 to 20 (MoHe&ry and 
Coulter did not vote) that the contestees should not vote on any question 
«oncerninir the contest. 

1778-1790] of James McHenry 115 

specify with certainty and under specific heads the particu- 
lar facts they meant to prove in support of their petition. ^ 
On the 14th, McHenry and Coulter agreed to bear the ex- 
X>enses of the contest and the hearing began. It continued 
until the 21st and was then postponed until the 25thy when 
it seems to have been dropped. ^ On the 20th, the house 
voted that Charles Myers was a competent witness, though 
he had bet a beaver hat that Chase would defeat McHenry 
and another that McMechen would defeat Coulter. * 

McHenry seems to have been particularly active during 
this session. He was chairman of a committee to consider an 
application for a patent, and served also on committees on 
divorce and corporations. * 

The new relations of the state to the federal govern- 
ment demanded attention, and when the assembly had elected 
John Eager Howard governor, after Thomas Johnson had 
declined to return to that oflSce, they took up the method of 
electing congressmen. The committee, to which the matter 
was referred, recommended that the state be divided into two 
districts: the Western Shore to elect four members and the 
Eastern Shore two, but the final decision was to divide the 
state into six districts, each to choose one member, while the 
presidential electors were apportioned, five to the Western 
Shore and three to the Eastern. On December 3, the house 
resolved to take the oath to support the federal constitution 
and, on the 8th, they ballotted for United States senators. 
John Henry, George Gale, Uriah Forrest, and Charles Carroll 
of Carrollton were nominated and all received forty-one votes, 
save Carroll who received forty. The house of delegates 
refused to accept the proposition of the senate and elect one 
from each shore. On the second ballot, Henry received one 
more vote and was chosen. On the IQth, Carroll was elected 
as the second senator, receiving forty-two votes to thirty-nine 
for Forrest. On the 19th, the assembly voted to petition con- 
gress for amendments to the constitution and, on the 22nd, 
came the final adjournment. 

After Washington's election to the presidency, McHenry 

1 The vote on this was 29 to 26. 

2 On December 20, 1789, the house of delegates voted that the costs 
of this contest, £61.9, should be paid by the parties. 

3 McHenry's opponents published a boardslde, claiming that the 
subscribers to a purse to defend his election, whom they named, were 
men who had been Tories or who had come from the British Isles and 
been naturalized since the Revolution, and that some of them had been 
naturalized during the election. 

4 He has leave of absence on November 7 and 21. 

118 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chaf. viii 

wrote him on March 29, inviting him to visit him on his way 
to New York and saying: ''Though I may be among the 
last in congratulating my dear general, upon his elevation 
to a rank which few men are bom to enjoy and still fewer 
deserve, yet I am persuaded you will believe that I feel as 
much sincere joy on the occasion, as those who may have 
been earlier in tiieir demonstrations. You are now a King 
under a different name and I am well satisfied that sovereign 
prerogatives have in no age or country been more honorably 
obtained, or that at any time will they be more prudently 
and wisely exercised. This expectation excites in every bosom 
the finest sensations and I am sure had a secret and powerful 
influence in disposing the minds of the people to embrace the 
new constitution. That you may reign long and happy over 
us and never for a moment cease to be the public favorite 
is a wish that I can truly say is congenial to my heart 
Please visit me enroute to New York." Washington an- 
swered as follows: 

"Mount Vernon April 1st. 1789. 

''Dear Sir, 

**With a heart duly impressed with a sense of the kind 
invitation you have been pleased to give me to your House, 
I received your favor of the 29th. ult, and pray you to accept 
my thanks for this further testimony of your polite atten- 
tion to me; but at the same time I offer you this tribute of 
my gratitude, I must beg your excuse for not complying with 
the request. For, however pleasing it might be to me, on any 
other occasion, to render this proof of my, regard for you, 
I cannot consistently with my ideas of propriety (under the 
existing circumstances) consent to give so much trouble to a 
private family. The party that may possibly attend me — 
the crowd that always gathers on novel occasions — and the 
compliment of visiting (which some may incline to pay a new 
character) all contribute to render a public house the fittest 
place for scenes of bustle & trouble. 

''Mrs Washington joins me in compliments & best wishes, 
and with sentiments of very great esteem & regard I remain 

"Dear Sir 
"Yr. Most Obedient and 
Affect Hble Servt. 
"Go. Washington." 

Quite fittingly we fibad McHenry at the head of the eom- 

1788-1790] qf James McHenry 117 

mittee which prepared an address to Washington ^ on April 
17. On the 8th, his brother-in-law, John Caldwell, had writ- 
ten him from Philadelphia, asking that McHenry recom- 
mend him for a position under the new government, and say- 

''The stage has this moment passed my window from 
New York. I run to hear the news — am told that Secre- 
tary Thomson is on his way to escort his most serene High- 
ness (a title our Ch. judge has fixed on for the President 
Generisd) but who will always be better known by the name 
of Oeneral Washington — an endearing name — which always 
recalls the remembrance of his services and is generaUy re- 
ceived as tantamount to Saviour of his Country. Mr. Thom- 
son comes in the state coach — which crossed the ferry from 
New York on Monday afternoon — and for the sake of dis- 
patch — will be drawn on by post horses supplied at the dif- 
ferent stages — for which arrangements are made. So that 
in all probability he may be here at this moment — and will 
no doubt be moved immediately forward — this I hope he 
will honour with his conveyance — and a moment may lose 
the opportunity. 

*'0n monday (a passenger in the stage from whom my 
information comes) tells me — the returns were opened. 
The votes were for General Washington unanimous — and 
for John Adams a large majority. I understood a kind of 
declaration had taken place of the former as President — 
the latter as V. President." 

McHenry was ill in June and writing of his recovery to 
Washington, on the 28th, urged him to keep old Dr. Craik 
near him, as McHenry has been alarmed by accounts of Wash- 
ington 's illness, and stated that he expects soon to leave Bal- 
timore for the Sweet Springs with his brother, who enjn'osses 
much of his time. Washington answered on July 3, describ- 
ing his illness, praising Dr. Bard, who had attended him, and 
expressing hopes that McHenry 's trip to the Sweet Springs 
might be the means of restoring his brother to health. - These 
hopes were vain, but the excursion to the Sweet Springs 
gives us some interesting letters to Mrs. McHenry, who re- 
mained in Baltimore with an infant daughter, while her hus- 

1 Scharrs Chron. of Baltimore, 273. 

2 Ford, xl, 401; Sparks, x, 12, He wrote also on June 12, probably 
just before his illness, asking Washington to visit him and enclosing an 
mddress to the president. 

118 Ufc and Correspondence [Chap. viii 

band took with him the son Daniel, who had been ailing. 
Prom Staunton, McHenry wrote her on July 17 : 
**My dear Peggy. 

''I am now at Staunton where we arrived yesterday eve- 
ning. It is about 200 miles from Baltimore and 95 from the 
Sweet Springa We shall rest here two days. Here is some 
company from Virginia on their way to the waters. My 
brother continues near as he was when I left home, I am in 
good health and Daniel much better. 

'*We came from Winchester hither in three days. The 
first night we slept in Millerstown, at Crookshank's tavern, 
where we had good beds and tolerable coffee: the second 
night, at a kind of private house, one David Hamed's where 
we had indifferent beds and bad coffee: but the horses had 
fine hay and good oats. The road in some places is rocky, 
mountainous, and dreadfully rugged; but in general very 
good. The second day we drove 40 miles and could have 
easily driven fifty. When you get within a few miles of 
Staunton the country rises into high mountains. Staunton 
is placed in the midst of a body of them. 

''This town which contains about 120 houses (all framed 
except a few of stone) is remarkable for two things. 1st, a 
tavern, kept by one Hiershell, equal in many respects to Mr. 
Grant's, where we lodge. It is chiefly of stone, two story 
high, and 85 feet front 2dly. Every house has more or 
less of a garden, and every garden a small stream of water 
running through it, which has its course in one of the neigh- 
bouring mountains. The air, in addition to this charming cir- 
cumstance, seems fine and highly salubrious; not notwith- 
standing all this, I would not choose it for my residence. I 
am in love with other scenes, and other prospects: and that 
I suppose is enough to prejudice me against, the mountains, 
groves, vallies, and waters of Staunton, though they frolic in 
abimdance of bewitching forms. 

' ' I thought you would be glad to learn thus much of our 
progress, and Mrs. Shield's, who is on her return from Ken- 
tucke to Philadelphia, affords me an opportunity to Win- 
chester: whence this will be forwarded to Alexandria and 
thence by the regular mail to Baltimore. 

''Adieu my dear Peggy, the keeper and dispenser of all 
my affections" 

17S8-1790] qf James McHenry 119 

— - ■ . 

Six days later another letter was sent on Thursday, July 
23, 1789, from **Warm Springs — Lewis's house": 
"My dear Peggy. 

''My last to you was from Staunton which I put into 
the hands of Col. Enox who was on his way to Baltimore. 
The day after we recommenced our journey to this place. 
The roads very bad: the entertainment tolerable. Venison 
very common and very good, the last four miles of the road 
thither is over the highest mountain we have yet crossed. 
Long before we gained the most elevated part of it where the 
road runs, which is a considerable distance from its summit, 
we had a very interesting view of the subjacent world. Par 
below us, for an immense extent, lay an infinity of mountains, 
each of them an Alp ; with corresponding, deep, and irrigu- 
ous vallies ; the whole forming a prospect astonishingly great 
and sublime. The sun shone upon the rocks, mountains, and 
trees, which affords a variety of intermingled shades and ren- 
dered the scenery more picturesque and animated. The de- 
scent in some places is rather rapid, and somewhat danger- 
ous, owing to the badness of the road, which is much cut, 
shelving, and only wide enough for one carriage. 

** Notwithstanding it was hardly possible to deviate from 
the right road, yet from the length of time it took us to 
travel the last six miles, we were almost certain we had some 
how or other got out of our course. About six miles from 
the springs we had an opportunity of inquiring the distance 
which we were informed of, and also that the road was very 
good. By our calculation we had travelled nine miles, & 
most of it over bad road. At len^h, however, late in the 
evening, we reached the bottom of the mountain, and were 
agreeably surprised to find ourselves at the warm springs. 

** These springs are a great curiosity. The water is about 
blood hot (96 degrees) and bathing is a very great luxury. 
It is said to contain sulphur. A large quantity of air is 
continually rising from the bottom in bubbles and the vapor 
has a sulphurous smell. The bath is an octagonal inclosure 
of stone, about eight or ten feet high, open at top, and 132 
feet in circumference. Its depth between three and four feet. 
The body of water it discharges forms a stream capable of 
turning the largest mill. Trees flourish round the spring, 
the cattle drink of its water, and it fertilizes some excellent 
medow ground through which it runs. 

**We bath in it twice a day. The first time Daniel went 

120 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. viii 

into it very reluctantly; and now he leaves it with as much 
reluctance, and goes to it with pleasure. I think it has been 
serviceable to his complaint ; but my brother has received no 
seeming benefit from it. We propose two days longer stay, 
and then try the Sweet Springs, which is forty three miles 
from this place. 

''The company here is a Mrs. Dunbar of this state, with 
her daughter a Mrs. Banister, a young handsome wealthy 
widow, and a Mr. Skipwith, a suitor I imagine of the latter. 

**My brother has not been so well yesterday and to-day 
as heretofore. He presents his respects to you and Miss Cald- 
well. Adieu my dear Peggy. 

** Yours affectionately 

''James McHenby*' 

Prom the Warm Springs the party went on to the Sweet 
Springs, where they remained several weeks and whence Mo- 
Henry wrote his wife on September 7, 1789 : 
"My dear Peggy. 

"Mrs. Perry died on Sunday morning, and was intered 
yesterday afternoon. She was thought to be somewhat bet- 
ter on her arrival; but a few days shewed the fallacy of 
hopes founded on a strong expectation of the benefit from 
the waters. Perhaps the experiment was too long delayed; 
or perhaps it would not at any time have proved successfuL 
Why are we so anxious for life? In one point of view it 
hardly seems to be worth the trouble we take to preserve it 
Give to man the most extensive acquaintance and exalted 
virtues, yet how seldom does he leave behind him a friend to 
lament his loss or remember him when he is forgotten by the 
rest of the world. 

"The burying ground is at a little distance from the 
springs, on the summit of a hill which is covered with large 
and shady oaks. I counted eleven graves, some inclosed with 
a kind of pailing, and the rest with large logs of timber, said 
to be intended as a security against wolves. I could not con- 
template the remains of the dead quietly resting in these rude 
impalements without a few mournful emotions, arising from 
the reflection that all of them must have closed the last hours 
of life, far from any domestic comforts, and, most of them, 
perhaps, without the last kind offices of kindred attention. 
There is neither stone or monumental inscription to be seen 
to tell any thing respecting the dead. 

1788-1790] qf James McHenry 121 

''When you leave ibis melancholly grotuid and get about 
half way down the hill you have rather an agreeable prospect, 
made up of intermingled huts and trees, The Sweet Springs, 
a mess house, a dwelling house, and a com field lay below you, 
while the mountains rise amphitheatre like in a pleasing man- 
ner, chiefly covered with trees, but without either house, cul- 
tivated spot or plantation to relieve the eye. 

"To-morrow we propose setting out, notwithstanding my 
brother's state of health is but little different from what it 
was when I last wrote you. The fear of being locked up in 
this place during the winter is one motive which puts him in 
motion: and the convenience of the stage waggon Mr. Perry 
came in another. Mr. Perry is to ride with me, and Jack can 
lay at full length in the waggon. We may not however set 
out to-morrow as there are strong symptoms of bad weather. 
Should it rain we shall remain here till it settles. It will be 
a long and tedious journey in all probability. 

' ' Adieu my dear Peggy ; and may God grant us a happy 

During the return journey McHenry wrote from Staun- 
ton on the 26th of September, 1789. 
"My dear Pe^y. ^ 

"Mrs. Pratt is to leave this town to-morrow, which re- 
minds me of my promise to give you some account of the 
Palling Springs. 

"I went from Mr. Morris's on the 12 Sept. to visit this 
remarkable curiosity. It is in Augusta county about six miles 
south of Morris's. After riding about four miles we en- 
tered the Falling Spring valley where we were entertained 
with innumerable little water falls till we came in view of the 
object of our visit. 

"I cannot give you an adequate idea of this great work 
of nature. To describe it correctly one must see it more than 
once, and be provided with an apparatus to ascertain heights 
and distances. Mr. Jefferson ^ estimates the altitude of the 
rock from which the water falls at two hundred feet. It did 
not strike me as so high by fifty feet. He speaks also as if 
the water fell only from one part of the rock, whereas it 
precipitates from five different places, each fall being dis- 
tinct from, and at a considerable distance from the other. 

"We took our stand between the first and second cat- 

1 See Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, Query 5 (ed. 1801, p. 30). 

122 Li\fe and Correspondence [Crap. viii 

aract. The former hurried over the lowest part of the rock, 
and dashed down an irregular and shelving surface with con- 
siderable noise and impetuosity : but though composed of the 
largest sheet of water it was by no means the most striking. 
The second certainly engaged more of our attention. It pre- 
cipitated itself in the air about one hundred and fifty feet 
above us from the loftiest part of an almost perpeniUcular 
rock, in five or six spouts, which suddenly uniting formed a 
thin broad sheet of water that descended in a beautiful man- 
ner, till it reached half way down, when it dashed against the 
smooth surface of the rock, and separated into millions of 
drops that fell to the bottom in a kind of close heavy rain. 
This is a most lively an interesting spectacle. We contem- 
plated it with admiration and thought nature had finished 
her work, when moving on a little further round a bend of 
the rock, we discovered three other cascades, the most remote 
of which was just visible through the intervening rocks and 

"This exhibition far exceeded the first in variety and 
grandieur of expression. I do not think either of these falls 
discharged more water than any of those we had just turned 
from: but their different sheets were so disposed as to shei97 
each other to more advantage ; this part of the mountain too 
was more diversified, and the shrouded cataract almost con- 
cealed by huge pieces of rock and fallen trees accumulated and 
congregated in a kind of horrid wildness ; whilst the two moun- 
tains which formed the valley approaching each other seemed 
to close the scene by forbidding further investigation. 

''There we remained for some time, alternately contem- 
plating the stupendous descent of the water, & its various ap- 
pearances, from its first shewing itself over the mountain tUl 
lost among the fragments of rocks beneath. The whole, with 
the face of the valley, formed a most animated and interesting 
scene ; and yet the father of our guide, Mr. Morris, has rtsided 
twenty five years within six miles of the falls, has been above 
a hundred times within half a mile of them, without having 
seen them. I asked him on my return how he would like to 
see this circumstance mentioned in a book. I should be indif- 
ferent about it, he replied, as it could only mean that I was a 
person of litle curiosity. 

*'The spring that supplies these cataracts rises about % 
of a mile from the summit of the mountain. The land through 
which it runs belongs to a Major Massie whom I since met at 


1788-1790] qf James McHenry 128 

the warm springs. This gentleman told me that twenty years 
ago Dr. Bland had forced a kind of promise from him to tiirow 
the several branches of the stream into one, for the purpose of 
increasing the cataract. In my opinion it is more interesting 
as it is; and Major Massie being of the same opinion has 
thought proper to defer the execution of his promise, which 
he says was only given to get rid of the Doctor's importunity. 
"My brother is better. We shall leave this in all prob- 
ability on Wednesday next. We have new wheels to get to 
our carriage and my brother wants a little more strength to 
enable him to make the next hundred miles. Daniel is well, 
and your affectionate 

"James McHbnbt'* 

In the autumn, McHenry was re-elected to the house of 
delegates, Samuel Sterrett being associated with him. Shortly 
after the election, McHenry wrote Hamilton, ^ stating that he 
feared the majority of the house would be Anti-Federalist. H« 
rejoiced in everything that could add to Hamilton's fame or 
fortune and congratulated him on his appointment as secre- 
tary of the treasury: '*Your oflSce is vastly important and 
you are worthy of it and, what is more, equal to its duties, 
but, at the same time, it is extremely hazardous." McHenry 
still had thoughts of a diplomatic career and added : "I asked 
appointments for some honest but poor federals of this place 
and the President has been very attentive to my recommenda- 
tions. I asked nothing for myself; because, in fact, I am 
very easy in my circumstances. Still, however, I am not wholly 
lost to ambition and would have no objections to a situation, 
where I might indulge and improve, at the same time, my 
literary propensities, with perhaps some advantages to the 
public. Will you, therefore, be good enough to feel (if a 
resident or even charge des affaires is to be appointed to Lon- 
don or Prance) whether the President has thought of me or 
would, in such a case, nominate me. I wish you to do this for 
me, as a thing springing wholly from yourself and to write me 
freely on the subject at some convenient moment." 

On November 14, McHenry wrote Washington from An- 
napolis: *'You have created a new fountain of blessings. 
In your nominations and appointments, you have had respect 
to want and wretchedness, where united with worth and 
capacity, and have thereby drawn upon you more prayers and 

1 October 27. letter partly printed In HamMton's Works, v, 441. 

124 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, viii 

gratitude than has ever fallen to the lot of any dead or living 
sovereign, prince, or first magistrate whatever/' Washington 
had asked McHenry to secure an acceptance of office from 
Judge B. H. Harrison. Harrison returned the commission, 
because he could not keep it longer, but wished more time to 
consider the offer and would probably accept, if his brother* 
in-law should die. The value of Harrison, ''his goodness of 
heart, and unalterable attachment" to Washington are praised 
by McHenry. 

On November 30, Washington answered the letter and 
returned the commission, hoping that Harrison would accept. ^ 
Thomas Johnson had declined the appointment of district 
judge for Maryland and Washington does not wish to receive 
another declination. He thinks of appointing Alexander 
Contee Hanson and asks McHenry to ascertain whether he 
would accept. Hanson was chancellor at the time and Wash- 
ington was in doubt whether he might prefer his present 
position. If Hanson will not accept, WiUiam Paca's name 
has been thought of, ''although his sentiments have not been 
altogether in favor of the General Government and a little 
adverse on the score of Paper Emissions." Gustavus Scott 
and Robert Smith have also been mentioned. The latter 
seemed to Washington to be too young. 

On December 10, McHenry replied that he found Hanson 
preferred the chancellorship to the judgeship, but that Paca 
would accept the place. He will "carry much respectability 
and legal dignity into the office." "He will make every exer- 
tion in his power to execute the trust in the most unexception- 
able manner. I believe also that the appointment will be 
highly gratifying to him and, I think, it may have good polit- 
ical consequences. " 2 

Washington took McHenry 's advice, appointed Paca and 
thus the services of one of the state's most distinguished sons 
were secured for the federal government. 

McHenry was then kept very busy at Annapolis and 
longed "exceedingly to get back to my little garden and little 
wife." ' The house of delegates was "not very federal" but 
he thought a joint address would be sent to the president. 
Among the many committees on which McHenry served at this 
session was one to consider amendments to the United States 
constitut ion and another to prepare an address of congratn- 

1 Ford, zi, 447 ; Sparks, x, B5. 

SFbrd. xt 449. 

t He was absent for a few dayv from Noyeinbar SO. 

17S8-1790] qf James McHenry 125 

lation to the president. The address was adopted on December 
20. It is interesting to note that he voted for bills to provide 
for the gradual manumission of slaves and for the admission 
of Quakers to office^ by permitting affirmation to be substituted 
for oath. 

On May 7, 1790, McHenry 's brother John died, '* after a 
long and painful illness, which he bore,'' according to the 
Maryland Journal, **with uncommon patience and fortitude, 
deeply mourned and regretted by his relatives, friends and 
fellow citizens." He left an only son, an illegitimate child, 
named John, ^ who was brought up in James McHenry 's 
family, at the request of his brother and became a distin- 
guished lawyer. He edited, with Harris, the first series of 
Maryland Law Reports, wrote a text book on ejectments and 
was secretary of legation at the Hague in 1800. He married 
Miss Martha Hall of Harford county in 1813 and later re- 
moved to Allegany county, where he died without issue in 

The death of his brother saddened McHenry and its effect 
is to be seen in a letter he wrote Washington on August 30. 

**My own dear Sir. 

**I am much to blame. I have neither congratulated you 
on your recovery from a dangerous illness nor yet sympathised 
with you in those many and perplexed labors in which you 
have been involved during the late important session of Con- 
gress. I will tell you the truth. Every sorrow and consider- 
ation whatever has been swallowed up, or diminished, in the 
depth of affliction I have felt on the loss of my brother. You 
perhaps have heard that our friendship for each other was 
uncommon and that I am still far from reconciled to this sad 
shipwreck of my tenderest affections. I thought however 
that I ought to venture, before seeing you, to apologise for 
not mingling my congratulations with the many you must have 
received, and request your forgiveness notwithstanding my 
seeming neglect. I wanted besides an opportunity to inform 
you of a revolution in my sentiments that in all probability 
will govern the remainder of my days. 

**Some years since I entertained an aversion to public 
life, and was only an humble actor in it these two years from 
the persuasions of the deceased. This change has been in- 
duced by several causes. I had met with some applause in a 

1 McHenry Irft him a house in Baltimore in lieu of a payment of 
£1000 currency which his brother had asked him to pay. 

126 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, viii 

few instances, but never found it compensated for the sacri- 
fices I submitted to in the discharge of my duty. I grew 
disgusted too at perceiving, as I thought, many of those men, 
who called themselves servants of the people, secretly devoted 
to the promotion of their own purposes and yet continued in 
the public service by the people. 

''I thought also that I beheld him who profaned the name 
of patriotism and country gain by the profanation and him, 
who was directed by the most laudable motives, the frequent 
subject of abuse on suspicion. These discoveries or supposed 
discoveries were so repulsive as not to be counteracted by the 
conduct of the few whom I believe act from most pure and 
honorable principles, and whom I saw boldly risking their all 
for the benefit of others. I hence and henceforth conceived a 
settled disgust to every thing out of the line of private life, 
and cherished a concealed contempt for almost every thing 
save friendship. Such was the situation of my opinions for 
some years before my brothers death, an event which has still 
further confirmed my disrelish of public life and the vanity 
of human enjoyments. I have now no longer a brother to 

''I have estimated the value of public applause, and well 
know that neither talents nor merits insure it with posterity. 
The one I do not want, the other I have not talents to attain. 
I am independent in my circumstances. I have retired to the 
vicinity of the Town a little spot from which I can see its 
smoke and hear its noise without being offended with either. 
I resist all solicitations to venture upon the ocean of politics, 
and intend to devote the remainder of my time to my own ease, 
to devotion, the recollections of a dear brother, the happiness 
of a little family and literary amusements. In this retire- 
ment, I feel one misfortune only ; but that I am satisfied will 
always accompany me, I feel too sensibly my loss. Will you, 
after this explanation of my sin of omission, condescend to 
give a sanction to my sorrow and my retreat, and visit a man 
whose professions have ever fallen short of his love and affec- 
tion ; a man who regards and respects you, not for your high 
station but your true patriotism and rare virtues. Mrs. Wash- 
ington has lodged a promise with Mrs. McHenry with which 
I am often reminded. My house is only a mile from Grant's 
Tavern and in your route. So far it can be productive of 
no delay. I engage, moreover, that you shall not be troubled 
with company. Hie prophet Elisha deigned to favor a Shun^ 

I788-1790J qf James McHenry 127 

amitish stranger with his company, as often as he had occasion 
to pass by her house, and will not my ever respected general 
find it convenient to stay one night on his way to Mount 
Vernon with his sincere and devoted humble friend 

'^ James McHenby. 
*'To the President of the 
United States." 

McHenry 's benevolence led him to give his countenance 
to the negro mathematician, Benjamin Banneker, and to write 
a commendatory letter, on August 20, 1791, to the publishers 
of the Almanac for 1792, which Banneker prepared. This 
letter was printed in the Almanac ; gave a brief sketch of Ban- 
neker with especial reference to his mathematical powers, and 
concluded with the following sentences, noteworthy as showing 
McHenry 's wide sympathies:^ '*! consider this negro as a 
fresh proof that the powers of the mind are disconnected with 
the color of the skin, or, in other words, a striking contradic- 
tion to Mr. Hume's doctrine, that *the negroes are naturally 
inferior to the whites, and unsusceptible of attainments in arts 
and sciences. ' In every civilized country, we shall find thou- 
sands of whites liberally educated and who have enjoyed great- 
er opportunities for instruction than this negro, his inferiors 
in those intellectual acquirements and capacities that form the 
most characteristic features in the human race. 

**But the system that would assign to these degraded 
blacks an origin different from the whites, if it is not ready 
to be deserted by philosophers, must be relinquished as similar 
instances multiply; and that such must frequently happen, 
cannot »well be doubted, shmdd no check impede the progress 
of humanity, which, meliorating the conditions of 8laver>% 
necessarily leads to its final extinction. Let, however, the 
issue be what it will, I cannot but wish on this occasion to see 
the public patronage keep pace with my black friend's merit." 

1 The letter is reprinted in Carey's American Moseum, xii, 186, and in Ty* 
•od's Banneker, 48. 



MCHENRY'S retirement from oflSce lasted only a year 
after which he was chosen again as a member of the 
state senate. During this year of withdrawal from 
public life, McHenry was actively engaged in mercantile busi- 
ness, as is shown by the following letters from Jefferson to him. 

'ThUadelphia Feb. 5. 1791. 
''Dear Sir 

**An extraordinary press of business, ever since the meet- 
ing of Congress, has obliged me to suspend all my correspon- 
dences, so that it is not till now that I am able to take tiiem 
up, & among the first your favor of Dec. 14. on the subject 
of that I am obliged to a^ you to name some person at Paris 
who may, as your agent, attend to all the details of sollicita- 
tion, as it would be impossible for Mr Short to do that, and 
indeed contrary to a fixed rule which has been established of 
necessity to prevent his being used as the factor of individ- 
uals which would be more than he could do, & lead him often 
to that would be improper. I will write to him to supiK)rt 
your interposition at proper occasions, as far as shall be righty 
and in this he will move in concert with M. de la Fayette, as 
soon as you shall advise me to whom to address your papers, 
I will forward them through Mr Short & with a letter to him 
in the mean time they remain in my hands. I have the honor 
to be with great esteem Dr Sir 

**Your most obedt. humble servt 
"Th: Jeffebson 
**P. S. no time is lost as yet 

he being at Amsterdam. 


''Philadelphia Mar. 28. 1791. 
"Dear Sir 

"Having sent your letters to Mr Short with a desire that 
he will, as far as is right, patronize the application which shall 

1790-17911 qf James McHenry 129 

be made to the minister on«your demand, instead of destroying 
your first letter to Messrs Le Couteulx, I have thought it better 
to return it to you, in proof that your desires have been 
complied with, a murder of some friendly Indians a little 
beyond Fort Pitt is likely to defeat our efforts to make a 
general peace & to render the combination in war against us 
more extensive, this was done by a party of Virginians within 
the limits of Pennsylvania, the only news from Europe in- 
teresting to us is that the Brit. Pari, is about to give free 
storage to American wheat carried to Engld. in British hot" 
tarns for re-exportation — in this case we must make British 
bottoms lading with wheat, pay that storage here, in the form 
of a duty, & give it to American bottoms lading with the same 
article, in order not only to keep our vessels on a par as to 
transportation of our own produce, but to shift the meditated 
advantage into their scale, at least so say I. 

"I am with very great esteem Dear Sir 
"Your most obedt. humble servt. 
'*Tho: Jepfebson/' 

On private matters, McHenry writes on January 3, 1791, 
to Hamilton ^ of whose wife he hears that she ''has as mucU 
merit as your treasurer, as you have as treasurer of the wealth 
of the United States." McHenry states that he approves of 
the plan for the United States Bank and adds: ''You may 
think I have neglected you, from my long silence, but I can 
assure you I have never forgot you. Having withdrawn my- 
self from everything of a public nature ; this has led me to en- 
deavor to reduce my pleasures as much as possible to a small 
compass and thus to neglect many correspondents, for whom 
I entertain the liveliest affection. 

"That I love and esteem you, I know you will believe, 
without my repeating it. Your career as yet has been glorious. 
I wish sincerely that nothing adverse may interrupt it." 

On April 26, Hamilton wrote McHenry asking him to 
ascertain whether General Otho Holland Williams ^ would 
accept the position of collector of the port of Baltimore. 

McHenry answered on May 3, that he has seen General 

1 Hamilton's Works, edited by J. C. Hamilton, v, 462. 

2 March 5, 1792, Williams wrote Hamilton on an Indian war and the 
Seneca chiefs and said he had lon^ been ill. Williams Anally accepted 
the collectorship. 

180 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. ix 

''You know his ambitious cast and that he thinks he 
could be more serviceable at the head of a great department 
than collector of a district. I mentioned the death of the 
comptroller and the probability, in my opinion, that the Pres- 
ident, from the knowledge he had of the present auditor's 
habits, experience, and capacities for business, would fix upon 
him for a successor, in which case the auditorship, which was 
a very important office, would become vacant. I observed on 
the advantages of a residence at the seat of Congress, if he 
still inclined to mount higher, that he knew your power and 
disposition, and said, I would take upon myself to make the 
necessary suggestions. The idea of the auditor's office being a 
step to a still more desirable one had its weight, but he, finally, 
declined, alledging his ill state of health and the recent death 
of a brother in law, Col. StuU, which has devolved upon him 
the care of his children and estate. In short, he was not to 
be induced to be auditor, though I thought, could I have said 
comptroller, he might, notwithstanding his present state of 
health would unfit him for discharging the duties of the other. 
I then called on Mr. Wm. Smith, who with his show of talents 
will make a much better auditor. He will have as little to 
learn as the General, is as systematic, a more correct and 
perfect accountant, of great respectability and longer stand- 
ing in society. I found also here that the comptroUership was 
a more darling object. My first conversation was yesterday 
and it was not till about one half an hour ago I got him to 
consent to use my discretion, so you may use yours. I was 
obliged to intimate that, from the opinion you had of him, 
I could entertain no doubt but his appointment would be 
certain, unless the President got entangled to the Southward. 
You judged right. Nay, should even what I once thought of 
take place and my present temper of mind continue, I would 
remain where I am. My mind in the loss of a brother has 
received a severe shock. My wife, like yours, is every thing 
that is kind, good, and excellent and was there only one man 
more in the world I should be the happiest man in it. Adieu 
and believe me yours most sincerely and most affectionately." 

In the autumn, McIIenry wrote Hamilton again. The 
letter is dated on October 15, and states that 

''The electors of the Senate of Maryland have chosen 
me one of the Senate of our State legislature and many of my 
friends are urgent that I should accept, as yet I have given 

1T90-1791] qf James McHenry 181 

no answer. If you still entertain the project you mentioned 
to me, when in Philadelphia, it may somewhat influence my 
determination. Perhaps the complexion of several European 
powers, as it respects France and the claims for succours she 
may bring forward under the 11th. article of the treaty of 
alliance in case of being attacked, may render the presence 
of a ministerial character necessary at the Hague, as a spot 
which can afford a tolerable view of the parties likely to be 
concerned. Perhaps too, it is an eligible situation to forward 
our commerce with the Northern nations, as well as England, 
at least it would seem a position which might enable a qualified 
person to watch the course of trade and improve favorable 
conjunctions. But if the chief object would be your loans or 
financial operations, I think I could give you entire satisfac- 
tion. I have been led thus far into a change of sentiment 
since we spoke together on this subject by an alteration in my 
health, which I flatter myself would be benefited by the 
voyage and the new materials which the employment would 
furnish my mind. Should things take the turn you wish, 
you will readily conceive that I ought to be allowed sometime 
for preparations, as I must take my family with me. But 
whether here or elsewhere, in sickness or health, I shall always, 
my dear Hamilton, be your sincere friend." 

To this letter Hamilton answered on November 2, as 
follows : 
''My Dr. Sir 

"Your letter of the 15. of October came duly to hand and 
an answer has only been delayed throujjh extreme hurry. iMy 
views on the point you mentioned cannot have changed and I 
am glad to know how you stand. All that confidence or At- 
tachment on my part could dictate will be employed. But 
nothing is certain And nothing ought to be suspended on the 

** Indeed I cannot perceive how the one thing ought to 
interfere with the other. A change of position upon an un- 
forseen circumstance is as common in politics as in war. 

**Yrs Affect. & sincerely 
*'A. Hamilton." 

The diplomatic project having failed, McHenry accepted 
the senatorship to which he had been elected. The session 
of assembly began on the 7th of November and he appeared 
and qualified on the 15th. 



McHENBY found a personal matter unsettled on hia 
second appearance in the Maryland senate. ^ Thtf 
attorney general had instituted proceedings against 
him, as survivor of the firm of John and James McHenry, on 
account of a contract made by them with the late intendant, 
Jenifer, for the purchase of final settlements of revolutionary 
pay. The McHenrys sold the certificates and there was some 
deficiency in their returns, for which suit was brought. On 
December 29, the assembly directed the attorney general to 
suspend proceedings until the end of the next session. In 
1792, on November 26, McHenry's petition for relief was 
finally refused. 

Shortly after taking his seat, McHenry wrote Hamilton, 
on November 19 : 

''Since taking my seat in the Senate, which I have done 
more in conformity with your opinion than my own, I have 
used the opportunity it affords of conversing with Mr. Wm. 
Perry, the gentleman I mentioned to you when in Philadelphia 
as a person well qualified for auditor and have discovered that, 
had he been appointed, he would not have refused. I have 
two reasons for telling you this now. That you may keep 
him in mind, should such a vacancy occur, as one that may be 
fully relied on. That you may also know that, besides his 
being independent or wealthy, he exerted his whole influence 
to establish our government, continues to exert it for its daily 
preservation, and possesses a large share of public confidence^ 
especially on the Eastern Shore where he resides and for 
which he is senator, circumstances which might render him 
peculiarly proper for an office in the excise, in case of a new 
arrangement of the system. An opinion prevails in our 
House of Delegates that our constitution wants mending and 
Mercer, Pinkney, and Craik are to lead in the business. They 

1 He was absent from November 29 to December 10, 1791. 

1791-17961 qf James McHenry 188 

do not venture, I mean the two first, for the last is rather 
federal to expose their true reason, though they have not 
been able to conceal it. I cannot tell how the project may 
terminate, but I like our constitution as it stands and trust 
the people, having heretofore found it a good one, will not 
easily be brought to any radical alterations.*' 

At the session of 1791, ^ McHenry pushed an unsuccessful 
project that Maryland should buy a house for Lafayette in 
Washington City. It is impossible to trace his activity, how- 
ever, at this session, or at a short one from April 2 to 6, 1792. 

On July 17, McHenry wrote Washington asking him to 
stop in Baltimore and accept a dinner from the citizens. The 
president replied on August 13. 
"Dear Sir, 

'*Your letter of the 17th. of July came duly to hand. I 
could, with pleasure spend a day in Baltimore on my return 
to Philadelphia, if time & circumstances would permit; but 
it is not for me at this moment to say whether either would 
suit me; besides I shall confess to you candidly, I have no 
relish for formal & ceremonious engagements, and only give 
into them when they cannot be avoided — among other rea- 
sons because it oftentimes — if not always — proves incon- 
venient to some of the party bestowing, if it is not to the 
party receiving the compliment of a public dinner — and is a 
tax which I am as unwilling to impose as many are to pay, if 
false delicacy would allow them to express their real senti- 

**If it should so happen that I can, conveniently, spend a 
day in Baltimore, as I return, it would give me pleasure to 
dine with yourself & a few other friends in a social way ; — & 
on this footing let the matter rest, as no previous notice of my 
coming is necessary in that case. 

** Having begun a letter to you, I will add something to it 
of a public nature 

"Mr. Potts, the District Attorney of Maryland has re- 
signed that ofSce. Who, in general estimation, is best quali- 
fied to fill it? 

"Mr. Robert Smith has been spoken of — Mr. Hollings- 
worth has been mentioned — and Mr. Tilghman and Mr. Ham- 

1 He fAvored in principle the pablication of the proceedlnn of the 
senate thou«rh he voted agrainst a bill to that effect sent from the house 
of deleflrates. 

184 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

mond have also been thought of, but the two last living on 
the Eastern shore, and Baltimore being the theatre for the 
Courts, it might be inconvenient to both those Oentlemen to 
attend them; and the appointment no inducement to their 

** Which then of the other two would be most eligablet 
Would Mr. Smith, if the preference is given to him, accept? 
— or is there any other person more prominently qualified 
than either of the Gentlemen I have mentioned ? 

**Your sentiments freely given, on these enquiries will 
much oblige 

**I)ear Sir — 

'*Tour Most Obedt & AflPect 
'*Gro. Washington." 

McHenry's reply was sent on the 16th. Hollingshead, 
he thought, was more of a wit and not less of a lawyer than 
Smith. Marriage has corrected some of his levities and study 
will make him more able than Smith; but the latter is more 
steady, cautious, industrious, and painstaking, and has a char- 
acter of perhaps greater probity in the profession. McHenry 
wished Craik would settle in Baltimore. Tilghman and Ham- 
mond are both good. The former will sooner yield to trans- 
ient circumstances than the latter. Luther Martin is the 
best qualified man in the state; but, through his politics, is 
the last person who merits the appointment. If Washing- 
ton sees Paca or Colonel Lloyd, who possesses ** vast property," 
McHenry wishes he would speak of the necessity of the lead- 
ing men removing misapprehensions concerning the laws. This 
'*may lead Paca from Mercer, who is, if possible, more des- 
perately mischievous, than when the open, decided, and de- 
clared enemy of the constitution." 

Washington answered this letter as follows: 

*' Mount Vernon Augt. 31st. 1792 
**Dear Sir, 

'*The characters given of Messrs. Smith & Hollingswortb 
by you, comports very much with those I have received from 
others, and therefore of the two, the preference is given to the 
former. But as neither stand upon such high ground as Mr. 
Tilghman or Mr. Hammond, and as it is my duty as weU as 
inclination to fill offices with the most suitable characters, I 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry 185 

pray you to make all the indirect enquiry you can whether 
either of the last named Oentlemen would accept; and, as 
the nature of the case seems to require, would make Baltimore 
the place of Residence. 

''If the result is unfavourable, be so good as to cause 
the enclosed to be delivered. This case requires a little deli- 
cacy in the management and I am persuaded it will receive 
it from you 

'*I am with sincere esteem and regard — 

**Your obed. & affect 
**6. Washington 
** James McHenry Esqr. 


**The Postmr at that place, will please to cause the deliv- 
ery of this letter President U. S. " 

The matter was not then settled, however, and Washing- 
ton wrote again on September 21: 

"Dear Sir, 

"Fearing some accident may have prevented my last (en- 
closing a letter for Mr. Bobt. Smith) from reaching your 
hands, I take the liberty of giving you the trouble to receive 
this, requesting to be informed if this be the fact — and if 
not, what has been the result of your enquiries in the business 
committed to you 

"I have had many applications in favor of Mr. Hollings- 
worth as a fit character for the attorney, and lately, one from 
the District Judge in his behalf. No answer has been given 
to any of them awaiting to hear from you first. 
"With sincere esteem & regard 
"I am — Dear Sir 

"Yr. aflPeet. & obedt servt 
"G. Washington" 

On the 25th, McHenry wrote that he had been very ill, 
that Hammond had decided not to remove to Baltimore, and 
that the merchants of the city are still anxious to tender Wash- 
ington a banquet. 

Washington writes again on October 3 : 

"Dear Sir 

"If this letter shall have reached your hands before that 
which I addressed to Mr. Robt. Smith (under cover to you) 

186 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap, x 

has passed from them, I pray you to retam it until you see 
me, which will be, I expect, about the middle of next week on 
my return to Philadelphia (if I am not detained by the con- 
valescent state of two of my servants) — or, if that should 
happen, till you hear further from, 

**Dear Sir, 

**Your obedt. & affect. 
**Go Washington" 

The day after Washington's letter, McIIenry writes him 
that Tilghman is considering whether he will settle in Balti- 
more. McHenry wishes more Federal lawyers would do so, 
as HoUingshead is neither one nor the other. 

In the congressional election of 1792, McHenry took a 
warm interest. On the Eastern Shore, in the upper district, 
the Federalists of Talbot and Caroline favored William 
Perry ^ of Miles River. He declined and William Hindman 
of Queen Anne 's was nominated. Mercer was thought by the 
Federalists to be at the bottom of Tilghman's^ running in 
opposition, after he had said he would not run against Perry 
or Hindmaa. Perry wrote McHenry on August 4, that the 
Anti-Federalists were closely linked together and kept up 
regular correspondence throughout the state, asserting that 
they are friends of the federal constitution, but opposed to 
Hamilton. They thus wound the constitution through the 
secretary. Perry supports both constitution and the secre- 
tary and after much travel in Talbot and Caroline thinks 
Hindman 's election secure. 

On August 16, McHenry wrote Hamilton of state affairs 
in the approaching congressional election: 

'*I mentioned Mr. Carroll ' as proper to be brought for- 
ward to oppose a man whom I suspect the antifederal inter- 
est will unite in supporting, in case of an opportunity. I cal- 
culate that Mr. Carroll will not succeed, but it may produce 
more votes in this State for some man who ought. I mean 
also that it should operate to detach Mr. CarroU from Mr. 
Jefferson, whose politics have in some instances infected him. 
In all this, however, you will understand, should it be an 

1 Perry was Hlndman's brother-ln-Uw and had all bat one of tbe 
electoral votes In 1791 when chosen to the senate of Maryland. See Oeoqfe 
Gale's letter to Hamilton, December 20, 1792. 

2 On November 18, McHenry wrote Hamilton that TUffhman was 
conneoted with good FederallBts yet was a disciple of Mercer. Ttie oontert 
became a family affair and the heaviest weight fell on Perry. 

a Charles Carroll of Carrolltoii. 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry 187 

* — ^— ^^— ^^■^■^ ' ' — 

eligible line of polities, that I do not mean to be an actor. 
The interest you feel in it, more than any other considera- 
tion, would induce me to take a little trouble. I still think 
Mercer will carry his election. I have been with Bishop Car- 
roll, whose friendship and intimacy I enjoy. He has much 
^eat€r control over the minds of the German Catholics than 
Charles and I believe that description of men will vote for 
Campbell. Col. Smith has entered for this district. Mr. 
Ridgely, you know, also stands. Ridgely, I am told, is a 
friend to a further assumption [i. e., of state debts]. Samuel 
Smith is not. He is however a good federalist. As a mer- 
chant, he will dislike any increase of duties on dry goods. He 
is, however, concerned in shipping in a sugar house and dis- 
tillery and supplies Williams & Co., contractors, with dry 
goods for the Indian trade. Besides it would give him great 
pleasure to get Col. Hall into ofSce, Mr. Robert Smith his 
brother, a judge, and Robert's father in law, an oflSce of £1500 
a year. On the other hand, he is largely in the iron works, 
a man of great wealth, without skill in public affairs and from 
habits closely connected with Chase, whom he would wish to 
see noticed. Mr. JeflPerson, I suspect, will say in reply to his 
having been against the constitution in France, that you were 
for monarchy in the convention and will take some of the 
features of your systems which correspond the nearest with 
the fiscal systems of England, as a commentary upon your 
principles. The exposition which has been given was wanted. 
God bless and preserve you." 

McHenry wrote again on Sunday, September 30, stating 
that he should support Adams and resist the New York pro- 
ject to set him aside for another. 

The campaign against Mercer ^ was brisk and the elec- 

1 Of Mercer's conduct William Bayly wrote Hamilton on November 4, 
that Mercer had said at Upper Marlborough that he went to Hamilton's 
office to get money due him and the clerks would not pay him. On his 
return he met Hamilton who said he would pay the money, if Mercer 
would vote for assumption of state debts. When asked whether Hamilton 
had offered him money he exclaimed, "Yes, by God. he had." Walter 
Bowie said, "Hamilton was jocular," and Bayly put the question to Mer- 
cer, '^Was Hamilton serious or Jesting?" to which Mercer responded that 
he had a right to take it either way. About this time McHenry wrote 
Hamilton : "Knowing that I was apt to lose letters out of my pocket 
and recollecting that you were a little subject to lose them by not putting 
them Into yours, I thought It best that we should bum them." therefore he 
can only say that. In his letter to Hamilton, he opposed Mercer for his 
political principles, but was not Influenced thereto by Hamilton. McHenry 
has written an article In behalf of Adams for Gk>ddard's paper, and has 
signed the article Consistent Federalist. It will appear next Tuesday. 

188 Lt\fe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

tion was to be held from Monday until Thursday. McHenry 
had written letters for Goddard's paper, the Maryland Jour- 
nal, signed Valerius, while he was ** under a depression of 
spirits and great debility," and had employed Major Hopkins 
of Anne Arundel county, who was under obligations to him, 
to circulate handbills with popular charges against Mercer, 
'* fixing on him some falsehoods." Mercer's defeat was still 
possible. Ross, whose ability is not equal to his honesty and 
good intention, was in Baltimore to get a reply published for 
the polls, in answer to Mercer, who circulated a report that 
the president wished him elected. Washington denied this 
and **the lie has lodged where it ought." 

McHenry had been ill and now only gets around in his 
garden. General Otho Holland Williams was also very ill. 
If he die, McHenry asks that John Purviance, the naval 
officer of the port, may succeed him, ^ as Purviance is the 
** natural heir" of the position, is **one of the first merchants 
in this town, and is qualified to discharge its duties." He haa 
** never shrunk from the right cause" and has a **very numer- 
ous and young family to maintain." If Purviance is pro- 
moted, ^IcHenrj' asks that Hamilton serve him by appointing 
George Salmon in Purviance 's place. The federal government 
can procure no man better qualified than Salmon. **He 
is popular, a man of honor, and a respected judge in our 
criminal and orphan's court." If neither appointment ia 
made, McHenry asks that he be informed, before any other 
person is chosen. The office **nets perhaps better than £2000" 
a year, possesses **vast influence, and ought not to be given 
lightly." The letter closes with ** Farewell, (Jod bless my 
dear Hamilton." 

On October 4, McHenry wrote Washington that Colonel 
Smith would probably defeat Ridgely in the Baltimore dis- 
trict, but that the vote was small. It was the last day of the 
election and only one-half the town and not a fourth of the 
county had voted. 

Later in the month, 2 McHenry wrote Hamilton that he- 
had been confined to his bed with fever for seventeen days, 
and had sat up for the first time the day before. **If I should 

1 On Angrust 27, 1708, Samuel Smith wrote Hamilton that Daniel 
Delozier was the best man for surveyor of the port of Baltimore and 
John Purviance second best. The people of Baltimore would not like one 
from elsewhere in the state. On Au«^st i28. James liloyd of GhestertowiL 
wrote Hamilton asking to be made surveyor. 

2 October 20, Hamilton's Works, v, 688. 

1791-17961 qf James McHenry 189 

get to heaven before you, I shall remember you. I must go 
to bed. Yours affectionately,'* are the closing sentences. 
Hamilton's letter, missent to Fayetteville, N. C, had just 
reached him and he promised to show it to Bishop Carroll 
on his return to Baltimore. **Tour project with regard to 
the President in a certain event, will I believe not have an 
opportunity of being executed. Happily for the public tran- 
quility, the present incumbent, after a serious struggle, in- 
clines, if I mistake not, to submit to another election. If it 
turns out otherwise, I say, unequivocally, I will cooperate in 
running the gentleman ^ you mention, as one of the two who 
are to fill the two great oflBces. Which of the two may turn 
up first or second must be a matter of some casualty, as the 
constitution stands. My real respect and esteem for the char- 
acter brought intQ view will ensure him my best wishes in 
any event. "^ 

The Maryland legislature met on November 5, 1792, but 
the senate did not have a quorum until the 12th. On the 
ISthy McHenry came and was present about half of the ses- 
sion.' Prom Annapolis, he wrote Hamilton on November 
18: "We have scattered in air the long string of amend- 
ments that has been proposed to be incorporated into our 
constitution, by those who were no friends" to it, so '*we re- 
main a free people and a tolerably virtuous people." After 
the session* McHenry expects to go to his ''little farm with 
my little wife, where, if my health returns, I shall envy no 
man's happiness. " He recommended for an oflSce, Perry, who 
made uncommon exertions in the last election. Washington 
did not appoint Perry to the desired post, as Hamilton ex- 
plained in a letter he sent McHenry. 

1 Who was this man? 

2 Two days later, Charles Carroll of Carroll ton. wrote Hamilton that he could 
not find that the Anti-Federalists, who maintain communication through- 
out the United States, have whispered his (Jefferson's?) name. Carroll 
does not feel sure as to his character and noticed In him a "disposition 
to perplex and puzzle." "He seemed not to want talent but judgrment and 
steadiness. I suspect he possesses much ambition." Carroll hopes the 
"friends of stability and order, 1. e., tlie real friends of liberty and their 
country, will unite to counteract the schemes of men, who have uniformly 
manifested hostile temper to the pn»sent government, the adoption of 
which has re.scued these States from that debility and confusion and those 
horrors which unhappy France has experienced." 

8 He was away on November 26 and until December 16. Session 
adjourned December 20. He was on the conference committee on the 
militia bill. 

4 Rowland's Carroll, 11, IS 9, Charles Carroll of Carrollton resigned 
from the United States senate, December 3, 1792, and wrote John Henry 
that Potts, McHenry and Stone are the three spoken of to succeed him. 

140 Li\fe and Ccrrespondence [Crap.x 


"April 5, 1793 
''It is a good while my Dear Mac since I have 
either written to or received a line from you. I embrace the 
first moment I have been really able to spare to say some 
thinf^s to you which have for some time 'lain heavy on my 

"I have been conscious that I owed you an explana- 
tion concerning the issue of a certain Inspectorship and I 
have meditated it ever since that issue took place. 

"In giving it now, I must rely on your discretion and 
delicacy ; for you know I have no occasion to make enemies — 
and I must confide to you what in truth are in the nature of 
ofScial secrets 

"The Supervisor named Perry, Richardson, and Cham- 
berlain; — laying most stress on Perry. I had a conversa- 
tion with Mr. Coxe (a matter of course in reference to his 
oflSce) and it was agreed to recommend Perry. The three 
names were given in to the President (he always chooses to 
have more than one) with a decided recommendation of Perry, 
I thought his appointment certain. 

"Coxe spoke to Murray or Murray to Coxe about this 
appointment Murray recommended Richardson and Eccles- 
ton, preferring rather the latter. I believe, but I do not 
know it, that he rather spoke lightly of Perry. A gentleman 
from Maryland (I think of the name of Hammersly) said to 
Coxe several things very disadvantageous to Perry. It 
seems he had opposed Mr. Tilghman's election & through dif- 
ferent channels, Tilghman's Friends had approached Coxe — 
who, from his connection with the family, was not difBenlt to 
be impressed against him. 

"Coxe came to me with his tone entirely altered on the 
flnibject of Perry. He was a man not respected by respectable 
men — an intriguing and rather crooked character &c &c. I 
perceived the influence of the election story & no impresaicm 
was made. My byass towards Perry continued & Coxe 
perceived it. 

' ' The next morning I received a letter from him of whidi 
the enclosed is a copy. This after the full conversations we 
had had was rather an ofScious proceeding. The design of 
it was not difficult to be understood. 

''The same morning I had occasion to call on the Preii- 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry 141 

dent — he had received a letter from Murray recommending 
strongly Richardson and Ecdeston and I found he had 
through some channel been approached disadvantageously to 
Mr. Perry. 

' ' He expressed a wish that I should make further Inquiry 
ft particularly of Mr. Henry. 

**I called on Mr. Henry. He was strong in favour of 
Bichardson & Eccleston and unusually decided against Mr. 

^'Having then no clue to it and having been led from 
former communication to entertain a favourable opinion of 
Henry's Candor I was much struck with his decision against 
Perry & I own a good deal shaken 

**It was my duty to state facts to the President. 

"The Argument with him stood thus *Perry is strongly 
objected to by some; Richardson is recommended by every 
body — Ergo Bichardson is the safest appointment' 

"Much could not be said by way of direct opposition. 
My own mind had been put in doubt — I took the course of 
recommending delay for further Inquiry & I understood that 
this idea would be pursued. I therefore wrote to you & I 
believe to Mr. Gale — I received letters from both which threw 
light upon the subject — but to my surprise the nomination 
was put in before either letter came to hand. 

**I flatter myself this detail will give you a correct idea 
of the business and that you will be satisfied that I have 
neither been wanting to you nor to Mr. Perry. 

"But this explanation is sacredly for your own breast — 
Mr. Henry's communications in particular were made under 
the most precise sanction of Confidence. 

"Nothing but a desire to vindicate the propriety of my 
conduct towards a friend could induce me to disclose it at 
any rate 

"Affecty &c truly Yrs 
"A Hamilton 
**What say your folks as to Peace or War in 
reference to the U. states?" 

On receiving this letter, McHenry wrote Perry as follows : 

"I have had a communication upon a recent subject. Mr. 
Gale actually gave you the preference in his recommendation 
and the head of the treasury handed in your name to the 

142 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

President under circumstances which did not seem to leave a 
doubt as to your appointment. The intrigues against you 
began then to appear. Delay was proposed till further in- 
formation could be obtained and it was supposed was ac- 
quiesced in : but it so happened notwithstanding, that before 
my letter Mr. Gale's letter or any other letter arrived, the 
nomination was made to the senate. You see I cannot be 
particular. One day I may be so. In the mean while rest 
assured that every thing was done by my little friend, and 
that his ref^rret and disappointment was not less than mine. 
* Patience and shuffle the cards.* " 

To Hamilton, McHenry wrote on April 14, that he was 
mortified and hurt, exceedingly, that Perry did not win, but 
did not blame Hamilton. The Tilghmans influenced Coxe 
and **you had greater things to attend to." Richardson, who 
had been treasurer of the Eastern Shore, is no more worthy 
and less active than Perry. McHenry invites Hamilton to 
visit him and says of our foreign relations that *'our people 
wish to be able to carry our produce freely to all the parties 
at war who may want it, without having anything further to 
do with the war." ^ 

Baltimore was quite excited that summer; a number of 
French refugees arrived from the island of Santo Domingo 
and McHenry served on the committee to solicit subscriptions 
for their relief. ^ The sudden arrival of the refugees caused 
the governor to make a grant of the public arms to the Balti- 

1 An interesting side ligrht on our relation to France is found in a 
letter by William vans Murray, the member of congress from the lower 
EJastem Shore district then living at Cambridge, written on May 8, 1798 ; 
A British prize, taken by a French privateer, was brought past Cambridge, 
under command of a citizen of the district. There was not a man tn 
Dorchester county who could lawfully enter on board the prize, till Colonel 
Banning, an excellent officer, came from Oxford, In Talbot county, across 
the Choptank, a river as wide as the Delaware at Wilmington. **So ex- 
tremely naked is the body of the Federal government, so wanting, not 
only in clothing, but in limbs." Colonel Banning and Murray went aboard 
the prize and the captain showed a commission from the French republic 
authorizing Citizen Hooper to carry the prize to the nearest port. Colonel 
Banning seized the vessel, Murray, the only member of congress on the 
spot hazarding the step, and then writing Paca, the federal district Judge. 
Murray adds that the public are satisfied, as they support the neutrality 
proclamation, though they are friendly to the French revolution. The 
prize was lawfully taken, but unlawfully sent to a neutral country and 
became subject to all the rights of dominion inherent in a neutral. Sam- 
uel Smith wrote Hamilton on June 16, that a neutral should not permit 
the sale of prizes. Hooper is suspected to own a share in the privateer 
which he fitted out in Charleston and sold It to the French who may brios 
up other prizes. He is an ignorant young man and is much alarmed, 
Ing that the great men and governor at Charleston misled him. 
2 Schatf 8 Chron., 266. 


1791-1796] qf James McHenry 143 

more volunteer companies^ which action was ratified by the leg- 
islature in November. On November 29, the assembly voted 
that a committee be appointed in Baltimore, with power to 
draw on the treasurer of the Western Shore, weekly for $500, 
from December 1 to February 2, **for the subsistence of the 
distressed French citizens now in this State from St. Do- 
mingo," unless congress should make earlier provision. On 
the 30th, John Ganevain and William Du Bourg thanked the 
assembly for the relief, in the name of the refugees. On De- 
cember 23, the house of delegates asked the senate to join in 
an address to Maryland's representatives in congress, to have 
the state recompensed for relief given 1,200 persons from San- 
to Domingo who arrived in Baltimore, * * destitute of every ne- 
cessity of life, without money and unskilled in our language." 
Eeference is made to the glory England received from rescuing 
such fugitives as the Huguenots and Palatines. On August 
11, McHenry wrote Washington that the French minister had 
made a requisition on the French merchant fleet in Baltimore 
harbor for 600 seamen to rendezvous at PhiladelplMa and had 
ordered the consul at Baltimore to furnish each volunteer 
with $5. The greatest part had already ^ left town. 

On August 20, Samuel Smith wrote Hamilton, support- 
ing the president's action in the Genet matter, 2 and saying 
that an Irishman, desirous of custom, hung out the tricolor 
on July 17, but, finding he did not attract French customers, 
pulled it in again. Robert Smith, Captain Strieker, and two 
magistrates went to Fell 's Point and found that there was no 
foundation for the report that there was a French rendezvous 
there. Only one privateer was in the harbor. Kilty seized 
her, but found she had on board only the arms which she 
had brought, and on sailing, her captain promis(»d to take 
off the French that are a burden and one younj[( Irishman. 

Six days later, Colonel John Eager Howard wrote Hamil- 
ton that, while he approved Hamilton's instructions concern- 
ing privateers, there is so ranch money to be made from them^ 

1 On August 27. Samuel Smith wrote Hamilton that there was no 
truth in a report that an expedition against Providence in the Bahamas 
would set forth from Baltimore. 

2 The governor, he writes, is sound in principles?, but Annapolis, the 
seat of government, is not the seat of trade and he is not well Informed. 
The English at New York hurt their own cause. On the 27th, he wrote 
that Governor Lee has been long opposed to French measures, the mali- 
cious say because the revolutionists seized the priests' property, Lee having 
become a Roman Catholic, "I believe, from principle." He refused to givo 
Thornton, the British consul, an exequatur, when in Baltimore, as every- 
tlilBg must be done in council at Annapolis. 

144 Ij\fe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

that some persons are discontented, and that the conduct of the 
English privateers makes us wish for peace. ^ 

The general assembly met on November 4, but McHenry 
did not attend until the 30th. On that day, he introduced a 
bill for a health officer in Baltimore, a city then regarded as 
very unhealthy in summer and where ''malignant contagious 
fever" had raged that year. On December 3, he was ap- 
X>ointed one of a committee of five to bring in a bill to erect 
Baltimore into a city. ^ This question of incorporation was 
a very live one in local politics and Fell's Point was anxious 
to be excluded from the city limits. A charter was proposed 
and passed the senate on December 24, but was lost in the 
house, and, when the charter was finally passed in 1796, it 
is said that the representatives from Baltimore had no small 
ado to reconcile the city to it. ' 

The militia bill was also discussed. McHenry voted with 
the majority to exempt minor apprentices, agricultural la- 
borers, students under twenty-one, and teachers, and that 
volunteer companies be given up, save in Baltimore, where the 
"public interest requires that energy and activity of exer- 
tion which is best produced" by them. The assembly was 
quite strenuous on the desirability of the federal senate's sit- 
ting with open doors and of the enactment of the eleventh 
amendment to the constitution, preventing an individual from 
bringing suit against a state. The house of delegates made at 
this time an assault on the annual gift to the state colleges, but 
the senate refused to join in the repeal. It is interesting to 
note that McHenry voted in favor of the resolution to grant 
the federal government, with consent of the owner of the land, 
permission to build a fort or arsenal on Whetstone Point, to 
which fort McHenry 's name was later given. 
\ McHenry wrote Washington on March 31, and April 3, 

1794, asking that he be sent to France and Vienna to secure 
the release of Lafayette and his family. * This would be like 
the friendship of Achilles for Patroclus and the autumnal 
fevers, from which McHenry had suffered in 1792 and 1793^ 
caused him to wish for a change of air. 

1 On November 29, 1793, the state senate unanimously paMed re- 
solves in favor of neutrality. 

2 He was ill on the 10th. 
8 .Scharf's Chron., 280. 
4 FV>rd. xll. il2 ; Siiarks, x, 397. McHenry oomplaina of Ul health. 

It is interesting to note that on April 8, Monroe wrote Washington pro- 
testing against the appointment of Hamilton as minister to Great Britain, 
which he heard was proposed. 


1791-1796] qf James McHenry 146 

Washington answered on April 8, 1»reaking through his 
usual rule of not replying to letters asking for appointments^ 
**from motives of esteem and regard and our former con- 
nexion in public life," and said that there would be no ad- 
vantage in sending McHenry, inasmuch as everything that 
could be done, ** without committing my public character and 
involving this country in embarrassments," had already been 
done. McHenry answered on April 10, regretting that the 
president cannot appoint him and thanking Washington for 
news of that "unfortunate person," Lafayette. 

On July 17, 1794, Richard Potts, one of the federal sen- 
ators from Maryland, wrote Hamilton, stating that he in- 
tended to resign his position because of family losses and the 
death of a wife, who left him with a family of small children. 
He asked to be made collector of the port of Baltimore. To 
fill his place in the senate, Uriah Forrest urged McHenry to 
become a candidate as follows : 

**I presume you know that Mr. Potts does not mean again 
to attend the Senate. I need not I am sure observe to you 
how important is the replacing of his appointment well I 
am a sanguine not a desponding man — and I do in my 
heart believe the time has never been nor perhaps may never 
again happen, when the Choice for that House, from Mary- 
land was of such consequence to the happiness of this Coun- 
try. Presuming on Izard's successor being of Butler's senti- 
ments, you will find in the Senate, exclusive of Maryland, an 
equal number of disorganizing: with orderly Members. Then 
on ^laryland does every thing Han«?. Under these circum- 
stances, fond as I know you are of retirement, I count with 
firm reliance on your agreeing to serve. Should opposi'tion 
arise. You Shall be suported well from this quarter. I have 
not been much in the habit of Pressing men into service — 
but in times of danger, I shall always be ready to act & do 
for common good, & in urging you by a regard for that Com- 
mon good, by a regard to your o^ti & others safety, & by that 
friendship which though for a long time not much professed 
I hope never slept, I think I am doing service, because I think 
it will have some influence in your determination." 

As McHenry was not to be sent t© Europe, he went to 
the Sweet Springs again this summer for his health. Some 
of his letters to his wife give interesting pictures of the life 

146 Li\fe and Correspoadence [Chap.x 

at that resort. Thus he wrote on the 8th of August, 1794 : 
*'My dear Peggy. 

''My last letter to you was dated at the warm 
springs and sent by a traveller as far as Frederick where it 
was to be put into the post office. 

''I arrived at this place the 4th instant in the forenoon, 
and have got into a good room, near the water and have no 
reason to complain of the table or general accommodations. 
There are about sixty boarders, of which twelve or fourteen 
are ladies. The gentlemen dine at a common table ; the ladies 
in their huts or rooms. 

** There are several consumptive patients at the springs; 
those in the early stages of that disorder seem to receive bene- 
fit, those far advanced according to an observation I made in 
1789, seem on the contrary to fall sooner than they would 
have done by the natural course of the disease under a proper 
regimen. Indeed the latter appears so well established as to 
admit of little or no doubt. There may however be excep- 
tions to the rule arising from the species of consumption. 

**The care of souls is not neglected in this quarter. I 
attended a methodist sermon yesterday and heard card play- 
ing and dancing condemned as damnable sins. The sermon 
was scarcely ended when some of the gentlemen returned to 
the card-table, and others joined the ladies to receive their 
approbation for an assembly. Whether the ladies were con- 
vinced by the arguments of the preacher or the beaux a little 
time will determine. The holy men I find propose to preach 
on Sunday and no doubt will resume the subject should they 
hear of these attempts to mislead the fair, and perpetuate the 
practice of gaming. 

**The amusements of this place are neither so numerous 
nor various as to draw off my attention from those afiFection- 
ate attractions I have left at home. These often make my 
day dream and always my night. Fancy thus removes the 
distance and brings me near to those I love with the most 
tender affection. Shall I not soon receive news to realize my 
hopes and convince me of your health and that of our dear 
little ones? I shall then enjoy a real and solid satisfaction, 
next to that of seeing and embracing you and my children. 

'*Did I say amusements? Why there are none here un- 
less card parties are considered of that class. I have heard 
of an assembly it is true, but dancing to no music or bad 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry 147 

music can hardly be called an amusement. One may occupy 
themselves however in various ways. First in drinking the 
water, and next in riding or walking to get quit of it. Then 
comes breakfast about 8 o'clock after having kept the appe- 
tite on the rack for an hour or more before. About eleven 
o'clock you renew your potions of water; make little riding or 
walking excursions, visit Beaver dam, or sit on benches or 
chat till three o'clock when every one is anxious to hear a 
horn blow which is the summons to dinner. From six to 
eight o'clock there is a little more water drinking after which 
those who choose coffee, tea, bread and milk or rye-mush eat 
supper, and in a general way thus begins proceeds and closes 
the diurnal occupations of the Sweet Springs. 

**Mr. Barton has been here a few days and sets out on 
his return tomorrow; so that I expect by Sunday week you 
will have this letter in your possession. But when shall I 
get one from youT It will be ten days at least before our 
post comes from Staunton, for the arrangement fell some- 
what short in point of expedition of what I have described it 
to you. Instead of being here once a week it will be once a 
fortnight only. Continue however to write me once a week, 
and let them be put into the post oiBce the evening before the 
mail is closed for Winchester by the way of Alexandria, which 
I imagine to be the shortest route to Staunton. 

**Gk)d bless my dear Peggy and our little one, with our 
dear Jane, to whom remember me. 

"Your affectionate 
** James McHenry" 

''Sweet Springs 18th Augt. 1794. 
•*My dear Peggy. 

**My last letter mentioned to you my excursion to Bote- 
tourt, and a hurried account of the aspect of the eomitry 
through which I passed. The town of Botetourt was erected 
about twenty years since; contains about one hundred and 
thirty houses; has a church without a clergyman; a court 
house and goal in good order; a tolerable tavern, and four- 
teen stores or shops. It and the neighbourhood furnishes a 
scanty practice for one Doctor, and suflScient employment for 
several lawyers. 

**Two miles on this side of the town is a plantation late 
the property of one Carper, now Mr. Breckenridges, with 
whom I had some business that led me to Botetourt. What 

148 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

induces me to notice this plantation is a kind of circular mole 
or monticello which commands a fine view of the whole vale 
below, a meandring stream, and numerous surrounding moun- 
tains. Upon the summit of this hill, which attracts the atten- 
tion from all other objects is Carper's house; but if this 
Dutchman has discovered taste in the choice of ground it 
stands on, it is to be regretted that he has left neither tree 
nor shrub visible from the road that might have afforded 
shade or shelter, or added by their arrangement to the natural 
charms of the place. The road from whence I contemplated 
this beautiful spot lays about one quarter of a mile from the 
house. To arrive here from the Sweet Springs you must ride 
twenty three miles over stupendously high and rugged moun- 
tains, where a horse never trots, by a pathway sometimes bor- 
dering on precipices and sometimes winding on the steep 
banks of rivers, with not more than three or four small pieces 
of cultivated ground to relieve the eye during the whole dis- 
tance. It is more than likely that such a journey prepares 
the mind to reject none of the beauties of Carper's hill, nay, 
may do more, serve to enhance them 

''Seated again at the springs I wish I could find where- 
withal to amuse you. Here everything wears the same face 
as when I left them save some changes the company have 
undergone by departures and arrivals. The preachers have 
all withdrawn except one, and seemingly yielded to the as- 
cendency of loo and whist. Much of the female youth and 
beauty which supported the hopes of future assemblies have 
also disappeared whilst in addition to this stroke the sudden 
conversion of the only fidler in these parts to methodism, has 
effectually destroyed all expectation of their renewal during 
the season. 

**You will be surprised perhaps to hear that I have spent 
a part of this morning and yesterday in the examination of 
ancient and modem inscriptions, or to learn that so remote 
a quarter of the world should contain any food for the an- 
tiquarian. Here the stool you sit on, the table you eat off, 
the walls and door of the room or hut you sleep in present 
you with the names of persons who have visited ttiese waters, 
and in many instances with the place of their abode and dates 
of their arrival and departure, carved, some, in Boman and 
some in Italian characters with much apparent labour and 
pen-knife ingenuity. I find that I am acquainted with sev- 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry 149 

eral of these candidates for distinction and immortality; but 
it is greatly to be apprehended that the whole group may be 
gradually lost to posterity in proportion as the materials they 
have made the vehicle of their fame shall moulder and decay. 
One thing is very remarkable in these records, that no lover 
should have carved the name of his mistress, nor any mis- 
tress that of her lovers or her own. 

**To you my dear Peggy who loved me early and who 
loves me still I inscribe myself on paper your still fond and 
affectionate lover and husband James McHenry" 

Sunday — Sweet Springs 24 Augt. 1794. 
My dear Peggy. 

**I have been this morning to hear a very animated ser- 
mon delivered by Bishop Maddison upon the excellency of the 
christian worship; the superiority of the morality it pre- 
scribes, the hope it inspires, and the means it enjoins to attain 
its end. As the shortest route to persuasion seems to have 
been intended he was no ways sparing in rhetorical figures 
allusions and similes, most of which appeared to be happily 
placed and some of the last perhaps new. On the whole I 
felt pleased as well with the sentiments and turn of expres- 
sion as general texture of the discourse, and could have lis- 
tened to another of the same kind without danger of falling 
asleep. I can further say, that of five sermons by different 
persons which I have heard since my arrival here, the Bishop 's 
notwithstanding Pope's irony is decidedly the best. 

A judge !s Just a chancellor Juster still 

a gownman leam'd, a Bishop what you will, 

**But as Mr Maddison is a philosopher as well as Bishop 
we propose to renew our chemical experiments to-morrow on 
the Sweet Spring water. 

**Your absent and affectionate 
** James McHenry'* 
'* Sweet Springs Sept. 7th 1794. 
**My dear Peggy. 

* ' The first of this month I used the bath for the first time 
and have repeated it ever>' morning since, but make the exper- 
iment under circumstances which render its utility doubtful. 
I do not know as yet whether I shall continue to use it. One 
thing I can say, that I have as yet perceived no inconvenience 
from the experiment. I get up about 5 o'clock; wrap my 
cloak round mc^ and in that dress go down to the bath house 

150 Ij\fe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

which is within one hundred yards of my room: I stay in 
the bath about five minutes return and dress myself; ride 
three or four miles immediately after, drink about a quart 
of the red-spring water (a mile from the Sweet Springs) and 
return to breakfast which is generally on table between eight 
and nine. About eleven o'clock I ride six miles drink again 
of the red spring water, and dine about 3 o'clock. I ride 
no more during the day, and generally spend the afternoon 
in sauntering or making experiments on the waters. 

** Adieu my dear Peggy adieu and God bless you and our 
dear little ones." 

''Sweet Springs 16 Sept. 1794. 


My dear Peggy. 

Yesterday I visited some thermal waters on the edge 
of Snake-run about five miles from this place and four miles 
nearer to Baltimore. As far as one can judge by the eye taste 
and sensible effects of these waters they possess at least in as 
great a degree the same operative principals as the Sweet and 
Red Spring waters ; of course are no less valuable in a med- 
icinal point of view. The one whose qualities are similar to 
the Red Spring water gushes out of a rock at the base of a 
mountain into a large natural bason with an aperture in it 
like the lip of a jug through which its contents pass into 
Snake-run colouring the stones and sides of the bason with an 
ochry matter such as the Red-spring exhibits. 

''Close by this is another gaseus water from which fixed 
air rises abundantly in bubbles, and which tastes as acidulous 
as the water of the Sweet Spring ; while a few yards further 
on there rises from the same mountain a stream of pure com- 
mon spring water devoid of the medicinal qualities of either 
of the others. Thus has bountiful Providence in a small 
compass given to his creature man two invaluable gifts, and at 
the same time placed them in a salubrious climate and fertile 
soil; for altho' the land in the \dcinity of these waters is 
chiefly high and mountainous much of it is nevertheless cap- 
able of being converted into fine upland meadow and com 
and wheat fields. 

' ' Snake-run which is considerably increased by these ther- 
mal waters, meanders through a narrow vale formed by ti^^o 
opposite mountains whose sides and summits are covered with 
large trees. After it gets about a quarter of a mile from the 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry ^ 151 

springs the fixed air of the thermal waters which held in dis- 
solution their saline and calearious matters, having chiefly 
evaporated, these matters precipitate and adhere to whatever 
obstruction they find to cross the stream, and form by gradual 
and successive accumulations masses of a porous stoney sub- 
stance ranged in order like the seats of a tiieatre, over which 
the water tumbles and murmurs and whitens into foam, giv- 
ing an image in miniature of the roarings and dashings of 
gigantic Niagara. 

**To this fine spectacle is subjoined another perhaps more 
beautiful, but more concealed from observation and difficult 
of access. Having clambered up about the third part of a 
very high rugged and rocky mountain adjoining the medicinal 
springs, you descend (taking with you lights) a kind of shaft 
about twenty feet in depth, when there opens to the right and 
left several suits of subterranian appartments, repeated and 
extended much further than I chose to penetrate. Some of 
these are very lofty and spacious and all of them adorned 
and incrusted, tho' with unequal elegance, with pillars and 
wainscotting composed of a depositum of a christalline ap- 
pearance. This substance or depositum is in many of the 
compartments of a snowy whiteness and fleecy. Many of the 
pillars which it forms are ornamented with great fancy and 
exhibit, as well as the pitted vaults and sides of the rooms and 
passages various natural and fantastical figures. Over a hor- 
isontal projection seems to hang a young child not badly 
expressed, while at a small distance, a half-pillar, which stands 
as if it had been placed by desiprn to assist you to descend from 
one appartment to another, represents the bald head of an old 
man. Some of these pillars and their plates which fall like 
curtains from the walls are sonorous when struck, and prently 
echo the gurgling of a stream of water (supposed to be Snake- 
run) which takes its dark and devious way throupfh these 
abodes of eternal dampness, darkness and solitude. You know 
my dear, that this subterranean creation so various and inter- 
esting is produced by means apparently the most simple. You 
know that the water which is continually filterinpr through 
the mountain above into the cave throunrh the crevices of its 
rock brings with it matter that christallises into this assem- 
blage of pillars, white roofs and fleecy wainscotting; and that 
each new addition of christalline fluid which distills irom the 
incumbent rocks changes and varies the size and appearance 

152 L\fe qnd Corrchpondence [Chap, x 

of the pillars, the roof, the wainseotting and all the figures 
that adorn and embellish this beautiful assemblage. 

** There is another cave in the vicinity of this one, but as 
it exhibits only inferior beauties you will not be displeased 
at me for omitting its description. 

** Would you believe it that the medicinal waters of 
Snake-run and about two hundred and fifty acres of land con- 
taining all these interesting spectacles could be bought for 
about £250. Whereas I have no doubt considering the 
probable progress of population and wealth that at no very 
remote period the purchase will require two or three thousand. 

**I have only one intimation to give you should curiosity 
ever lead you to view this cave : do not venture into it when 
heated by the exercise of ascending the mountain, but patiently 
saunter about till you acquire somewhat of the coolness of its 
atmosphere otherwise you may pay too dear for a view of its 

' * Thus my dear Peggy I have given you a faithful trans- 
cript of my yesterday's excursion and survey. To-morrow 
Mr. Richie who accompanied me from Frederick leaves me and 
will carry this letter; but as he talks of some delays on the 
road, it may not reach you in the usual time by some days. 
Adieu my dear Peggy far dearer than the medicinal waters 
of Snake-run, its caves and their christalline beauties to your 

* ' McHenry ' ' 

''Sweet Spring 28th Sept. 1794 
My dear Peggy. 

Yesterday I received Mr. Jorri's letter of the 9th inst. 
which you may be certain gave me pleasure inasmuch as it 
assured me you and our children were well when he wrote; 
but had it been convenient for you to have said so yourself my 
pleasure would have been much more perfect. 

*'How embarrassed with sick servants, and overloaded 
with fatigue for want of assistants since I left you! Under 
such accounts I cannot stay longer here and be at rest in my 
mind; I shall therefore leave this place so as to arrive at 
Staunton Wednesday next which is the post day when I hope 
to find a letter from yourself of a later date than that from 
Mr. Jorri. Why did you not give ten dollars a month rather 
than be without servants? Why subject yourself to fatigues 
in hot weather, which might be injurious to your health T 

1791-1796] qfJavies McHenry 158 


The waters are at present in their best state and will 
continue so throughout October ; and yet the company have al- 
most all disappeared, even those who found most benefit from 
them, or rather stood most in want of their assistance. It 
would seem that the idea of solitude was more dreadful to 
some than the prospect of disease. The appearance of the 
place it is true is very different from what it was a few weeks 
ago. A village deserted by its inhabitants whose houses are 
falling into ruin gives a faint idea of the deserted and ruinous 
state of the huts at the Sweet Springs. You walk through 
them without seeing any of their late inhabitants and hear 
nothing to disturb the silence that universally reigns save the 
noise of the wood pecker, the falling of the leaves of trees or 
the murmuring of the hollow wind among the neighbouring 
mountains and everlasting forests. 

**Can one find any amusement amid such scenes? Yes 
my Peggy, were I but certain, that you were well, at your 
ease, and our children so also, I should like to remain an in- 
habitant of these solitary places during the month of October. 
The wind should answer to my love murmurs, while echo 
would carry your name through the mountains, and the falling 
leaves speak to my soul most excellent morality. He is poor 
in ideas and barren in resources indeed who sees in solitude 
nothing but frightful chimeras, and in these mountains no 
amusement whatever. 

**But whatever praise may be due to solitude, and what- 
ever entertainment these places may contain, I yield all with 
pleasure for you and Fayetteville. 

**God bless you my Peggy and make our meeting happy 
prays your affectionate 

' * James McHenry ' ' 

On November 2, the day before the assembly should meet 
at Annapolis, Chase wrote McHenry on the projected incor- 
poration of Baltimore City as follows: 

Balto. Sunday Noon. 
Dear Sir, 

'*The place of the Clerk of the Senate will be solicited by 
several Gentlemen. Mr. Ninian Pinkney, brother of Mr. 
William Pinkney, my friend, will be one of the applicants, 
and I wish he may meet your Approbation. I have no doubt 
that he is every way qualified to execute the Duties of the 

154 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

OflBce, and therefore I earnestly recommend him to your pa- 
tronage and friendship, — if you should be pleased to honour 
him with your Vote You will confer on Me a personal obli- 

**I only returned yesterday afternoon from Annapolis, 
and have no Information of any thing intended by the friends 
of the proposed Bill for the incorporation of Balto Town. I 
have seen the thing proposed by the united Committees, and 
your strictures on it. I imagine it would be proper to draw 
instructions to the Representatives of this place, directing 
them to ratify the Bill and altho I am inclined [ T] to propose 
to the Senate certain amendments, to agree to such others as 
will effectuate the great object of the original Bill, the estab- 
lishment of an energetic Government for Baltimore founded 
with principles of a Republican Grovemment 

**It appears to Me from the Nimibers (500) who last year 
petitioned for a law of Incorporation, a fourth Thing was 
proposed by the Senators, that all kinds of Citizens agree in 
the Necessity of incorporating the To\ni, but differ about the 
form of the Government. I return to Annapolis on tomorrow 
Week. I am 

**With great respect 

**Yr. Hble. Obedt Servt. 
''Sam. Chase." 

McHenry did not appear in the senate until the 17th, 
but this delay seems to have been a characteristic of most of 
the members; for, frequently, two weeks passed before a 
quorum was secured and the body organized at this time, on 
the day when McHenry came. 

On December 3, he introduced a bill to establish a bank 
in Baltimore and on the 16th, with Carroll of CarroUton, he 
voted in the minority against ratifying the eleventh amend- 
ment. ^ 

He had but one voting with him, while ten were against 
him, on the adoption of the following resolutions, which he 
offered on the 18th : 

** Resolved that the situation and circumstances of the 
people of this State make it expedient to frame a system of 
county schools, as subsidiary to the colleges and the more 
expensive promulgating of learning. 

1 He was absent on December 24. 

179M796] qf James McHenry 155 

''Resolved that a committee from the Senate should be 
appointed to confer with a committee from the House of Dele- 
gates in order to obtain their sentiments on the subject and 
what taxes might be with propriety laid to support the said 

He stood with nine others against the two who voted to 
take the annual grant from St. John's College^ voted with 
four others, against seven, to destroy the governor's council 
and brought in a bill to permit members of the legislature to 
afiSrm instead of taking an oath. 

Washington had great trouble with his cabinet in his 
second administration. Hamilton and Eoiox resigned in the 
winter of 1794-95, and the feeling in Philadelphia about 
the secretaryship is clearly shown in two interesting letters 
William Vans Murray, a member of congress, sent McHenry at 
the time. 

''Philad. 16 Dec. 1794. 

**Dear Sir, 

** There has nothing new come forward lately from Eng- 
land. It would appear as though the publication (by Mr. 
R[andolph]) of the two official notes from Mr. Jay & Lord 
Grenville were an untimely gratification of public curiosity. 
It show'd the feebler part, the mere introduction of the busi- 
ness, of a scheme in which vigour appeared necessary, at least 
appeared so to the public mind here which was greatly excited 
by recent injuries. — & a proper regard to silence on an 
uncertain event necessarily prevented a further publication of 
that part. The effect was not happy here as they did not 
see all, they ought perhaps to have seen nothing — and yet 
directions, or rules, might have been given by the Secretary 
of State for the guidance of the sufferers or claimants agree- 
ably to Mr. J's ideas — but the murmur soon subsided The 
impression of the [whiskey] insurrection aided in smoothing 
down every asperity. It has been deep, & effective, it is to 
be hoped. The roots of the cause however are perhaps to be 
looked for if any where existing in the remnant of the Demo- 
cratic clubs. These will I am convinced still go on. They 
assume a ground so plausible in a free country that they will 
still flourish & ocassionally produce convulsions, or rather 
prepare the public mind for them. The present time how- 
ever is certainly propitious to a sober examination of their 
tendency, & perhaps of their Objects. Every thing is to be 

156 Ltfe and Conxspondence [Chap. X 

hoped for from the ,good sense of the public when so lately 
roused into reflexion. 

**That your old Military comes Col Hamilton should be 
about to retire from oflSee must give you & every friend to the 
country much regret. Knox too talks of resigning. In fact 
the government does not seem to grow better, as to its agents, 
In every part of it — instead of growing more mellow — it 
seems more crude & green. The prospect of the new elections 
too for the next Congress presents no consolation — much I 
fear that the Majority in this house at least if not in the 
Senate will be wrong, to say no more. That is they will be 
composed of a majority who will be composed of two sorts 
of men. A few who were anti in 87 — and are so still — 
and those also were Federal in 87 — and also think themselves 
to be so still — men who do not wish to overturn the govern- 
ment — but who by an undue infusion of new fangled disor- 
ganizing principles are outrageously wild in their theories & 
practice, & who wish to make the constitution the post on 
which they would hang up these new principles — These men 
would ruin this or any other energetic system by their mode 
of administering & working it. They sail down a current — 
and mean to stop at the cataract. They would unintention- 
ally go down the cataract at last. For I can not believe that 
you can find twelve men in the government who would by one 
decisive blow destroy it. But the other description are & 
will be too much guided by these. 

^^ Between our selves, there is ground to expect that this 
late affair to the Westward will produce a sort of crisis in the 
parties of the ancient Dominion — where a respect for the 
personal private characters of some pretty eminent men has 
hitherto evaded an open & marked line between the puzzlers 
& disorganizing politicians & the sober, good & firm Federalists. 
I rejoice that my name has not been brought forward agt 
Mr. Henry or to the slightest interruption of his re-election — 
& am much fiattered by the kind manner in which you mention 
the circumstance" 

*'Philad. 1. Jany 1795. 
"Dear Sir, 

**The stream of time running on silently for ages would 
be a dutch canal, tame & insipid were it not intersected by here 
& there a point of flowers and verdure to enliven its banks. 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry 157 

Sundays — months & years — even fasts as well as festivals 
aid the mind & spirits like these resting points. I can easily 
conceive why the ladies & fine gentlemen drop the ceremony 
of gratidation on the birth of the new year & it is for the 
reason you have given — wrinkles — We love the new year 
perhaps because not to have reached it would have been a 
greater evil than to grow old. Like you I had rather enjoy 
it at home in the true Maryland feudal like style of the E. 
Shore. To make the Banjo (in lieu of the Hall's Harp, or 
the Bagpipe) drone away in the Kitchen — to give out brandy 
to the poor slaves & see them eat blood puddings as a luxury. 
But Mrs. Murray is with me & I am consoled. Though the 
beating of the drums near us & the firing of guns & ringing 
of bells at Twelve o'clock last night were not abso[lutely] 
necessary to that repose which is so necessary before a man 
starts on the long journey of a full year. But I am well to- 
day — & what is better the President is in fine health & seems 
to defy the ravages of time during life as much as his name 
certainly will after death. We all went to see him to day — 
& he so little understands the taste of politicians as to have had 
a treat of sweet cake & wine ready for his * faithful commons.* 

* * The subject which engages the House is a Naturalization 
bill — we would lengthen the time of residence. The flood 
of men & of their opinions is to be feared by all who can trace 
the fitness of the people to their governments, and of those 
to the People — most of this fitness perhaps arises more from 
the peculiar composition of the Society than from any exercise 
of the will of the people. So naturally & essentially do the 
Theories belong to the opinions habits & immemorial practice 
of the citizens of the U. S. that their General and particular 
modes of Government can hardly be said to have been Willed. 
What ever will materially affect or suddenly derange this com- 
position perhaps oup:ht to be guarded aprainst. It is fair to ex- 
pect probably one million of souls here in less than three years, 
let the contest end as it may in France. Ought we not to set a 
high price on a participation of citizenship where an easy 
acquisition of it, by those who must have very different ideas 
from those of our citizens, might affect the political complexion 
of the mass & of course be felt in the government. 

*'I am so much flattered by an agreement with you in 
former opinions, that you see I venture to go on in giving mine 
freely — indeed this is the line I have taken in th(! Debate. 

158 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap.x 

Giles has made a very frivolous motion relatively to the bill 
wh. you will see in the enclosed paper of Brown's. Wishing 
you & Mrs McHenry a happy new year in a continuance of 
all your own blessings I am with sincere esteem Dear Sir 

"respectfully yrs 

''W.V. Murray. 
**Gtenl. Enox resigned yesterday — Pickering is talked 
of — a sober man & accurate but not so known on the broad 
scale — we certainly are retrograding as to characters. Jef- 
ferson succeeded by R. — Knox by P. — Hamilton by — aTiy- 
tody no — I have no reason to believe that Mr. J. has be^ 
thought of seriously — once I heard his name out of Doors." 

In consequence of Hamilton's retirement, McHenry wrote 
him on February 17, 1795, the first letter he had sent, since 
Perry failed to receive the desired appointment ^ Though 
not writing **I have not ceased to love you, nor for a moment 
felt any abatement of my friendship." He had not written, 
for he thought thus to free Hamilton from embarrassment and 
that, if Hamilton wished his services, he would write for them. 

**You see how well I have persevered in this determin* 
ation and that it is only now, when I can have nothing to 
expect and you nothing to give, that I recall you to the remem- 
beranee of our early union and friendship. It is during this 
period, my dear Hamilton, that you will find unequivocal in- 
stances of the disinterested friendship I feel for you and which 
ought to convince you, how well I am entitled to a full return 
of yours. The tempest weathered and landed on the same 
shore, I may now congratulate you upon having established 
a system of credit and having conducted the affairs of our 
country upon principles and reasoning, which ought to insure 
its immortality, as it undoubtedly will your fame. Few pub- 
lic men have been so eminently fortunate, as voluntarily to 
leave so high a station with such a character and so well 
assured a reputation and still fewer have so well deserved the 
gratitude of their country and the eulogiums of history. Let 
this console you for past toils and pains and reconcile you to 
humble pleasures and a private life. What remains for you, 
having ensured fame, but to ensure felicity T Look for it in 
the moderate pursuit of your profession or, if public life still 
flatters, in that office most congenial to it and which will not 

1 Hamilton, v, 623 ; J. C. Hamilton, Life of Hamilton, v, 194. 

1791-1796] qf James McHenry 159 

withdraw you from those literary objects that require no 
violent waste of spirits and those little plans that involve 
gentler exercise and which you can drop or indulge in without 
injury to your family. I have built houses. I have culti- 
vated fields. I have planned gardens. I have planted trees. 
I have written little essays. I have made poetry once a year 
to please my wife, at times got children and, at all times, 
thought myself happy. Why cannot you do the samef for, 
after all, if a man is only to acquire fame or distinction by 
continued privations and abuse, I would incline to prefer a 
life of privacy and little pleasures." 

On June 14, McHenry wrote Washington ^ expecting soon 
to start for the Sweet Springs and recommending Samuel 
Chase for a position on the federal bench, without his knowl- 
edge, saying, ** Chase and I are on neither good nor bad terms, 
neither friends nor enemies. To profound knowledge, he adds 
a valuable stock of political science and information." 

In that summer, which McHenry spent in Virginia, came 
the scandal about the French dispatches, followed by Ran- 
dolph's resignation, which led Murray to write McHenry as 
follows : 

Dear Sir, 

Your letter I answered by Doctor Sulivan who went to 
the Berkley Springs as he had no opportunity of delivering 
it — he brought it back. Since that period you have I hope 
found your old friends the mountains and cascades true to 
their promises of health as well as pleasure & now enjoy in 
the rosy cheeks of your little ones the best evidence the nature 
of such friendship will admit. 

**You are — you must be very solicitous to know some- 
thing of the mysteries of Fauehet's letter. I have seen it's 
copy in english. It is a most curious affair — & highly dis- 
graceful to certain men in this country. He declares that 
Randolph 2 came to him during the critical appearances of 
the Insurrection and made him the offers — referring to No. 6 
wh. I have not seen. This No. 6 must have contained something 
wh. he (F.) deemed infamous — for, after the reference to 
No. 6 — he bursts into an apostrophe. Thus the consciences 
of these pretended patriots have their price (tariff). Thus 

1 He asks information about Lafaycttp. 

3 On this episode see Conway's "Omitted Chapters of History," 
which is a defense of Randolph's acts. 

160 Life and Correspondence [ChIp. x 

for a few thousand dollars the Republic wd., had she been 
disposed to pay men for doing their duty, have decided\on 
peace or a Civil War — (by duty he means from the preced- 
ing speculations on the degeneracy & aristocracy of the Gtovt 
— to have supported the Insurrection). (What will be the 
old age of this country if its infancy is thus decrepid!). He 
says R. came to him (in another part of his long letter) and 
told him the Govt, was determined to push these people into 
open violence that a pretext might be obtained for force & 
the establishment of despotic principles. He says the explo- 
sion was too soon. That the excise was the ostensible motion 
& the habits of the W. people gave a fitness for the workings 
of party. That they expected friends in the East & South 
nay even in the bosom of the Govt itself ! 

**This letter is a valuable comment upon many appear- 
ances at that period & since & before — to preserve the alli- 
ance of the French Govt. wth. the antis • • • here for the 
purpose of overturning the Govt. — he says to confine the 
actual crisis (of the Insurrection) to the simple question of 
the excise is to reduce it much below its real scale. It is con- 
nected with a general explosion long since prepared in the 
public mind but wth. this local & precipitate eruption ren- 
dered abortive or at least put back for a long time. 

**If Mr R. is innocent he will clear himself at least I 
hope so — but he must have a power over the Science of Con- 
struction more than is conceivable to me if he can hold out 
even a shadow of vindication. His defence is not out. It 
will be an attack on the administration — & a slurring of the 
president." ^ 

1 On December 24, 17ft5, W. V. Murray wrote McHenry In referonoe 
to Chase and Riindolph as follows: 

"I have several times brougrht up Mr. Chace to view while the official 
wheel was In motion. I have taken pains to place his & Martins politics 
In the true point of view — as yet no consequence has follow'd except 
perhaps a preparation. Yes — Rutledge was rejected. It is said openly 
that he is In an unhappy State of mind — & often deran^d — by gentle- 
men Immediately from his own country. 

"I have always been of your opinion with respect to foreign ministers, 
& have constantly avoided any Intercourse more than formal visits A 
even those I have not gone Into more. than two years past. Not having 
been visited by any British minister for two years nor by any French min- 
ister for two years — nor having seen the first at his own house or my 
own for three winters nor the second but once at his own house at dinner 
once Fauchet — nor having dined with the Spanish minister these three 
years though I shall next monday dine with him — in a gala style. Wav- 
ing not been of consequence enough to be sought — & being too proud 
unsought to he won. I am but little known to them Genet & Fauchet 
never returned my visit. Nor that of many others of my complexion — 
& last winter not having even paid the visit of ceremony to Hammond of 
course I had no visit from him. I have waited on Adet — but he has not 


Rfmduod Ilk ofiffiuJ mu ftcoa oniBialurv owiwd by 
Dr. Jun McHcnry 
iCoPV'gtl, 1907, Thr Bumwi Bwll^n Com. 

179M796] qf James McHenry 161 

Washin^n offered the place left vacant to Thomas 
Johnson, who declined it in a letter of August 29, shortly after 
returning from a visit to the Old White Sulphur Springs : * * I 
am far from being ojat of humor with the world on my own 
account. It has done me more than justice, in estimating 
my abilities and more justice than common in conjecturing 
my motive. I feel nothing of fear, either, in hazarding again 
the little reputation I may have acquired; for I am not con- 
scious of having sought or despised applause. But, without 
affectation, I do not think I could do credit to the office of 
Secretary, I cannot persuade myself that I possess the neces- 
sary qualities for it and I am sure I am too old to expect 
improvement. My strength declines and so too probably will 
my mental powers soon, my views igi this world have been for 
sometime bounded chiefly to my children ; they, yet for a little 
while, may have me to lean on, being constantly with them 
adds to their happiness and makes my chief comfort. Most 
sincerely wishing you less alloy in the Returns of this world 
and the fullness of joy in the next, I remain with truth your 
affectionate and most obedient servant.'*^ 

While Washington was trying to fill the place, Hamilton 
wrote him, on November 5, making a number of suggestions. 
Among them, he said, not letting his friendship cause him to 
praise over much: ** McHenry, you know. He would give 
no strength to the administration, but would not disgrace the 

yet called on me — upon Le Frelre I have called and he on me — upon 
Bond as charge des affaires I have called — he not yet on me. You will 
pardon this monstrous egotism, when I tell you that Forrest once told me 
this time two years* that a man told him that a baker in this town said 
(to hJa Son who told F.) that the britlsh minister & consul were night A 
morning at my lodgings in Union Street. I told F. to tell the baker's Son 
that his Father Lif^d — from me if he saw him again — & showing Forrest 
a note In which I stated the fact of his (Mr Forrest's report) & that he 
was a Mar. F. wd. not let me send it — as a thing perfectly beneath my 
notice. Neither Bond nor Hammond having been once in my lodgings 
that winter & spring. Such stories were industriously circulated I believe 
through the town where Madison's propositions had been a little in dis- 

" 'Randolph's Vindication of his Resignation* is out & much read. In 
vain I looked into F's explanation for an Innocent meaning of terms so 
portentous of infamy — not that I think R. received money but that the 
passages still impress the conviction of his duplicity & of some sort of 

"Do you remember anything of a letter on the Secret files of the old 
Congress — written by Marbois & intercepted? a chain of evidence rises 
gradually to vlf>w highly illustrative of the old policy of the French 
Court & connects their policy as one & Indivisible with that wh. I firmly 
believe actuates the Republican court of Paris. In this the nation has 
little to do. 

"I thank you for your good intentions towards Mr Robertson & can 
only lament that circumstances deprived him of the benefit I intended him" 

1 Hamilton, xi, 63. 

162 L\fe and Correspondence Chap-X 

office. His views are good. Perhaps his health &c would 
prevent his accepting." 

Three days later, McHemy wrote Washington that he 
was going shortly to Annapolis and would there favor the ap* 
plication to the state for a loan towards public buildings in 
the District of Columbia. He enclosed a prospectus of a new 
bank proposed to be established in Baltimore and had written 
an address which appeared in the Winchester (Va.) papers 
of October 15, on political matters. "Let me add," he con- 
tinues, **my humble intreaty to that of the prayers of all 
good men that the publications pointed at yourself with the 
evident intention to induce you either to resign or withdraw 
from another election may not be permitted to have that effect. 
You know the force and danger of the present crisis and how 
indispensible your remaining at the helm is to subdue it and 
give permanence to our prosperity and government." 

The assembly met at Annapolis on November 2, but Mc- 
Henry did not attend ^ until the 16th. Shortly afterwards a 
declaration of confidence ^ in Washington was introduced in 
the house of delegates by William Pinkney, **a man of real 
talents and genius and a fascinating speaker" and was sup* 
ported ** beautifully and irresistibly" by him, as McHenry 
wrote Washington on December 5. **His influence and conduct 
on the occasion overawed some restless spirits and reached even 
into the Senate," which body passed it with the same unan- 
imity as the house. 

1 He was absent on December 7, 18 and 19. He voted to enlarge 
the state's Investment In the Potowmack company. 

2 Ford. xl. 13S, 140. Washington thanked Governor John H. Stone 
for this declaration of confidence. 



Washington's secretary op war 

WASHINGTON'S difficulties as to his cabinet increased 
towards the end of his second administration. Pick- 
ering was finally transferred from the department 
of war to that of state, leaving the former department vacant. 
General Pinckney of South Carolina, Colonel Edward Carring- 
ton of Virginia, and Governor John Eager Howard of Mary- 
land all declined it. Washington now thought of his old secre- 
tary, McHenry, and, on January 20, 1796, wrote him ^ **that it 
would now give me sincere pleasure if you will fill the office 
of Secretary of War. " ^ With frank candor and friendliness, 
the president tells of the three previous tenders of the office, 
but states : **Let this letter be received with the same friend- 
ship and frankness with which it is written ; — nothing would 
add more to the satisfaction this would give me than your 
acceptance of the offer. * ' He pressed McHenry for an * * imme- 
diate reply" and, if the reply be favorable, for an immediate 
journey to the seat of government, even though Mrs. McHenry 
and the family be not brought along **in the present State of 
the roads." 

Washington further asked McHenry to ascertain whether 
Samuel Chase will accept a seat on the ** Supreme judicial 
bench of the United States." 

McHenry 's answer was dated 9 P. M., January 21, and 
said : * * I have this moment received vour favour of the 20th 
and am truly sensible of the sincerity of your wishes that I 
should accept of the war office department. On my part, I beg 
you to believe that nothing could give me more pleasure than 
to be near you for a few years, independent of public motives 
or considerations. I must, however, pray you to allow me till 
Monday to reflect on the offer and determine whether I can 

1 Ford, xlll, 113; Sparks, xi. 106. 

2 Brown's McHenry, 21. McHenr>''s nephew, John, wrote that he 
felt Washlngrton's letter was "an Injunction that he could not refuse and 
most reluctantly accepted the appointment, leaving his pleasant retire- 
ment to embark in the troubled sea of politics." 

164 Life and Correspondence [Chap. Xl 

with propriety and, as it respects my family, venture upon a 
change of position, which, by bringing me into public life, 
must necessarily bring with it much care and trouble and 
uneasiness. My inclination is to accept, but I shall be definite 
by next post. In the meantime, I diall obtain Mr. Chase's 
sentiments, which shall accompany my letter.*' 

On Monday, January 24, McHenry wrote again^ accepting 
the oflSce that was for more than four years to bring him from 
his quiet home into the rush and glare of public life: ** I re- 
sume the answer to your letter. I cannot say that I have ever 
experienced so much hesitation between giving way to inclin- 
ation and attachment to you personally and my own interest 
and ease, as has taken place during the two past days. It is 
now, however, all over and it is right I should confess that the 
soothing idea of serving under you, more particularly at this 
crisis, has effectually and irresistibly silenced all opposition. 
Such then as I am and with a heart truly devoted to you and 
the public good, dispose of as you please. 

**I shall commence tomorrow to prepare everything to 
facilitate my departure hence as soon as it is practicable after 
hearing from you and, in the meanwhile, have obtained Mrs. 
M's. consent to remain here, till I can get a house in Philadel- 
phia and the necessary furniture for her reception and accom- 
modation. Chase will accept too. Thus, sir, you see what 
you have done, you have made an old veteran very proud and 
happy and one not very young to approach the station you 
have assigned him with fear and trembling, for who, hereafter, 
may hope to escape without a wound, while there are men to 
be found who could aim poisoned arrows at yourself?** 

On the receipt of McHenry 's letter, his nomination was 
at once sent to the senate and promptly confirmed, as was 
Chase's which was sent in at the same time. Williamson and 
Murray wrote warm letters of congratulation as follows : 

'Thilada. 27th Jany 1796. 
''Dear Sir 

**You will probably learn from another Hand by this 
days Post that you are nominated and appointed Secy at War. 
Your friends and many Persons who know you only by Char- 
acter hope that you may serve in this Office although it is 
known that you have generally been averse from public Em- 
ployment. Knox, as you know, was considered to be a Man 
who went on a most expensive Scale. The follies of a gamb- 


1796-1797] qf James McHenry 165 

ling wife were passed to the Debit of her Husband, in Addition 
to his own — no great Stock of Talents. Pickering was con- 
sidered to be a firm & frugal Man and the Appointment I 
think gave much satisfaction. Since he had been advanced, 
Terror has siezed the public mind from the apprehension that 
we should be reduced to a State of insolvency by Genl. Wayne 
or Grovr. Lee in the Character of Secy, of War. Both of them 
have been spoken of and both are supposed to have been seek- 
ing the Place. And within a few hours I have seen several 
countenances illuminated with the Idea of being again out of 
danger. Nothing is so fervently desired by Eastern men & by 
Southern Men who take the trouble of thinking as that in our 
War Department, the Channel through [which] the greater 
Part of our Treasure goes, we may have a prudent, firm, frugal 
Officer who in private Life having shown that he knows the 
Value of money may be expected to be equally attentive to the 
National Property. When you cast an eye on the two Can- 
didates here named and the ci-devant Secy, you will readily 
discover the former cause of apprehension, a present Cause of 

*'Dr. sir With great sincerity 

**Your obedt Servt. 

' * Hu. Williamson. * ' ' 

''Thursday Evening January 28 1796. 
**Dear Sir, 

"To day the Senate, I hear, unanimously, concurred in 
the Presidents nomination of you as Secretary at War. I 
know not whether the President had previously obtained your 
consent. This however I can assure you of that he is exceed- 
ingly solicitous that you should come into the administration. 
Many names pretty high in military rank, and some in that of 
Talent too, were in view, & yours among them. You will, I 
know, not misconstrue me when I venture to urge you to ac- 
cept. I do not think, upon my honour, that you will consult 
your own glory in accepting this tribute of confidence from 
the first of men, after an intimate knowledge of you for so 
many years, part of which time, the most trying too, was past 
in his own family. Till the present administration, He has 
always had some of his old family with him. I think he still 
wishes to have his old inmates with him. This is certainly a 
habit that grows out of time, that no sudden confidence, how- 

166 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

ever solid & merited, comes up to, as it resiiects the affections. 
Since Hamilton 's days he has not had one of his old set The 
Two gentlemen, ^ confidentially, though men of honour, and 
capacity and of clear judgement & of very improvable minds^ 
are without doubt your inferiors as Cabinet ministers — in 
That & that only is the present admon. weaker than Hamil- 
ton's — a more various reading & more general knowledge of 
mankind would make them strong in thiis point for each has 
strength & vigor of mind. 

''The more disagreeable part of ofScial business in the 
War Department is infinitely lessened by the present & pros- 
pective State of affairs — and yet such is the political ticklish- 
ness of it that a steady policy in the admon. will be essential 
for three or four years. Cabinet business is conducted by 
the Three conjointly — for instance Randolph was directed 
by the P. to address the B. minister in a memorial on the provi- 
sion orders — & was desired to lay it before t(he other heads 
of Departt & the attorney Genl. — & they thought it too fiery 
& hostile for that season of our negociation & refused their 

''Tou have this consolation, & it ought to be a great one 
to you, certain I am it will be so to your boys when they grow 
up & Washington shall be gone, that your nomination was the 
Presidents own act — & the original conception of it entirely 
his own. After he had determined, he sent for me, & I found 
it was to know if I thought you would accept. I stated to 
him that though you found your own home extremely endeared 
to you, I firmly believed that your affectionate respect for him 
& good wishes to the Fedl. Gtovt. would supersede every other 
consideration & that you would. He then talked a great deal 
about you &, on the whole, I am convinced has felt no common 
emotion in the nomination. 

''Depend on this, that men long known to the public must 
accept these high offices or the Govt, dwindles into insignifi- 
cance — and what public duty is there wh. to a certain degree 
does not demand some sacrifice of predetermined schemes of 
life & personal quiet? Vanity & ambition I know you will 
say will always supply candidates enough. I know that, & 
that is the reason why such candidates shd. not be accepted. 

"Education is here at your door. Mrs. McHenry would 
be happy in her native place — as to the Salary (though it 
will be increased, if not this, the next session) it will maint>aiii 

1 Timothy Pickering and Oliver Wolcott 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 167 

you in that easy style of elegant but quiet accomodation wh. I 
think you love — at all events it does Wolcott & Pickering. 
The first lives in Fourth South, at the comer of Spruce, in a 
neat house of two rooms, one small, on a floor and must I 
think live wh in his means. He is a very worthy man & quite 
equal to his duty — his wife one of the mildest & most amiable 
women in town — an excellent manager, kind but economical. 
Col. P., Sec. of State, you must have known — a plain, indus- 
trious, well informed man — with a wife & four or five child- 
ren. They see little company. I have never been at his house 
as a visitor — he lives plainly but quietly. Both these men 
are practicable men to deal with to work with — without hu- 
mours or caprice & perfectly agreeable, I think they wd. prove 
to you as associates in business. 

** Another reason for your accepting. You are known as 
an officer connected wt. the Genl. during the war — as a mem- 
ber of our Senate — a member of the old Congress — a mem- 
ber of the convention — at present a Senator. These extrinsic 
circumstances become intrinsic fitnesses, & do more; they 
enable a man to do what is right in his own opinion. This 
a character however intentionally great wh. has been but just 
built up can not always do. 

"Besides you will be gratify *d with that literary treasure 
Wh though certainly not full is here more copious than in 
Baltimore. You renew that intercourse of mind with Hamil- 
ton Wh. ever must have been a source of consolation. So large 
& changed is the city that a man may be retired if he please. 

**In fact my dear Sir, if you review your life or look 
forward, you belong to that Federal Interest wh. you are called 
on in the most flattering way to support — & you will obey the 

**AT ALL EVENTS COME UP HERE! if it be only 
for three days. 

**I have been confined to my room since Sunday by an 
inflamation in my jaw that obliges me Literally to hide my 
face. S. Smith's motion will be on next Monday. Strange 
work at such a time to make such a motion ! 

**If the President consulted you — you will laugh at all 
this — if he did not — be contented to be Secretary at War I 
of the most flourishing and free people on earth. 

*' Yours, Dear Sir, Sincerely 
*'Wm. V.Murray." 

168 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

Washington repeated the urgency of his first letter, when 
the nomination had been confirmed. 

''Philadelphia 28th. Jan 1796 
*' Dear Sir, 

**Your letters of the 21st & 24th. instant have been duly 
received. The last, in time on tuesday, to give in the nomina- 
tions of yourself & Mr. Chase for the offices contemplated. The 
day following they were advised & consented to by the Senate, 
— and the commissions will be ready for the reception of you 
both on your arrival in this city — of this be so good as to 
inform Mr. Chase ; and, if he is still at Baltimore, to remind 
him, that monday next is the day appointed for the sitting of 
the Supreme Court, and without him, there is no certainty 
of a sufficient number of Judges to constitute it 

**For the reasons assigned in my last to you, and which 
press more & more everj' day, I shall look anxiously for your 
arrival. Always & aflfectly 

"I am — Yours 
'*Go. Washington'* 

McHenry replied, on the 31st, that he expected to leave 
Baltimore on horseback on the following Wednesday and to 
be in Philadelphia by Friday or Saturday. He had a bad 
cold and so must take lodgings before sundown and start after 
sunrise each day. He perceived the incompatibility of public 
office and private business and told the president that, ** hav- 
ing been connected in two mercantile partnerships, I have 
thought it fit to enter into my office totally free from any such 
connection. One of them I have settled yesterday at an 
actual loss of about £3,000. The other, which has netted me 
for five years past £1,000 annually, I expect will be finally 
adjusted tomorrow, after which I shall meet you with a disem- 
barrassed mind and rich enough to require no increase of 
salary and, by no means, displeased at any sacrifice I have 
made that approached me at this moment to your labours and 

On the 8th of February, McHenry took the oath of office 
before Chase and entered upon his duties, which included the 
care of military and naval affairs and of Indian relations. 

It is of Indian affairs that we first have information in 
the following letter from Washington. 

* ' Tuesday Morning — 28th Feb. 
*'Dear Sir 

' ' Let me entreat you to attend early this morning to a fit 


1796-1797] qfJanies McHenry 169 

character as a Comr. to attend the proposed Treaty with the 
Indians, by Mr. Morris — and, on this head, and on the mes- 
sage proper to accompany the nomination, I wish you would 
advise with Col. Pickering, who has had more to do in Indian 
affairs than any other officer now in the Government, and 
perhaps may more readily think of a proper person to be 

**As it is several days since the application was made, I 
wish to make the nomination without further delay. If a 
gentleman from New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland could be 
obtained it wd. be desirable — or from Connecticut, and I 
believe Mr. Lamed is in Town — so is Mr. Dexter both good 
characters. Something must also be done with the Military 
Bill, this day 

** Yours always 

**Go. Washington*' 

It may be convenient to survey McHenry 's relations to 
Indian affairs under Washington, at this place. On March 
10, Pickering wrote him to accept the accounts of Chapin, the 
Indian superintendent, without vouchers as the Indians can 
give none. A payment had been made to Captain Joseph 
Brant (Thayendanega) ^ at the treaty of 1794 and was not 
certified to by Jasper Parish, the interpreter, as Brandt under- 
stood English pretty well and his character is too well knowTi to 
Pickering to believe that he would **have received the present, 
but in absolute privacy.*' The supplies for the Iroquois 
should be gradually reduced to the fixed annuity of $4,500, 
especially since the Western war is over, but we have made too 
many professions of warm friendliness for the six nations, 
mddenly to abandon them and, particularly, to neglect the 
chiefs. A few days later, Pickering wrote again to Wash- 
ington on the affairs ^ of the Iroquois. 

**The Secretary of State respectfully returns to the Pres- 
ident his report on the claims of the Cohnawagos, or Seven 
Nations of Canada, with the draught of a letter which he 
thinks proper to go from the department of war, with the 
report to the Governor of New- York. The Secretary also 
transmits a press copy of the report, to be lodged in the war- 
office, which will enable the Secretary of War to dispatch the 
original this day by post. The Governor may then be pre- 

1 Konondalgua, Pickering calls him. 

2 A second letter on this subject was sent on April 18. 

170 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xi 

pared to give an answer to the deputation as soon as they reach 
New-Tork. And it is of consequence to the deputation not to 
be detained in that city; because the Commissioners of the 
State, at the treaty, told the Cohnawagos that they were not to 
reckon on the State to defray the expenses of any more of their 

''The Secretary supposes it will be necessary to make a 
present of two hundred and fifty or three hundred dollars to 
Colo. Louis and the rest of the deputies, to enable them to 
return to Cohnawaga. And if this be given them to-day, they 
may certainly leave this city to-morrow-morning. Mr. Fran- 
cis, on notice, will have their passages engaged. 

** Timothy PiCKEBiNa. 
''March 21. 1796." 

On April 25, the Caughnawaga question was still unset- 
tled and Pickering wrote McHenry : 

''Finding no such paper as the Cohnawagos now call for, 
I returned from my house to examine once more at my office; 
but no such paper appears: and I am confident I never saw 
any paper purporting to be a power from the Chief to Colo. 
Louis and others; for when by their speeches they declared 
they were impowered to make a final agreement for their 
nation, I recollect that the idea was perfectly new to me. 

"I think however, that the final settlement may be made 
in the way I suggested. I am disposed to believe the present 
deputation to have been empowered, as they declare. The 
negotiation then may be held with them, and the terms agreed 
on. They may then return to their nations, and the State of 
New- York suspend the payments stipulated, until agents duly 
empowered shall come to receive them. To make the transac- 
tion still more satisfactory. New- York might send an agent 
with the deed or treaty which the present deputies shall con- 
clude, and obtain a formal ratification by the signatures of all 
the Chiefs of the Seven Nations." 

It was with the Western Indians that McHenry was 
chiefly concerned however, especially in connection with the 
transfer of the Western military posts from Great Britain to 
the United States as a consequence of the Jay treaty. ^ The 

1 "June 8. 1796. 

"Dear Sir. 

"I have received from a highly respectable aouroe the following ob- 

*' 'It certainly is desirable that the officers commanding the detadi* 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 171 

frontiersmen were, of course, hostile to these Indians and, on 
May 22, Thomas Dillon wrote McHenry from Nashville, urg- 
ing him to invest in Western lands and saying that he had been 
at several forts, at each of which ''are stationed about fifteen 
men, altho not under that regular discipline or subordination 
as might be expected, many of them being commonly absent, 
from which a body might be apt to infer, that supporting the 
Garrisons were useless and unnecessary ; but the fact is other- 
wise ; I think them highly necessary, and very proper barriers 
between the whites and Indians. These garrisons are very ill 
supplied with provisions owing in some measure to the econ- 
omical ideas of Col. Henly, the agent for Indian affairs at 
Knoxville. The people murmur very much. These parsimon- 
ious ideas ought not to prevail, so as to injure the public credit. 
Many of the whites are disorderly and licentious and would be 
glad to seek an opportunity of kicking up a dust with the 
Indians, but these are of a class that have nothing to lose or 
that have lands within the Indian boundaries; the more re- 
spectable and thinking part, however, are highly averse to any 
proceedings that might have a tendency to involve the Country 
in a war. In Cumberland, I believe they are possessed of 
these sentiments to a man. Those on Holstein ^ are less or- 
derly" and have recently killed some Indians. 

On Indian relations, we find a very interesting letter writ- 
ten to McHenry by Bishop John Carroll, of the Roman 
Catholic church. 

"Baltunore May 29th 1796. 
"Dear Sir 

**Your kind favour of April 23d. inclosing one from the 
Rev. Mr. Rivet, Missionary on the Ouabache and among the 

ments who are to occupy the posts, should be moderate and discreet men. 
I have heard that a Capt. Bruff Is to be one of them — that he is violent 
ii precipitate; and also warm in his resentments to the British. All this 
may not be accurate; but I mentiom it as worthy of attention & enquiry; 
not conceiving myself at liberty to mention whence I had these hints, 
I mention them in confidence, & only as Inducements to enquiry.' 

"I am Inclined to suspect the character of Capt. B. may warrant the 
above remark: but if he has been deslgnnated, as I suppose Is the fact, 
for that service, I do not see how any change can be made : But a very 
serious caution may be given to him and to every other officer, to avoid 
every cause of irritation, and on the contrary, to study on all occasions 
to conciliate, and establish a friendly Intercourse, so far as any Inter- 
course shall arise out of the service: a very familiar Intercourse would 
be too expensive for the American officers. 

"Sincerely yours 


A letter from General Anthony Wayne to McHenry about the equip- 
ment of the Western posts, dated Philadelphia, February 24, 1796, was 
printed in 2nd series Hist. Ma«., ii. 

1 Holston River. 

172 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

Illinois and neighbouring Indians, was received some time ago, 
and gave me new reason to regret my absence from Baltimore 
at the time, when j'ou received your appointment ; because I 
should have taken the liberty of making you acquainted with 
his merit, and sollicitude to render important services to the 
United States, by humanising & moralising the Indians; and 
of interesting your sensibility for him and his companion who 
have undergone the greatest hardships, by an unfortunate 
delay of payment, and other disappointments. But that, which 
seems to affect him the most, is, that tho' he is engaged in a 
pursuit so useful and humane, he does not meet with that 
support and consideration from the oflBcers of the United 
States, which, he thinks, it would be proper for them to afford 
to him, whilst he is acting under public authority, & for a 
public purpose, as well as the benefit of those wild savages. 
He says: ^je suis id sans conseil, sans credit, sans maiens 
quelconques pour parvenir aux fins, que le gouvemement 
parait s'etre propose, Ce n'est pas ainsi, que la France est 
parvenue d civilker et reformer entierement plusieurs de ces 
tribus, Ausi ma commission est elle id dans un discredit 
total. Le commandant du poste ne m'a appelle d aucun 
conseil des Savages tenus au fort, quoiqu'il me I'eut pramis 
lors de mon arrivee, et que cela se fut toujours pratique sous 
les Francois. J'ai ecrit au General d Greensville pour les 
objects tres essentiels; je n'en ai eu aucune reponse; aussi je 
n'ose presque plus faire un pas, former une demande, ou offrir 
une reflexion ac' After citing thus his own words, allow me 
to submit to your prudence and discretion the propriety of 
recommending him to the countenance and regard of those, 
who may contribute to the good purposes of his mission: to 
which will greatly contribute some good regulations, faithfully 
executed, with respect to the furnishing of the Indians with 
spirituous liquors. Every person must be sensible of the diffi- 
culty of this measure ; but, as it appears from your letter to 
have engaged your attention, it may be reasonably hoped that 
all will be effected, that is possible under our laws. 

"Mr. Rivet requested, for the sake of greater security to 
letters for him, that they might be sent by the same convey- 
ance if possible as those from your department ; and with your 
recommendation of them. I adopt this method with diffidence, 
and shall not persist in it, if there be the least impropriety. 

''Receive, Dr. Sir, tho' late my cordial congratulation for 
the distinguished testimony of esteem and confidesice bestowed 


1796-1797] qf James McHenry 178 

on you by him by whom it is so honourable to be esteemed : and 
assure yourself, that I feel the more pleasure at your being 
raised to your present station, not merely because it is a public 
acknowledgement of your merit, but because I believe in my 
heart that you are, in every respect, worthy of it 

''I am with great esteem and respect, 
''Dr. Sir, 

**Your most obedt. & humble St. 
''J. Bishop of Baltimore. 
"P. S. I have been addressed to provide Clergymen at- 
tached to the United States, for the stations, which are now 
to be ceded by the British, and I have taken already some 
measures to that effect: and you may rest assured, that the 
persons appointed will make it their endeavour to reconcile 
the inhabitants to our (Government and interests. Amongst 
other places requiring such provision there is one, including, I 
believe, the rapids o£ the Miami, and called la riviere aux 
raisins. The parish priest residing there, under the British, 
is called Edmund Burke; and I am informed, that he was 
obnoxious to General Wayne & our oflBcers, from a persuasion, 
they were under, that he instigated the Jndians to enmity with 
the United States. I have reason to think nevertheless that 
Mr. Burke wishes to become a citizen with us : and in a letter 
to me he denies in the most peremptory manner, the charge 
brought against him ; which, he says, has no other foundation, 
than his having opposed, with success, the machinations of 
inflammatory emisaries from the faction of Genet, who has 
penetrated to Fort Detroit and its neighbourhood, to produce 
anarchy and insurrection. I take the liberty of mentioning 
this, that if there be, in your office, any certain documents of 
Burke's enmity to the United States, you may be pleased to 
advise me thereof. & I may know, how to proceed with him.*' 

On May 9, Washington wrote McHenry to facilitate the 
march of troops to Western posts, but to proceed with cau- 
tion. ^ On June 28, McHenry wrote Washin^on, describing 
the reception in Quebec of Major Lewis with dispatches con- 
cerning the Western posts.- He **was treated with much 
civility by Lord Dorchester's family" and reported **that the 
people seemed everywhere pleased with the prospect of a 
friendly intercourse with our citizens." Dorchester was par- 

1 Sparks, xl, 125. 

2 Ford, xlli, 222. Dorchester, formerly Sir Guy Carleton, waa STOV- 
emor of Canada. 

174 Utfe and Correspondence ichap. xi 

ticular in his inquiries as to Washington's health, and, at the 
dinners, which were so numerous that Major Lewis could have 
dined out for a month in Quebec, ' ' the first toast was The King 
of Great Britain, the second, invariably, the President.'* 
Washington, in his answer on July 1, referred to these ac- 
counts as "very pleasing," as they point toward the realization 
of ''that tranquility and peace with the Indians, which, in 
itself, is so desirable and has been so much wished and sought 
for." In the same letter, he directed McHenry, **by civil 
expressions, to stimulate the present Governor of Tennessee 
to an effectual repression of encroachments on Indian terri- 
tory (secured to them by treaties)." If he will not act, **the 
honor of the government and the peace of the Union require" 
that the laws be ** promptly and energetically (with temper 
and prudence) enforced." 

On August 8, Washington informed McHenry ^ of the oc- 
cupation of Fort Ontario and discussed sending supplies to 
that post. The Federalists felt the transfer of the posts re- 
dounded much to their credit and Murray wrote on August 21 : 

** Would it not be a good thing to paragraph & press a 
little the late events in the delivery of the posts. A manner 
pointedly conciliatory & even handsome seems to have char- 
acterised all the several surrenders — as we hear — much 
might be made of this at least as fringe work to the Triumphs 
of the Treaty & its friends. Events strike more powerfully 
than systems. Wayne! ah could we both have but seen W's 
Entre into Detroit ! when he pranced over the Barbacon. ' ' 

Troubles with the Creeks ^ and with the Cherokees, 

1 Sx>arks, xi, 159. 

2 The Secretary of War. 

Tour letter of the 18th instant with its enclosures, came to hand 
by the last Mail. Such of the latter, as are original, I herewith return 
to your Office. 

It would appear from the extract of Mr. Habersham's letter, that 
the Treaty (or rather meetinsr) between the Georgians and Creek In- 
dians, has terminated unfavourably, and will tend, it is to be feared, to 
hostilities. A favorable result could not have been predicted from the 
speech of the Georgia Commissioners, at their commencement of the 
business with the Indian chiefs; and it having ended without a cession 
of Land. I shall be agreeably disappointed if there are not other means, 
soon used, to get possession of them. 

By the letters from General Wilkinson and Captn. Bruff, I expect the 
Western Posts will soon be in our possession ; and I hope proper measures 
will be adopted to keep the Garrisons well supplied with provialoas and 
Military Stores. 

Mount Vernon 2 2d July 

Go. Washinoton 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 176 

also occupied McHenry 's thoughts. ^ As to the former tribe, 
McHenry wrote Washington on August 3, urging him to place 
regulars rather than militia in the Indian country. For the 
latter tribe, McHenry drafted a talk which he sent Washing- 
ton 2 on August 24, recommending instructions to Dinsmore, 
the agent, and adding, **I have consulted him upon the prac- 
ticableness of teaching the women to spin and weave and he 
thinks it may be accomplished." Pickering, in a letter to 
Washington of September 2, criticised the talk as not digni- 
fied. Shortly afterwards McHenry wrote certain instructions 
to Hawkins, ' which Washington returned with the follow- 
ing note : 

** Wednesday Morning [September 7, 1796.] 
''Dear Sir, 

* * The principles of the Enclosed Instructions I approve ; 
and since they are drawn, I shall not object to the Phraseol- 
ogy; tho' considering that it is addressed to our Agent, for his 
Government, part of them, I think is too much in the stile of 
a talk to the Indians. And I think too, as it is intended for 
the general superintendent his attentions seems to be too much 
confined to the Creek Nation 

"Yours always — & sincerely 

"Go. Washington." 

1 Pickering wrote McHenry: 

"Department of State July 8. 1796. 
••Dear Sir 

•The President, in two letters I have received this week, mentions 
these points for consideration — 

"1. 'How soon & In what manner* the Cherokee boundary can and 
ought to be run & marked, agreeably to the treaty of Holston. 

"1. What can be done relative to the appointment of an Indian agent 
(superintendant) In the room of Governor Blount; and of the Agents 
for carrying on the Indian Trade." 

2 Washington wrote McHenry on July 18 (Ford, xill, 246). regret- 
ting that the boundary of their reservation could not be marked before 
spring, as no commissioners to superintend It could be appointed In the 
recess of the senate. He also stated that he hoped the visit of the 
Cherokee chiefs might be deferred until November. 

A short note from Washington about this time reads thus : 

'"The enclosed Conditions appear proper — but as there are certain 
prlneiples I practice that govern in such cases — it would be too hazard- 
ous to Give an opinion with out consulting them — and it Is impoasibla 
for me to go into such detail. 

"Philadelphia* 4th. Sep. 

"Go. Washinoton." 

3 Benjamin Hawkins was bom In North Carolina in 1754, gradu- 
ated at Princeton, served in the Revolutionary War, was a delegate in 
the confederation congress, was United States senator from North Caro- 
lina during the years 1789-95, and then became agent for superintending 
&11 the Indians south of the Ohio River. 

176 Ufe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

On September 13 and on October 13, Pickering wrote 
McIIenrY about the Oneida and Stockbridge Indians and their 
annuities. Among those tribes, the Quakers had built a grist 
mill and a meeting house. 

McHenr}' had much at heart the improvement of the In- 
dians' condition, as is shown l^ a letter sent him by Murray 
in October. 

"Of the policy which you are now organizing, the civiliza- 
tion of the Savages, great doubts may be entertained without 
an affront to the Czar who attempts so much glory. From 
what is known of the progress of nations from infancy to man- 
hood may it not be ventured as a general proposition that the 
means which have drawn out the social character have been 
such as were congenial to the State in wh. any nation was, to 
whom they were applyd. 

*'Ever>' one of the European nations was martiaL It is 
thus that of their Savage State we know nothing. We have 
testimonies of their barbarism or second state only, but from 
the data which these furnish, something may be learned of 
that scheme wh. might most probably draw them from the 
savage to the barbarous. One engine of incalculable powers 
is now possest by the civilizing hand that was not known in 
the early ages, the art of printing, yet this affords not a ready 
source of those habits which constitute Society as it stancte 
any where. An individual may acquire learning by it — but 
it would teach the indian scholar things applicable to refined 
Socit*t>- not to his own — were it possible to digest a plan of 
Property for them in Land agreeably to the Feudal earlier 
ideas, the most congenial to their present State, it appears 
probable that it would not last long. The existence of nations 
behind this belt of civilization which you would stretch along 
the Frontier would hold out a tempting asylum for original 
habits & manners & the belt would be gradually depopulated. 
Were there an ocean interior of a ^lississippi a plan of coarse 
& improving principles might possibly be formed — as it is, I 
confess, I almost despair — because I can find nothing like it 
elsewhere. I fear that the only way to civilize savages is to 
first enslave them — all nations have so advanced. It is dread- 
fxi\ — but I fear true. Peter & the following Czars, for some 
time, seemed inclined to consider the vast nation they owned 
as capable of any civil impressions they might choose to give. 
They found this not the case — that a half savage nation have 


17%-1797] qfJavies McHenry 177 

habits as inveterate as a refined nation & perhaps the habits 
of such a nation are more so — & that to advance Such a 
nation it was necessary not to consider it as a blank paper 
upon wh. any thing might be written, but to ascertain the last 
step it had taken in its progress & only invite the foot a little 
forward in what was the most natural attitude. I have all 
along imagined it a useless attempt to make the Indians like 
a white nation — my humble (& I own it may be a crude) plan 
is if any attempt is made, to make them as much as possible 
like the Barbarians of Germany — first, still infusing that 
milder tinge into their character that would follow the art of 
printing — one mistake in all the plans I have seen seems to 
me to be that the whole was predicated upon what could be 
done upon one or two individuals educated in a white country. 
Were it possible to bring a tribe of infants & educate them in 
Philad. it would prove nothing that was not as well known 
before. The difficulty is in rearing a nation from old habits 
by attracting them to higher habits, analogous to those they 
are invited to forsake. But you are fatigued by objections 
without reasoning that points to any alteration — & all must 
[be] jejune to you who have been turning the subject over and 
over for some time. I write for the mere pleasure of having 
conversation with you & always in strict confidence — so it is 
like a fire side chat." 

By the admission of the Southwest territory, on June 1, 
1796, as the state of Tennessee, the office of superintendent of 
Indian affairs there ceased. McHenry ^ wished to appoint 
agents for carrying on commerce with the Indian tribes, in 
accordance with a recent act of congress, but Wolcott said he 
had no money for that purpose. In that case, said Washings 
ton in his letter of July 18, we can have no agents, but a 
temporary regulation of the trade in the hands of some one 
man mav be made. - 

In his report to congress, ^ McHenry opposed a petition 
favored by Andrew Jackson, to pay a claim for militia called 
out in 1793 to act offensively, but said congress must decide 

1 He estimated the six nations as 3580 \n number. A drunken 
smith is complained of. 

2 Ford, xlii, 246. 

3 State PapfTS, Indian Affairs, i, 585, 621. In November, 1796, 
John D. Chlsholm* (Am. Hist. Rev., 595) brought with him to Phila- 
delphia about twenty-two Indians and a petition of about twenty^^flve 
British residing in the territory of the Indian nations asking to be made 
United States citizens. He presented this petition to McHenry, who 
treated it with coldness and said he would refer it to Hawkins. 

178 h\fe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

how far the Indian aggressions constituted an imminent dan- 
ger, or whether the expedition was a just and necessary meas- 

In relation to appointments to office McHenry appears to 
have had but little trouble under Washington. Only two let- 
ters have been found on this subject and one of them is an 
answer to a tender of an office made by Washington through 
McHenry. ^ 

1 Pinkney was offerod the position of commissioner under the Jay 
treaty to adjust claims between Great Britain and the United States. 

Another letter respectinsr an appointment reads thus: 

"New York 11th April 1796. 

••Dear Sir 

"A Letter rocd. the 5th Inst, intimating: that one of my little Bosrs 
was ill of a Fever occasioned my sudden Departure for the Place. The 
child is happily recovered and runs about as usual. 

"It is high Time that my llttlo Boys went to School and I wish If 
possible to have thom under my own Eye but how to effect that Arrangre- 
ment is the Question If I was to remove them to Carolina and either 
of them to sdnk under the Climate I should never forgive myself knowing 
the Cllmatf* there to be very unfavourable to Children. To settle in the 
Country might not bo agreeable to a person accustomed to converse with 
Men of good Information and my finances on the present Scale of Prices 
are not quite equal to a City Establishment. 8 or 10 hundr. additional 
Dollars per Annum would answer my Purpose but I cannot submit to 
any subordinate Station and higher ones are generally Objects of much 
Competition. There is a BUI now before the Senate for oj)ening a land 
OfRce It contemplates a Surveyor Genl. I have not heard what Salary 
he is to have. I am informed that Elllcot will be appointed to run the 
Lane bftween Spain & the U. S. viz the boundary of Florida. The Sur- 
veyor -Genl. ought to be fully acquainted with Geometry. I think I 
should not groatly overrate my Abilities In supposing that on the meer 
Que«tlon of Capacity to execute the Oftlce I should not have many Rivals. 
I should not refuse the Place If it was offered and presume you could 
with a safe Con.sclence before the President has fixed on any Person, 
Intimate that I might be considered capable of executing such an Offlce. 
I know that If the Salary is respectable Members from the seyeral States 
will bo pressing the Interest of some of their Constituents. The North* 
Carolina Members are I believe without exception desirous to do any 
thing that in their Opinion would be profitable or acceptable to me, but as 
they are at present every one In Opposition to the Measures of Govt 
I know they would not willingly ask favours. Wherefore I have never 
intimated to any one of tiiem that I would accept of any Employment 
If the President, when the Object Is simply presented to his View, does 
not make the appointmt. he ought not to be solicited, but as he probably 
may never have heard that Geometrical Calculations had formed part 
of my Study, you probably will have no Objection to mention to him 
what You take to be the general Opinion on this Head. 

"I find people here very anxious concerning the Determination of 
Congress on the Subject of Treaty appropriations. 

"I have no pretentions to Prophecy but believing that things wtll 
happen as they usually have happened and having read from History to 
be Informed how they have evented, I am under strong Impressions that 
If French Obstinacy or Pride of conquest produces another Campaign the 
Republican Govemmt. of that Country will be in great Danger. Frendi 
Arms have uniformly proved unfortunate across the Rhine. 

•I am Dr sir with great Respect 
"Your obedt. hbla Servt. 
"Hu Williamson." 


1796-1797] qf James McHenry 179 

''Susquehanah Ferry 

'* March 21st 1796. 
*' Dear Sir. 

* * Your friendly letter has found me at Mrs. Rodger 's, at 
a distance from my Family, excessively fatigued and somewhat 
indisposed ; and you will of course perceive that I ought not 
to determine conclusively on the subject of it until I reach 
Annapolis, for which place I am under the necessity of setting 
out Tomorrow. 

**I will, however, state to you my private Impressions; 
and hope that a definite Answer may be dispensed with for a 
few Days. 

**The Veneration and Attachment I have always felt for 
the President of the United States can hardly admit of addi- 
tion ; but I confess to you that I have never experienced any 
gratification superior to that which results from this flattering 
Proof of his Confidence. Without Expectations of any Sort 
from the Federal Government I had not for a Moment turned 
my views to any appointment under it; but I have felt an 
uniform Anxiety to obtain the good opinion of the President 
as a valuable Testimony that I have not lived in vain. Your 
Letter affords me this Testimony in a Way so honorable to 
myself that I cannot express to you the pleasure it affords me. 

**My inclinations lead me to avail myself, immediately, 
of the Presidents favourable Intentions — and I believe it to 
be my Interest to do so. If I should decide finally, at this 
Time, I should undoubtedly declare my ready Acquiescence. 
But as the Acceptance of this Trust might, and certainly 
would, materially change my future Prospects, and, during 
a considerable period, suspend my professional pursuits, it 
will be prudent to reflect a little on its Consequences before I 
act definitely. I shall not require more than four or five days 
for this purpose and will communicate the Result by Express. 

**I cannot avoid expressing the grateful sense I feel of the 
Interest you are good enough to take in my concerns. 

**You may be assured that I shall not easily lose the Re- 
membrance of it and that I shall seek opportunities of mani- 
festing the Value I place upon your Friendship. 

**I am, Dr Sir, with sincere Esteem 
'*V. Obedt Servt. 

**Wm. PiNKNEY." 

180 IJ\fe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

On the side of his naval duties, ^ McHenry's chief care 
was the superintendence of the disgraceful task of building 
the frigate which the country gave the Dey of Algiers and 
which Pickering, on August 11, recommended to be built at 
Portsmouth, as it could be completed there in twelve months, 
while it would take sixteen months in New York. The **mia- 
terials must be durable, or we shall, in a few years, have to 
build another frigate for the same use. '' McHenry was slight- 
ly uncertain at first, whether he or Pickering should built it, 
though he thought it fell in his province and wrote Washing- 
ton who was at Mt. Vernon on July 7, asking^ about it. 
Twice, on July 8, Pickering wrote McHenry on the general 
plan of the ship : 

**I have conversed with 3klr. Wolcott: We are both of 
opinion that the first step towards building the frigate, is to 
send Mr. Fox to the different Navy Yards, to take an account 
of the timber, and to converse with the principal builders, to 
see on what terms & within what time they will, any of them, 
undertake to have her completed. We think it ineligible and 
fruitless to advertise for a contract. The explanation which 
Mr. Fox can give to the master builders, will enable them 
to state their terms, which he will bring back with him, & then 
a choice may be made. I am convinced that it will be in vain 
to seek a substitute for Mr. Fox : & I beg you to decide thereon 
that his instructions may be prepared to enable him to start, 
by farthest on Monday." 

* * In answer to your enquiries relative to the dimensions of 
the frigate for the Mediterranean service, I have to inform 
you, that she is to carry 36 guns, of which 24 are to be nine 
pounders, and the other twelve six pounders. On these 
grounds, I desired Mr. Humphreys to calculate the proper 
dimensions of the hulk, and to make a draught of the same. 
The draught I presume Mr. Fox has completed, in which the 
dimensions must be accurately stated. Independently of 
which however, Mr. Humphreys made the inclosed statement : 
but if it varies from the draught (for it was written yon will 
see on the 29th of June, when the draught was only begun) 
the latter must be the guide. Her masts, spars, sails and cor- 
dage may be calculated after Mr. Fox's return, as well as the 

1 On February 21, 1797, he suggested to Hamilton the establish- 
ment of a permanent navy yard, and enclosed a draft of his departmental 
report In which he tried not to censure his predecessors. 

2 Wolcott also wrote Washington on the 7th, asking whether he. 
McHenry, or Pickering should superintend the building. Sparks, xi, 147. 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 181 

anchors and all her other equipments. The guns, powder & 
shot, you will perceive by the inclosed letter & estimate of Mr. 
Hodgdon, are on hand. The guns, however, ought to be criti- 
cally examined, and proved: they ought also, I think, to be 
uniform; and if those we have are not so, it may be best to 
cast a new set at Cecil furnace, and to have them turned (to 
take off the most considerable roughness at least) while they 
are boring/'^ 

Washington answered * McHenry 's note on lie 13th, 
expressing his surprise and displeasure that the frigate had 
not already been begun, but not answering McHenry 's question 
and saying, **Let me, in a friendly way, impress the following 
maxims upon the Executive OfScers. In all important mat- 
ters, to deliberate maturely, but to execute promptly and vig- 
orously, and not to put things off until the morrow which can 
be done and require to be done today. Without an adherence 
to these rules, business will never be well done, or done in an 
etisy manner, but will always be in arrear; with one thing 
treading upon the heels of another." Five days later, ^ he 
wrote again, stating that he approved McHenry 's plans for 
the frigate and directing him to sell all timber and plank 
owned by the government and not needed for the building of 
the Algerine frigate or the three which were to be constructed 
for our own navy. * 

On July 12, McHenry ordered Josiah Fox to insi)ect the 

1 Cecil furnace was probably that at Piinclpio, In Cecil county, 
Maryland. Another letter of Pickering is as follows: 

"Dex>artment of State July 14. 1796. 

"The following are the articles about the procuring of which It is de- 
sirable that Mr. Fox may make enquiry, as to the places where, and the 
terms on which they can be obtained. 

*^0 masts. 90 feet long. 3i2 inches diameter; 110 spars, 80 feet long, 
SO Inches diameter; 1500 pine planks) 

1500 oak planks) 44 feet long, 6 inches thick, 200 
pieces of pine scantling. 

"I suppose pine planks should be hard pine. No breadth is mentioned 
In the stipulation for planks, nor any dimensions for the pine scantling. 
The oak planks should doubtless be of white oak. It may be practicable 
to procure some of the spars, plank and scantling without delay; and 
It is much to be desired that at least one ship load may be obtained to 
be sent to their destination the ensuing autumn. If some of the planks 
were shorter and some longer, so as to average 44 feet in length, I 
should Imagine the purpose would be answered. 

"Your obt servt. 


^ Sparks, xi, 146. 

3 Ford. xlil. 246. 

4 Three frigates formerly planned had been discontinued by a re- 
cent act of congress. Six frigates were ordered to be built against the 
Algerines by act of March 27, 1794. 

182 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

navy yards and on September 13, tke specifications for can- 
nons for the frigates were issued. ^ 

When McHenry came to the department of war he found 
the army organized in a legion composed of the three branches 
of the service. 

McHenry's first report was made to a senate committee 
on March 14. He advised against reducing the military force 
of the United States, placing the necessity of a military estab- 
lishment on the following grounds: It enables us to repel 
insult and invasion and maintain our dignity, it counteracts 
the influence of the British and Spanish armies in exciting 
Indian hostilities, it serves as a model or school for an army 
and furnishes experienced officers to form one in case of war, 
and it supplements the inadequacy of the militia. The diffi- 
culty is to avoid useless expense and yet secure these advan- 
tages. The British and Spanish forces in North America are 
probably greater than ours and are not likely to be contracted 
on the evacuation of the posts, for England will not wish to 
lessen her influence over the Indians and will try to preserve 
the influence and safety of Canada, where she finds a link in 
the great chain of her dependencies, especially important in 
respect to the West Indies, while Spain has even stronger rea- 
sons, for the new treaty will bring our citizens^ near her posses- 
sions. He thought there was no need of a judge advocate at 
present and that, probably, there could be no saving in the 
quartermaster's department, for the expenses of transport to 
the Western posts will be great, whether by land or water. 

On May 30, 1796, a law was passed changing the organi- 
zation of the army into one of four regiments of infantry, a 
troop of dragoons, and a battery of artillery. This reorgani- 
zation was clearly a result of McHenry's suggestion, as Wash- 
ington's letter of July 1st to him shows. ^ The arsenal at 
Harper's Ferry had been begun. * 

1 state Papers. Mlllt. Aft., I. 114. Naval Aft.. 44, 64. 

2 Skxarks, xl. 132; Ford, xili, 222. 

3 Mount Vernon 16th Oct 1797. 
Dear Sir. 

Your favour of the 2d instant, came duly to hand. For the perusal of 
the enclosure I thank you. It is returned. 

We heard with much conoem. but long after the thinff had hap- 
I)ened, of the accident which befel your son. we hope he is perfectly re- 
covered from the fall, and you from your bilious attack. 

Having no news to entertain you with, and could only fill a letter 
with the perplexities I experienced daily from workmen, and other oc- 
currences of little moment to any besides myself. I shall conclude thi9 
letter with best respects — in which Mrs. Washington and Nelly Custis 

nons for the frigates were issued. ^^ 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 188 

During the summer, charges were laid against General 
Wayne, the head of the army, by General James Wilkinson. 
Washington, in his letter of July 1, directed McHenry to 
obtain the opinion of the other heads of departments as to the 
proper course for him to pursue. He doubts whether a court 
martial can be called. In any case, he thinks Wayne should 
have a copy of all the charges made against him, and Wilkin- 
son should be furloughed. For advice as to what should be 
done in reference to these charges, McHenry wrote to Hamil- 
ton, Chase, Murray, and Charles Lee, the attorney general, 
from all of whom he received replies. Hamilton, on July 15, 
answered that the president might order a general court mar- 
tial, but it would be preferable for him to examine into the 
charges as commander in chief and displace Wayne, as holding 
his commission ** during pleasure," if he found him guilty. 
Chase, in an extra judicial opinion, on July 22, held that 
Wayne might ask for a court of inquiry, or be tried by a court 
martial. Murray, on August 6, held that there could be no 
court martial of the commanding general and seemed to think 
there was no legal method of action. ^ Lee, on November 22, 
not yet having seen the charges, wrote that either a court of 
inquiry or a court martial could be held. Before any steps 
could be taken, however, Wayne's death, on December 15, put 
an end to the controversy. 

unite — to Mra. McHenry and yourself — and with assurances of beinc 

Dear Sir 

Your Affecte friend 
Go. Washinoton. 
P. S. My mind durln^r the last days of my remaining In Philadelphia was 
so much occupied with public & private concerns tnat I always forgot, 
when I was in your company, to enquire whether Mr. Lear had accounted 
to the War Office for the money he had received to purchase the site for 
the Arsenal on Potomac. As I was, In some measure the cause of his 
Agency in that business, I wish to know whether it is settled to your 

Be so good as to send the letter for Mr. Dandridge to his lodgings 
if he has not sailed, or left the City. 

Private Tuesday 11th. Jan. 1797. 

Dear Sir, 

I shall have occasion to write to Mr. Lear by tomorrow's Post, and 
would thank you to let me know (in a summary way) what money he has 
drawn on acct. of the Arsenal on the Potomack; and what report he has 
made to the War Office of his proceedings in that business; for I shall 
take an occasion (as from myself) to ask him what has been done 
therein Yours always 

Go. Washinoton. 

McHenry answered this letter. 

1 "Upon the point which you told me to write an opinion on (W*« 
trial) I can collect nothing but from unaided reflexion for I have no books 
at command in which I could find Precedents — if I had you (know) I 
would search with — pleasure & alacrity." See "Army and Navy Journal,** 
zlil, 195. 

184 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

How well McHenry succeeded in smoothing over difScul- 
ties between officers and how tactful he was in so doing, may 
be seen from the letter he addressed Captain Decius Wads- 
worth, on July 1, in response to a letter from the captain ask- 
ing that papers making charges against him be sent him. 

**I well know, having often witnessed the struggles of 
high minded men in the course of that obedience which mili- 
tary subordination exacts, how difficult it is to bear with the 
neglects and sometimes rude ignorance of superior rank, or 
to suppress the idea of revenge for matters which torture the 
soul without their coming under the description of noticeable 
insult. These are among the incidental evils of a military life, 
which to support, requires magnanimity, joined to patience, 
which looks forward for better things, while it submits to what 
it cannot avoid. It is in the service, we expect to find an 
honor that shrinks from every thing mean and, at the same 
time, a respect to rank and strict conformity to the right 
principles of subordination, without which an army must soon 
become one huge mass of discontent and sedition. If men of 
sense, on such occasions, will not give up every consideration 
but their honor, if they will not make sacrifices of feelings for 
the sake of their country, I must relinquish the idea of being 
useful to the corps, but I trust, without fear of being disap- 
pointed, upon receiving assistance of men of your under- 
standing to calm the spirits which have been excited, to re- 
store the harmony which has been disturbed, and save the 
corps from dissolution. Belying on your cooperation in these 
particulars, you will at once perceive that it will be best that 
the request which you have made me for a copy of CSoL Boche- 
fontaine's defence should not be urged* It is a writing, com- 
posed when the Colonel's sensibilities were high, and if it 
includes any observation to which you could ti^ exception, 
consider that it is not intended for publication, that it can not 
escape from my keeping, and, above all, that it contains noth- 
ing which has produced any change in the good opinion I had 
formed of your understanding and honor." 

With Washington, the secretary's relations were pleasant 
and even in rebuke the chief was thoughtful and considerate. 
When Lafayette's son came to Philadelphia, Washington wrote 
McHenry on April 11, 1796. 

''Dear Sir 

** Young Fayette and his friend are with me. Come ft 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 185 

dine with them to day at 3 o'clock if you are not otherwise 

** Yours always 
' * (Jo. Washington. ' * 

When Washington ^ wrote his oflBcial letter of July 1, 
previously referred to, he also wrote a personal letter which 
follows : 

**By the Post, rather than by the Express, you will re- 
ceive my Official letter, and its Enclosures. For the diflFer- 
ence of a few hours, in a case that is not urgent, I would have 
you avoid sending an Express to me. The latter does not 
travel faster than the mail; of course there cannot (unless 
Sunday intervenes) be more, in any case (supposing an occa* 
sion to arise in one hour after the mail was closed) than the 
difference of 48 hours in the receipt of the dispatches; as I 
send regularly, every Post day, to Alexandria for my letters. 
Your Express came in yesterday at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, 
and if you had sent the letters by the mail of Wednesday, they 
would have been here at 9 o'clock this afternoon, a difference 
of 28 hours only. 

**The information brot. by Captn Lewis is very pleasing; 
and I hope the orders on both sides will go smoothly into 
effect: but the Aurora will have doubts, that all is not well, 
notwithstanding. This, however, is a matter of course; for 
the Executive Acts must he arraigned. 

"I hope you have got perfectly recovered, and that Mrs. 
McHenry and the rest of your family are well also. 

**Wlien I left Philadelphia, it was expected that Mr.. & 
Mrs. Liston (and from their own declaration) was to follow, 
on a visit to this place, in ten days ; an interval of a few days 
— and then the Chevr. de Freire & Lady were to follow them ; 
and altho' Mr. Adet gave me (tho' asked) no assurance that 
he would make me a visit, yet to Mr. Fayette he said he should 
set out in ten days — since which I have heard nothing from, 

1 "Return the enclosed as eoon as Mr Ross (under strong Injunc- 
tions) has read It. Never put papers. Improper to be sent, under a cover 
sealed with a wafer — at any time, but especially when wet, the contents 
may be seen and the cover closed again without suspicion, or appearance 
of being opened. 

"O w N" 

This note Is thus docketed: 

**Thte enclosed the information griven by Mr Wolcott respecting [Col- 
Icrt Waren] Ac — which I communicated to Mr Ross 

"4 June 17M 

"J McH" 

186 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

or of any of them, which occasions suspence, that impede other 

**If you could, therefore, indirectly, or at least informally, 
ascertain whether and when, I am to receive these visits, I 
should be obliged to you ; as it would enable me to regulate 
some other matters which depend thereon. 

"With sincere esteem & regard 
**I am — Dear Sir 
**Yr. Affectionate 
**Qo. Washington 

"7 oclock in the momg. 

**Have you allotted any Infantry for the Posts of Oswego & 
Niagara! How many, & when will they be there? 


On July 5, McHenry writes that the Chevalier Le Preire 
and Listen will soon start to visit Washington at Mount Ver- 
non, but that he has no news as to Adet. ^ Two days later, he 
writes that Chevalier Freire will not come, as his wife thinks it 
is too hot for the journey. McHenry himself was somewhat un- 
well at the time and shortly afterwards writes that he has heard 
a rumor that Washington had been thrown from his phaeton, 
and is glad it is false. ''I know not what new sacrifices we 
may yet have to require of you. The world grows older and 
republics occupy more and more of its surface but I do not 
find that it becomes better." Washington seems to have been 
quite offended at the rumor of his injury and replied on July 

'asth. July96. 
''Dear Sir, 

"I have not sagacity enough to discover what end was to 
be answered by reporting — first, that I was to be in Phila- 
delphia on the 4th July and secondly, when that report was 
contradicted by my non-appearance, then to account for it 
by a fall from my Phaeton. 

"If any scheme could have originated, or been facilitated 
by these, or any other reports, however unfounded, I should 
not have been surprised at the propagation of them ; for evi- 
dence enough has been given that truth or falsehood is equally 

1 On July 11, Washlngrton wrote CFord, xil!, 214) that he invited 
Adet, as cordially as he did the others, and trusts that McHenry will 
peat to him the Invitation. Liston was the British minister. 

1796-1797J qf James McHenry 187 

used, and indifferent to that class of men, if their object can 
be obtained. 

**I wish you well & am always your 

** Affectionate 
**Go. Washington.*' 1 

As early as August, Washington began to consider the 
framing of his message to congress ^ and wrote McHenry on 
the 8th. 
**Dear Sir, 

**Your private letter of the 3d. instant, accompanying 
the Official one of the same date, came to hand by the last 
Post The draught of the letter to the Governor of Georgia 
is approved. I have added a word or two to the last para- 
graph but one — by way of fti wf , where we shall look for the 
cause, if Peace is not preserved on the frontier of that State. 

**I request that you would begin to note the occurrences 
that have happened in the War Department (since the ad« 
joumment of Congress) which will require to be communi- 
cated to that body in the Speech, or by messages, at the next 
Session. It is from the materials furnished by each Depart- 
ment, and the Memorandums taken by myself, that the first is 
framed; and it will be an omission, not to commit these to 
writing in the moment they occur; it being much easier to 
select, than to collect matter, for these purposes, when the 
hour arrives for digesting them into form. If other things 
(although they may be extraneous to your department) should 
occur let them be noted also. It is better to have them in all 
than to escape all the Memorandums I shall be furnished with. 

**I am always & sincerely 
**Your Affectionate 

**Go. Washington." 

Relations with France were growing more strained. On 

1 Private Mount Vernon Ist. Auert. 1796. 
Dear Sir, 

This letter will be presented to you by Mr. Dandrld^, who has 
rejoined my family and proceeds to Philadelphia In order to facilitate the 
recording of my loose files. 

As he left my family a little suddenly I thought It necessary to men- 
tion this matter to you, lest that circumstance should be ascribed to un- 
worthy motives none of which I have to charge him with ; as I always 
had and still have a high opinion of his honor and integrity. 

I am your sincere friend 
and affectionate Servt. 
Go. Wabhinoton. 

2 Mount Vernon 19th. Oct. 1796. 
Dear Sir, 

Your letter of the 14th. came duly to hand. On the contents of the 

188 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap. xi 

June 1, Hamilton wrote ^ telling McHenry that he writes to 
him rather than Adams or Pickering, as his information is not 
official, but that he hears that the Directory complain of 
Parish, the American consul at Hamburg, and adds: ''We 
must not quarrel with Prance for pins and needles. Tis a 
case for temporizing, reserving our firmness for great and 
necessary occasions." Monroe was not satisfactory as our 
minister at Paris and, on June 15, Hamilton wrote Wolcott: 
** After turning the thing over and over in my mind, I knqw 
of nothing better that you have in your power than to send 
McHenry. He is not yet obnoxious to the French, and has 
been understood, formerly, to have had some kindness towards 
them. His present office would give a sort of importance to 
the mission. If he should not incline to an absolute relin- 
quishment, his mission might be temporary, and GoL Pickering 
could carry on his office in his absence. He is at hand and 
might depart immediately; and I believe he would explain 
very well and do no foolish thing. "^ 

On July 2, Pickering, Wolcott, and McHenry united in 
recommending to Washington Monroe's recall. Washington 
answered McHenry on the 8th: 

''Dear Sir; 

"Having written a great many letters for this day's Post, 
and being a good deal fatigued thereby and with the heat of 
the weather, I shall do no more at present, than to inform you 
that your letters of the 2d. and 3d. instant with the encloBores 
of the first came perfectly safe, and that my letter to the 
Secretary of State of this date, will inform you confidentially 
of my decision with respect to the recall of Colo. Monroe and 
the measures which I am pursuing to provide a Successor 

"I am sorry to hear you have been [un]well, and glad to 

enclosure I shall make no comments 'tiU I see you; — which, probablr. 
will be on, or about, the first part of next month. 

Let me remind you of what I have before requested — namely, — to 
have noted against my arrival, all those things which will he fit and proper 
subjects for my communication to Congress (in the Speech) at the 
opening of the session; that I may have time to consider and digest such, 
of them as are proper for that occBision, before the meeting of it. 

I, am always and sincerely 
Your afFectionate 


1 HamUton. vi, 127. Lodge's HamUton. z. 171. 

2 Oibbs. U 359. 


1796-1797] qf James McHenry 189 

hear yon are better. Keep so — one well day is worth a dozen 
sick ones 

**Tonrs always 
**Gk). Washington" 

Hamilton wrote McHenry on Jnly 15, **Have you de- 
vised any means of ensuring an expiration to the French 
Government ? If it be not done and anything amiss happens, 
I don 't know what will befall you all. " On news of Monroe's 
recall, France at once suspended her embassy to the United 
States, summoning Adet to return. 

Murray wrote, on August 29, concerning the recall of 

**The executive may be abused, as no doubt they will be 
by the Jacobins, on the Becall of Monroe, but the measure is 
perfectly proper. Surely unless there was perfect confidence 
in a co-operation from a foreign minister in the systems ft 
designs of his government well known & openly manifested, 
that minister can be no longer a fit instrument of the country's 
affairs. Now, in this case, there can hardly be a doubt that 
there was no co-operation in the part of the system lately ex- 
hibited, the Treaty. A new minister will be able to conciliate 
this late event, with explanation, with the duties the U. S. owe 
as an ally to France. This, it may be suspected, has not been 
M. inclination & conduct — yet considering the pains taken 
in this country by our precious fellows to misrepresent the 
temper of Govt, towards France & stir up her indignation, 
it wd. appear as a measure of prime consequence to have a 
man who would counteract, not increase these impressions. 
I do rejoice at the measure — one of the Pinkneys is a man 
of capital parts it is said. I only hope it may not be the anti 
Treaty spouter. I doubt not, however, it is the Mr. P. of 
whose genius & learning I have heard much — & who will 
be an ornament to the corps. You will be brilliant as well 
as strong in the foreign corps. I had hoped that Ames would 
have been the man, if a move took place & was yet aware of 
the obstacle in his seat." 

On November 22, 1796, Murray wrote again from Cam- 
bridge, Md. : 

**To day I received yours of the 12th. and, after some 
recollection, have been able to get the paper containing the 

190 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

address of the French Directory, (not embassador, as I be- 
lieve I had it) to the Spanish nation &c. This is better than 
I had imagrined. Yes I have seen, & twice or thrice read, 
the answer to Adet — and I & others too believe it to be yours 
— & I can assure you it gives pleasure — concise, clear — firm 
& temperately retortive. It is the first opening of the present 
administration on great ground with foreign nations that has 
been published. I was very much pleased to hear from Ship- 
pen that it was supposed to be yours — as it proved my pen- 
etration. If all the Union were as we are here and for Fifty 
miles on each side, you might utter strong things to the citi- 
zen & his treacherous directory. My fears are unaffected 
about the views of France upon us. Canada, Nova Scotia, 
Newfoundland, & the Floridas Hers, a disorganised public 
mind within the union ! where are we ? Fisheries — posts — 
& a mighty influence more powerful than armies in the very 
bosom of the Union! Yet do I believe that, in a mm, 
the PEOPLE so well understand her & their own good that 
they would follow their Grovt.*' 

Hugh Williamson wrote on the same subject from Phila- 
delphia on the 21st of November, after the publication of a 
letter from Adet attacking the administration. 

'^I have noted with Indignation, I had almost said with 
Surprise, the Manifesto of Mr. Adet published this Morning, 
for there are some Points of extravagance to which the wildest 
Citoyen francais could hardly be expected to attain. I am 
aware that Mr. Pickering cannot return an Answer to a dead 
or sleeping Minister and yet I have Reasons for thinking that 
a solid and speedy answer to this Manifesto would have most 
salutory Effect on the public Mind. Though an official an- 
swer cannot come out, any Citizen has a right, at this Hour, 
to publish his Remarks on that Insult on the rights of an in- 
dependent nation, who ought not, it seems ever to make a 
Treaty with Pirates without consulting France. Clear solid 
and conclusive answers have been given by Jefferson and 
others to most of the acts complained of in this long address 
to the Passions of the People, but those answers are detached 
and in few hands. A clear and general answer, conclusive 
to every mind, as was Mr. Pickering's last Note to the French 
Minister, is now wanted. Such a piece, if published, might 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 191 

soon be circulated with equal speed and universality to that* 
with which the Manifesto is now propagated. 

**I have strong and some very particular Reasons for say- 
ing that such a Publication as I have been describing is greatly 
needed & cannot fail of having salutary Effects on the Minds 
of People in the southern & Western Part of the Union. I 
confide that some of you who have every necessary Informa- 
tion on the Subject will give dispatch to this, as I believe, 
necessary work." 

On January 25, 1797, Isaac McKim, a Baltimore mer- 
chant, wrote McHenry from Philadelphia regarding the vex- 
atious conduct of the French in the West Indies in seizing 
our merchantmen : 

** Having lately arrived from the city of Cape Francois 
in Saint Domingo, I beg leave to inform you some intelli- 
gence of a private nature which I heard during my stay 
there, viz. that between the 6th & 12th day of December last, 
being in company with a Mr Labigar, a merchant of the Cape, 
he informed me that he had heard the Commissary Sothonax 
declare that, if Mr. Jefferson was elected president of the 
United States, he would annul all those decrees lately passed, 
80 injurious to the American Commerce, but if Mr. Adams was 
elected President they should all be continued in force, as 
also on the 23d day of Deer, last, I was informed by Mr 
Carriere that he had heard one of the officers of Government 
say that the French minister Adet wrote out to them that 
they could not possibly treat the Americans too bad, this in- 
telligence I believe was received by a French gentleman who 
came passenger with Captain Decosta from this place, and 
brought dispatches from the French minister here to the Di- 
rectory, Capt. Decosta left Philadelphia about the 20th No- 
vember & arrived in Cape Francois on the 8th of December. 
It was not believed in Cape Fnmeois that the island Directory 
condemned our vessels & property by orders received from 
France, but had done it from seeing the decree issued by 
the National Directory, respecting the treatment of neutral 
powers, and which decree they received by the schooner, Gen- 
eral Green, who arrived from here about the 5th of Novem- 
ber. Previous to this vessel's arrival, we had been assured 
by the Directory that all our vessels should be restored, pro- 
vid'^d we had no contraband articles on board, and a decree 
had l)een passed forbidding the privateers of the Republic to 

192 Life and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

capture any more of our vessels, and their conduct in other 
respects to the Americans was friendly — the correspondence 
between the Secretary of State and the French Minister here, 
arriving shortly after the schooner Genl. Green by the Brig 
Abigail of New York, there was an immediate change took 
place in the conduct of the Directory towards the Captured 
vessels and those daily arriving from the Continent, by the 
cargos of those vessels arrived, being put in requisition for 
the Republic, and if the owner of them refused selling them 
to the Administration, the cargo was taken by force for the 
use of the Republic. I left Cape Francois on the 24th of 
December, at which time their cruisers was daily sending in 
our vessels, either from or bound to English ports, and there 
had been no instance of any of the vessels under these cir- 
cumstances being cleared." 

On the same subject Pickering wrote McHenry on Feb- 
ruary 2, 1797 : 

**I showed you Mr. Swan's letter to Gen. Smith, in which 
the former would have it understood that the conduct of 
Santhonax and the other agents of the French Governments 
have not determined on their late depredations on American 
Commerce in consequence of any orders or letters from M. 
Adet, and that he has no communications from France that 
authorize the conduct now followed there, and that he (M. 
Adet) believes that it can never have entered into the 'Heads 
of power' (by which it must be presumed he means the Direc- 
tory in f ranee) to make such a regulation. 

'* Without enquiring whether Mr. Swan's statement is or 
is not correct, I will just remark, that the first captures made 
of American vessels by order of Victor Hugues for having 
Horses and other contraband articles on board, are expressly 
grounded, by that 'Special Agent' of the French Directory, 
on the advices he had received from M. Adet, under the date 
of the Messidor or 2nd. of July last, and that twelve days 
after (July 14th.) M. Adet, in answer to a number of ques- 
tions I had proposed to him relative to any new orders which 
might have been issued by the French Government, or any 
branch of it for capturing American Vessels, professed en- 
tire ignorance on the subject. 

* * I will further inform you that the capturing of Ameri- 
can Vessels going to or from British ports is not confined (as 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 198 

M. Adet seems inclined to have us believe) to the West Indies ; 
the same Game is playing in Europe : and not against Amer- 
icans only: for the French Privateers, beside two of these, 
had captured three Swedes and two Danes and carried them 
into Spain, or the Spanish port of Ceuta on the Barbary 
Coast and the French Consul at Cadiz avowed his determina- 
tion to condemn all neutral vessels going to or coming from 
I)orts of any of the enemies of France; adding that he had 
authority so to do. Such was the State of things agreeable to 
my latest information from Spain. 

**Thusmuch I thought it would be agreeable to you to 
know after Swan 's letter to General Smith, ' ' 

Meanwhile Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who had been 
appointed to succeed Monroe, arrived in Paris on December 
3, and presented his credentials on tha 12th. He was soon 
notified that no minister could be received from the United 
States. Monroe was still in Paris, of which place he took 
public leave on December 30. Pinckney remained over a 
month longer, but, in February, was told to leave France. 
News of this insult did not come to the United States until 
after the close of Washington's presidency. 

Washington had made up his mind to decline a third 
term and on this matter McHenry wrote him from Phila- 
delphia on Septelnber 25 : ''I thought best to wait till I could 
ascertain the full expression of the public sentiment, before 
I should comply with your request, to tell you all and conceal 
nothing from you. Your address, on the first day of its pub- 
lication, drew from the friends of the government through 
every part of the city, the strongest expressions of sensibility. 
I am well assured that many tears were shed on the occasion 
and propositions made, in various companies, for soliciting your 
consent to serve another term, which were afterwards dropped, 
on reflecting that nothing short of a very solemn crisis could 
possibly lead to a change of your determination. The ene- 
mies of the government, upon their part, discovered a suUen- 
ness, silence, and uneasiness that marked a considerable por- 
tion of chagreen and alarm, at the impression which it was cal- 
culated to make on the public mind. 

**Such have been the 1st. effects of an address which still 
continues to be a subject of melancholy conversation and re- 
gret, and I think I may safely add that, what has been ex- 
hibited here, will be found to be a transcript of the general 

194 Liife and Correspondence [Chap. xi 

expression of the people of the United States. I sincerely 
believe that no nation ever felt a more ardent attachment to 
its chief and 'tis certain that history cannot furnish an ex- 
ample, such as you have given. The men who have relin- 
quished sovereign power have done it under circumstances 
which tarnished more or less the glory of the act, but in the 
present case, there is no circumstance which does not serve 
to augment it." 

There had been much interest in the question as to who 
would be president, if Washington should refuse a third term. 
The bitter opposition aroused to him by the Jay treaty had 
not shaken his position with the mass of the people. From 
Baltimore, James Winchester wrote ^ McHenry on April 22, 
1796. He had thought the treaty a **bad one," but has no 
doubt that **the Legislature possesses, neither expressly or in- 
cidentally, any authority to give effect to or oppose the oi)era- 
tion of treaties." In the city, great alarm had been occa- 
sioned by the ** disorganizing system" of the opposition and 
General Samuel Smith, who had opposed the treaty in the 
house of representatives and who represented the Baltimore 
district, was made conscious that his conduct opposed the 
sense of his constituents and that his popularity received a 
severe blow. Instructions to him to vote for the treaty were 
circulated, which instructions contained ''strong indirect cen- 
sure of his past conduct. " He came to Baltimore and exerted 
himself to have them suppressed. Failing in this, he "set 
on foot a counter instruction (if I may so call it) expressing 
approbation of his conduct and reliance on his prudence, 
judgement, and integrity." It would not have done to have 
proposed an address against carrying the treaty into effect. 
Twenty signers could not have been obtained. ''Washington 
and peace" was **the exclamation in every Circle and in every 
street of the Town." The prospect of defeating Smith, if 
he should stand for re-election, was a good one. Winchester 
or Howard was talked of for his opponent and, as Winchester 
found his professional engagements rendered it impossible to 
engage in any representative office, Howard would probably 
be chosen. 

After congress had ratified the treaty, made the neces- 
sary appropriations, and adjourned on June 24, Murray wrote 

1 In a second letter dated May 1, Winohester stated that public 
fe«llng ran stiU higher against Smith. 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 195 

from Cambridge that he longed for news, would retire from 
congress at the end of the term and found that the Eastern 
Shore of Maryland *'had been more agitated on the late crisis 
than I expected." ** Delaware was in a perfect ferment and 
are yet so at their member, Mr. Patton. Young Bayard, a 
fine young man of parts, and the right sort of parts well 
directed, will succeed him." 

Three days later, Murray wrote again of his own pros- 
pects, of his wife's health, and of the capture of a merchant- 
man by a French privateer. 

"27. June 96. Cambridge. 
**My dear Sir, 

*'My best friend is better and, to keep her so, I have in- 
dulged her not in a sea voyage, wh. she declines, but in bar- 
gaining for the most beautiful farm in this shore. It is about 
a mile from the village lower down & upon the river — it 
stands with an elevation & boldness & variety of view worthy 
of a better country — & will be, I am certain, healthy. It 
contains 150 acres — 40 of wh. are woods — in these woods 
I shall soon give the raccoons & squirrel * notice to quit,' 
that I may bum brick to advantage on the spot for the foun- 
dation of a small neat house. The lady who owns it is at 
George Town &, by the Packet of this morning. Col. Harrison, 
who is her friend here, writes that he has accepted my terms 
of purchase — which is 800 £ at two equal payments by quar- 
terly instalments. By next April, I shall be there — I should 
have been mortify 'd, had you not missed me very much — 
yet well do I know soon the water closes upon the oar — how 
soon in such a city so throng elegant and various a man's space 
is occupy 'd. I have felt that myself in London & without 
blame — for I was acted upon naturally by the genius of the 
place — & when I left it the thought struck upon my heart, as 
if it had been new, that in that great place where I had never 
missed any one, in two weeks' time, I too should not be 
missed — but so it is. A large city is a bad scene to illustrate 
any state of Constancy in. 

*'We had heard of the capture — at first that it was a 
clear violation — that the captn went out of the city to take 
the ship, knowing her destination & that she was genuine 
American property — but since we heard that the captors 
knew that she belonged to Mr Dunkinson, a british subject, 
— my remark to others is that it is to be expected that the 

196 l^e and Correspondence . [Chap, xi 

French Jacobin faction in this country will, if possible, induce 
the french government to wink at such acts, as some indemni- 
fication for our having adopted our real independence in the 
Treaty — wh. is my real fear. This idea struck me too in 
hearing of this capture. The U. S. will not vindicate the 
rights of citizenship acquired by british subjects, since the 
peace by their acts of naturalizn — because the british say these 
persons are still british subjects, now if the French take the 
vessels or property of such trading firms residing in this coun- 
try, & we should complain of this as a wrong done to our citi- 
. zens, they will say, no — we take the property of hritxsh sub- 
jects, not of American citizens — not regarding their rights 
as neutral burghers as is done by every nation, as last war 
those of ostend — St Thomas's &c. What could you say in 
such a case f could you allow the british to treat these persons 
as subjects & yet insist on the French treating them as Amer- 
ican citizens f I should not be surprised, if our patriots were 
to adopt some mode of treating Una case like that wh. I hiave 
mentioned. ' ' 

Several times during the summer, Murray wrote. On 
August 8, he said, '^My declaration is public that I decline 
to serve their majesties the people longer,'' and on the 2l8t 
he answered one of McHenry's letters: 

''I was so fortunate as to receive yours of the 13th to 
day, inclosing a Minerva whom Jupiter serve in all her attri- 
butes. Except Fox's speech, the Minerva show'd hersdf to 
be as dull as wise ; for She attended to little more than that 
lucrative walk of Literature vulgarly called advertisements. 
* ** You know me too well not to give me credit for all due 
sensibility towards you & Mr. Wolcott for your kind wishes 
respecting my future views & opinions on my past life. If 
personal good falls on my shoulders I shall rejoice. If it 
do not, I am only in the situation of an hundred worthier 
men & I know that there are a great many who expect — ft 
not an abundance from which to gratify. I will confess my 
weakness to you when I express a fear that, though I can not, 
with any convenience, continue in Congress, my habits may 
not have exactly fitted me to enjoy much in a very retired 
life, without mental enjoyment of a masculine & energetic 
Kind. Of this, however, & other things, we will hold a con- 
versation in Deer., when you shall philosophise me into as 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 197 

real a love of Retirement as his worship Gil Bias felt when 
Liberated from the Tower of Segovia & exiled from court. 
Pray remember me cordially to Mr. Wolcott. 

''Some time since I sent down an address to their majes- 
ties the people of Somerset & Worcester, on my declining to 
serve — no candidate has yet been mentioned. We shall have 
excellent & trusty Electors of a Presdt., the worst come to the 
worst. It is said that the great Hindman has lately divided 
a regiment in Queen Anne's & left his opponent in a small 
minority. H. addressed them — he is an excellent man. 

**I need not say that the people here are right & are deep- 
ly affected by the idea of the President's declining or even the 
chance of it. I wish he would terminate his great career by 
handing the government to its permanent seat — it would be 
a fine finish." 

When the news of Washington 's declination of re-election 
reached Murray, he wrote on September 9 : 

**0f the President in future — It is in vain to lament 
that the President will not longer serve at least till the war 
is over. The timing of the exertions of the Pedd party seems 
to me very important. This will come from you & Mr W. 
& Col. P., for a party dispersed act without concert, unless 
a rallying point is understood among them. I know the deli- 
cacy of such a proceeding, but a hint might I suppose be con- 
fidentially dropt to fit persons. However you will be the best 
judge. I have mentioned Mr A [dams] as the man. our elec- 
tors from this shore, at least for three counties, will be good 
men. Done, Eccleston, & Hemsley." 

Later in the month, ^ he wrote again on the election, 
stating that the Maryland senate was Federal. 

''24. Sep 1796. 
"My dear Sir. 

* ' The address of the President I have seen from Annapo- 
lis. Though this important event had been familiarized to my 
mind, Yet its actual happening affected me with a fear some- 
thing like that produced by an unlooked for evil. It is an 
epocha in the affairs of America & will be a point for future 
dates to be graduated by. Venerable man. The effect of his 
piece has been immense, considering the tranquility of Vil- 
lage und erstandings. The men, who can think at all, feel & 

1 September 24. 

198 Uife and Correspondence [Chap. xi 

acknowledge the force of his advice & maxima. Could this 
effect be rendered general, his retiring might prove a new 
good to his country, as it has produced the public adoption 
of those important truths that are essential to the U. S. 
Truths which are felt with the strength of conviction of en- 
thusiasm, because they are delivered by that man in the situa- 
tion most affecting to his country & which I hope will pro- 
duce a death bed effect upon all. He may yet live to recall 
us all to their value, perhaps in some day of distraction. This 
is the only consolation the public mind can feel at such a 

''Forrest writes me that if this Shore is right, Mr. A. 
will lose not more than two, if those — an elector just from 
Annapolis however tells me that a great many talk of Mr. J. 
A man just from the Delaware says they talk of three there. 
Mr A. Mr Jeff & Mr Jay. The first or last would do here. 
But I understood that Mr A. was the man, if they divide 
the friends of the Govt., the State of Virginia will again have 
a President." 

In October, Murray writes twice, telling the good news 
of Hindman's election to congress by the Federfdists from 
the upper district of the Eastern Shore, complaining of lack 
of news and speaking of Jefferson's weakness in Dorchester 

''2d day of Election 
"We just hear from Talbot that Hindman goes a head of 
Wright 3 to 1. — fair speed the worthy member of the red 

"Jefferson will be pushed in this State on the W. S. par- 
ticularly — but Mr. A. will, undoubtedly, have greatly the 
majority — but J. ought not to get more than two, or he will 
be elected. No Vice is yet mentioned here. 

"Christie I hear certainly goes out & Matthews comes 
in — a better member idl hollow. Smith & Young Sprigg are 
not opposed. T. S. declines & Bear runs against Bingold — 
Crabb resigned & W. Dorsey a good man succeeds him. So 
F. writes me from the City. ' * 

"9. Oct. 96. Cambridge. 
' ' Hindman is elected — considering the State of parties, 
this is an important thing. W. beat him 45. in Q. A. H. 


1796-1797] qf James McHenry 199 

above him in Caroline 27. In Talbot 697. so we beat him 
hollow. Christie I hear will be ousted too. This will be pleas- 
ant to you and Mr Woleott I know. One gentleman & only 
one in this county is for Mr Jeffn. I know not how the re- 
port got about, but the answer is common, when his name 
is mentioned, that he is in debt to the English largely. Of 
the State of parties Eastd. or Southwd. I hear nothing — no 
one hears of such things except at Philad. &, as I have no 
correspondent there who ought to trust to a letter by post, I 
am in the dark — indeed light would be of no service to me 
nor to any one else if I had it — more than it could be to a 
man confined in a hogshead. — the hogshead, for a hogshead, 
might be light enough, but it could not extend its light far. " 

All the Federalists rejoiced that Gabriel Christie was de- 
feated in Baltimore and succeeded by Matthews, **a better 
member all hollow.'* Hindman himself wrote McHenry ftfter 
the election: 

''Bellfield Oct. 13th. 1796. 
"My dear McHenry 

**That I have been remiss in not writing you before, 
I do admit, I have frequently determined it, & have been as 
often prevented. I presume You have heard the Issue of the 
Election between Mr. Wright and Myself, I had a Majority 
in the District of 672, & a Majority in Talbot & Caroline. 
He was 45 Votes a Head in Queen Annes, where I am con- 
vinced He was fairly beaten, as one of his Men had the Ef- 
frontery to declare, that He had voted five times for Mr. 
Wright under different Names. My Friend Mr. Edwd. 
Wright voted for Me, the only One of that Name; this has 
increased my Sollicitude for his obtaining some satisfactory 
Office,' & I must beg You not to forget Him. I am afraid 
Messrs. Sedgwick & Goodhue's Successors are not Sound men 
— & I Find We are on the Point of loosing that best of Men, 
our amiable President, a Loss never to be repaired. I wish 
not to anticipate Evil, I cannot however help dreading the 
Consequence — God send us a Federal Successor. I sincerely 
pray that little Swanwick may be overthrown. I lament much 
that Murray declined; it is however said that almost every 
Man in his District is Federal, if st, We must have a good 
Man. Mr. Dennis, who was in the House of Delegates, I hear 

200 Life and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

in his Successor. I have not heard whether Christie ^ is re- 
elected, I have been unwell for nearly four Weeks with the 
bilious & Ague & Fever." 

Yet the result of the presidential election was far from 
certain and, practically, there was no unanimous decision as 
to whom the members of each party should support for vice 
president. Williamson wrote from New York on October 20 : 

** Yesterday I returned from the Eastern States, having 
been about 200 miles beyond Boston. Nothing was talked 
of six weeks ago, but the measures of placing federal Members 
in the Place of those who voted against supporting the Treaty. 
The New Englanders seem, on that head, to be nearly unani- 

**Who is to be our next President? has been the universal 
Question, ever since the President's Resolution was published 
of not serving again. I have, uniformly, ventured to predict 
& have been ready to support my Opinion, in the true Eng- 
lish mode, by a bet — that John Adams will out poll Mr. Jef- 
ferson as 7 to 5 nearly and that he will be chosen by the Elec- 
tors. Great Pleasure has been expressed by many People on 
hearing so clear & positive a prediction, and they have giv^i, 
as a Reason for the Pleasure they felt, that they conceived that 
my very extensive acquaintance through the Country gave me 
good means of forming a well founded Opinion. But there 
are People who think different from me on the head of Ma- 
jorities. Col. Burr was in Boston when I left it & his In- 
formants, it seems, had induced him to conclude that the votes 
would be nearly equal — and yet we both converse with the 
World. How is it that, from the same Informant, we draw 
different Conclusions T I have just heard of a strange Dis- 
pute between Greenleaf and Nicholson, but what is doing in 
Philada., or in the Seat of American Govt., I have heard as 
little as concerning the Govt, of Persia. I have only heard 
of and seen the Presdts. Address." 

Shortly afterwards, ^ Murray wrote that a Federal elector 
would be chosen from his district. "In this county, I think 
I never knew an election so much of principles. Gteneral 

1 Theodore Sedgwick of Oonnecticut and Benjamin Goodhue of Mas- 
sachusetts were elected to the federal senate. From Pennsylvania John 
Swanwick was reelected. Gabriel Christie was representative from Maix- 
land from 1793 to 1797 and 1799 to 1801. 

2 Novem^r 2. 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 201 

Ecdeston (the Federal candidate) is obnoxious to about one 
half the county and is to be opposed next year by them in a 
sheriff's election, yet the language is, our choice is a party 
question, not a personal matter — this, for a Southern election, 
is a pleasing feature of the People's goodness." Murray 
feared French aggression on neutral trade and asked, ''Who 
is thought of for a Vice President?" 

On the ninth, when the election was over, Murray wrote 


I inclose you a Herald — our election closed this eve- 
ning The Jefferson candidate got one vote. The Adams can- 
didate 582 — no riots — noise or seduction. The farmers came 
in without leaders to support government, they said, by vot- 
ing for a Fedl. man as Presdt. I assure you I never saw an 
election before, in which real good sense appeared unmixed. 
We do not know how the polls go in the other counties — 
Eccleston wt. out doubt is elected. 

**A foolish report circulates that the F. minister is or- 
dered by his govt, to leave U. S. instantly & that they offer 
us the alternative of fighting them or the british. A wheat 
job I suppose. Adet's letter to Col. Pickering is a curious 
circumstance in diplomatic business I shd. tiiink — pretty 
much the Spargere Voces inter vulgus, in Gtenet's way of 
appeal. I hope no answer will be given to it — public or pri- 
vate — whatever may be done on the subject of it. He wd. 
love a newspaper dispute — go wd. Dallas, his counsel. 

**I dare say I am very very troublesome to you — but 
I ease myself — & must say or write — & I have more to say 
to & you only to write to — & this is the season of fires wherein 
my scrawl can be most conveniently deposited. 


As late as the 15th, however, Murray was uncertain of 
the general result, and felt that no effort ought to be omitted. 
Winchester wrote, a day later, that he believed Jefferson would 
have but three electoral votes in Maryland and that he was 
anxious for news from outside of the state. He was too 
sanguine; on the 22nd, Murray wrote: **We shall be, to my 
mortification, half and half, a punster would say quite drunk, 
as we shall be 5 for A. and 5 for J." 

Murray had been writing articles, signed Union, in the 
newspapers in Adams's behalf and, in answer to McHenry 's 

202 LiXfe and Correspondence [Chap. xi 

information in reference to the vice presidential candidate, 

^ * If it is thought best, Smith & others in Philad. ought to 
take care & write to every seat of Govt, where the Electors 
meet, to run Pinckney as Vice, that we may have two strings. 
His christian name too would be necessary — though I could 
find it, yet I forget it. 

**If you like unions & get a Georgetown paper & Ed- 
wards's of B. you will find them there. I sent several — one 
in E's (/ think signed Union) particularly on Mr. A's Dutch 
Services & a little upon his book — the first I had an oppor- 
tunity in Holland of getting some ideas of that probably else 
had not reached us — & I thought it important, in Speaking 
of the man, to associate him with Revolution Services as most 
unquestioned & most splendid & long past." 

When the state legislature met at Annapolis, McHenry 
sent Philip Key letters ** covering the communications made 
by Mr. Adet to our government" and Key answered from 
Annapolis on November 28th, 1796 : 

**I am obliged to you for your two letters covering the 
communications made by Mr. Adet to our Government. Vio- 
lent men think them improper — and indeed all agree that 
they contain untruths — & evidently shew a meddling — that 
ought to be frowned out of countenance. He has loet all 
character and irretrievably diminished that good will felt for 
his Government & the people of France by most people here 
— fortunately, however, his appeal is made at a time when 
public opinion is too well matured for any injury to result 
from such conduct. The answer of our Senate & the House 
of Delegates to Govr. Stone's address (which I inclose you) haa 
an indirect alusion to Mr Adet's communication* Our Legis- 
lature has been very much employed in local matters — -• Colo. 
Howard is appointed a successor to Mr. Potts resigned — in 
the Senate of the U. States ; it's probable his place in our State 
Senate will be filled by some character from Baltimore — & 
McMechen is talked of." 

Carroll of Carrollton on the 28th, still uncertain of the 
result of the presidential election, echoed the same sentimenta 
from Annapolis: 


I need not therefore tell you that Adet's note, assign- 

1796-1797] qf James McHcnry 208 

ing the reasons for suspending his functions, is not at all 
relished with us. If Adet has reed, orders to resume his 
functions, why not notify the orders to our Government T 
does he wait for a reply to his last note, before he gives o/- 
iicial notice of those orders? does our Govt mean to answer 
his last note, wh Includes an appeal from The Govemt. to the 
People? We suspect that ye enemies of ye present admin- 
istration have Stimulated Adet to this measure, to have an 
influence on the elections of electors of a Presdt. & Vice Presdt. 
the timing of this note gives room for the conjecture. 

**I hope the Legislature, in imitation of the Jersey As- 
sembly, will pass some resolves highly approving the Presdt 's. 
address to the People, & perhaps some occasion may be taken^ 
besides the one already mentioned, of reprobating the interfer- 
ence of foreign Ministers with our Govt. 

*'I fear Jefferson will be elected Presdt. if left to him- 
self he may act wisely: but, as he will be elected by a fac- 
tion, it is apprehended he will consider him self rather as 
the head of that faction, than the first magistrate of the 
American People: may the good Genius of America avert 
from us so great an evil & may ye event prove these conjec- 
tures groundless. If you have a little leisure, do answer the 
queries in this letter, if you are at liberty to answer them." 

Chase, too, in a letter sent from Baltimore on December 
4y warmly supported the administration against Adet. 

**I thank you for the Auroray but my absence prevents 
Me from any knowledge of the sentiments of the People here, 
respecting Mr. Adet's abuse of our whole Administration, and 
Appeal to the People. I think the Printer ought to be in- 
dicted for a false & base Libel on our Government. A free 
Press is the Support of Liberty and a Republican Govt., but 
a licentious press is the bane of freedom, and the peril of So- 
ciety, and will do more to destroy real liberty than any other 
Instrument in the Hands of knaves & fools. I see no Differ- 
ence between Genet and Adet. For the opinion of our Leg- 
islature, I refer you to the Resolution of both Houses for per- 
petuating the presidents Address, but more particularly to 
the joint Answer of the Senate & House of Delegates to the 
Grovemor's Address, which I enclose you. You may be as- 
sured there is but one opinion in Maryland out of this Town. " 

He added that there would be seven electors from the 

204 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xi 

state who would vote for Adams and four for Jefferson, one 
of the electors voting for both men. 

On December % Carroll wrote again: 

"Notwithstanding the Pen 'a ticket is gone in favor of Jef- 
ferson, those who pretend to have good information say that 
Adams will be elected by a majority of 6 votes. I rather 
think the probability is liat no election of President will be 
made by the electors, as, probably, several of the electors may 
not be able to attend at the seats of Gov 't, many of them being 
at a great distance from those seats, sickness and badness of 
the roads may prevent their attendance. 

**We are anxious here to know what notice, if any, our 
Gk)v 't will take of Adet 's last note, assigning reasons for your 
suspension of his functions." 

So strong a Federalist as Carroll was anxious that the leg- 
islature should not go too far in passing resolutions against 
Adet and wrote, on December 5, when he thought the chiBmces 
for Adams's election were brighter: 

*'I reed, the 4th instant, your letter of the 2d. I i)er- 
f ectly approve the determination of the executive not to deign 
to answer Adet's last note. I have not heard myself a single 
person speak of him with out expressing great disapprobation ; 
yet I am told these are who excuse it, alleging he has Said 
nothing but the truth. You may readily guess what sort of 
men these are. 

''Mr Key I believe means to move some resolutions re- 
specting the President's address, expressive of the same Sen- 
timents with those in our answer to the Governor's address. 

**I do not see how the Legislature can with propriety go 
far there. The Individual States, as Such are not known to 
foreign powers; We have nothing to do with them, nor they 
with us. Should we pointedly notice & disapprove of Adet's 
proceeding, might we not be accused of reachuig in upon the 
boundary & province of another Legislature Solely entrusted 
with the management of our external relations. 8th Decem- 
ber Yesterday all the Electors met. Mr. Adams got 7 votes 
Mr. Jefferson 4, Mr. Pinkney 4, Mr. Burr 3 votes; & Mr. 
Jno. Henry 2. Three eastern shore electors voted for Mr. 
Adams; one (Gilpin) for Jefferson; Deakins, Murdock, & 
Lynn voted for Adams, Duvall, Archer for Jefferson ; Plater 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 206 

for both. It is said, but upon what foundation I know not, 
how neither Adams or Jefferson will get any votes in S. Caro- 
lina. It is confidently asserted that Mr. Adams will be elected 
by a majority of at least 3 votes. I have my fears, Should 
Jefferson be elected, or, if no election takes place by the Elec- 
tors, I suppose he will be elected by present house of Repre- 
sentatives. Great anxiety prevails, generally, respecting the 
future President, the friends of the Gk)vemment, dread the 
election of Jefferson ; they fear he will pursue a very different 
line of conduct from the present President. You intimate 
that the Secretary of State's communications to Mr. Pinckney 
relative to Adet's proceedings will be laid before Congress, 
the french party, it is probable, will not approve the Secre- 
tary's communications: however, I flatter myself the real 
friends of their country are the strongest party in Congress ; 
You may be assured that, among the People, they are much 
the strongest: there are, no doubt, many in all the States 
wishing for a revolution & war, but I am confident the great 
body of the people are attached to the Govemt., approve its 
measures, & wish to remain at peace with the nation. 

' ' 9th Deer. We have this day reelected Col. Howard into 
the Senate of the U. S. to serve 6 years from the 4th of next 
March, he may be said to have been unanimously elected : there 
were 5 blanks & 4 votes for Mr. Richd. Sprigg, altho' no other 
person was in nomination but Col. Howard. I am with much 
respect & regard." 

Resolutions, however, were adopted by the assembly and 
forwarded from Baltimore by Chase on December 10. In the 
letter conveying them, Chase said: 

**I believe the enclosed conveys the Real Sentiments of 
the People of Maryland, the Resolutions were adopted, moved 
and carried by Mr. Key of Annapolis. I expect the Senate 
will accede, with some few amendments which will improve 
them — when our assembly first met there were 8 or 10 DelC" 
gates who objected to that Part of the answer to the Gov- 
ernor's address which spoke of the Conduct of forei^ agents 
— but even they are now convinced or Silent, the Charge of 
a fraudulent Neutrality, the indecent language to the Execu- 
tive, and the appeal to the People agt. their whole Govern- 
ment is such a breach of truth & good manners, and such an 
inter-meddling in our Government as wound the feelings & 
ruins the Dignity of our People. I am greatly pleased with 

206 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, xi 

the answer of our National Senate. I wait with Impatience 
for that of our Representatives. I hope they will feel as 
their Constituents. I believe and expect the assemblies of a 
great majority of the States will concur with the President. 
I still think my old friend the Vice President will be elected 
president. '* 

Even yet the election was uncertain, and on December 
12, Carroll of Carrollton answered, as follows, McHenry's let- 
ter, in which was sent a copy of Washington's address at the 
opening of congress : 

* ' I rec 'd, by this day 's post, yr letter of the 9th, covering 
the Presidents speech, with wh I am much pleased, particu- 
larly the part relating to Adet's conduct, it contains a due 
mixture of temper & firmness. May I hope the Congress will 
be unanimous in expressing their disapprobation of the min- 
ister's proceedings? surely they must be offensive to every 
good American. 

**The resolution you speak of was brought in by Mr. 
Eobt. Smith, when in the house of delegates ; it will make way 
for one drawn up by Mr. Key, & which will be discussed to- 
morrow, & I expect will pass unanimously — I think you will 
prefer it to the one brought in by Mr. Smith. 

** Wednesday, the application of the commissioners for 
the loan 140,000 of 6 p. ct. stock will be taken up by the 
house of Delegates. Mr, Scott the attending commissioner 
says a majority of 10 will be in favor of the loan — you know 
I mix little with the members, & am therefore less able to 
judge whether Scott's calculation is to be relied on. It is 
conjectured with us that Mr. Pinkney will be elected Presi- 
dent; if the eastern electors have generally voted for him, 
the conjecture may be realized. Some think this event would 
be a fortunate one, as his administration would be less op- 
posed than that of Mr. Adam's: however, not so much the 
man as measures occasioned opposition : It was not Washing- 
ton, but his measures that were opposed; his great sin was 
the preventing his country from becoming a party in the war 
with France, and being involved in the same calamities which 
afflict that country. A man must be blind indeed not to see 
thro' the designs of the party. I hope, yet do not expect it, 
that peace will save us from serious discussions with the Di- 
rectory. I am with respect" 

1796-1797] qf James McHenry 207 

Key also acknowledged Washington's address thus: 

*' Annapolis 13th Deer. 96. 

*'Dear Sir 

'*I thank you for your favor of the 9th. The President's 
speech is extremely satisfactory — and an additional evidence 
of his Paternal regard for the welfare & prosperity of our 
Country — the enclosed Resolutions passed our House this day 
& tomorrow will certainly pass the Senate unanimously. The 
House of Delegates — have voted 100,000 dollars 6 pet. for 
the use of the F [ederal] City — this aid could only be obtained 
in our House, by the Commissioners making themselves an- 
swerable, in their individual capacity, for the repay 't — in 
case the funds pledged under the act of Congress should prove 
inadequate — so powerfully does Potomack & this City com- 
bine against Baltimore that I very much suspect no money 
will be invested in the New Bank." ^ 

1 This city Is Annapolis. Potomac refers to the Potomac company 
whose plans for improving the navi^ration of that river were then much 


X YZa3. IX THH ^A^ nEPvaf nrgX T C^DEB ADAMS 

A PAHS kept 121 Q&x aE of his predeceaor's secreUrieB: 
Kekc*rT!g, W<}U!ott:. il'iHenry and Lee. Almost at 
the op«>iiiiig of the admizLiatratiom eazne news which 
maiie the lii^nlty with Franee aente. Shortly after the 
xziarurnration. there arrived a letter sent Pickering tram Lon- 
don on Feoroarv 6^ bv Bnfos Kmy, oar minister to Great 

•'Dear Sir 

''Mr Sands of New York has this nunming shown me a 
letter that he had just received from Mr. Pitcaim, dated 
Paris, Jany. 28. which states, that General Pinckney has been 
ordered by the Directory to leave Paris, and that he would 
depart for Amsterdam on Tuesday die 31. ult. 

"Knowing that it was the General's intention (in case 
he received such an order) to go to Amsterdam, and being 
apprehensive^ that such an order might be issued in the mo- 
ment of elevation that followed the news of Buonaparte's late 
victories, I entertaii^no doubt of the authenticity of this very 
unpleasant intelligence. 

"With perfect respect and esteem 
* ' I have the honor to be. Dear Sir, 
"Yr. ob. sert. 
"Rrrus King." 

This news was soon confirmed and created a great ex- 
citement throughout the United States. 

From Murray, McHenry heard by note sent from Cam* 
bridfre on March 10: 

"Our Packet just brought us the news, Norfolk news, 
that Pinckney is refused! I do not credit it. The people 
from one end to the other of this Shore Are right as to France. 
Some even think a war would do well.*' 

Hindman wrote McHenry twice from the Eastern Shore 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 209 

The first letter was written at Bellfield on March 2l8t, 1797, 
and is as follows : 

'*! reach 'd Home on the Tuesday after I left Philadel- 
phia, having had a very tempestuous and rather a cold Ride. 
Since my Return I have dispatched Burke's two Letters & Mr : 
Pickering's to Mr: Pinckney, the last is most highly thought 
of by both parties & will have a most excellent Effect as it 
must & will open the Eyes of the People towards the French, 
from what I can hear it has already made a good Impression. 
I find that Burke's Letters are not approv'd, particularly by 
those who are tinged with Jacobinism, they say it is a low 
dirty Performance & very unworthy of the Author, it will not 
be prudent to distribute Them here. As I fear 'd, Phocion will 
not be read, being too lengthy, tho' of high & acknowledged 

**The last papers received here say, that Mr: Pinckney 
was denied an Audience by the French Directory & was on 
his way back to this Country, if this should be true, Congress 
I suppose will be called before the Time to which They Stand 
adjourned. Surely We shall be unfrenchified & as becomes 
Us, feel ourselves as Americans only." 

The second letter written from Bellfield on April 1st, 
1797, stated that 

'*! see by the last Papers, that the President has decided 
Congress to meet on the 15th. May, so that my Suspicions are 
verified. What will the high toned Jacobins now Say of their 
good Friends the French, they will not surely have the Ef- 
frontery still to justify them, there is scarcely any Calamity 
so bad, but what some good may be drawn from it, I take 
it for granted, that the unwarrantable, shameless Conduct of 
the French towards Us, must & will alienate the Regards which 
the Americans have heretofore had For that Nation. As far 
as I can hear the Sentiments of the People here, they say War 
must be the Consequence, & some I find are extremely anxious 
for it, viewing Us in a worse Situation, than if We were actu- 
ally at War, as, in that Event, We could afford some protec- 
tion to our Commerce." 

To Washington, on March 24, McHenry wrote of the re- 
fusal to receive Pinckney. It was the first letter he had sent 
his former chief since Washington 's return to Mount Vernon, 

210 Ltfe afid Correspondence [Chap, xii 

and McHenr>' mentioned that : ** You have witnessed on your 
route the great affection and attachment of the people and 
the sound part of the community, which is still visible in 
everj' company I go into and which, I am persuaded, will not 
diminish, though the external marks of it may, graduaUy, 
be less strongly expressed. This is the last reward you would 
have received, or the country could have given you. It is, 
nevertheless, a precious one.'* Turning to foreign affairs, he 
writes: ** Every step on the part of the Directorial minister 
is insulting and the form of the rejection, passing through 
Mr. Munroe, not the least so.'* 

**I presume Congress must be called and that immedi- 
ately and that it may also be expedient in the mean time to 
direct Mr. Pinckney to make another effort, such as may not 
commit the dignity of the United States and, if unsuccessful, 
retire to Hamburg, or some other place, to wait events, or 
a better disposition on the part of Prance." 

Washington answered McHenry's letter on April 3,^ 
thanking him for the news and asking his former secretary: 
**to communicate to me, occasionally, such matters as are in- 
teresting and not contrary to the rules of your official duty 
to disclose. We get so many details in the Gazettes, and of 
such different complexions that it is impossible to know what 
credence to give to any of them.'' Washington had arrived 
home safely, avoiding all the ** parades or escorts" he could, 
and is very busy, preparing a place for the security of his 
papers and making needed repairs. He has workmen of all 
kinds at Mount Vernon and has ** scarcely a room to put a 
friend into, or to sit in myself, without the music of hammers, 
or the odoriferous smell of paint." , 

'*The conduct of the French government" appeared to 
Washington ** beyond calculation" and ** unaccountable, upon 

1 Sparks, xl. 196. Ford, xiii, 381. The following paragraphs are 
omitted in both collections: 

"I will make no apologry for putting the enclosed under cover to 700, 
If General Lee should have left Philadelphia, let me request the favor of 
you to open the letter to him and cause the one under that cover to be 
delivered to Messrs Reed A Ford by a person you can inform me with 
certainty, has done so ; that I pnay know to what cause to ascribe (should 
it happen) any delay in their answer; and add, if you please, whether 
there be any cause to susQeot a failure of the Gentlemen. 

"You win readily perceive that what is said of them, and what I 
write to Genl. Lee is of a private nature, and not to be mentioned unless 
the reports respecting Reed & Ford are facts of notoriety. . . . Dear 

"Tour sincere friend & aifectionate 
"Go. Washington." 

1797-1798] qf James McHenry 21 1 

any principle of justice, or even of that sort of policy which 
is familiar to sound understanding." 

On the 6th, McHenry replied that he found having noth- 
ing to do a great enemy to happiness. *'I very well remem- 
ber that, before you brought me back into public life, I always 
experienced somewhat of restl^ness in the interval between 
dropping one pursuit and finding out another." 

Strong words came to McHenry from the Federalist 
leader, James Ross, at Pittsburg, in a letter written on April 3 : 

"Not a word of news here, & from the public papers it 
would seem that even at the seat of Government, you must be 
in Considerable uncertainty respecting our European power. 
Will an envoy extraordinary of the tribe of Virginia, satisfy 
the Jacobins of France & this country ! — or must the Direc- 
tory have a negative upon our laws? I will agree to the first 
for peace Sake, but I cannot go further." 

Samuel Smith, however, whose sympathies were always 
more with the French, wrote from Baltimore on April 5, still 
in doubt as to the truth of the refusal to receive Pinckney: 

"Your Letter to Mr Oliver has tended to Increase the 
present Alarm. It says positively that Mr. Pinckney was 
Ordered from Paris by the Directory; Have you this from 
himself? or only from London. If the latter I shall still 
doubt, — because the Inclosed Extract from Mr Jas Calhoun's 
Letter seems fully to explain the report which had at first 

"I am deeply interested & might Solicit your Immediate 
Answer — that is — Are your Accts. from Mr. Pinckney, if 
not, from whom^ & what London Dates." 

Adams summoned an extra session of congress to meet 
on May 15 and discuss the question on which subject Ham- 
ilton wrote McHenry ^ a most important letter. 

1 The encloaure in Smith's letter Is as follows: 

"Extract of a Letter from James Calhoun dated Liverpool 

16 Feby 1797 

•• 'Premiums of Insurance at Lloyds have been very fluctuating, a 
report was circulated that an E!rbargo was laid In France on all Ameri- 
can Vessels, & Insurance rose t3 ten Guineas from hence to America, 
on Goods by American Vegpels, this being contradicted, they had fallen 
to six Guineas; when Mr. Pinckney, who had never yet been acknowl- 
edcred by the Directory; finding the situation at Paris unpleasant, asked 
Passport to go to Amsterdam, &, set out on the 7th Inst; his request for 
a Passport, was Imm'y stated at Lloyds to have risen from an order 
of the Directory that he should quit Paris; & the alarm threw every 
thing again into confusion — the Underwriters for a day or two refused 
to write, they then asked ten Guineas & within a few days some Policies 
have been done at six' " 

2 Lodge's Hamilton, x, 241, prints a different and briefer text of this 

212 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

**My dear friend, 

Take my ideas and weigh them, of a proper course of 
conduct for our administration on the present juncture. You 
have called Congress, 'tis well. "When the Senate meets 
(which I should be glad to see anticipated) send a Commis- 
sion extraordinary to France. Let it consist of Jeiferson or 
Madison, Pinckney, and a third very safe man, say Cabot, 
Proclaim a Religious Solemnity, to take place at the meet- 
ing of Congress. When Congress meets, get them to lay an 
embargo, with liberty to the executive to grant license to de- 
part to vessels armsd and sailing with Convoys, Increase 
the Revenue vigorously and provide naval force for Convoys. 
Purchase a number of vessels now built, the most fit for sloops 
of war and cutters, and arm and commission them to serve 
as Convoys. Grant qualified letters of mark to your Mer- 
chantmen to arm, defend themselves, and capture those who 
attack, but not to cruise or attack. Form a provisional army 
of 25,000 men to be engaged eventually and have certain 
emoluments. Increase your cavalry and artillery in imme- 
diate service. 

''Or do as much of all this as you can. Make a last 
effort for peace, but be prepared for the worst. 

**The Emperor Paul is at best equivocal. A successor is 
apt to differ from a predecessor. He seems to be a Reformer 
too. Who can say into what scale his weight may be finally 
thrown? If things shall so turn that Austria is driven to 
make peace and England left to contend alone? Who can 
guarantee us that France may not sport in this country a 
proseliting army? Even to get rid of the troops if it failSy 
may be no bad thing to the Government of that Country. 
There is a possible course of things which may subject us 
even to an internal invasion by France. Our calculations, 
to be solid, should contemplate this possibility. 

**I know, in your administration, there is a doubt about 
a Commission or Envoy Extraordinary. I am very sorry for 
it, because I am sure it is an expedient measure. But, per- 
haps, France has said she will receive no Minister, till her 
grievances shall be redressed. 'Tis hardly possible this can 
refer to any but a Minister who is to reside. A special extrar 
ordinary mission cannot be intended to be excluded, because 
it is at least necessary to know what measure of redress wiU 
satisfy, if any is due. But grant she will refuse to hear. 
Still the great advantage results of showing in the most glar- 

1797-1798] qf James McHenry 218 

ing light to our people her unreasonableness, of disarming a 
party of the plea that all has not been done which might be 
done, of refuting completely the charge that the actual admin- 
istration desires war with Prance. 

**But the enemies of the Government desire the measure. 
Tis the strongest reason for adopting it. This will meet them 
on their own ground and shut their mouths. 

**But to answer the end, a man who will have their con- 
fidence must be sent, Jefferson or Madison. To do this and 
to be safe others must be united, say Pinckney and Cabot. 
Thence the idea of a commission. 

**I am, really, my friend, anxious that this should be your 
plan. Depend on it it will unite the double advantage of 
silencing enemies and satisfying friends. 

"I write you this letter on your fidelity. No mortal must 
see it or know its contents. Yours A. Hamilton.'' 

On April 14, Adams called together the heads of depart- 
ments and asked them a series of questions on relations with 
Prance. ^ McHenry sent the queries to Hamilton, asking his 
opinion upon them and received the following answer, written 
on April 29 : 

**I now send you a cursory answer to certain questions 
They are imperfect &, probably, may come too late. But court 
avocations and distress in the family have prevented any 
thing better — General Schuyler has been critically ill, though 
now, as I hope, out of danger. My brother in law, Mr. Rens- 
selaer, has just lost a favourite Daughter, one and the eldest 
of two children, without a prospect of more. The whole has 
thrown a gloom upon the family & my health is not the stout- 
est. I shall answer your last by the next post 


**A H'' 


'* Situated as I am at this moment I am obliged to con- 
fine myself to very general hints respecting the paper of the 
15 of April. 

**As to the first head — I think it will be adviseable that 
the speech should be confined to the foreign affairs of the 
Coimtry, giving the primary & prominent place to those with 

1 J. Adams, viii, 540. 

214 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

France. This will make the main business the more striking. 
Domestic matters may follow in messages &c 

''As to the second head — Announcing his intention to 
have recourse to the measure of an extraordinary mission — to 
endeavour, by an earnest and amicable appeal to the justice, 
candour, and friendship of the French government, to rectify 
misapprehensions, to satisfy them of the good faith and 
f riendQy sentiments which have always directed the U. States, 
to endeavour, by a revision and readjustment of the Treaties 
between the two Nations, as far as shall consist with the en- 
gagements of the U. States towards other nations and the 
duties which their neutral position enjoins, to obviate causes 
of discontent and restore and confirm cordial harmony, to 
dismiss and settle amicably the topics of the mutual com- 
plaints and thereby to obtain a revocation of those acts on the 
part of France and of her Agents in her colonies which have 
oppressed our Trade and injured our Citizens and with it 
retribution for the losses which they have suffered from depre- 
dations, contrary alike to the laws of Nations and the faith 
of Treaties. 

''The speech should proceed to say that inasmuch as 
depredations by the cruisers of France continue to go on, of 
a nature to destroy the mercantile capital, ruin the commerce 
of the country and depress its agriculture & industry gen- 
erally, and, inasmuch, as it is impossible to foresee the issue 
of the attempt, by negotiation, to avert the consequences of 
the serious misunderstandings which exist — it is matter of 
necessity, with regard to l£e interest, honor, present and 
future security of the U. States, to adopt and carry into exe- 
cution, without delay, vigorous measures of defensive pre- 

"These measures to consist of the prompt equipment of 
a naval force, sufScient to serve as convoys to our Trade and 
protect it against the spoliations of petty cruisers. 

"Permission to our vessels to arm for their own defence 
under proper guard and restrictions to prevent their cruising 
and acting offensively. 

"The intermediate passing of an embargo till these meas- 
ures can be matured — with a discretion vested somewhere to 
grant licenses to sail to such ports & under such circum- 
stances as may be deemed safe. 

"Arrangements which, in case of emergeney» will give 
the Government the prompt command of an eflScacious force 

1797-1798] qf James McHenry 215 

with a particular view to Artillery and Cavalry ; corps which 
require considerable time for forming them and which in case 
of need will be of the most peculiar and essential utility 

**The more complete & effectual fortification of our sea- 
ports, especially the principal ones. 

**The increase of our Revenue, as far as shall be prac- 
ticable without overburthening our Citizens, to an extent 
which shall be equal to the additional expense of these pro- 
visions, avoid an increase of the National debt, and prepare 
the Country for the exigencies which may arise. 

"Whether it will be expedient for the President to go 
into detail, or deal with energy in generals embracing the 
great points, is a serious question. The inclination of my 
opinion is towards the fence, dealing in generals in Speeches 
& having reports from departments either to be communicated 
afterwards, or to be transmitted with the Speech by a gen- 
eral reference. 

**As to Instructions to the extraordinary Minister or 
Ministers, they should embrace the following objects — 

"I. Explanation of the real views & intentions of the 
Government of the U. States during the present war, so as 
to satisfy France that they have aimed at a sincere neutrality 
and have been influenced by no spirit partial to her enemies 
or inimical to her. 

"II. The Discussion, if necessary, of the constructions 
of the Treaties between the two countries in the points which 
have been litigated, insisting upon our own, but not refusing- 
to agree to any measures consistent with our constitution, for 
avoiding an inconvenient or abusive application of them. 

"III. The remodification of the Guarantee in our Treaty 
of alliance into a stipulation of specific succours having ref- 
erence to future wars and defining the casus foederis to be, 
that where the war has begun by the commission upon the ally 
of some actual military hostility, by sea or land. The suc- 
cour on our part may, in the next fifteen years, be five sail 
of the line to be furnished once for all, or an equivalent sum 
of money to be defined (with option to pay in provision or 
military stores) — after the fifteen years, ten sail of the line, 
or an equivalent sum of money — The remaining vessels to 
return at the conclusion of the war. 

"IV The remodification of our Treaty of Commerce, so 
as to accommodate it to that with G. Britain, having regard 
to duration as well as other things 

216 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

"V Reparation for spoliations & payment of sum due by 
Contract and other damages. A Commission or Commissions 
may be agreed to but carefully restricted io compensation to 
Individucis on either side. For 

"VI There should in no event be admitted the idea of 
compensation or contribution from the Gk)vemment of the U. 
States to that of France, Nor 

"VII. Any admission, secretly or indirectly, that they 
are Aggressors with regard to France 

"VIII To avoid every stipulation in any shape incon- 
sistent with our other Treaties, or that may compromit our 
neutrality in the present war 

"IX To steer clear of particular or exclusive privileges 
or preferences in Trade which are always precarious, & em- 
barrassing; occasioning dissatisfaction at home & jealousy 

"X To consent, if desired by France, to the annulling 
of the Treaties between the two Countries — altogether 

"This last idea is a delicate one & it is only, if at all, 
to be so suggested as that our Minister may, in no case, appear 
to contend for the continuance of these Treaties as a favour 
to the U. States — as France may consider her guarantee of 
our sovereignty and independence as a thing of importance 
to us. 

"Yrs truly 

Hamilton later elaborated his views in a second paper, 
which he sent McHenry: 

"Answer to questions proposed by the 
Prest of the U. States. 
"To the first. It is diflScult to fix the precise point 
at which indignity or aflfront from one State to another ceases 
to be negotiable without absolute humiliation and disgrace. 
It is for the most part a relative question — relative to the 
comparative strength of the parties — the motives for peace 
or war — the antecedent relations — the circumstances of the 
moment, as well with regard to the nations as to those be- 
tween whom the question arises. The conduct of Prance, ex- 
clusive of the refusal of Mr. Pinckney, is nd doubt very vio- 
lent, insulting, and injurious. The treatment of Mr. Pinck- 
ney, if it does not pass, certainly touches upon the utmost 

1797-1798J qf James McHenry 217 

limit of what is tolerable. Yet it is conceived that, under 
all the singular and very extraordinary circumstances of the 
ease, further negotiation may be admitted, without that ab- 
solute humiliation and disgrace which ought perhaps never 
to be incurred — to avoid which it is, probably, always wise 
to put even the political existence of a Nation upon the hazard 
of the die. 


The triumphs of Prance have been such as to confound 
and astonish mankind. Several of the principal powers of 
Europe, even England herself, have found it necessary, or 
expedient, in greater or less degrees, to submit to some humili- 
ation from Prance. At the present juncture, the course of 
her affairs and the Situation of her enemies, more than ever, 
admonishes those who are in danger of becoming so and who 
are not able to oppose barriers to her progress, to temporise. 
The mind of mankind, tired with the suffering, or spectacle, 
of a war, fatal beyond example, is prepared to see more than 
usual forbearance in powers not yet parties to it, who may 
be in danger of being involved. It is prepared to view, as 
only prudent, what, in other circumstances, would be deemed 
dishonorable submission. 

'*The U. States have the strongest motives to avoid war. 
They may lose a great deal; they can gain nothing. They 
may be annoyed much and can annoy comparatively little. 
Tis even a possible event that they may he left alone to con- 
tend with the Conquerors of Europe. When interests so 
great invite and dangers so great menace, delicacy is called 
upon to yield a great deal to prudence. And a considerable 
degree of himiiliation may, without ignominy, be encountered 
to avoid the possibility of much greater and a train of in- 
calculable evils. 

**The former relations of the U. States to France — the 
agency of that power in promoting our revolution — are rea- 
sons, in the nature of things, for not lightly running into a 
quarrel with — even for bearing and forbearing to a consid- 
erable extent. There is perhaps in such a case peculiar dig- 
nity in moderation. 

''France, in declining to receive Mr Pinckney, has not 
gone to the ne plus ultra. She has declined to receive a min- 
ister till grievances, of which she complains, are redressed. 
She has not absolutely ordered away a minister as the prelim- 

218 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

inary to war. She has mingled some qualifications. It is not 
even clear that she means to say she will not receive an exira- 
ordinary minister. This leaves some vacant ground between 
her act and rupture. The U. States may occupy it by a 
further attempt at negotiation. This further attempt seems 
to be that which must carry us to the point beyond which we 
cannot go. 

"Besides the object of explanation to satisfy France , we 
have the most serious grievances to complain of and of which 
to seek redress. This last will be a principal object of an ex- 
traordinary mission. It will not be to make submissions hut 
to explain and to demand reparation. This double object con- 
tains a great salvo for the national honor. 

**We have just seen, in the case of Sweden, the negotia- 
tion, in some way or other, of a similar insult. Though the 
refusal of our minister, as being mere pretext, is more offen- 
sive — Yet the forbearance of Sweden is a precedent of some 
force for us. 

"As to our own Country — There is a general and strong 
desire for peace — and, with a considerable party, still a par- 
ticular repugnance to war with Prance. The state of public 
opinion is not likely to consider a further attempt at negotia- 
tion as too humiliating. It may be safely taken for granted 
that it wiU approve such an attempt as prudent — & that at 
home it will have no other effect than to lay the foundation 
for greater Union, and Constancy in case of failure. 

"But to preserve character abroad — and esteem for the 
Qovemment at home, it is essential that the idea of further 
negotiation be accompanied by measures that shall demon- 
strate a spirit of resistance in case of failure — that shall 
yield present protection — and promote future security. 

"With this adjunct, it is believed that the Government, 
in pursuing the plan of further negotiation, will raise rather 
than depress the character of the Nation & will preserve the 
dignity of the American mind & the esteem of the American 

' ' The enunciation of one measure by the Executive ought, 
therefore, to be accompanied with a decisive recommendation 
of the other course. In doing this, however, it will be wise 


qf James McHenry 


***iii reference 
to the actual 
& ruinous depre- 
of our Trade. 

to avoid all expressions that may look like menacing France 
with what we intend to do. The attempt to negotiate must 
be put upon the foot of an appeal to her justice and friend- 
ship. The recommendation of preparatory & defensive pre- 
cautions be put on the foot of present necessity &• the possi- 
bility of future dangers which it may not be in our power 
to avert 

**To the second — It wiU be expedi- 
ent to declare to Prance that if there 
be any thing in the Treaty with G. 
Britain which France is desirous of 
incorporating in the Treaty with her 

— The U. States are ready to do so 

— having no wish to give any other 
power privileges which Prance may 
not equally enjoy on the same terms. 
This general offer seems the most un- 
exceptionable & will stop as well the 
mouths of France as of her partisans 
among ourselves. The duration of 
privileges should also be in both cases 
the same. 

*'To the third It does not occur 
that it will be expedient to propose the 
abolition of any of the articles of our 
Treaties with France further than 
may be implied in the above general 
offer. To propose the abolition of 
things inconvenient to us would con- 
firm the suspicion that we were dis- 
posed to narrow the privileges of 
France and would do harm there and 
here* The only thing that can be done 
with advantage is to propose to liquidate 
the meaning and effect of the mutual 
guarantee in the Treaty of Alliance. 

**That Guarantee is now general. 
The obligation it impresses on France 
towards us is essentially nominal in 
future, because our sovereignty and 
• independence can hardly again come 
in question. That which it lays upon 
us would expose us to a general war 


• The desiring 
of some of the stip- 
ulationSy accord- 
ing to our practice 
upon them, would 
be desirable if 
obtainable, but 
it is better to 
leave them as they 
are, than desire 
the other way. 
And the probability 
is that the def- 
inition would end 
in the last way 
which might com- 
promit us with other 

220 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

with the enemy of France, as often as, 
in a purely defensive war, her West 
India possessions should be attacked. 
This is a great eviL The alternative, 
in such a case, is to chicane our en- 
gagements and risk war with IVance 
for not performing them — or to per- 
"•A definite succour form them, if caUed upon, and en- 
is not a cause of war, counter war with her enemies. It 
if previously would be a great point gained to re- 

stipulated, duce this general guarantee to a treaty 

of mutual. Specific, definite, Succour ^^ 
excluding the present war and defin- 
ing the casus foederis to be that case, 
in which the first act of actual hos- 
tility by Sea or land is committed 
against the ally — without reference 
to antecedent motives and causes, 
which are ever vague & complicated. 
'*To the fourth — If an amicable course of negotiation 
should take place, modifications in the Convention may be 
proposed. Not having it by me, the desireable alterations do 
not occur further than the restraining the mutual right of 
jurisdiction in questions between the citizens of either power 
to cases between the Officers & Crews of Vessels. Beyond 
this it works ill — establishes an imperium in imperio — ex- 
tends foreign influence &, indirectly, injures our own Citizens 
& preventing efficacious justice between French Citizens who 
are often their Debtors &c. Particularly, it is ill to insert 
foreign jurisdiction in our Country. 

**To the fifth — It does not appear expedient to propose 
or agree to such new articles. In general it is wisest neither 
to give nor take peculiar privileges — but equalize our com- 
mercial system with all nations. Indeed, it will be very dif- 
ficult to adjust new articles without interference with other 
Treaties. The only method of favouring France is to stipu- 
late that certain articles of her production or manufacture, 
not common to Great Britain, which enter largely into our 
possessions should be admited without duty, or on light duties 
to be specified. This applies principally to her brandies and 
vnnes; but even there they must be on the same footing, if 
coming through G. Britain, as if coming directly from France. 
Yet the essential & utimate benefit would accrue to France, as 

1797-1798] qf James McHenry 221 

favouring the vent & consumption in our Country of her pe- 
culiar commodities. But all this is far better avoided. The 
diminution of our Bevenue and jealousies in other powers 
wiU be certain evils, for which France will & can give no real 

' * To the 6th. What was done in the case of Great Britain 
will be a good precedent for this case. 

' ' To the seventh. The terms of the remonstrances against 
spoliations should be mild and calm without offensive epi- 
thets, but serious and depicting strongly the extent of the 
evil. They should suppose the West India constructions to 
be abuses of the Orders of the directory; but they should 
notice that these were so vague and indefinite in themselves 
as to be naturally liable to abuse. They should urge a revo- 
cation of these orders and compensation for the injuries they 
have produced, as due from good will, Justice, and Friendship 
of France to the violated rights of the U. States and their 
Citizens — and to restoration of cordial harmony between 
the two nations, which might otherwise suffer a deep and per- 
haps incurable wound. 

**To the 8th. This is answered in the answer to the 
seventh. To the 9th. This claim of our Citizens ought to be 
noticed and urged as a great and serious one, having, from 
the motives of the individuals in the greatest number of cases, 
a title to peculiar attention. Yet the whole ought to be so 
managed, as not to compromise the Government for the ulti- 
mate vindication of the claim. It is very questionable wheth- 
er it be not such a one (as far as credit was voluntary) as 
that those who gave it ought finally to be left to the honor of 
the Government to which they trusted. 

**To the 10th. This is answered in the Affirmative in 
the answer to the seventh (iiiestion. There is no solid dis- 
tinction between captures and seizures by private vessels or 
public vessels. The Government which gave the Commission 
to cruise is liable in both cases. This observation has reference 
to those depredations which result from vague orders of the 
Government, or the abusive constructions of its Agents entrust- 
ed with local jurisdiction, as Governors, Commissioners &c. 

**To the 11th. A Commission, like that with England, 
ought to be agreed to, as a very happy issue out of the embar- 

**To the 12th. This is answered in the answer to the 
second question. The equivalent privileges in the French 

222 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

East India Trade will be the analogous compensation, though 
not of equal extent. But situated as we are with France, it 
seems proper to be content with less. If privil^es on her 
West India Trade could be obtained, it would be desireable 
But this ought not to be a sine qua non. A limitation of the 
duration of a new Treaty, if made is a great desideratum. ^ 

**To the 13th. It scarcely seems adviseable to oflPer the 
project of such a new Treaty. It opens at once all the cards. 
It is better to deal in generals, lliis will leave less in the 
power of Prance or her partisans. 

**To the 14. It is conceived most adviseable to follow 
former precedent in this respect, which may avoid much de- 
lay and embarrassment. In the exercise of this branch of 
Executive Power, it will be found the best course to reduce 
the Cooperation of the Senate to the appointment of the Ne- 
gotiator and the ultimate fiat or negative. Much has been 
done to this end & it will not be expedient to relinquish the 
ground which has been gained.** 

McHenry's opinion, filed with the president, is interest- 
ing to compare with the preceding letter, as showing the 
measure of the secretary's reliance upon Hamilton. McHenry 
decidedly favored further negotiations and proposed that we 
oflPer to modify every commercial inequality between France 
and England. He was averse to changes in old treaties with 
France, save the mutual guarantees, and opposed saying any- 
thing concerning a consular convention. He proposed the 
same course with reference to evidences of insult and injuries 
against American commerce by France, as was pursued in 
case of Qreat Britain; a remonstrance against fVench out- 
rages to be made in mild and calm terms. Payment of claims 
for property purchased by the French government in Europe, 
East or West Indies should be urged but not demanded. 
France should be asked to pay for vessels and cargoes cap- 
tured and seized by ships of war or private ships and a com- 
mission of inquiry, like that with England, should be agreed 
to. No project of a new treaty, abolishing the old one, 
should be proposed to France nor laid before the senate. In 
many sentences McHenry quoted Hamilton's exact words. 

The perturbed condition of the public mind, when the 
extra session was called, is clearly shown by the letter John 
Henry, one of the senators from Maryland, wrote: 

1 "Bridge for both," In McHenry's handwriting, 1b written on tiM 
letter here. 

1797-1798] qf James McHenry 228 

'*3 Apr. 1797 
**My dear Sir, 

"Can you inform me what is the immediate object of 
the meeting of Congress. Is it probable that the session will 
be long. The attendance of the southern gentlemen, who are 
engaged in agricultural pursuits is very inconvenient, at this 
season of the year ; and if the session is to be of any continu- 
ance, it will be oppressive. 

**As you are in possession of the grounds of issuing the 
proclamation, you will oblige me by giving such information 
as you are at liberty to state. 

**Is the object an embargo, or does the state of our for- 
eign concerns, call for other measures, more injurious to our 
tranquility.^ Will the folly and madness of Prance force us 
into offensive acts. Altho' in my apprehension their ves- 
sels in some instance, have been hardly treated, and detained 
on grounds not satisfactory to my understanding of the treaty, 
yet these trifles will never be seriously stated as the cause of 
war; nor I trust will the treaty with Britain, be urged in 
the face of the worlds as grounds of offensive operations 
against this country. 

'*If your leisure will permit, do drop me a line, my 
solicitude is great & in the present state of imperfect health, 
not a little injurious to me. 

**In the warmth of ancient friendship, I am sincerely 

'*Yrs. JNO. Henry.'* 

On May 14, McHenry wrote Hamilton that he had added 
to, but changed naught of the letter's draft. The president's 
speech, to be read to congress at the special session, ^ ** exten- 
uates nothing, recommends proper measures, promises a fresh 
attempt at negotiation and declares the principles by which 
administration mean to be governed, in other words that the 
President will follow the principles of the late administration. 
It is not, perhaps, precisely such a speech as you would have 
written — a little too plain. It may, however, be better fitted 
on that account for the occasion." On the next day he wrote 
again ^ that a quorum was expected on the morrow. The em- 
peror has not made peace, had he done so, **it ought to have 
augmented our endeavours to meet hostility. As it is, proba- 
bly a new character will be given Pinckney with a secretary." 
On the 14th, McHenry had written Washington of the 

niamllton, vi, 250. 
2 Hamilton, vl, 250. 

224 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

8X)eech and added: ''Mr. Craik says you look well, God send 
that you may long look well and enjoy good health and that 
nothing that is to happen may be of sudi a nature as to disturb 
your consoling privacy and retirement. Prance, however, is 
playing a great game and has views perhaps little less exten- 
sive than those which opened upon the Roman Republic and 
deluged so great a portion of the world with blood. She does 
not appoint consuls over the countries she conquers, but she 
does what is as effectual, permits them to erect themselves 
into republics and governs them by their own passions, or 
she annexes them to her own territory and governs them in 

Washington answered on the 29th, describing the daily 
routine of his life at Mount Vernon and apologizing for not 
answering several of McHenry's letters. ^ 

Adams now called together the cabinet and suggested 
sending a mission of three ambassadors to France, adding to 
Pinckney, Marshall of Virginia, and Gerry of Massachusetts. 
Fifteen years later, McHenry thus recalled the occasion in a 
letter to Pickering: **I well remember the meeting, for I 
have often thought of it since. It was composed of Mr. Wol- 
cott, yourself [Pickering], Mr. Lee, and myself. Mr. Adams, 
in a familiar way, said 'Gentlemen, what think you of Mr. 
Gerry for the mission?' None of the gentlemen offering to 
speak, I observed: 'I have served in the old Congress with 
Mr. Gerry. If, sir, it was a desirable thing to distract the 
mission, a fitter person could not perhaps, be found. It is ten 
to one against his agreeing with his colleagues.' Mr. Wol- 
cott made some remark. Mr. Lee and you were silent. Mr. 
Adams replied: 'Mr. Gkrry was an honest and firm man 
on whom French acts could have no effect. He had known 
him long and knew him well. ' Nothing more was said on the 
letter to Pickering: 2 **I well remember the meeting, for I 
was next to incurring his enmity." 

A fortnight ^ after the letters to Hamilton and Washing- 
ton, McHenry wrote Pickering, after failing to find him at 
home when he called: "The more I weigh the measure of 
adding to the mission, instead of clothing Mr. Pinckney with 
a new character, the more I am inclined to distrust its policy 
and utility. 

1 Sparks, x!, 203. Ford, xill, 391. 

2 February 23. 1811. Lodge's Cabot, 204. 

3 May 28, 1797. 

1797-1798] qf James McHenry 226 

*'The mere addition, in the first place, will convey an 
idea to Mr. Pinckney's friends that the President does not 
(for some reason or other) like to trust him alone; or that 
he thinks him incompetent to so important a transaction. 
This suspicion will operate mischievously on the relations of 
Mr. Pinckney: on the whole of the Rutleges and generally 
to the Southward, where they have great influence. In this 
point of view, it will certainly do no good. In the second 
place, the addition will serve to conciliate no person, or de- 
scription of men in the United States. The friends of the 
government have full confidence in Mr. Pinckney; and the 
enemies of it have acknowledged in the House of Representa- 
tives their reliance upon his integrity and honour; and have 
not suggested an idea that they wish for any other. On what 
ground then, it will be asked, and for what purpose, are two 
negotiators added to his mission, when both parties are satis- 
fied with the same man ? It will be remembered also that the 
idea of a commission of three took its rise from the supposed 
policy of incorporating into it a man of the opposition. In 
the third place, both parties in the House of Representatives 
have conceded and expressed in their speeches, in my hear- 
ing, that should Mr. Pinckney be clothed with new and extra- 
ordinary powers and be refused, that it would be sufScient 
cause of war. Having no expectation of getting an envoy of 
their own cast, they appear to have given up all idea of any 
addition to the mission. Both parties, therefore, seem to have 
relinquished the project of a plurality of negotiators for the 
present occasion. In the fourth place, the mission will be con- 
sidered defective, in as much as it will possess no merchantile 
character, being composed of lawyers only, neither of which 
have as yet acquired much continental reputation. Fifthly, 
it will be charged, as being expensive to the United States 
without apparent necessity, or advantage to coimtervail the 
expense. Sixth, it "will be charged with being calculated to 
delay the negotiation, inasmuch as Mr. Pinckney must wait at 
Amsterdam, till the arrival of his coadjutors, by their refusal 
to serve, or by their requiring time, should they accept, to 
arrange themselves for the voyage. On the whole, I wish 
you to consider, whether it might not be expedient to have the 
nomination suspended till the President can review the sub- 
ject. For my own part, I have not been able to discover any 
advantage attending a trio. It will nobody, not even 
those that may be nominated and will not ensure the United 

226 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

States against a single possible evil, nor create to government 
one additional friend." 

This letter shows that McHenry did not always follow 
Hamilton as has been alleged, for Hamilton favored a com« 
mission, as we have seen. 

Adams later charged ^ that the secretaries, spurred on by 
Hamilton, showed inveterate prejudice against Gerry. This 
is clearly incorrect, as is shown by McHenry 's letter. Lodge, 
in his life of Cabot, ^ says McHenry 's account of the trans- 
action is at least perfectly natural and does not require a 
strong eflPort of the imagination from the reader. Either 
McHenry, a perfectly honorable man, has wilfully and know- 
ingly lied, or the inveterate prejudice against Gterry is greatly 
exaggerated by Adams. 

One of McHenry 's intimate friends and correspondents, 
Murray, was not allowed to remain long in retirement. His 
congressional term ended on March 4, and on April 10, Mc- 
Henry wrote Washington of his embarkation for Amsterdam. 
Later in the same month, Adams ^ wrote to his son, John 
Quincy Adams, from Philadelphia: '*Mr. Murray of Mary- 
land, your old friend, with whom you formed your first ac- 
quaintance at the Hague is to succeed you," as minister to 
Holland, as Adams had been appointed minister to Portu- 
gal. **That gentleman [Murray] has been so long a mem- 
ber of Congress and has given such proofs of talents, amiable 
dispositions, and patriotic sentiments, as qualify him to do 
honor to the mission, as well as to his predecessor." 

This sending of Murray to Holland was destined to be 
of considerable importance to the United States government 
and gave rise to a series of long news letters from him to Mc- 
Henry, describing with great frankness the passing events, 
as they appeared to an observer at the Hague. The letters 
are of importance because they were written, not merely from 
one friend to another, but by the United States minister to 
a member of the president's cabinet. As soon as Murray 
landed he began writing and continued to send letters of 
great length with considerable frequency. 

The first of these letters is written at Helder (Texel), 
on June 9, 1797 : 

1 J. Adams, I, 287. Adams also mistakenly sixeaks of five heada of 
departments; there were but four. 

2 Pages 104. 204. McHenry to Plckerinir» February 23, 1811. 
8 J. Adams, vill, 537. March 81. 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 227 



My dear Friend, 

After two months precisely it pleased god that we 
should land safely — & we are this moment come on Shore 
Finding a ship to N. York that sails this night & it is now 
seven — I seize the moment to drop a line to the Sec. of State 
— one to you & one to my brother, a british officer, who 
boarded us about two hours, since told us that it was re- 
ported the Emperor had made peace — That G. B. was treat- 
ing through Hammond — & the King of Prussia dead — but 
as this is not authentic enough for Col. P's office I said noth- 
ing of it. Mrs. M. sends her love to Mrs. McH. We were ter- 
ribly sick all the way. D[andridge] is welL In real haste 
I pray god to bless you. always & 

*'most affectionately yrs. 
'*Wm. V. M/' 

A week later, in the first of his news letters, he thus ex- 
pressed himself on our relations with France: 



The Hague 22d. June 1797. 

My dear Sir, 

I just informed you from the Helder on the 9th. that 
on that day we arrived. Fortunately Mr. Adams was not gone 
— & I had the pleasure of meeting him at Amsterdam. This 
was lucky for me both because to meet so amiable and intelli- 
gent a man at all is desirable, & that the conversations I have 
had with him are to prove the only chance & resource of 
know [ledge] upon any of the foreign affairs connected with 
the U. S. that I am to enjoy & draw from independent of my 
own apprenticeship & experience — for the U. S. have never 
had a single book, paper — register or archive kept at this 
court that I can hear of and each successor is to take up 
business wh. may have been left unfinished — unless he has 
a copy of a memorial or two — either at the right or wrong 
end, or according to the light which doubtful intelligence on 
the spot may enable him. 

**From all I can collect however the government here 
is as well disposed as they durst appear to be towards the 
U. S. — & of course there will not be many occasions of great 
delicacy with them. They say nothing lately of a renewal 
of our treaty. Did I not hear that from the manner in which 
my appointoient was taken up in the national assembly I 
should suppose they meant to have their American ministers 

228 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

at the Hague with out business — for Mr. Adams has deliv- 
ered his letter of Recall. I hear that the Delay of two dayB 
in my case arises from some papers that they have to make 
out — this is but report. 

**The french still preserve their piratical practices agt. 
our trade and probably wiU continue to do so until a spirit of 
Union shall display itself against them in America. This, 
united with the growing disposition in Prance for Peace, & 
a necessity of regenerating their navy, to wh. their West In- 
dia colonies are essential, would produce an opportunity for 
reflexion that would be embraced by parties agt. the Direc- 
tory and by the more worthy men of the new delegations, 
many of whom, as Marbois & Barthelemi & others, are doubt- 
less, not friends to America, but have sense enough to see the 
real policy of a good understanding with the U. S. But de- 
pend upon it their object, is not now .to injure Great Britain 
by crippling her trade at present, than to dissolve the Union 
for the purpose of directing its affairs. They dread the 
growth of what they call the Anglo Americans. The tempta- 
tion of immediate plunder — the policy of wounding mortally 
a future rival to their marine greatness and those two ideas, 
coupled with a third, perhaps more precious to them, the giv- 
ing of a totally new direction to the commercial affairs of a 
country to whose commerce & consumption they think G. 
Britain must principally look for resuscitation after the war, 
will & must, to a set of beings inconceivably corrupt, prove 
a cause of war upon us, unless we remove the only founda- 
tion on wh. they can possibly expect success — internal dis* 
cord. They certainly govern Europe at present & are plan- 
ning immense schemes of grandeur. One of their means at 
present, & for some time, in use is the getting possession of 
the Diplomatic corps of Europe — Sweden, Portugal (at 
this place), the U. S.,'& the Batavian Republic have all felt 
the determination. Even from the republic, they have re- 
jected a minister who belonged to the more worthy men & 

party here, because they a M already whom they 

approved — & I shall not be at all surprised if they reject 
every british mission till a man who suits them shall appear. 

**The british again endeavour to open negociation — 
through Mr. Trevor (brother of Ld. Hamden) whom Gibbon, 
in his miscellanies, talks well of. my own speculation is that 
they will not make peace wt. G. B. till they shall have try'd 
an invasion — from France — & This country. Here they 

1797-1798J of James McHenry 229 

have a larger collection of transports & about 25,000 more 
ready — with 13 sail of the line besides 16 from 50 to 20 
guns with in the TexeL They must know that England is 
more ripe than ever for a revolution — that an invasion, if 
even partially successful, would probably bring things to a 
crisis. Prance too, in peace with the continent, may con- 
centrate that immense force & those ardent spirits against 
Engd with a greater advantage of ground, having Batavia & 
Belgium & all Prance in her co-operation, than she ever had. 
Could she set in motion the revolutionary wheel in Engd. — 
& then, leaving her to her fate, turn all her attention to 
her marine & manufactures, she would have accomplished 
every thing. Of the Pate of Venice, you have heard no doubt. 
The plan, it seems, is to give Priuli Bergamo & some other 
districts of the Venetian territories to the Emperor — & in- 
demnify Venice out of the Papal territories wh. are to be 
divided with a ceremony as cold as the holiness used to exert 
over the division of kingdoms. The Idea of an Italian Re- 
public will not be abandoned by Prance, it is necessary to 
break the actual & family influence of the Emperor from the 
Southern side of his Qerman dominions through all Italy. 
G^noa will probably go to or merge in the Sardinian Domin- 
ions. These are crude speculations, my dear friend — but I 
cd. not help the desire I had to converse mentally with you 
— & as yet I have no arranged correspondence & am not en 

"I find that the idea that the P. & V. P. are cordially 
united gives alarm to the enemies of our country & stability 
to our prospects in the eyes of European politicians. I am 
excessively anxious to hear of the proceedings of Congress — 
The Speech — the answers & how far your military business 
has answered. 

**Pray send me a list of your library (of the office) & I 
will select what is not there, if you please, & send what I get. 

**I am hammering away upon French. Mi's. M. writes 
to Mrs. McHenry to whom remember me with respectful 
kindness — not forgetting my young friend Mr. John Mc- 

* * In writing to Col. Pickering, I have not thought myself 
at liberty to indulge much in Speculation — & of facts of 
authority I could not be master of them. D'Estade, I ob- 
serve, in his ofiScial letters reserves himself — & as short — 
simple, & generally confined to what has been done — give 

280 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

me your opinion on this will you. Gtod bless you & yours^ 
my dear friend & believe me always 

**W. V. M." 

President Adams wrote to Pickering from East Chester, 
October 26, 1797 : **Mr. Murray ^ arrived in season to renew 
his old friendship with his predecessor [J. Q. Adams]. They 
had spent some weeks together at the Hague, more than a 
dozen years ago. Mr. Adams had an opportunity to intro- 
duce Mr. Murray to his friends and to communicate to him 
the train of affairs ; an advantage which Mr. Murray earnestly 
wished before he sailed from Philadelphia.*' ^ 
' McHenry forwarded,\lurray Adams's speech to congress 

on May 23 and on July 14, the latter answered as follows : 

^vi-* - ' ''My dear Sir, 

''Your favour of the 23d May was truly a cordial ta 
me — as it evinced a friendship of which I never doubted 
& consoled my jaded mind with the prospects of better opin- 
ions in my own country & of a better State of public affairs. 
The Speech, we had seen through the kindness of the Bank- 
ers, who always get intelligence very early so propitious are 
the winds from America to the views of these exceedingly 
money loving politicians & financiers of private wealth — & 
so very unpropitious are they to the conveyance of ministera 
& dispatches to them. G^nl Pinckney, who is here, immedi- 
ately, with his accustomed vigilance sent a copy (manuscript) 
off to Paris that the Directory might be anticipated & the pub- 
lie get an imgarbled edition of it, neat as imported — for they 
stick not at idtering, omitting &c — if they get the first blow, 
immediately after, I sent off to Paris through Genl. P. — (as 
a friend of mine used to send to Fenno & as I used to give to 
that manifest friend of brilliant paragraphs & pointed hits) 
attempting to point out to the public a line of conduct which 
a profound policy would dictate to the Directory, — viz — a 
generous & elevated course towards the U. S. ; — pointing out 
to them the egregious mistakes of O. B., both during the rev- 
olution & since, in not seizing upon moments favourable to 
great impressions, by wh. the amity of the country might 
have been secured, that this was the critical moment, in wh. 

1 J. Q. Adams was almost at once transferred to Berlin. 

2 On August 7. 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 281 

Prance should defeat the views of 6. B. upon our affections, 
by acting a handsome part ; that in such a state of things the 
people & Govt. U. S. would probably receive even common 
justice, as an act of grace &c — that there was no ground 
of war ; & that being the case, the true policy of Prance was 
to show so handsome a conduct towards U. S. as would place 
her at least upon a footing with her rival in our opinions at 
the peace : that, if the peace found us in our present irritated 
State, 6. B. wd. reap much more of our good opinion & of our 
commerce, than she was entitled to — and that the present 
state of things, being friendly between U. S. & 6. B. she 
wd. have some ascendancy, upon that ground, in the nego- 
ciation for Peace, if Prance continued to have a quarrel with 
a nation so vigorous & unbroken by taxes as the U. S. are & 
in the vicinity of the islands wh. wd. be in a very helpless 
State on the peace & need american supplies & friendly inter- 
course — this & much more of similar sort of prosing went 
to be drest in Prench & to a confidential person — but wt. 
out name known to any at Paris. I have not seen it since. 
My anxieiy is exceedingly great, indeed, upon the present 
state of the question between Prance & the U. S. Depend 
upon it that, from all I can hear of the public opinions at 
paris, they have not one single sound opinion upon our sub- 
jects — none of them. They all, in their heart, consider us as 
proper for ally'd dependants & under eternal obligations to 
them and that the PEOPLE U. S. are with them, merely be- 
cause the great mass of the people there dislike G. Britain & 
have manifested some marks of esteem for the Prench revolu- 
tion. I have seen a letter from a member of the council of 
ancients explicitly upon the various questions. He thought 
the Directory wrong in their rough treatment of Mr. Pinck- 
ney — but through his whole letter insisted upon vague un- 
defined injuries wh. the U. S. had done Prance by the Treaty 
of 19. Nov. '94 — That we must give satisfaction for these 
injuries — & took it for granted that we owed our national 
existence to Prance & a gratitude wh. rendered our late con- 
duct monstrous — outwardly he is a violent party man agt. 
the Directory upon these points — writes against them & 
speaks against them — but it is merely he hates the Directory. 
If any thing is to be done, it is through the passions of such 
men who would do right from spleen & to inculpate their own 
executive. If, however, no language of concession is held by 
Ck)ngress — (& there was in debate something like it, on or 

282 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

about the 3d. June on the word 'indignation") & you arm, 
provide a navy for the country & hold up, I would risk my 
head that they would feel the importance of amity with the 
U. S., particularly as her force thus brought upon the parade, 
ought be most surely felt by the West Indies, if carry 'd into 
use. Her vast maritime possessions in. Europe add new im- 
portance to the West India Islands. She must be the rival 
of England in marine — to this the islands have been & will 
again be considered as necessary — I see no hold upon France 
at present but our relationship to those islands. 

''What can the new commission do except gain time? 
I speak entirely to you. The object of France is to make 
you break your treaty with G. B., or to dissolve the union, 
that we may be her dependents. Her efforts will be in Amer- 
ica through this very negodation to bring the Grovt. of our 
country & the People too to this point — a war, or an abandon- 
ment of the british treaty, in a proposal of such a nature, 
the chances are not absolute evil to her — but merely that 
negative one of disappointment. It will be success if she 
breaks the Treaty, wh. I do not expect ; for that wd. be Sov- 
ereignty over us. If she produced civil commotion (wh. I 
do not expect) She Succeeds amply in her diabolical scheme. 
This I do not expect — for the conduct of France to all the 
Italian States, but especially to Venice demonstrates, & by 
this time it must be acknowledged in all America, that she 
revolutionises exclusively with a view to her own aggrandise- 
ment — & that, after having destroyed a Govt., to render the 
nation impotent, she parcels out, & sells to a crowned Head! & 
her bitter enemy & the enemy of the State thus sold, just what 
parts and parcels of the revolutionised & subverted States may 
suit her interests. Istria and all Venetian Dalmatia, and 
Friuli, on the Italian side — and some other small districts, 
were Sold to the Emperor, in lieu of Belgium, at the peace 
of the Emperor & Buonaparte, this is, by this time, known 
among you — it is not deny'd even in France that all the 
north of Italy has been plundered of immense value in silver 
& gold & jewels, part of which goes, & it is but a drop for 
a good brother to give, from Buonaparte to his sister on her 
marriage to one of his Generals, viz 500,000 Liveres in silver. 
From the poor wretched Venetians, he has exacted Five 
hundd. thousand Ducats & they are to maintain the French 
army till it leaves them! To pay in naval stores 3,000,000 — 
Six ships of the line — To say nothing of 40 of the best paint* 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 288 

ings — three bronze Lions & Horses of St. Marc's &c. This 
after having sent in an order, during a time of Neutrality, to 
the Senate to change the Oovt, — and this order sent to a 
Govt., wh. though certainly wretched, was the favourite of the 
people, which is a Fact. In that awful moment, it will grati- 
fy you to know, that in such a Senatorial Herd as that which 
abandoned the Grovernment upon a Vote — Five Senators were 
found to dissent — these are probably the descendants of the 
Five houses whom I have heard of still living — in a right 
line from the original Senate of 700 years since. This coun- 
try also, as an instance, must be familiar to the just fears of 
our country. The French have literally plundered the poch' 
eis, though not the houses of Batavia. The maintenance of 
an army of 25,000 men now quartered & shifted about from 
town to Town — in small bodies of 1000 — or 1500 men — 
must be added. These are at the expence of Batavia. They 
are Fed, & enormously fed ; clothed, & elegantly clad ; paid & 
generously & excessively paid, in a thousand secret [ways] 
at the expence of this unhappy country. And the expence of 
these over expensive men, exceeds that of an army of 35,000 
during the war, of national troops. Nine million Stirling is 
daily paying into the French pockets — agreeably to their 
treaty, as a sort of ransom. To raise this in a country, where 
taxation had reached almost every mode & article of life, be- 
fore their treaty wh. France, the people are literally prest to 
earth. A prodigious fever is visible even among all ranks — 
but the muzzle is placed Upon their lips — partly by their 
own act — & partly, it is true, by such a train of events as 
was not long since coming upon the U. S. — & which scarcely 
anything short of the present rupture could have arrested. 
After these two terrible instances, america will never lend an 
ear to the wiles & the hypocrisy of France — and while her 
just & correctly national opinions are Set in open day against 
the influence of great Britain, she will be taught to guard that 
subtle Tyger which has ravaged the liberties & wealth of ev- 
ery nation that has been fool enough to trust her causes, & 
doctrines; & wavering enough not to Arm & be ready. Half 
measures ruined Venice — they will any nation with whom 
France, Monarchy or Republic, moderates or Jacobins shall 
come into imequal contact of friendship or confidence. The 
passions of the people in America must be set completely 
against the French or our independence will fall & they ought 
to be excited not by Govt, as that is negociating — but by a 

284 JL\fe and Correspondence (Crap. xii 

display of every part that illustrates the terrible consequences 
of admitting them into confidence or permitting approval. 
To gain time is a great deal — & I know nothing better that 
could have been done, indeed it was essential, as during 
this, we aim & continually put them ever in the wrong — find- 
ing the negociation, I expect they will attempt to show to the 
people U. S. that it would be an easy thing to gain their friend- 
ship & support, wh. they will hold out as valuable in some 
tempting shape or other ; — & they will do it for the purpose 
of convulsion, if they can not drive the negociation from their 
rock of right, — & probably still keep the negociation op^iL 
If however we arm & the people are united, as I am sure from 
your letter & my recollection they are, & the congress speak a 
united language of support to the issue of the negociation & 
particularly of the President (whom they the French hate or 
late hated) their plans will fail; & though we shall never 
geX redress, we shall get out of this quarrel honourably, & the 
national mind will become truly National. As to the negocia- 
tion you are very strong both in men & matter — for vindica- 
tion & for assertion. Genl. P. is a very clever man, shrewd & 
vigilant — a good scholar & a good lawyer. I dare say — of 
Judge Dana, I know nothing personally — but he of course 
is skillful in the use of argument, fact &c — and as to Mr. 
Marshall, they have no mettal equal to him. In fact, they are 
able men & good ones. But what can they do f can thQr con* 
tnncct Were the point, for reasoning & for Justice, they 
could convince — but the dispute on their side will assume the 
air of wounded Sensibility — they will not reason, but expect 
a fiood of Sentiment to heal this wound — ft, in that healing, 
no Sentiment short of an affection veryfied by concessions that 
thwart our true Sovereignty, & that retrospectively disgraces 
every principle of Neutral Justice for four years back wiU 
satisfy them — as to reasoning, there could be no doubt, if 
your Corps of generals, Sanctify *d by the ermin of Justice, 
would once bring them into a pitched battle — but depend 
upon it they will be all nerve — all sensibility — ft unless 
your commissioners are prepared upon that tangled track, 
they will not be attentively heard. What are the * concessions' 
which in one day's debate I saw alluded to by my excellent ft 
orthodox friend Mr. Sitgreaves, wh. he said all were agreed 
upon, I can not divine certain that the term can neither mean 
the sacrifice of our Domestic honour in points of Sovereignty, 
nor of our existing engagements, I can imagine but one thing 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 285 

which it may mean. A determination, in revising the Treaty 
of Feb. 1778, to place France on the same footing with G. 
Britain & Spain — or to give up, in the new treaty, those 
provisions which at the time we considered as benefits to us 
when Neutral — & which France may consider the surrender 
of, as a concession — as Free bottoms — the list of contraband 

— & the provision article &c — to give her such in the re- 
vised old, or the new Treaty or as in that of G. Britain — but 
else what can we have to concede, as we are the grossly injured 
& insulted nation. But my dear friend, I know we think 
alike. We know that this noise about the British Treaty is 
but rank Pretence. I have assured Genl. P. that the note 
taken had not fully stated or had misrepresented the Debate 

— as Mr. Sitgreaves is undoubtedly as orthodox a man as is 
in the Union — & we know him to be able & sincere, and also 
Firm and dignify 'd in his purposes. Dana also, a good man, 
seemed to take it for granted that some concessions were to be 
made — but the cursed note takers spoil every thing — yet I 
would not for a million of dollars, that the paper which we 
read here Should be read at Paris by the Directoire. Genl. 
Smith's statement of the few vessels captured by France as- 
tonished us. 

"Genl. P., daily almost, received letters from consuls in 
France & from Paris exhibiting lists of captures — & this 
sort of grievance is of so old an origin, that it is impossible 
that the information shd. not have reached congress — even 
the American traitors in France whose privateers, fitted out 
under french commissioners from france & in France, which 
weekly bring in vessels (American) from our ports, some 
bound to France other to Dutch ports & some to Ostend, and 
plunder them & get them condemned — on the most frivolous 
pretences — even these must laugh in their sleeves at the prop- 
osition that few are taken. It is notorious here. I have been 
apply 'd to by the house of Salomons, Amsterdam, to whom our 
ship, the good friends, was consigned, to give my opinion 
whether it was safe to send her, agreeably to Mr. Girard's 
discretionary power to them, to Bourdeaux — on enquiry I 
answered they must judge & stated these facts. * The Mineral 
Springs, Capt. Boylton, stopped at Estaples by the Commis- 
sary of the Navy. The Romulus of Charles Town S. C, com- 
ing to ostend (since released by orders of the minister of ma- 
rine). The William of N. P., Rhode Island, Capt. Baker, 
going to Bourdeaux, Captured & sent into L 'Orient by the 

286 Li\fe and Correspondence fchap. xii 

Privateer Eagle, said to belong to an American of Boston, now 
in Paris, the cargo of the Wm., coffee & sugar. The Briseis 
of N. York bound to Rotterdam, coffee & sugar all belonging 
to Messr. Seaman Rutgers & Ogden of N. Yrk, taken — carry 'd 
into Nantz. Catharina of Newbury port, owned by Messr. 
Anthony & Moses Davenport from Dumfries with Tobacco 
shipped by Furguson, Henderson, & Gilson bound for Rotter- 
dam, taken & carry *d in.' They take our ships, they say, be- 
cause they have no JBoie Z>' Equipage &, by bribing part of the 
crew, & if bribing will not do, condemn without the slightest 
reason. The practice, it is true, varies in different ports — 
but this variance, though sometimes productive of appearances 
of Justice, is treacherous, for it is part of a scheme to distract 
— to excite hope & attachment in some & general dread of this 
power in all. It rests on the assumed position of Prance, that 
she acts by her own rules, & liberates herself from the tyranny 
of all nations, by disavowing the obligations of the law of 
Nations, or of adopting its rules, according to her convenience. 
Nothing can be said to such a nation, but that we wish cordial- 
ly for Peace with you, but we can & will injure you, if you 
will injure us — & show the power to support this self -defen- 
sive language. Nothing else can stop that career towards gen- 
eral & Rome-like Dominion, but k species of universal police 
and armed one too, among the nations, who shall for many 
years to come have an acquaintance and a connection with 
her. In fact the tendency of things flowing from this infernal 
war is certainly to form all nations who are not her dependents 
to introduce a greater degree of the military spirit than was 
formerly necessary ; to force all independent governments to 
be more or less military in their character & unhappily to ren- 
der all her dependent friends, unmilitary. In every thing, she 
preserves Roman maxims; — & the execrable corruption & 
slavishness of Europe have, it seems to me, prepared them 
for a fate similar to that which overwhelmed Europe, Asia, & 
Africa with the stagnating & bitter waters of Roman alliance, 
conquest, & subjugation — for instance, the Roman Republic 
took upon herself, generously, to defend & protect her con- 
quered or influenced allies. In every spot, when a French 
army, or her influence, has got or become from circumstances 
complete. She does the same — & even, in her own country, 
the people were disarmed, Paris is at this moment disarmed. 
These consequences, instead of producing what the real phil- 
anthropists imagined, & what till three years since, I believed 

1797-1798J of James McHenry 287 

would arise, a greater portion of civil liberty to Europe, will 
tend, more than even the Feudal System, to enslave mankind 
— for it must produce military Despotism, acting over people 
who have lost the elevated tone & taste of the Feudal times — 
nothing but the fear of a greater influence has prevented 
Spain from calling in French troops to join in her meditated 
attack upon Portugal — this fear, however, will Save Portu- 
gal, as Spain is unequal to its conquest. 

**It is a fact that almost the whole of the Diplomatic corps 
of Europe in its inferior orders, I mean as to rank, as Secre- 
taries, Charge Des affaires & men who are even higher, but 
who were lately in that grade, are Jacobinical Philosophers — • 
all clerks, servants, & the eflBcient men employed to work the 
business of affairs are so — this is the case, whether they be- 
long to Republics or to Monarchies. Every man of reflexion 
seems to be endeavouring to acquire an apathy against all pos- 
sible contingences & changes — & a vague uncertain sort of 
fear has taken possession of all men that some vast change in 
human aflfairs is not far distant — they see that all the old 
sources of power are drying up — that authority is stripped 
of its weight by reasoning scepticism. That though ignor- 
ance & superstition seem removed by the complete diffusion 
of books which reaches all sorts of people, yet real & whole- 
some knowledge is not increased, when it ought to be — & 
that though superstition be extinguished in appearance, mor- 
als, instead of gaining, have lost ground by the convulsions & 
habitual strokes of that violence which removed it — a gen- 
eral scepticism upon all things exists — and men of specula- 
tion are lost in the magnitude of that crisis which they think 
they deserve — almost all this depends upon France. If she 
got into order. If she restored the christian religion & could 
possibly restore her morals, the tide of insubordination might 
stop. If she continue, as she has gone on, a great crisis must 
come upon Europe, in which nothing but military despotism 
will at all hold society in a tolerable state of combination. In 
that country, there is nothing like a settled opinion. They 
love, all of them, as they ought, France above anything imag- 
inable. But their love is connected with ten thousand various 
directions of self interest & party views. From exceedingly 
good information, it is probable, that the majority of that 
nation are tired with their Theory of Republicanism, & wish 
for a King — & it would not be wonderful if the Prince de 
Conde or the Duke of Orleans, according to party force, were 

288 Utfe and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

brought into administration. The Jacobins would support 
the last. Clubs are now getting head once more, though con- 
trary to the constitution, & are endeavouring to rouse the peo- 
ple of Paris, for the nation has little or nothing to do with 
politics, on the score of danger arising from the royalists. 
This charge is partly true, & partly owing to party hatred, 
which aSixes to its adversary all sorts of opprobrious names. 

**The embarkation of 15,000 french & Dutch on board the 
transports at the Texel & the appearance of a movement of 
the dutch fleet, wh. has been kept within the Texel a long time 
by a very few british ships at anchor, have excited much spec- 
ulation — 500,000 Guilders went to it the other day from 
this place for contingent service. The real object is a secret 
that I am not master of. Hoche was here some days very 
lately & a few, Then, of the Dutch public men, were admitted 
into his councils at the French minister's — he has returned. 
Some say this armament is against the Elbe — to block that 
up — others agt. Hanover — but that can not be, as the King 
of Prussia would preserve its neutrality & it has an army of 
30,000 very fine troops, my own conjecture is that it is an 
alarm to G. Britain — probably intending also to try the 
Dutch sailors in an engagement with Duncan's squadron — 
French troops are put on board the new man of war, also. 

'^Lord Malmsbury & his suite and a splendid one it is, 
are at Lisle with the French commissioners — Belgium, which 
was a principal obstacle, is removed by its cession to the Em- 
peror, in Bonaparte's Peace. 

* * Genl. Pinckney & family — Maj. Rutledge who ought to 
be secretary of Legation, as he is a very fine young man & has 
had the rough of the business — & the Genl's. nephew Mr. 
Hory are in lodgings near us — this Mr. Mountfiorance is a 
great acquisition — as he is alert & intelligent. The QenL is 
much pleased with his commissioners. I do as you tell me, 
try to please the Dutch — but I must tell you entrft nous (you 
see I progress in french & I read nothing else) that as yet I 
have, perhaps, received as little active politeness here from 
any one, as ever minister or traveller did. They (the com- 
mittee) have, it is true, returned my visit wh. I made as is 
usual — but I saw none of them, as they either sent cards, 
or I was actually out when they called. They seem to me 
very distant. 

*' We are yet in lodgings at an hotel — one subject I wish 
to speak to you upon particularly. The American Hotel — 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 289 

as a minister I am to live in it — I so informed the Bankers 
who, Mr. Adams told me, had the care of it & there were in it 
two or three poor families. I, at the same time, wrote to them 
to know, if they had a prospect of selling it to advantage. 
They answered they had never had orders to sell it — & had 
not heard a sylable upon the subject. I had heard of some 
intention of selling. Mr Van Staphorst told me they meant to 
repair it, so as to preserve it from the weather, for the win- 
dows were rotten & the roof excessively out of repair — that 
they had an original authority that extended to common re- 
pairs for the keeping up of the house & to prevent its abso- 
lute decay & they wished to put it into repair. I had prev- 
iously told them that I intended to repair the rooms wh. I 
should use, at my own expence — & that all wh. I could expect 
of them was such a repair as they wd. have given it merely to 
preserve the house. He said he would do as I wished but that 
they had been in the habit of giving it occasional repairs & 
chiu-ged them to Govt. We got a workman & I made him 
note down every repair & its place or part of the house — 
that I might divide the expence with the Grovt. upon the prin- 
ciple, that I would pay for all repairs, except such as they 
considered essential to the preservation of the building — 
these points are in thi^ country particularly the windows, — 
the out doors — painting of these — & mending the outside 
— my part I considered to be painting in side, white washing 
& papering — parts of the carpenters work inside wh. little I 
considered as the Bankers affair. They said they would 
charge the whole to Govt. & if they did not authorise it, I 
should pay it. I agreed to this, so it stands — in fact, noth- 
ing will be done to it by this repair (for I intend to give it 
one myself when I get in & have more time) which is not in 
a degree essential to the House, either as a tenement — or a 
subject of Sale. If the Govt, will sell it — It will sell best in 
other times — for now it would not sell for a 20th part of its 
value — as it is very large and has a garden back of it would 
sell, after — even this repair, probably, for twice as much as 
it would have done without it. All the ministers here have 
houses belonging to the Govt. wt. the Arms over the door — 
as ours has. It will be more respectable to live in it than, in 
lodgings, or a hired small house in a bye part of the Town, 
for a marry 'd man. I do not wish you to speak to the Secre- 
tary of State, on it — but to give me your opinion upon my 
proceedings. If you think there will be the least emotion — 

240 Life and Correspondence [Chap.xii 

pray tell me & I will prevent the Bankers from making the 
charge and pay the bill which will be about 150£ Sterl, myself. 
If I am here two years, it will just be about the rent of a small 
house. Though the size of it will render it to one, in my small 
way, a much less comfortable residence than a small & well 
finished house. 

**As to Lisbon! I — my dear friend, if it comes or not, 
I feel as I ought so as you know I do with a sincere sense of 
your constant kindness to me. It would be excellent — the 
climate fine &c — but my humble merits have been already 
over valued. I am sincere — to know myself has been a pur- 
suit of some standing with me. I am only astonished, some- 
times, when I find myself forsooth here as I am — dear me I 
how this world is carry 'd on! 

**As to these commissioners — believe me, I have been 
relieved from great terrors. I dreaded, lest the news of the 
mutiny in the british fleet & the appearance of peace general- 
ly — the existing peace & triumphant one of France wt. the 
Emperor all coming upon you might have damped that manly 
ardour that became us & led to a concession in the appoint- 
ment of at least the middle commissioner whom France has 
as far as she could do Dictated. I mean him who tells what 
the greatest philosophers have said upon all subjects. He 
could not have sustained that plan wt. out making a sacrifice 
of all he has said & done for six years. His duty wd. have 
led him to justify our Govt, how could he have done that! 
I do rejoice — & I can see the administration all unite firmly 
against a pressure of party address or influence exceedingly 
powerful for his nomination. 

'*How ardently I wish to hear from you, you can not con- 
ceive, as you are not in a distant country — in a scene that 
every moment afi^ords visible proof of the danger we run, if 
preparation, union, & especially a firm appearance are not the 
result by this very day of our councils — god almighty direct 
them ! 

**To write with more freedom you need not sign your 
name. I also do not — you can put my name on the endorse- 
ment &c. I wrote a few days after I got here. Tell me, in 
perfect confidence, if I go too much in to speculation & opinion 
in my letters to Col. Pickering, my means yet are extremely 
small — not that I ever expect to equal the comprehensive 
digestion of my predecessor — who is really a very learned 
and able man & was exceedingly cordial in his communica- 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 241 

tions to me — he was here but a very short time after my ar- 
rival. I got your letter just time to tell him, then wind: 
bound at Maas-Sluys (12 miles off) of his appointment — he 
sailed seven days since for London — in excellent health & 
good spirits & I hope by this time marry 'd to his beautiful & 
I hear very charming Miss Louisa Johnson. A young Baron 
de Bielfeld is here charge des affairs from Prussia, as soon as 
I saw the nomination mentioned in the paper wh. you sent me 
I wrote to him a note in confidence ! ! Stating it. He wishes 
to know if it be a steady & permanent appointment. I told 
him I did not know, but it probably was. There my dear Sir 

— is not that political & diplomatical intelligence ! you see I 
have secrets & tell them in confidence. Baron B. is a very 
clever youngish man — speaks english well — & I wanted to 
give him with a proper air of mystery the opportunity of 
making the earliest dispatch upon this subject — as I wish 
much to gain his information &c. 

"I wrote to Col. Pickering on the 30. June & shall write 
to day, or rather to night, as this letter has cramped my fingers 

— it is egregiously long — but I can not now fall in & greet & 
be greeted by ycm & Mrs McHenry — set down to a hot supper 
& preach up an austere abstinence — so I must write. 

**Mr V. Polanan's memorial was not among the papers 
wh. you enclosed. Don or Chevalier Yonge's was literally a 
curious thing. Col. Pickering completely discomfited the Sec- 
retary of the council of State & the member of the distinguish- 
ed order of Carlos the 3d. &c &c &c Qenl. P. is much pleased 
with it. He laughs at ^the wheels of his carriage' which broke 
down & which appear to travel throughout the U. S. as among 
the most interesting parts of the detail. I wish the wheels 
had been omitted in publication — unless it was intended to 
show the crippled situation of his equipage & of course their 
brutality in driving from France a minister whose wheels were 
destroyd by their own roads. 

**A few days after I received yours of the 23 May — I 
heard that a ship had run ashore at the Texel from Philad. 
got 3 feet water in her hold — & that dispatches for Genl P. 
& myself were lost — two days after I got a letter from Mr. 
Wolcott which was open at the end, appeared to have been 
wet — but of the others I can hear nothing. I subscribed to 
Fenno & paid him for one year. It would be a most pleasant 
thing if you would make him send them papered in strong pa- 
per in small bundles by ships going to any port in Holland. 

242 IaJc and Correspondence [Chap.xii 

**The part of your letter respecting Genl. P. & young 
Butledge gave both GrenL P. & his Secretary very great pleas- 
ure — as I took the liberty of reading that part to them. 

** Pecquet & some others you shall have with pleasure — 
there is not one at this place but at Leyden I shall get one. I 
shall send you Mably's Droit Public de V Europe with notes 
by Bousset — & Callier. I can not hear of the letters pub- 
lished at Amsterdam on Neutrality but will still seek for them. 

**The excessive moisture of this country has affected me a 
little but, thank god, I enjoy good health compared to any- 
thing I have tasted these two years. 

**I am my dear friend with sincere 
and affectionate esteem yrs always 

**Genl. P. comes in and knowing that I had just written 
requests his respects & compl. to you & that he will get the 
books you spoke to him about — & will write in a fortnight 
to you. 

**The inclosed letter to the president (Mr. Adams) I will 
thank you to have delivered to him — on the day when you 
receive it." 

On the wrapper of the letter Murray wrote urging firm- 

**In sending this large wrapper, its white surface tempted 
me, as it is to go so very far to my friend, again to speak upon 
the wish nearest my heart & to which all my reflexions tend 
from what I can hear & know. That you shall put the peace 
of the country into a good attitude. Arm the Executive with 
means to sustain a certain port & carriage with the Directory — 
repress every thing in Congress that the French might mistisike 
for two opinions upon their conduct — you actually raise an 
army & put the keels down for the Large Frigates and for 
the small ones, and enable the negociators to agree as well aa 
to explain — then my dear Sir we shall have peace with 
France — of Half measures, I mean as to preparation against 
• • • & a certain decided & well supported purpose sufficiently 
manifested, though accompany 'd by a sincere disposition at 
the same time to settle & adjust amicably — of half measures, 
my dear Sir, look at Venice ! It will be said this will be useless 
expense and you will want an armed neutrality against that 
state of things which will take place after the peace. I sin- 
cerely hope that, if the old treaty of 1778 is to be revived — 


1797-1798] of James McHenry 248 

the Free ships free goods may be omitted. The internal code 
of France has always contravened it & always will — & no 
nation will observe it, unless the neutrality be armed. If we 
can arm & enforce, it wd. be great for us — but that can not 
be expected. In 20 years, we siiall be equal to its enforcement 
Were we to give to France a severe lesson for this break of 
that provision, we might hope to see it gratify 'd in the next 
war she has — but that is not intended. She & G. Britain 
must be at war in two or three years after this peace, shd. one 
take place — & then we should only go through a course of 
similar usage and have fresh cause of complaint & of complain- 
ing — again good night. 

** Russia & G. B. in the month of Feb. made a commercial 
Treaty, in may it was ratify 'd — upon liberal terms — but 
nothing new in it.'* 

McHenry had asked Murray to procure and forward him 
some text books on the art of war. On July 18, the minister 
writes, forwarding one of them. He also gives news as to 
France's position with reference to the United States. 

My dear Sir, 

Since I wrote the other day I have got you a second 
hand Pecquet — and enclose it with a paper or two from 
England wh. Mr Ross of Philad. brought over to this place. 

** Nothing yet transpired as to the actual propositions of 
the Negociaters at Lisle. What is singularly severe is though 
this Republic has provisionally appointed them commission- 
ers to treat in conjunction wh France, yet they wait for an 
invitation before they venture to send them ! There is much 
secret sensibility to this himiiliating situation. I really do 
wish to see my friends the Dutch, happy, independant & 
strong. Spain also has, it is said, been checked on her sending 
on another minister, Cabarrus, to join. Her ordinary minis- 
ter, Marquis del Campo, I believe is not yet admitted to the 
negociation. Probably France will make more money out 
of both. If she chuses, she can say to them, when the negocia- 
tion has advanced, you are both to take care of your selves, 
unless you will do so and so for me — & force them, the Dutch 
particularly, into further sacrifices. The extent of the means 
of France is in her inventions — when once She has a people's 
affairs in her power. Since I wrote some days since wo have 
the Philad. papers with the answer as carry 'd — & have been 
extremely exhilirated by both the answer & the Speeches of 

244 LaJc and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

our fine fellows — would you think it — but I panted to be in 
the midst of them & to increase the dust of the race, if I could 
not run as fast & well as they. Mr. Dennis's I did not see. 
I am rejoiced in my successor. I knew he would be found 
worthy of the District & of public confidence. 

* * I am getting more and more into the circles here. With- 
in these few days, means have been taken to impress me with 
the persuasion that the Directory mean to conciliate towards 
the U. States. A member of the national assembly visited me 
the other morning and assured me that as Batavia & France 
were so connected that what ever affected the last also would 
be felt by the first, it became important to ascertain exactly 
the intentions of France respecting the U. States — that they 
had ascertained them decidedly to be noX to have a rupture, 
I remarked that France had taken a singular way of manifest- 
ing such an intention — that the U. States would seek the 
means of continuing Peace & amity with sincerety — but that 
she was also united & prepared for the worst, if her means 
failed — & then spoke of the high animation that united all 
men, in a band as strong in union, & greater in means, than 
was seen in 76. That parties lost their distinctions in what 
they considered as a second question of Independence & that 
the Government was stronger than ever &c. He said he was 
convinced that there would be no war. This gentleman is a 
warm but honest revolutionary — Is with the French — ft a 
confidential man with them. I wished this channel to carry 
an impression to the French minister, who is of a conciliatory 
disposition, agreeably to the principles of French conciliation 
& is considered as among the most moderate men among thenL 
Since, I saw him — He exprest a wish that matters might be 
made up — & his decided expectation that they would be; 
that he could say so, because he had the day before (this was 
yesterday) received dispatches from the Oovemt. to that ef- 
fect. I assured him that, while the United States sought 
Justice, He would find that they did it in a spirit so perfectly 
conciliatory that it would not be their fault, if every senti- 
ment of amity were not only revived, but very much encreas- 
ed. God forbid that the very same sentiment of amity should 
even revive, much less be encr eased! All this, however, on 
the part of the French or their friends here I consider, as you 
certainly will — as used for the purpose of abating our exer- 
tions — of diminishing, in our eyes, the appearances that lead 
to preparation on our side — all this flummery is meted out 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 245 

too at a moment when they go on, with encreased vivacity, in 
both taking and condemning our vessels — & when they pub- 
lish in the Redacteur (the official paper) the intelligence of 
the petition of the owners of privateers at Nantz, in support 
of the hostile proceedings of the Directory, as A Complete 
Answer to Pastorets arguments against the Directory on our 
relations. Were it not monstrous, it would be ridiculous, to 
hear this language of conciliation under such circumstances 
of extreme insult & provocation. But they will come down 
in their language, because they see we rise in ours — they 
will do this, though they do not alter their conduct — & if 
they find it politic to do justice, they will then say, we always 
held this language, since we heard of their new negociation 
that was intended & wh. show'd that the U. S. meant to ex- 
plain. The expense of preparation, though hard upon us all, 
will be a tax upon them, as it will be in the account of national 
sentiment against them & will lead to that glorious independ- 
ence of all European states which will make us a nation. If 
it save us honourably from a war — and nothing but that can, 
it will be a trifle. If it do not, it will have made us ready to 
meet it. 

'*I write in great haste. Doubts are entertained of the 
new .constitution of this country. M. Noel, the French Min* 
ister, yesterday, wrote a note to the National assembly, in- 
forming them that the Directory of France felt the most earn- 
est wish that the new constitution may be adopted. This ia 
Internal Sovereignty for the national assembly. I hear that, 
while they were upon the constitution, he used to send to them 
to hasten the work. This was & is kind. But not essential to 
their exercise of Sovereignty. 

**A westerly wind actually came up to save appearances 
— & prevent the Fleet from getting out of the Texel. But 
they can not attempt it. I wish they were as independent & 
as strong in marine as in the great days of Tromp ! 

'*I shall write soon — very soon — if my dispatch for 
the Secretary of State wh I have kept open should not arrive, 
when this does, you need not say ought of this. 

** Yours always my dear Sir 
& mosrt; affectionately" 

Some weeks later, he writes again, urging that a firm 
position be taken by the United States, but saying that if 
America does not take a sufficiently strong position, he, never- 

246 Ufe and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

theless, will try to explain a weaker attitude, to his country's 

**The Hague 7. Augt. 1797. 
**My dear Sir, 

''At length, in an auction of old books, I picked up a 
Pecquet 's Le Esprit de maxims for you & now send it. I am 
looking out for Lempredi on the rights of neutral nations, wIl, 
when I get, I will send also to you. I was so lucky as to get 
your No. 1. — but none since & expect a line from Mr. Wolcott 
& two l|tters from Col. Pickering. I have not received any 
thing from America. If Fenno would seal up his Week's 
papers, for wh. I have paid him in advance & send each packet 
to Mr. Girard, in whose ship I came — Mr. G., I am sure, would 
put them in a way to some port in Holland — & I am so ex- 
tremely anxious sometimes upon the State of things at Philad. 
that I would give their weight in gold for late papers. 

**My dear Sir, I fear — much fear that nothing will be 
done by congress that will bear out your negociators with 
spirit. I am well aware of the folly & wickedness of any rash 
step that would do mischief — but I am certain that Spirit — 
guided by moderation in its display — & PREPARATION 
alone can insure PEACE. A weak nation must arm as well 
as negociate — a powerful one need not always. A nation sup- 
posed to be divided must give a testimony of its union by those 
great preparatory measures, which never would be taken unless 
the country was united. Preparation must be the evidence that 
we are united & that we are not French. Doubtless Prance 
has several objects. First, to destroy british commerce. Sec- 
ondly, to plunder, while she produces this end — thirdly, to 
produce eventually disunion, tiiat she may erect any part into 
an independent government, as she has The Lombardy Re- 
public, Genoa & Batavia — part of the scheme she has ac- 
complished, the plunder of our trade — this is among her 
means of forcing us to give up british commerce. If she finds 
us not united, she will urge the necessity of giving up the 
Treaty & of making such a Treaty with her as the Dutch have 
done — & in the party struggle upon her propositions, she 
will expect to see the completion of her grand scheme — a 
dissolution of the union & a revolution in l^e U. S., in which 
she would occupy all the ground she could. A united & most 
decided tone, attended by armed preparation, alone can lead 
her to listen to reason — our relation from situation tx) the 
colonies, & especially to the dominions of her ally, Spain, 

1797-1798] oj James McHenry 247 

would, if we arm & treat, give us very liigh grotuid. Unless 
we have the virtue to encounter present evil in taxes I am 
convinced we shall have to meet one much greater — War. 

** There is little expectation of Peace between France & 
G. B. Ceylon & the Cape of good hope are among the obstacles. 
6. B. will not yield them to the Dutch — she probably might 
to Portugal as Free ports. I have not, as you may have per- 
ceived, calculated upon Peace this Summer. This is import- 
ant to the U. S. The mutiny in the B. navy, I have feared, 
would tend to destroy the energy in Congress, as though no 
alliance was thought of, if we were forced into war, there w'd 
be a national co-operation between all the enemies of France. 
The british navy, however, is now more energetic than ever — 
Discipline restored & even mended, neither France, Spain nor 
this Republic venture their fleets out of the harbour. The 
moderates too in the councils of France daily confirm their 
influence over the public mind. They are rather more rational 
than the others — &, of course, if we show union & can con- 
vince them that they have no chance of Striking a great blow 
for their own country through our inviting weakness & dis- 
union, these men will, if any ever will in France, do us some- 
thing like justice. Parties are again critically high in Paris. 
The army of the Sombre & Meuse advance in detachments to 
the vicinity of th6 Capital, it is supposed to act with the 
Directory against the Cinque Cents. Depend upon it that 
devoted country is yet to unfold all the horrors which super- 
stition has accorded as the punishment of impious opinions & 
dissolute moral character. I wish our exclusive patriots could 
see & hear the Republicanism of Frenchmen in Europe, not as 
they write it, but practice it — if they could recollect in the 
most gloomy periods of Roman despotism or invent a scheme 
of practices more oppressive & at the same time more ambiti- 
ous, more sickening to the soul of any man who can pity the 
miseries & vices of the human species, I would agree to admit 
of the apologj^ — and thank the apologist. I remember noth- 
ing worse. But this is like canting — yet so perfectly does 
the human nature appear trampled upon & so withered all 
the opinions resulting from the civilized state, it is impossible 
to be here & not be occasionally gloomy. The Batavians, to a 
certainty, will reject the constitution which has been in truth 
bastardized upon their bed by those French universal political 
cuckoos — but which it had been best for them to accept. If 
they reject, & to-morrow is the day of trial, the French will 

248 Life and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

force one down their throats — that they expect & lamentable ! 
Some of their best men wish it ! ! Such is their State — a na- 
tion without a political existence. By a Paris paper it is ex- 
ultingly said Cono:ress has rejected the propositions to arm — 
except militia! Sorrowfully did I read this. Since I saw 
this, I have said ^— As France had not made any great naval 
preparation to act eventually agt. us, America, strong in her- 
self conscious of her vast internal strength, waited the result 
of a conciliating negociation & that we reply on the justice of 
France & on reason. 

**I am alwavs most affectionatelv my dear 

'*Yrk. faithfully'' 

Four days later Murray wrote again, still urging firm- 
ness and complaining of the conduct of the French towards 

*'The Hague 11. Augt. 1797. 

**I wrote to you, my dear friend, on the 7th. — and since 
have seen in a N. York paper that little is to be expected from 
this Session. Sincerely do I lament! Several hfere in public 
life have asked me about this. I say to them France does not 
arm against us — & we can not. That if she had seamen & 
officers she has not revenue, that we are conscious of immense 
internal strength & that there is a perfect sincerity in the 
executive to treat amicably, that congress have gratify 'd the 
views of the Executive which were but for a i^all beginning 
— for that eight or Ten Frigates and so far ships are consid- 
ered as a trifle in a country whose tonnage bears near 40,000 
seamen & 66,000,000 of exports — & of course feeling the 
greatness & immediate readiness of resources that can be put 
into array if the worst Should come, we lay upon our oars till 
the disposition of France manifests itself. This is true too. 
But alas, alas! 

** France will urge us away the terms of returning grace 
and favour a loan of ten or more million of dollars. Paine 
industriously now circulates the idea that the clear unretumed 
expence of France, when she gave us our Independence ! ! was 
18,000,000 dolls. — & that it is as little as we can do to lend 
her as much at present — i. e. t— give her as much. 

** Daily almost, I have to give passports to our citizens 
with French cockades. Those who are of the true blue, or 
have a special passport from M. Adet — or a letter from a 
member of the Government of France can obtain the necessary 

1797-1798] of Jaines McHenry 249 

indorsement of M. Noel, the French minister here — those who 
have not those mysterious recomendations are told by him, 
Sir, the arrets of the Directory renders these passports from 
all American ministers, nugatory — & you can not go into 
France, except you have a vessel under trial. This is the policy 
of France' to let our citizens see & feel the importance of their 
own government — that as mere Americans they are nothing 

— & something only if Gallo- Americans ! Yet in the U. S. 
the treaty, which the french violate in all its provisions, is 
honourably maintained in all its rights! 

**Sir, the day is past — & the Constitution, from the best 
intelligence, is Rejected by a large majority. I really do pity 
these good people — to be asked to quit the desk — their dykes 

— their strait walks — their calculations about stocks & their 
heavy taxes to study an abstruse volume of constitutional 
rights! It is impossible. 

** About Four to one voted, of those few who would vote, 
against the acceptation. I went on that day to Rotterdam, 
passed awhile at Delft, & returned next day to this place — 
all was still & apathic (if such a word be!) at Delft, out of 
1500 votes, 1100 won against adoption. Several told me they 
would not vote, because they did not understand such things 

— others, because the preliminary Declaration of the rights 
of man excluded the Prince of Orange — & others, because 
M. Noel had recommended it. Pray remember me to Mr. V. 
Polanen. The French will now give them one in the stile of 
the Italian Caesar. I can perceive attempts are making to 
obtain M. Noel's recall. He is too good a man, I believe, for 
the dirty work expected of him who is to regenerate a people 
by deception & gulling or fear & peace — though he can do a 
little at all — pray send the inclosed to the President — the 
News papers. Yours always most affectionately mv dear 

'^friend '' 

During this time McHenry had been very much occupied. 
He had been cheered by such tokens of popular approval of 
the administration, as Hindman sent him from Bellfield on 
May 7. 

**I did not receive your Letter of the 22d ulto. until last 
Evening, it having gone to an Office with which I have little 

*'A considerable change of Sentiment has taken Place 
here towards the French, I wish it was universal throughout 

250 Liife and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

the United States, as I believe Them to be a perfidious and 
abominable Nation, whose Object appears to be to lord it over 
the rest of th^World, I should be much gratified to hear of 
their being thoroughly drubbed, as it might possibly bring 
them to a Sense of Justice & Humanity. Mr: Pickering's 
Letter & Phocion, if generally circulated, would do immense 
Go(jd to this Country, as They are both excellent & masterly 
performances ■' 

A month after Congress met, McHenry was disturbed by 
a fear lest Canada should be yielded by England to France. 
In that case, he felt that **our situation would become extreme- 
ly critical. She will not let us alone, even if she fails to re- 
ceive Canada. Her internal practices upon our people go 
on as usual and it seems to be the determination of a part of 
Congress to do nothing." On the subject of our foreign 
relations, Carroll of Carrollton wrote McHenry from Dough- 
oregan on June 26 : 

**I am obliged to you for the communication in your let- 
ter of the loth instant. Poor Spain, how art thou fallen ! Is 
it possible for any Americans to wish to place their country 
in the same degraded situation & miserable dependence on 
France ? A war with that power should be avoided by every 
means which will not dishonour ourselves. I detest war, and 
look upon it as the greatest calamity, which can happen to a 
nation, except infamy & the wa^it of tnrtue: a too passive a 
conduct, even instead of averting, may court hostilities. 

**Does not the tranquillity of this country depend on a 
decided superiority at sea of England ? If on a general peace, 
France should establish a good government, her attention will 
be turned to commerce & the formation of a powerful marine ; 
liberated from public debt (I consider her as bankrupt) she 
will, in this respect, have a great advantage over her rival; 
if hard conditions of peace be imposed on 6. B., the ill hu- 
mour of the nation, the heavy taxes, the irritation & discontent 
of Ireland, the folly and profligacy of the heir apparent will 
probably occasion some great revolution in those islands, an 
event which may be productive of the most serious conse- 
quences to our country, as France would then be without a 
rival on the seas : and I think it would be imprudent to rely 
on her moderation & justice. I am anxiously conjecturing 
what measures she will adopt with respect to us on a peace 
with England : compensation for depredations I do not expect; 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 251 

this would be admitting she has acted unjustly, and she is now 
too proud to acknowledge this — should the war with Eng- 
land, her only remaining enemy, be continued, may we not ex- 
pect every effort will be made by the Directory to cut off our 
commerce with that nation and its dependencies ? is there not 
great danger of our being forced to become a party in the war, 
and will the most extreme passiveness and servility, if we can 
bare to be humbled so much, exempt us from declaring in 
favor of the one power or the other ? Time, the great unf old- 
er of events, will clear up all these conjectures, with which I 
will no longer tire you. I am with regard & respect 

** Yr most hiun. Servt. 

* * Ch. Carroll of CarroUton. ' ' 

Naval matters were still under McIIenry's care. The 
frigate for the Dey was building and the casting of the guns 
and the purchase of colors for it demanded consideration. 
For our own navj% the Constitution aild the Constellation were 
under construction, ^ the work on the last vessel being super- 
vised by Thomas Truxtun at Baltimore. As these were the 
first vessels of our permanent navy, Truxtun 's letters to Mc- 
Henry are of interest. 

He wrote from Baltimore on the 3rd of March, 1797 : 


Agreeable to your desire, I have now the honor of trans- 
mitting you a list, of such officers & men as I consider neces- 
sary to keep employed for the care and preservation of the 
frigate now building near this city ; that is to say, after she is 
launched, completed and the master carpenter and other arti- 
ficers, &c, are discharged and the ship laid up. 

*'If the Chinese system is not to be adopted, in the United 
States, and the people of our towns continue their commercial 
habits of trading beyond the sea, it is evident that whenever 
two European powers are at war, we shall always be subject 
to insult and depredation from their Public and private ships 
of war, imless we have a Navy to defend our rights, and sup- 
port the honor and dignity of our flag — but without officers 
what can be expected from a Navy : the ships cannot manuvre 
themselves : nor will the best of soldiers answer as substitutes 
for seamen, this every man must be convinced of, that reads 
the numerous accounts of British & French engagements at 

1 See McHenry's reports June 1^ and Decem'ber 2^, in State Papers, 
Naval Affairs, pp. 28 and 32. 

252 Liife and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

sea, in which we find the former always victorious, not be- 
cause they are a braver people, but on account of their know^ 
ing their duty as seamen and tacticians, whereas the latter 
nation is but little acquainted with either art. 

**Thus, sir, it is evident that, if we are to have a Navy, 
we must make officers to manage that Navy and this can only 
be done by employing a few ships of war, in cruising about in 
times of peace & guarding the revenue &c., for in a very few 
years more there will scarcely be an officer fit for service to 
be found, who acquired any practical knowledge, during our 
Revolution, and to introduce foreigners into our Navy would 
appear to me a very dangerous policy. 

**For the above reasons, I should be glad to see active and 
respectable men appointed as lieutenants and midshipmen, in 
order that they might be brought on to learn the art of marine 
science and to supply the place of those, who in a few years 
will be incapable of this sort of service : But knowing the 
pusillanimity of Congress, and supposing the Executive will 
let the business in question remain in Statu quo, untill the 
next session, I have only made out a list of such officers, as are 
necessary' to take care of the ship, stores, and other public 
property within the Yard. 

**It is always considered that even small merchant ships, 
suffer more from being laid up in port, tho' under the eye of 
the owner, than when in actual service, and I am convinced the 
fact is so, since the necessity of having proper people to take 
care of these ships when afloat is very obvious. 

**This frigate, while laying in ordinary, will be moored 
at the end of the wharf where she is now building (with two 
anchors out) near to which are all the magazines of stores, 
containing the articles of equipment, which are under care of 
the clerk, and should in my opinion continue so, as he appears 
to me a faithfuU, honest, diligent, sober, and carefull young 
man. If the arrangement I here offer, meets with your ap- 
probation, I will, as soon as the frigate is launched, order the 
Clerk and Petty Officers and men to be employed to take up 
their abode, lodge, and keep watch on board, and, by that 
means, they can guard the store houses and all the other public 
property within the yard, as well as the ship. But while every 
thing that respects the frigate is now in motion, it will cer- 
tainly be most economical to completely finish them, and pro- 
vide ev€^' necessary article requisite for their equipment, 


1797-1798] q/* James McHenry 258 

except provisions, in order that they may be ready for any 

*'When the contract was made with Stodder for his 
grounds, that are now enclosed as a public yard, and on which 
are several buildings for the accommodation of the materials, 
it was agreed to pay him for the said lot now enclosed, a rent 
of four hundred dollars per annum, during the pleasure of 
the Government. I have, therefore, made a calculation of 
the probable expense, that will attend this ship, while laying 
in Ordinary, including the said rent. 

"Rent of Navy Yard per annum $400 

**One Captain 75 D per Mo. & six rations per day. . 1338 

**One clerk to attend the yard and ship 600 

**One Boatswain per month to 
find himself $30 

"One carpenter ditto ditto... 30 

"One cook ditto ditto ... 20 

"Three seamen eachat$20ditto 60^ 

"Paints, oil, brushes, brooms, buck- 
ets, wind sails moorings, junk & 
sundries " " " 982 

is per annum 1680 


Dollars 5000 

"Altho' I have contemplated that the persons employed 
to attend, watch and take care of the ship while in Ordinary 
shoula find themselves provisions &c. a cook will be necessary 
to dress their victuals on board, and such a person may also 
be useful, in aiding the others in doing the various duties of 
the ship : otherwise four seamen would be necessary instead of 
three, which amounts to the same thing. 

"The expense here stated will perhaps appear high to 
you, but unless proper people are employed, there will always 
be a waste and plunder of the public property, and I know 
of no way of lessening this expence, but by assembling the 
ships after they are built at one place, and then it might be 
curtailed very considerably from the aforegoing calculation, 
& many other savings made to the United States. 

"In my report to you in December last, I stated that, if 
the winter was not unfavourable to us, that this frigate would 
be launched in May ensuing, but, as two months has been lost, 
owing to the severity of the weather, she cannot well be put 
afloat before July, unless some extraordinary efforts are made. 

254 Liife and Corresfpondence [Chap.xii 

and the workmen augmented. Therefore, if you will be pleas- 
ed to refer to my said report and add ; that the bottom is now 
all planked except two Streaks: the upper works the same. all 
but two Streaks; the orlop and lower deck beams all in and 
mostly knee'd & the other deck beams ready. You will then 
be completely master of the true state of this frigate : Stodder, 
however, will send you a report by Monday's mail, agreeable 
to your request. I have the honor to be very respectfully 
your obedient & humble servant 

** Thomas Tbuxtun" 

Truxtun wrote again from Baltimore on the 20th of May, 
1798 : 

''Under a blank cover, but I presume forwarded by your 
order for my perusal, the last mail brought me your letter and 
dociunents, addressed to Mr Livingston, Chairman of the 
Committee appointed by the house of representatives to in- 
quire into the expenditure of the Naval Appropriations, and 
published by order of that house. Altho' the cost of three fri- 
gates taken separately, was not ascertained when these papers 
were published, nor perhaps very accurately estimated, on 
account of the manner in which the business has been trans- 
acted by so many persons concerned in the arrangements &c : 
I very long since anticipated, that the one built here, would 
cost an immense sum of money, previous to any step being 
taken, towards making preparations for laying the keel of the 
constitution, I stated to General Knox that it was my opinion, 
none of the ships contemplated by the Act of 1794 for provid- 
ing an Naval Armament, ought to be built to the southward 
of Philadelphia, and, in giving that opinion, I considered the 
interest of the United States alone, without any local consid- 
eration whatever. The Secy, received my communication 
with politeness & thanked me for my attention, observing at 
the same time that tho'he himself was not conversant in Marine 
affairs, he was under a belief that the ships built to the south- 
ward, would cost 25 prct more than the others, but that the 
President was willing to make experiment, in order to ascer- 
tain where they could in fact be built and equipt on the most 
favourable terms, and that another object with him was, in 
point of policy, to harmonize and distribute the money to be 
spent in the opperation more generally through out the Union. 
On these observations, it was not for me to reply, but, in short 
time after I came here, I was more than ever confirmed in my 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 255 

opinion, of the ineligibility of this place, and regretted that 
it fell to my lot to be fixed here. I found no choice of arti- 
ficers, labourers scarce and indolent, every article higher in 
point of price than in the other parts of the United States N. 
E. of this, where yards were preparing — that part of the city 
called Fells Point, in point of imposition a second Wapping. 
The master builder determined to make the most of the job, 
as he early declared he would never build another vessel, af- 
ter completing the frigate. Thus circumstanced I became 
early disgusted with almost every one engaged in the business 
in this quarter, and wrote your predecessors and self with ^ 
candor, from the commencement of the business, up to this 
time stating every thing as it really was, and to Mr. Pickering, 
I proposed, at an early period, an alteration in the powers 
vested in the parties concerned in building this vessel, and 
have his answer now before me; he declined to acquiesce, on 
the principle of not altering the original arrangement of Genl. 
Knox, as I understood him afterwards ; which perhaps, in the 
then state of things, he was prudent in adhereing to. 

**It would be of no sort of use for me to dwell long on 
this subject, or to write a lengthy epistle. I will only say, I 
have by a decided conduct, and independent spirit, saved 
thousands to the United States here, and I thank God I have 
never touched a shilling of the publick money or derived any 
advantage from the building of this ship ; but have made great 
sacrifices of my time & have spent much money in attending 
four years now within a few weeks on her ; not as a command- 
er only, but as a director to the arrangements for the Carpen- 
ter, Rigger, Joiner, and every other tradesmen, for they were 
alike ignorant of such business ; tho ' otherwise good workmen. 

*'The agent, however, he or his brother, or others of their 
friends may suppose*, I have often stept out of my line or was 
unauthorised in giving my opinion in matters of accounts, as 
decidedly as I have done: I have, notwithstanding, never hes- 
itated to talk to him in plain terms, when I discovered an in- 
dift'erence, as I thought, in checking, with promptness, the 
evident impositions of most or all of the tradesmen. Many 
charges exhibited I have often told him he ought not to admit, 
in some instances, he may have taken my advice, in others, I 
believe he has not, for, as I do not s(?e his books, I do not know, 
ancj, if he has not, I cannot help it: but however un(iualified 
Sterett may be from his age, easy tempiM*, and inexperience, 
I am under a firm belief that he is a very upright, honest 

256 Life and Correspondence [Chap.xii 

young man — as I have constantly stated every thing of mo- 
ment, respecting this frigate and her materials & the expense 
of building and equipping her, I mi:\st beg leave once and for 
the last time in all probability to inform you — that the 
great quantity of materials in this yard I fear will be totally 
ruined, if left exposed to the sun & if they are moved, the 
expense will be enormous, in fact, Sir, the salary of Mr. 
Cole, and the rent of Stodder's yard, with what will be stolen 
in the course of a year or two, will leave little for the United 
States to calculate on receiving thereafter, and again, if in 
the final settlement of Mr. Stodder's account with the agent, 
care is not taken by proper precaution and advice to Mr. 
Sterett, charges will be admitted that ought not to be, and 
credits omitted that ought to be given, through the manage- 
ment of Stodder and the easy disposition of the other. 

**Stodder owes the United States for iron, nails and he 
now demands £50 for the use of an old Smith's shop, which 
he told me at the time we first made use of it, in the presence 
of the clerk and others, that the United States was welcoine to 
occupy it without any charge whatever. The salary of Stod- 
<ler, I suppose, was only continued, one quarter after the 
first of Jany. last, as we have not employed him more than 
that time. I mention these circumstances merely for your 
information, and more particularly as the business to Stod- 
der, has not been of that nature, that he ought to receive 
further compensation. 

**Altho' this is a very improper place for building large 
vessels, the Chesapeake turns out the finest shaped and fastest 
small vessels built in America. 

* * Since my last I have sent down twenty men, and leave 
this tomorrow for the ship myself. 

**I have the honor to be sir with great respect, 
**Your very obt. h. S. in haste. 

''Thomas Tbuxtun^' 

On June 3 and 6, 1797, McHenry recommended con- 
gress ^ to appropriate $2,000,000 for fortifications and $23,- 
400 for repairs, etc. Forts were to be built at New York, Phil- 
adelphia, Norfolk, Savannah, and in North and South Caro- 
lina. McHenry was discouraged at the outlook in French 
relations and wrote Washington on July 9: **It would seem 

1 state Papers, Military Affairs, 1, 118. 

1797-1798] o/ James McHenry 257 

as if nothing, short of a dismemberment of the Union and 
having a part of it under French protection, would satisfy 
the directory. After gaining this point, at which I am sure 
they aim, France will then play for the whole." 

In answering the letter, Washington asked McHenry to 
have the articles left by him in Philadelphia packed for for- 
warding to him, except the three two bottle wine coolers, one 
of which he wished given to McIIenry, one to Pickering, and 
one to Wolcott, **as a token of my friendship and as a remem- 
berance of it."^ McHenry 's cooler is still possessed by his 
descendants. Yellow fever broke out at Philadelphia in the 
summer and, on August 19, McHenry wrote Wolcott, ^ who 
had gone home to nurse his sick father, that he has sent to 
provide a retreat for his family forty miles away on the Lan- 
caster Road, but hopes ** there will be no occasion to use it." 
As the fever increased, he did remove to near Downingstown, 
whither Wolcott wrote him from Philadelphia on September 


My Dear Sir 

**I reed, your oblidging favour of Aug. 19th. which gave 
me the first information that a serious state of things existed 
in the city — it gives me pleasure to find that yourself and 
family have removed ; I hope you have found a dry & healthy 
situation: — here I imagine we are exposed to the fever & 
ague. The yellow fever, or the Doctors, or both together, 
have killed poor Lewis, your messenger, and I am entreated 
by a worthy old man, Mr. Borrows, the messenger to the 
Comptroller's oilfice to recommend a relation of his, William 
Markworth, who livi^s nine or ten miles from the City — Bor- 
rows is one of the most exemplary men of ray ac(juaintance 
& he speaks of Markworth in decided terras as an honest, 
sober, & diligent man. I could not & ought not to refuse 
conveying his wishes to you, though I have been careful not 
to raise his expectations. 

'*My friend, I have not been here a week, & yet I have 
found out that living alone, in a small room in a tavern, 
with the prospect of a crooked river running through a marsh, 
& occupied alternately with some dull job of business or con- 
versation respecting the distresses of a great city, is far from 

1 Ford, xili, 413, Lear's "Letters and Recollections of Washinarton," 
""^Gibbs, i, 559. 

358 Life and Correspondence [Chap.xii 

being in a state of perfect happiness. The contrast between 
my present situation and that which I have lately left is most 
impressive. I have been lately too happy; — it is just that 
I should experience some reverse. 

** Please to present my respects to Mrs. McHenry & be- 
lieve me your assured friend 

''Oliv. Wolcott" 

McHenry himself fell ill in September and, while con- 
valescing, wrote Wolcott^ on September 22: **The bilious 
fever, with which I have been attacked ^ has left me weak 
and subject to feverish returns that affect both my sleep and 
my spirits. I flatter myself, however, that a little care and 
time will enable me to enjoy the beauties of this part of the 
country; which are far more numerous and interesting than 
the dull, damp, sedgy, serpentine, sorrowful river, whose banks 
have become your residence." 

From this country retreat, McHenry wrote ^ Wolcott 
^ain on October 2, **I am kept too busy to get well," and 
on the 4th, Wolcott suggested that the president would do 
well to invite congress to consider the same measures as were 
introduced at the last session. McHenry agreed to this pro- 
position * and, on the 16th, Wolcott wrote Adams that both 
McHenry and Lee had favored a continuance of the former 
recommendations and that he hoped the president and secre- 
taries may all meet together before congress convenes. 

Adams, meanwhile, had started towards Philadelphia, 
and wrote McHenry from East Chester, twenty miles from 
New York, on October 15: 

''Dear Sir 

**I arrived, with my Family at this Place four days ago 
and propose to remain here and at New York, till the Meeting 
of Congress. Letters addressed to me, to the Care of Charles 
Adams Esq., Counseller at Law in New York, will soon find 

**I pray you to commit to writing Such Things as you 
judge necessary to be communicated or recommended to Con- 

1 Olbbs. 1. 563. 

2 One of his sons fell and injured himself and Washinsrton inquired 
after the health of both, in a letter sent McHenry on October 16, 1797. 
Lear's "Letters and Recollections of Washingrton," 242. 

3 Oibbs, i, 565, 566. 

4 Oibbs, i, 567, 56S. 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 259 

gress at the opening of the Session, and convey them to me, 
as early as possible — And to give me your Opinion, whether 
the Prevalent Sickness in Philadelphia, is so dangerous to 
the Lives or health of the Members as to make it necessary 
to convene them at any other Place. 

**With great regard I am Dear Sir 
**Your most obedient 
**JoHN Adams." 

McHenry promptly wrote Adams and received a reply 
dated from East Chester on October 27: 

''Dear Sir 

**I last night received your favour of the 22nd and thank 
you for your Sentiments, with which in general I very well 

**At the Same time I reed your other Letter of the Same 
Date with its Inclosures, all of which I return to you with 
this. I thank you Sir for your indefatigable attention to all 
these subjects. The Letters and Instructions to the officers, 
especially to General Wilkinson, appear to me to be all well 
weighed, and judiciously decided. 

**I shall observe to put my name, on my Letters in future, 
as you desire. Mr. Malcom omitted it by mistake, on one 
instance only, I believe. 

**My Servants are returned to Philadelphia and found 
the House in Order, notwithstanding two unsuccessful attacks 
upon it. 

**I, Am, Dear Sir your humble servant 

**JonN Adams.*' 

The reference to Wilkinson carries us to the West, whose 
affairs had pressed themselves on ^IcHenry's attention for 
some time. 

As early as April 3, James Ross, the Federal leader in 
western Pennsylvania, had written from Pittsburg: 

''Dear Sir 

* * Genl. Gibson is summoned to Attend the Federal Court 
as a Witness, probably you will be making Indian Arrange- 
ments this Spring. If so, you will find Genl. Gibson well 
informed and Useful in that department. It was always my 
opinion that Congress was Starving the business & should 
the French set on foot any of their projects in our Western 


260 Liife and Correspondence [Chap.xii 

frontier, the Indians must infallibly Attach themselves to 
their old Allies, as we have neither force, presents, agents, 
government, nor any thing else to prevent it. If this gen- 
tleman should be invested with any Commission of the de- 
scription which has heretofore been contemplated, I am per- 
suaded you will find his industry, & Fidelity equal to that 
of any of your officers & much more than equal to any Com- 
pensation which you can Allow him by law. I have told 
him, however, that it is questionable whether the business can 
assume any shape or go into operation this summer & that 
he can only know from yourself how it will progress." 

Thomas Pinckney had made a treaty with Spain in 1796 
in order to ascertain the boundary between the United States, 
Florida and Louisiana and to accomplish Spain's relinquish- 
ment of her forts within our territory. There was ground to 
suspect that Carondelet and the Spanish administration were 
having secret communication with the Cherokees. A letter 
from Carondelet to one of the chiefs ^ was sent McHenry from 
Tennessee in June. On June 10, Pickering ^ wrote McHenry 

1 New Orleajis the 2nd April 1797. 

My dear son A friend. 

The warrior Broom delivered to me your esteemed letter of 2€th 
September of the last year, I took him by the hand, ft ordered to Kive 
him ft his young follower a little present, sending them by the Movila 
on account of the war we are carrying on with the EiUglish. The same 
reason prevents me to let your son go now; it is better for him to l>e 
acquainted with the Spanish ft French ft then he will be useful to your 
nation ft to us. We are to make our dispositions for nmnlng the boun- 
dary line between our territory ft that of the United States. 

The love I profess to you induces me to give you the advice of fol- 
lowing the example of those of your nation, who consulting their security 
put themselves under the protection of the Spanish nation between Ar- 
kansaw ft New Madrid. 

1 remain always with friendship and esteem for you ft your nation 

Your beloved father 

The Baron of Carondelbt. 

2 Pickering's personal relations to McHenry are clearly seen from 
the following letter written this summer. 

•Trenton Sept. 12, 1797. 
"Dr Sir 

*'I duly received your letter of the mentioning Mr. John 

Caldwell for the office of Treasurer of the mint; and altho' you referred 
to nte to say what appeared proper concerning him. I chose to forward 
your letter to the President, to the contents of which I with pleasure 
subscribed. The only circumstance that would excite any hesitation as 
to the fitness of the appointment was Tfcte near co/nneotion with ihn Sec^ 
retary of War, which might give rise to disagreeable remarks among 
the enemies of the Government, to excite the disapprobation of Its 
friends. This circumstance a sense of duty led me to intimaie for the 
President's consideration. But I had better give you all that I wrote 
concerning Mr. Caldwell. It here follows. 

" 'Altho' Mr. McHenry, on account of his connection with Mr. John 
Oaddwell (the brother of Mrs. McHenry) did not think it proper directly 
to me to say what appeared proper concerning him, I chose to forward 
to make known his wishes to you. yet all that he has written In his 
letter to me appears so correct. I thought it best to inclose It Mr. 
Caldwell is by profession a lawyer: yet having some fortune he has very 
Uttle engaged in practice. I have known him these ten years. He Is a 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 261 

that DTrujo, the Spanish minister, complained that BUi- 
eott, the United States commissioner, was unsatisfactory to 
Carondelet and Gayoso, and asks that he be confined to run- 
ning the boundary and that a discreet, cool, and prudent 
oflScer be appointed to command the American troops who 
may find quarters at Natchez, even if Spain does not at once 
evacuate that post. The Spaniards do not intend to resist 
our claim to possession and Carondelet has written to Spain 
to Godoy, the prince of peace, as to the demolition of the 

The commissioners for running the line between the Cher- 
okee country and that open to settlement by the whites were 
at Dividing Ridge, between the waters of Cumberland and 
Duck rivers on June 4, whence Silas Dinsmoor, who was in 
attendance on them, wrote McHenry, expressing his distrust 
of the frontiersmen and of Governor Sevier and telling of the 
relations with Indians: 

**I was yesterday favored with your letter of the 20th 
of April enclosing a copy, of the same date, to Governor 
Sevier. The occasion of my being at Jellico, at the date of 
my letter, which you acknowledge, was not on account of the 
danger of being in a more interior position, for, however 
deceitful the Indians may be represented to be, allowing the 
representation to be true, I shall still consider myself more 
safe in the interior of the Indian country than on the fron- 
tier of our own in the time of disturbance. I was at that 
time making arrangements for effecting the President's plan 
of civilization, notwithstanding the disagreeable aspect of af- 
fairs, by procuring looms, wheels, ploughs, &c. &c. a man 
& woman to go into the country to shew the Indians how to 
use them. Thus far I have succeeded. I have sanguine 
hopes that the wishes of government will, eventually, be an- 

■enslble, well-informed man. a decided federalist and supporter of our 
grovemment, with a fair moral character. He has an Increasing family. 
But with entire fitness for the office, perhaps the expediency of appoint- 
ing the brother-in-law of the Secretary of War may merit consideration.' 

"All this I hope will meet with your approbation, which the confi- 
dence and candour that ought to subsist between us have induced me 
frankly to lay before you. 

"There are many other candidates, some of whom have revolutionary 
merit, for their service In the American war. I forward all their appli- 
cations to the President, accompanied with remarks, where I have knowl- 
edge of the characters. 

"My family is comfortably situated In this place. We moved in good 
time to save ourselves from the risk of the Philadelphia fever. 

"The President highly approves the letter to Yrujo. I ordered Mr. 
Fenno to send you 30 copies, agreeably to your request 

"Truly yours 


262 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

swered, & it shall be my care to deserve success. 1 see by 
your enclosure what you expect from Governor Sevier. I 
most sincerely pray, that your expectations may be realized 
& that nmie may be happily disappointed. 

**The early arrival and firm conduct of the commissioners 
for running the Cherokee line have aflForded a curious sub- 
ject of speculation among the half wise politicians of this 
country, in which they have admitted the usual proportion of 

Shortly afterwards charges ^ were made against William 
Blount, United States senator from Tennessee, who was ex- 
pelled from the senate^ as a result, lie seems to have 
expected to induce the Cherokees and Creeks to make an inva- 
sion of Spanish territory under British auspices. The Span- 
ish minister used these revelations to justify the delay in 
surrendering their posts, by the fear of British designs. 

Of the charges against Blount, Washington wrote Mc- 
Henry - on July 7. If the letter from Blount to James 
Carey, the Cherokee interpreter, which was intercepted, **is 
a genuine one'' and Blount's ** handwriting is not easily mis- 
taken or counterfeited I hope that the author will receive all 
the punishment which the Constitution and Laws of this coun- 
try can inflict and, thereafter, be held in detestation by all 
good men. To seek private emolument at the expense of pub- 
lic peace — perhaps at the expense of many innocent lives 
and to aim a stroke at the reputation of a virtuous character, 
hazarding his health — probably life — to promote tranquility 
between the Indians and our frontier inhabitants; by de- 
stroying his influence and well earned good name among the 
former, to render him incapable of serving his country and 
this, forsooth, because he may be a stumbling block in the 
way of a plan which he has in contemplation, is a crime of 
so deep a dye as no epithet can convey an adequate idea of 
to my mind." On August 14, Washington wrote again : **It 
will be to be regretted much if this business is not probed to 
the bottom. "3 

All sorts of rumors flitted about, as is shown by reports 
made by William H. Harrijson, later to be president of the Uni- 
ted States, but now a lieutenant in the first regiment. He 

1 McHenry wrote of them to WcLshlncrton on July 8 and 9. 

2 Ford, xlil, 400. See Report of -the Oommittee of the House of 
Bepresentatives appointed to prepare articles of Impeachment against Woi. 
Blount, and Am. Hist. Rev., x, 595. 

3 Ford, xiii, 413. 

1797-1798] of Janies McHenry 26& 

wrote from Fort Washington on May 22, 1797, reporting 
**that a certain person of the name of Hamilton, who is said 
to have a major's commission in the service of Spain, arrived 
in the town of Cincinnati some time in the month of Janu- 
ary last, and has remained, (excepting a short absence of a 
few weeks,) ever since. His avowed object is to prevail on 
the citizens of this territory to become settlers in the Spanish' 
country west of the Mississippi, oflFering to adventurers dona- 
tions of land and other inducements. Hamilton was bom in 
New Jersey, and was some time a merchant in New York^ 
from whence, after being tried for a forgery, he emigrated 
to Dumfries, in Virginia, where he resided until about a 
year ago; for a few months previous to his arrival here, he^ 
was in Kentucky, where, I believe, he obtained authority to 
offer lands on the Mississippi to such persons as were inclin- 
able to transfer their allegiance from the United States to His. 
Catholic Majesty. Many families have emigrated, and many 
more are preparing to go the ensuing fall from this country, 
in consequence of the liberal offers made them by the Spanish- 
agents. Hamilton has avowed himself a Spanish subject to 
several persons in this town, but I do not believe that he has 
any commission in their service ; but is, I imagine, authorized 
by the Spanish consul or some other agent in Kentucky to 
grant lands to persons who wish to emigrate to Louisiana. I 
shall use every exertion to get information of the views of 
this man and every other suspicious character who may come, 
within my reach." 

On August 13th, 1797, Harrison wrote again : 


"I have the honor to acknowledge the recept of your- 
letter of the 17th. Ultimo. Since my last report on the sub- 
ject of suspicious persons passing through this country, I 
have until now met with nothing worthy of communication. 
A few days ago, a Mr Manuel de Lesa, a merchant of New 
Orleans, arrived in company with Mr Knox, a person who is 
charged with dispatches from the Department of State to our 
Commissioner, Mr Ellicot. Mr Knox informed me that de 
Lesa came with him from Philada. & was to accompany him 
to the falls of Ohio & from there he intended to go to Post 
Vincennes where he has a store. De Lesa was here but one 
night & I believe had no communication with the Inhabitants.. 

264 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

Hamilton, the person mentioned in my last Report, is still 
in the neighborhood & follows the occupation of a Dentist. 
I do not find that he has of late done any thing to confirm 
the suspicions I had at first formed of him — he is a man 
of desperate fortune &, I imagine, it would not be difficult 
to employ him in any villanous scheme which would tend to 
better his circumstances. 

** Whilst I am on the subject of suspicious characters I 
shall take the liberty of mentioning to you some circum- 
stances relating to Mr David Jones, late chaplain to the Army, 
this man I know to be as just a promoter of Sedition as the 
world can produce. He has lately made a tour through Ken- 
tucky & passed this a few days ago. I endeavoured to dis- 
cover from him the motive of his journey but all that I could 
get from him was that he descended the Ohio for the purpose 
of taking up with him a mare which he had bought when he 
was last in this country — it appeared to me strange that a 
man of his years should have taken such a journey in bad 
health for such an object — this, together with my knowledge 
of the man — his violent attachment to the French Govern- 
ment, & dislike to our own ; together with a declaration which 
he made to me, created a suspicion of his being engaged in 
some agency prejudicial to the interest of the United States 
— the declaration I allude to, was, *that if the French estab* 
lished a Republic west of the Missippi, he intended to 
emigrate to that country.' Having lived for a considerable 
time with Mr Jones in the family of the late Major (Jenl. 
Wayne, & still being on good terms with him (for he was my 
guest when he was last here) I am extremely sorry to be 
the means of exciting the suspicions of Government against 
him, when I have no proof of his guilt — but the times are 
such, as, in my opinion, to make it the duty of every friend 
of his country to keep a true look out &, if possible, discover 
& expose to the detestation of the world those traitors, who 
acting under foreign influence, are plotting schemes destruc- 
tive to the interests of their country. 

**This day arrived here, Mr Pike, a Cadet in the 3rd 
Regt, from Fort Massac. He informs me that Capt Guion, 
after having been joined by Dember's Artillery, left that post 
on the 11th July. Capt 6 — n had communicated with the 
Commdr. of New Madrid & had informed him that he ex- 
pected to descend the River to Natches, the Spaniards replied 
that, if he passed his post, he should treat him with polite- 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 265 

ness — but hinted that he had better stay where he was. They 
(the Spaniards) are building a large Port on the West side 
of the Missippi, sixty miles above the mouth of Ohio. I 
give you this information Sir — because I imagine you are 
desirous of having the earliest accounts of the Movements of 
Capt: Guion. 

**I have the Honor to be with 
great Respect & Esteem — Sir, 
**Yonr very Humble Servt: 
**Wm. H. Harrison 
' ' Capt : 1st Regt Company P. ' ' 

Prom Detroit on July 28, 1797, Major Rivardi wrote 
Pickering as to western matters: 

**The British merchants of this place seem exceedingly 
opposed to every measure taken by the General, in order to 
remedy the evils which actually threatened our garrison, the 
greater part of which was always in a state of intoxication, on 
account of the small liquor shops held under the sanction of 
licenses issued by the Magistrates within the lines of our 
guards and sentries. The proclamation which forbids such 
intolerable abuse has occasioned many murmers and remon- 
strances from a set of people who have long before that de- 
clined being considered as American citizens, bought settle- 
ments on the British shore, and expressed, on every occasion, 
their contempt for our Government, although our money has 
enriched them since our taking possession of the Posts. The 
Prench here are very little better, and, in my opinion, not in 
the least to be trusted, happily they are indolent, cowardly, 
and (with prudence) little to be dreaded. The emissaries 
from their Mother Country alone are dangerous. Yesterday 
we drummed out an Imposter born in Canada, who made sev- 
eral false depositions respecting the intentions of the Span- 
iards and Prench to attack Mackinac and Port Wayne. He 
pretended to have been a prisoner at the Illinois and gave a 
spurious account of the regular forces landed there, aiming, 
I suppose, to spread the alarm among the Canadians and to 
lead the General into some unnecessary and perhaps improper 
measures — fortunately we found that he never was, since two 
years, nearer of the Illinois than three hundred leagues. 

** Another man (a British subject) was detected, attempt- 
ing to seduce some of our soldiers from their duty, and was 

266 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

punished accordingly. It is so long since we received an Ex- 
press that we know nothing of what passed in Congress these 
seven weeks past. The Indians are still very numerous here, 
owing to their receiving plenty of provisions on both shores; 
but I find that they all expect to see their Fathers, the French. 
The little Turtle, although peaceably inclined, cannot be per- 
suadf^d that he received false information.'' 

While McHenry thought ^ his arrangements would keep 
the Indians <|uiet, D'Yrujo had aroused further trouble by 
charging that Pickering had entered into a conspiracy with the 
British minister to have a joint expedition seize the Spanish 
forts in the West. - Pickering answered this attack with 
acerbity and printed his reply through Fenno on August 8, 
sending copies to his friends. On August 19, Hamilton wrote 
McHenry: ** Considering how insensibly precious the friend- 
ship of the United States is to Spain, I can only ascribe the 
late conduct of some of her officers to an influence which 
controuls their better judgment. War is not desired by the 
United States, they will shun it if possible and I am (sure) 
Spain ought carefully to avoid forcing them into it." 

On September 4, Adams thanked Pickering and Mc- 
Henry for their vigilant attention and judicious execution of 
all the business relative to D'Yrujo. The frontiersmen were 
also troublesome. One Zachariah Cox was organizing an ex- 
pedition and other incursions were made into the Indian 
lands, concerning which letters came to the administration, 
either directly, or through General Davie of North Carolina. 
Among these letters was one written by William Polk from 
Charlotte, August 9, 1797, to General Davie and forwarded 
by him : 

''Dear Sir 

*'Mr. Wallace has delivered me your favor of the 22d 
July, and I now, by the first Post oflBce after the receipt of 
your letter, transmit what information I have been able to 
collect on the subject of the Tennessee expedition from this 

**Six or eight weeks ago, a Mr. John Johnson who lives 
near Jonesborough in the State of Tennessee came into this 
county where many of his & his wife's relations live and 

1 Gi^bbe. i, 559. 

2 Pickerlner. Hi. 404, 407. 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 267 

where he moved from about 8 years ago, his business appeared 
to be of two kinds, the first to sell as much land as he could 
out of a body purchased by him from a certain Zack Coxe, 
said to be 30,000 acres, in payment of which he took horses^ 
cattle, notes & money if he could get it. The second, to en- 
courage persons to make a settlement somewhere in the coast 
of the Tennessee on the lands of this Coxe, who by some writ- 
ten instrument promised to each settler 1000 acres of his 
Land, on condition that they would make a settlement, cul- 
tivate five acres of ground in wheat or corn, live on the soil 
12 months, support themselves, and defend themselves against 
the enemy; how far the word enemy was to extend I don't 
know, whether against the Indians only, or all who should 
attempt to molest them, in either going there or whilst there, 
was what nobody here, I believe, is in the knowledge of. John- 
son, to some, said Coxe had extinguished the Indian claim &^ 
to them and others, that Congress had consented to the set- 
tlement. I am informed Genl. Sevier, at a considerable meet- 
ing at his house, harangued the people in favor of the plan 
&, through his influence & that of Col. Ezekiel Polk, most 
of 25 persons who accompanyed the latter were induced to 
proceed on this wild expedition. I am unwilling to believe 
that any one of these people had any hostile views towards 
the Spanish settlements or that they knew anything of 
Blount's plan; it is a mere land speculation without any ex- 
pectation, at least by E. P., of seeing or experiencing any dan- 
ger. I know his weak nerves too well to believe he would 
hazard himself, where there would be the most distant idea 
that blood would be spilt. Mr. Polk is a man charged with 
impatience, has no fortitude, fickle in the extreme, a lover of 
home, and never saw blood but from a lancet or his nose in 
his life, from such a leader I fear nothing — some of his 
party have, a few days ago, returned who left them about 50 
miles above Knoxville on the Tennessee or Holston River, 
who say the party had become very impatient and uneasy, 
as at that place they were to meet Coxe, whom they had not 
seen or certainly heard of, some said he had gone down the 
River to hasten the finishing some boats he had making to 
transport stores to his settlement, by others that he had gone 
to Philadelphia. Johnson was taken here and brought before 
the Court, who then happened to be in Session, but through 
the influence of Genl. Sevier & the ignorances of the Court 
they permitted him to depart." 

268 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

From the state of Tennessee, Hawkins county, on Sep- 
tember 14th, 1797, William Cocke wrote John Adams, pro- 
testing against the removal of the settlers who had encroached 
upon the Indian lands: 

**To inform you that a large number of respectable citi- 
zens of the State of Tennessee are found to be within the 
limits of the Indian Claims. Justice requires that I should 
speak to you in plain and decided language. When I last 
had the honour to converse with you and Secretary of War 
on the subject, I felt myself highly pleased at the assurance 
you then gave me that you would take the matter under your 
serious consideration and notify the commissioners the result 
of your deliberation, from the manner you then expressed 
yourself I had every reason to believe would have produced a 
decision favourable to the people. Impressed with this idea, I 
communicated to them what had passed between us, but to 
my great mortification and surprise, I have seen an order 
from Col. Butler, directing the people to prepare to remove 
from their farms by the 25th of October, it will not be im- 
proper to remark to the President that the people of the state 
of Tennessee know that they are not entirely governed by 
military laws, that no citizen can be deprived of his property 
for public conveniency without full compensation and that 
the Courts Judicial are bound to decide all questions of right, 
according to the Constitutional Laws of our country. Sir, it 
is painful to me to make these remarks, but as the Constitu- 
tion of my country warrant them and as my fellow citizens 
are likely to be injured, as I conceive contrary to law, as a 
number of them possess Legal Rights to the land in question, 
I submit to you whether such orders should not be counter- 
manded, especially at a time when Congress hath had the sub- 
ject before them and hath postponed it for further considera- 
tion, I am Sir with 

** every sentiment of esteem &c.'* 

Meanwhile letters came from North Carolina ^ to Wol- 
cott and were sent by him to McHenry on September 15, show- 
ing that Blount *s influence in Tennessee was not dead. In 
answering Wolcott's letter on September 22, McHenry ac- 
knowledged the continuance of Blount's influence and re- 

1 Gibbs. I. 5ft2. 

1797-1798] of Jantes McHenry 269 

f erred to the troubles over the Spanish boundary ^ and to 
the projects of Cox, against which he had taken measures 
which he trusts will succeed. 

On September 19, Pickering wrote McHenry that he 
hears from Ellicott at Natchez that Carondelet confirmed 
Gayoso's agreement with the inhabitants. Two days later, 
Pickering wrote again, concerning the attempts of the Span- 
iards to entice Indians from our territory, with a view to 
future hostilities, and on the 25th he told McHenry that 
Carondelet and Gayoso disagreed, the latter, **as deficient in 
understanding as in honor,'' does not act '^with the prudence 
and persistency" which the baron might desire. Pickering 
hears from Daniel Coxe that the grant to Great Britain by 
the United States of the free navigation of the Mississippi 
is the chief obstacle to Spain's giving up the posts. ^ On 
the 7th of October, Pickering transmits information from 
Daniel Coxe that the Spanish governors and D Trujo are act- 
ing without authority from their government, anticipating 
war between the United States and France. 

Meantime McHenry wrote Wolcott, on October 2, that he 
thought he could settle Tennessee matters without the aid of 
General Wilkinson ^ and received a reply from Wolcott* 
who thought there would be no war with Spain. *'You will, 
however, by Hook or by Crook, get the Spanish posts and 
the Dons will be more anxious to keep what remains than to 
retake them." In his answer, McHenry states he was very 
busy with Blount, Cox, and the Mississippi, **the current of 
Vhich latter river you know is not so easy to stem."^ Mc- 
Henry sent copies of Pickering's letter to D Trujo, to dif- 
ferent army posts, including one to Ross at Pittsbiu*g, with 
the request that the letter be not published in the papers. 
Somehow the letter was published and though McHenry 
thought the publication did much good, Pickering was dis- 
turbed at it and wrote: 

** Trenton Oct. 19. 1797. 
''Dear Sir, 

'*You see by the Pittsburg paper of last week, that my 
letter of Augt. 8 to Yrujo, is prematurely publishing. I 
must charge some of your military friends with the communi- 

1 Glbbs, i, 563. 

2 On -September 30. Plckerlngr writes a«rain of Zachariah Cox's 
scheme for unlawful settlements In the Indian country. 

BGibbs, 1, 565. 
4 GU>bs. 1, 566. 
5Gibbs, \, 567. 


270 lAfe and Correspondence [Chap.xii 

cation ; as I have sent no copy to that quarter ; and wherever 
I have handed it to my friends, it has been with an explicit 
caution against such a publication. But I do not know that 
it is to be regretted : it is an anticipation of but a few weeks ; 
for I doubt not that Congress would have directed its pub- 
lication, as usual with documents before presented to them 
on the same subject. And (as one of my friends has lately 
written to me) 'Since the policy of France has dragged our 
Executive into the street, it is best to make the people who 
are there understand that we are wholly right, and our ac- 
cusers altogether wrong.' This friend thus begins his letter. 
*I am greatly obliged to you for the pamphlet (letter of 
Aug. 8 to Y.) you sent me, as I felt a strong desire to see the 
argument, which should prove conclusively that the Knight 
would be a Knave, if he were not by nature a Pool. ' 

**It is a good while since I heard from your or of you: 
how are you? is your health restored! I shall be glad to 
learn ; being very truly yours, 

** Timothy Pickebino.*' 

In his letter explaining the matter, on October 22, Mc- 
Henry said that he was so much occupied with affairs in the 
Northwest and the South that he was tired of life and en- 
closed a packet for the president, which showed that the sec- 
retary had **not been idle and that it requires some ham- 
mering to make certain heads comprehend one object, when 
they have conceived another.*' Two days later, Pickering 
wrote him: 

**What do you think of the Washington news, by the 
Mr. Purslie who arrived at Brownsville the 2d of Oct. in 45 
days from New-Orleans — That the Posts were given up, & 
the boundary line running t You will recollect that such was 
Mr. Ellicott's expectation, when he conversed with D. W. 
Coxe, whose narrative I sent you." 

On the following day Pickering wrote again: 

"Trenton Oct. 25. 1797. 
"Dr. Sir, 

**Last evening I received your letter of the 22d. with an 
open packet for the President, which I have read, sealed, and 
shall this day forward. 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 271 


Can the cautious restriction of Powers — the prepos- 
terous idea of taking the posts of St. Louis, Genevieve & 
New-Madrid — be accounted for, except on the principle that 
they may cover sinister views, the consciousness of which 

prompts to overact his part ? But if hostilities were 

to commence on the Mississippi, why not collect the utmost 
force to that quarter? Why the zeal to attack — & the con- 
tradictory measure of lessening the force he could command, 
by remanding a company where it was not needed? 

''His construction of Rivet's letter is probably just. But 
if the poor missionary has two years salary in arrears, it 
would seem advisable to pay him at least one, immediately. 
What is become of the other priest? Jannin? I thought both 
had gone to the Spaniards. Will not the retaining of his 
pay, furnish an excuse for unfaithfulness & desertion? and 
with the influence he has acquired over the Indians, may not 
his desertion hazard mischief? Doubtless it had been better 
that we had never seen either. By the overtures of R., it 
is clear that he belongs to the nation of spies & intriguers 

**I return Mr. Ilindman's letter, & thank you for the 
perusal. But how astonishing that, at this time. Jacobinism 
should increase! Surely the people want information. 


"T. Pickering.'' 

On the 28th came still another letter on Western affairs 
from Pickering: 

"Dr Sir, 

"The enclosed letter from Kentiickey I received last even- 
ing, eovorinj? one from Walter Evans to James Farris, rela- 
tive Z. Coxe's project of a forced settlement at the Muscle 
Shoals. The 1000 men mentioned as ready to proceed must 
be a monstrous exaggeration : such villains always exaggerate, 
to encourage & fortify their deluded partisans, and with such 
decovs to lure others into their snares. 

"I do not consider the letter much consequence: but it 
may afford some evidence against the writer this friend ad- 
dressed, should the scheme be prosecuted. 

"I am respectfully yours 
"Timothy Pickering^' 

The enclosed letter, written from Russess Creek, Tennes- 

272 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

aee, Grainger county, on August 10th, 1797, by one Walter 
Evans to James Farris, Jr., stated : 

**By this you may be informed that We, the Tennes- 
see Company, have not had access to the Musscle Shoals, and 
indeed, have but a faint Idea of being admitted by Congress 
to go to that Country. 

* * There are upwards of 1000 men who are now in readi- 
ness to prosecute the intended voyage to the musscle Shoal 
Country. We — have 70 pieces of Cannon and other suitable 
Equipage for war — at the head of which is Zacheriah Cox, 
a Citizen of Georgia, who will endeavour to force his way 
down to that Country, The Indian Tribes notwithstanding, 
with whom I expect to go, provided we can go next winter, 
otherwise not." ^ 

Vigilant in their endeavors to obtain information relative 
to any project of France to excite the Southwestern part of 
the Union and Georgia to a separation from the United States 
in the winter of 1797 and 1798, McHenry and Pickering ex- 
pended $2,560, paid to one St. Hilaire. The account for this 
was one of the causes of accusation made against McHenry, 
after he left the war department and was not closed until 
1810. 2 

1 Fort Mxissac 18 February 1798. 


1 And by this Mitchell that he is concerned with Cox A his party, 
that finding it impracticable to pass the Military posts upon the Tennes- 
see, they have altered their route, A Marched thro' Kentucky, in part, 
where they are assembling at the falls of the Ohio from whence they 
Intend to embark for the Mouth of Cumberland River, where a Town 
was to be laid out for their temporary accommodation ; Mitchell is to be, 
as he aaya the principal surveyor, A that his business at this place was 
to know from Captain Pike, where the Indian line, particularly ran, that 
he wishes to know as they Intended to move as near it as possible; how- 
ever I am well assured that all this enquiry of W Mitchell, is nothinir 
more, than finesse; I think his real object was to discover what number 
of Troops the Garrison consisted of, A to know the disposition of this 
detachment, particularly. Cox's Artillery consists as I am informed, of 
small pieces which he has packed on Horseback to Kentucky A will em- 
bark them at the falls. 

I have the honor to remain with great 
respect A Esteem your mo. 
Obt. Hble Servant 

T Tjg wriw 

2 City of Washington Jany. 17. 1810. 
Dear Sir, 

I enclose an exact copy of your certificate A receipt which I had 
filed as a voucher for my payment of that sum of $2560. but which not 
being certified by the President Is not admitted at the Treamiry depart- 
ment. Mr. Gallatin, whom I have Just conversed with, remarked that 
you were responsible for the money; but he thought you might be dis- 
charged in one of these two ways — Either by producing receipts or other 
written acknowledgements from the person or persons to tohom you actu- 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 278 

After the Spaniards ceded the forts, ^ Pickering wrote 
McHenry on December 23, stating that the governor at Nat- 
chez must exercise liberal hospitality to visiting chiefs, giv- 
ing them some presents, ''to keep the Indians in an amicable 
temper and may have to call a council of the tribes. If the 
governor serve in the field, what rank shall he havet These 
matters should be attended to at once. ' ' 

The greed for Western lands led all classes to purchase 
them and this complicated Indian relations, as may be clearly 
seen from a letter Chase wrote McHenry on December 10: 

"There is another Matter in which I wish for your ad- 
vise — You have heard of a Claim by Citizens of U. S. to 
two purchases from the Indians — called the Illinois and Wa- 
bash Purchase. I am entitled to a 22d or whole share in 
both purchases, which cost me with interest about 1600 cury. 
The Case has been sometime before Congress, & you will see 

ally paid the money; or by furnishing to the existiner President (Madi- 
son) evidence to satisfy him of the application of the money to the pur- 
pose specified in your certificate, so as to induce him to certify (what 
President Adams should have done) that the money had been applied to 
the service of the U States: confonnably to the power vested in the 
President by the 2d section of "the act providing the means of intercourse 
between the U. -States <ft foreign nations." Vol. IV. page 69-70 of th« 
Acts of Congress. If you have no such receipts — or if they were burnt 
in the war-office, you will advise me. Do you suppose that Pres. Adams 
possesses such a knowledge or remembrance of the transaction as to en- 
able him (on sight of your certificate and receipt to me) as would enable 
him now to give such a certificate as, if given during his presidency, 
would have been sufficient? Or can you make such a statement of facts, 
times and circumstances as must bring the affair so fully to his recol- 
lection? If this can be done, I think it not Improbable that Mr. Mad- 
ison may, on Mr. Adams' certificate, furnish the requisite voucher for 
the Treasury. 

Please to favour me with an answer as speedily as possible. 

Very truly yours 
T. Pickering 
James McHenry Esq. 
This may certify that there has been expended by the subscriber 

Two thousand five hundred and sixty dollars in obtaining from 

Information relative to a project of France to excite the So. 

Western part of the Union and Georgia to a separation from the United 

Jamrs McHenry 
Secy, of War 
Dollars 2560 

19 March 1798 — 
Received the above mentioned two thousand five hundred and sixty 
dollars this 25th of April 1798 of T. Pickering Secy, of State. 

James McHenry 

1 On January 5, 1798, (State Papers, I. Millt Affairs, 628. 632. «38) 
McHenry reported on the Cherokee boundary of 1791, on April 6, he op- 
posed paying militia In 1794 for an offensive expedition against the Chero- 
kees and on January 16, 1799, he sent the senate papers concerning the 
Cherokee treaty of 1798. 

1874 Life and Correspondtnce [Chap. xii 

the grounds of our claim as published by the Company, & 
their proposal to Congress, without examining our Right, 
I wish to be quit of the Business. It is very clear that Con- 
gress must purchase of the Indians to extinguish their claims, 
if we have no Right and as we have done it, & have their 
Title, at least so far as the Right of preemption, I would 
agree to relinquish all Claim for what I have paid with Inter- 
est, on 1600£, and I will take a Certificate payable with an- 
nual Interest when Congress thinks proper. I think Justice 
will say that my request is reasonable. I do not wish to in- 
jure the claims of my Partners, but I have no inclination to 
contest by suit, with Congress. Be so kind as to give me your 
candid opinion whether a memorial making such an offer 
would be successful. Read our Claim, which you can procure 
from Dr. Smith. 

**I wish you Health, & Happiness, adieu 

'*Your affectionate & 
obedt. servt. 

** Samuel Chase*' 

Prom Europe news came in the autumn. Pinckney wrote 
from Rotterdam on September 19, concerning military books 
which McHenry desired: 

'*By this opportunity (the Adelaide, Capt Mann via 
Baltimore) I send you the Military regulations during the 
time of the French Republic; they were to have been sent 
above three months ago, but by some mistake were postponed. 
Briquet's Military Code is out of print, I am informed a new 
edition is preparing which, when published, I will procure 
and transmit to you, and anything I may meet with new and 
of reputation in that line. 

**(Jenl. Marshall and myself are now upon our progress 
to Paris ; you will hear by my letters and enclosed papers to 
the Secretary of State, and Mr. Murray's communications to 
you, of the extraordinary transactions in Paris; these trans- 
actions and some intimations we have received that our pres- 
ence at this juncture at Paris might be important, and the 
delay of our journey imputed to very false and improper 
motives, have induced Genl. Marshall and myself, to set out 
to Paris, more particularly, as Mr. Prince, the Agent of the 
Union, the vessel in which Mr. Gerry is to sail from Boston, 
writes word to the Consul at Rotterdam that she is to call 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 275 

at Havre; I have therefore written to that port to request 
Mr. Gerry to proceed from thence to Paris, without coming 
round by Holland. 

**We shall not commence any direct negociations, before 
we are joined by Mr. Gerry, without circumstances, should 
indicate great probable advantages. 

** These I do not expect; for so much reliance is placed 
in Prance, on the individual divisions in America, and so large 
a party is thought to be more attached to French measures 
than to the interests of our Country, that, tho* I am convinced 
this opinion is erroneous, yet as it is entertained by men in 
power, I am apprehensive our negociations will be very dif- 
ficult, and my hopes of success are not at all sanguine. 

' ' I remain My dear Sir, with great regard and esteem — 

**Your most obt. 

** humble Servant 
** Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.'' 

Three days later a letter was sent McHenry by Murray, 
who had tried to ward off any danger of a war between Hol- 
land and the United States: 

**Mr Gerry arrived here last night. He will proceed on 
to Paris as soon as he can return from Amsterdam, whither 
he must first go. The other ministers went on the 18th. 
inst. The only chance it seems to me they have, is in the 
renewal of the war. This would give to us, all the advan- 
tages of ally'd force, without the odium. Still however to me 
our affairs do appear desperate in Paris. This dreadful con- 
vulsion which took place on the 4th, in which all fell, upon 
whose sense of justice we could have any reliance, has been 
to me a most serious event. Pastoret Portalis — Boissy d' 
Anglois — Dumas, Voublanc — Barbe Marbois & Pichigru — 
these were men of superior cast — who wished to restore order 
to the whole social & political state in France; to recall the 
public bodies to a recognition of foreign nations in the good 
faith of France ; & to check the Directoire, in those violations 
both of the constitution & of the law of nations which had 
excited alarm at home & fear & hatred abroad. These men, 
confounded with the emigrants who had returned, & many 
of whom had kept up a perpetual conspiracy agt. the Republi- 
can system, are swept off, & by this are on their way to 
Madagascar. Since, the two councils, like the peasant when 

276 Life and Correspondence [Chap xii 

arguing with justice, agree to every proposition, & anticipate 
every wish of the Directoire. They have broken up Pastorets 
committee which he had got appointed, after a most able 
speech on our affairs, in which he urged the right we had to 
enter with the Treaty of 94 — & held up the violence of the 
Directoire & their Tribunals agt. our neutral rights in a 
variety of ways, as unjust, tyrannical & impolite. The ob- 
ject of this committee was to report upon the existing rela- 
tions between the V. 8. & France <fe upon the injuries that had 
been inflicted upon our trade. The report was delay 'd till 
the arrival of our minister, & probably under the foresight of 
an intervening crisis, on which they counted upon success. 
They have declared the object of such committees (Zumolard 
had one also, upon the transactions in Genoa Venice &c &c) 
as inconsistent with the constitution & Republicanism, & have 
expressly affirmed the respective acts of the Directory upon 
our affairs. Mulin, too, the late minister of Justice, & the 
official instrmnent of the numerous condemnations, is now a 
Director, in Camot's place. Whether you consider the acts 
of the present Legislature or of the Directory & the nature 
of the government, wh is now a complete military despotism 
& the characters of the men who are in the Executive, we 
shall have little reason to expect justice. By a letter wh. I 
received a few days since from a very intelligent man at 
Paris, it appears, that the table talk in select & official parties 
is, that we may have peace, but it must be upon their terms : — 
that there is a party in the United States strong enough to 
controul, &, if necessary, to overthrow the government; — & 
that a six months war with Prance would dissolve the Union. 
M..Adet's Secretary was in this party & confirmed their asser- 
tions. I fear that our ministers may think that delay, and 
the gaining of time, would be a good thing, my idea is that 
all the speed, consistent with candour & gentleness in man- 
ner, is in every aspect of their & our affairs important. To 
you, I can write with perfect freedom — I do not believe 
they will grant us a single object of our just demands, that 
they will wish to keep the negociation open, after they shall 
have had use of it, to throw into discussion in America, 
two or three proposals : as to give us a free West India, & a 
guaranteed Mediterranean trade — if we will abandon the 
Treaty; probably with this, an assurance of indemnification, 
after the war. To dissolve the Union — to revolutionize the 
South & West — to place those into a State, available to them 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 277 

against the British, both in arms & especially commerce & 
West India relations, will be the object of such offers, pend- 
ing the negociation. This idea I have had for months, & so 
exprest myself in one of my letters to you. The pamphlets 
which are published in the U. S. under French auspices of 
late, tending to familiarise the breach of the Treaty of 94, 
& to conciliate this with the constitution & the interests & 
duties of America, I consider as mere collateral evidence, 
compared with those stronger inferences, which may be drawn 
from their past & present spirit & proceedings, & the connex- 
ion of symptoms wh. have gradually developed themselves in 
America. Congress & the State Legislatures will all be in 
Session at a period when they might, I should think, be 
brought to a fixed complexion; & when some definite idea 
might be transmitted to you from Paris. In such a state of 
things the rigour of public spirit would have something cer- 
tain to act upon. If it is assailed by discussions upon the 
alternatives with which Prance will endeavour to amuse it — 
& if expectation be long kept on a stretch, & raised & deprest 
by an indefinite variety of news from Europe, & conjectures, 
this spirit may tire, or cool, or divide into difficult points of 
doctrine & policy. But surely, long before this, the mist has 
been withdrawn from the eyes of thousands of our country- 
men who have been certainly in the most profound errors re- 
specting the views of France towards us & all other nations. 
Her object is aggrandisement. Her means the destruction of 
great Britain. Weak or infatuated neutral nations are her 
stepping stones to reach at her rival. As to Republicanism — 
She has it not herself — She is ruled by the Directoire through 
the army. To preserve this despotism, this Directoire must 
& will keep at war, as then the executive is all in all, & have 
the armies more at their disposal, & more temptations to offer 
them as the price of their obedience. When Buonaparte held 
out his olive branch to the arch Duke, clever & great as he 
is, he was in the utmost danger — Both sides gained time. 
The Directoire had nothing to do with it. In this interval of 
a Peace, for which all Prance groans the two councils set 
about really organising the true principles of their constitu- 
tion. They wished to produce that responsibility in the Exec- 
utive which this expressly gave them as the source of the exec- 
utive, they examined into the State of the Finances, saw 
confusion & penury & no system even attempted. They looked 
into the expienditures & found a wider & more devouring pro- 

278 Liife and Conespondence [Chap. xii 

fusion than had disgraced the ancient regime. They exam- 
ined into the State of the Bureaus & into the different de- 
partments of the Govt., and beheld a more disgusting parade, 
and a more intricate chain of patronage, & a more extensive 
arrangement of ofScial & subofScial machinery than the old 
court had ever been charged with by its enemies & reformers. 
They then attempted to ameliorate the revenues & to give 
them system; — to check this profusion, — & even dared to 
point out the propriety of looking into the expenditure of 
those vast treasures with which different generals in Italy 
had been debited. They sought into the State of the colonies 
& pointed out the necessity of really regenerating their lost 
commercial & regular habits, as a source of maritime strength 
& as generally connected with the policy of internal strength^ 
agriculture & manufactures. Their object, in fact was to 
revive the internal happiness of France; to bring the people 
to cherish order, industry & peaceful habits & to methodise 
that dreadful chaos into which the relaxation of laws, & 
the great irregularity in the proceedings & the principles of 
the revolutionary governments, had thrown the people more 
than any external force had done. Then happened, in the 
election of a new Third, who were moderates (ie. Anti Jacob- 
ins,) and the preliminary articles of peace wth. the Empire, 
a coincidence favouring this great & patriotic design. This 
election gave the men who entertained these enlightened views, 
the decided majority — as 3 to 1. Their efforts & objects 
were of a nature to excite alarm among all who lived in 
truth upon public confusion. The Directoire saw, in the line 
of conduct which they promised to pursue, that check which 
they were not willing to endure. The Bureaus — & all the 
oflSces felt sore under this scrutiny into their members, inca* 
pacity, & profusion — the armies were stimulated by the gen- 
erals in a hatred against the councils &, in the same propor- 
tion, into a respect for the Directoire. Wth. whom it became 
politic then to make a common cause. From the moment that 
the Directory perceived that the Legislature resolved to act 
with firmness in the reform of public abuses, & undertook to 
exercise some pretence to their rights of Peace & war, agree- 
ably to the constitution, they excited sedition against those 
councils & gradually took their measures under the pretence 
of guarding against Royalism, to overthrow the moderates & 
to put all power under their own, absolute direction. Pich- 
igru & others foresaw this crisis — the mysterious march of 

1797-1798] of Janies McHenry 279 

the army towards Paris & the daring language in the army 
addressed to the Directoire agt. the eonneils, & to each other^ 
from Italy to the Sambre & Meuse, led that great man to 
attempt those measures of safety wh. the constitution put the reach of the councils. He set about organizing the 
national guards or militia — France had been disarmed about 
a year since — Not a cannon nor a musket had been permitted 
to appear in Paris but those in the hands of the guards. The 
sections of Paris had been disarmed on the celebrated Ven- 
demiere. The Directory saw that if this national guard were 
organised & armed, the Legislature wd. be supported. They 
saw too that if Peace with the Emperor & G. Britain fol- 
lowed such a Legislative preparation of strength, their schemes 
of ambition & absolute power might be frustrated. They 
anticipated the Legislature by placing peace at a distance, 
and by the convulsion of the 4. Sep. triumph. Never per- 
haps in the Roman Senate under Tiberius, when Senators 
could be nodded by the Tyrant to the Baths, was there a 
bolder stroke of despotism, under the cloak of Republican- 
ism! Fifty odd of the most enlightened Revolutionists in 
France, seized as members of the Legislature, and ordered 
for Banishment, to one of the most distant & savage scenes 
upon earth — without notice — hearing or a trial! for the 
order of Banishment preceded even the frivolous & unexam- 
ined scraps of inadmissible evidence which had been exhibited 
against one of them, & that one Pichegru — undoubtedly 
there were emigrants in France who watched & always will 
watch for a crisis between the republican parties, that they 
may direct the crisis to their own ends; — but the members 
of the 500 & of the ancients, except perhaps Camille Jourdan, 
who had lately returned from England, were as remarkable 
for their revolutionary characters, as Mr Rewbill, Mr. Barros 
& Mr. Lepeaux. So also were Camot & Barthelemy. The 
real crimes of these men were attempts to put the constitu- 
tion in force — to execute the Laws — & to extricate the 
people out of revolutionary government, in favour of Peace, 
order & justice. The charge agt Pichegru is derived from 
the papers of a count D' Entrigue, an emigrant, who states 
conversations with another emigrant, a count Montgaillard,. 
near two years since. These were tricks which the tories 
used to play off upon the whigs with us — but america had 
too much goodness & justice to credit such trumpery. From 
this period, however, it is probable that very serious designs ^ 

280 Life and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

will be taken up by the ablest revolutionists in Prance, to 
restore a share of monarchy to the government. My own 
idea is that the different parties & generals will wait for an 
opportunity of placing a King upon the throne of Prance. 
TTiat whatever party attempts, it will be opposed by an oppo- 
site party, because each will be jealous of the others ; & each 
would, if it be at all done, wish to have the advaninges & 
emoluments of such a decisive event. But a vast & horrible 
involution of party rage & personal rivalship will long con- 
tinue to distract them, & retard any government but a revolu- 
tionary & military despotism. 

**Lord Malmsbury has left Lisle — This is not fi-om pub- 
lic authority, but I hear it through a channel upon which I 
completely rely. I do not regret this, as the war will recom- 
mence with vigour, & as parties are distrusted in Prance, & 
they have no means to fit out distant expeditions, they may 
be the more inclined to listen to our ministers. Still I am 
convinced that they rely upon a source of transatlantic means 
which they will organise in proportion as the negociation is 
lengthened & spun out by their acts. 

** There is a certainty that upon the Rhine at Bonn, Cob- 
lentz, & Cologne, a revolutionary spirit has brought a revolu- 
tion to bear upon the constituted authorities. The plan is 
to erect a Cis-Rhine Republic. The plan of Prance is not 
only to avail herself of the confusion & weakness which her 
enemies will feel from revolutions in their towns, but also to 
surround her land — Prontier with a cordon of small repub- 
lics, who will be her satellites, her out guards, & whose ex- 
istence, as republics, must depend upon subserviency to her 
& on her protection. Her agents have produced this event. 
Her force is at hand — & Though the great majority of the 
people there, as here, are agt. this plan, her partizans there 
will get possession of power & call their ambition Repub- 
licanism. Dear God! a Republic in the wealthy & corrupt 
parts of Europe ! as a republican I shd. rejoice if I saw man- 
ners, morals, & independen<ie in these scenes. Pormerly where 
luxury had totally debauched the morals of a nation they 
supply 'd in energy of govt, what their vices & habits ren- 
dered necessary, to hold the society at all together. At pres- 
ent the attempt at Liberty begins at the point of the social 
state when it used to end. An impatience under moral, re- 
ligious, & civil institutions, arising from a knowledge of only 
abstract doctrines, & stimulated by ambition, love of plunder, 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 281 

idleness & profligacy, is mistaken for love of Liberty. It is 
in fact the restlessness of Vice — a popular path which it 
takes to avoid the imputation of criminality & to enjoy all 
its extravagances & profits. A dreadful anarchy is the result 
— & society is thrown back into its elements, without its sim- 
plicity & morals, I can see no end, except that which one 
man enjoys in the charge & possession of another's property. 

**The revolution at Paris has aflFected this country but 
slightly. The violent men would like to see the present inter- 
mediary govt, here a little more revolutionary ; but the great 
mass of virtuous phlegm, the fair & honest views of the very 
great majority of the People & the whole genius of the nation, 
incorporated as it is in a thousand circumstances & arising 
out of the artificial existence of the whole Republic, are 
against sudden bursts of fanaticism. Dykes which repel the 
beseiging ocean are the bulwarks of the national character. 
Those who exist but by the tenure of a never ending vigi- 
lance to sensible objects, of such importance as the whole of 
their embanking system, you can readily believe, are preserv- 
ing — of course, patient, thoughtful — slow to alter, & fixed 
when once determined — a real overthrow of things in Hol- 
land, in the true revolutionary sense in wh. Europe works 
changes in Govt., would produce the catastrophe of which the 
Zuyder Zee, at this moment, is an awful momento. Where 
this South or Zud Zee now is, once was land! There are 
records in Overyssel & Guilderland of this fact. The grept 
exterior Dykes had been neglected — Storms had accumulated 
the Ocean upon that quarter — the bottoms of the Dykes wore 
softened and sapped and were burst. The deluge in four 
& twenty hours destroyed, and in a great degree covered, & 
soon obliterated many hundred Villages — (The people live 
in villages) I hear eight hundred! You have often heard, 
but scarcely believed that the ocean is higher than the land 
in many of the finest parts of the Seven Provinces — The 
fact is so — The country rests upon a foot of soft nuid — 
They must have banked out first in the flats of the sea & then 
pumped out all the surrounded water. This is done daily, 
as to pumping; & the maintenance of wind mills for this 
purpose, to keep the land dry w^hich is below the surface of 
the sea, forms a part of something like ground rent, to each 
lot in the tovm districts. Thus it is near Leyden — & be- 
tween Rotterdam — the Hague. A people so placed are obliged 
to be grave and steady, or drown. A Fete indeed is to take 

282 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

place upon the event of the downfall of Royalism, as they 
call the overthrow of the Legislature at Paris — a Speech 
from the President of the assembly & from Mr Noel, the min- 
ister, is it is said, to manifest the sympathy of Batavia in 
the triumphs of Liberty. These Fetes are useful things to 
any party who use them triumphantly, they have an impos- 
ing effect — They strike all, & upon thousands who love bril- 
liance, effect, & success, but who have neither opportunity nor 
power to examine into the justice of the occasion. These 
fetes are to extend from the mouth of the Rhine, to the ancient 
Kingdom of Ulysses in the mouth of the Adriatic, that *Lewd 
whore ' — where the tri-coloured flag now waves over the 
ruins of that wise king. These fetes are to pervade every 
scene where France has influence or possession. They will 
be attempted in america. I consider them as partly the tri- 
umphs over our friends & those who might, if any in Prance 
could, do us justice. It will be highly important to destroy 
the influence of these Fetes then. It is to celebrate the bru- 
tality of a strictly military Despotism, over a sincere & cordial 
operation, through which the great experiment was to be 
fairly made, whether France could endure a real republican 
form of Govt. The experiment was a fair one — The people 
chose their members — these now were not Jacobins — the 
Jacobins formed the club of Saline afterward Montmorency. 
The Directoire grew jealous of the two new thirds — ^ the Ja- 
cobins united wt. it, & with the armies agt. them — The Direc- 
toire turned out these men whom the people appointed and 
banished the ablest of them. The elections of all men of that 
description, except of those who from timidity have made 
terms with the Executive, are declared illegal, & others put 
in before the intelligence could have reached the communes & 
Departments! This is the way the Directoire secures ma- 
jorities ! If a proper use be made of the late event in Pari* 
I should suppose the eyes of many, certainly not all, in 
America might be opened ; & that the Deception of the Govt, 
once manifested, our worthy citizens would no longer be the 
dupes of the most graceful & vicious nation under the sun. 

**I have written to Mr. Smith, the minister Plenipotent*y 
at Lisbon, congratulating him — He merited the distinction 
— I went to house-keeping as soon as I heard of his appoint- 
ment, & could get ready. But my dear friend, I never hear 
from you — nor from a soul except Col. Pickering, in hia 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 288 

public letters. When you write, you could omit your name 
as I do. 

**I can not omit one piece of information of which I 
shall also inform Col. P. The publication of Mr. Adam's 
letter respecting this country does us mischief. It has ex- 
cited considerable heat — & is thought an insult. They wd. 
certainly have demanded his recall had he been here. Yet 
I will still suppose that to answer a great end, these steps 
must sometimes be taken — and, in this case, whatever incon- 
venience arises to the minister it is his duty to bear it as 
part of his oflScial labours & troubles. Certainty of good, 
however, ought always to be placed against certainty of eviL 
Unless the good is great and certain from publication, I 
should hope the govt, would never publish. I know that it 
is to t^ll the truth, however unwelcome, that a minister is 
sent abroad. I have not been spoken to nor written to for- 
mally; & have, when I saw it would be convenient, attempted 
to soften the affair. The violence is pretty much against Mr. 
Adams — who is out of the reach of this anger. They say 
its hurts them with France & is impolitic as it enables her 
to stimulate this country against us contrary to their wishes, 
by appealing to the pride of the Batavian People and national 
(Jovt. But I have no fears respecting their disposition to be 
at peace, unless, shd. a war unfortunately come on with 
France, they should be urged, under their Treaty offensive 
& Defensive of 1795, to join F. in the war agt. us. To guard 
against this probability I have for months seized & sought 
occasions of supporting this proposition, when I thought it 
might work to the proposed end — That it is the interest of 
France to suffer the Dutch to be at Peace with America, 
This, I believe, is true. To support this proposition I am 
endeavouring to collect materials to show the importance of 
the American trade to the Dutch and the bearings of the 
Dutch trade and moneyed operations upon the French re- 
sources & affairs. The relations of the American trade with 
Bremen & Hamburg & the connection of these in this trade 
with Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The subserviency of the 
instalments & interest to those sources of Dutch competency 
which are available to France at present. The relations of 
the American trade to France as diverted from English into 
a Dutch channel & the importance of keeping up this diver- 
sion. The great importance of the American neutral bot- 
toms to Holland & France in the Surinam & Batavia E. India 

284 Life and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

trade — and a prodigious deal of this carrying is done now 
in American ships which have not been at home for three years 
— particularly those in the E. India freights. In fact, the 
great value to France of an extensive Dutch trade, till she can 
revive her own navigation — and the very little aid she could 
derive from a power whose fleets, are year after year block- 
aded in the Texel — together with the loss which the Dutch 
would sustain in the West Indies & South America without 
benefit to the II. S. but to the certain aggrandisement of the 
great rival of France, 6. Britain. In these attempts, I shall 
not show, nor have I manifested, any the remotest apprehen- 
sion of a failure of our pacific negociation which will open at 
Paris — but only urged them to lend them as far as friendly 
sj-^mpathy might act, to aid the force of our reasonings & to 
prevent a rupture & a good understanding vniYi France &c. 
&c &c. 

**The mutiny in the British fleet is crushed, not only by 
the government, but by that union in all sorts of parties which 
was produced by so serious & unmetaphysical a situation & as 
to the British, they behave handsomely enough to our trade, 
from all I can learn — of course interest & that alone produces 
this conduct & of course they wish us to go to war. There is 
one thing very far from pleasant, in the prospect of the busi- 
ness of settlement of claims by the board of commissioners. 
No case falls wth. in the cognizance of that board, but such 
as can not be reached in the ordinary course of judicial pro- 
ceedings there — cases have to travel through certain stages 
of process in the courts first — here is the approaching hard- 
ship. Either the courts are injustifiably slow, or their delays 
are designed to take many cases out of the remedy of the 
Treaty, for the commissioners, I believe, can not receive cases 
longer than about the next April. In such a state of cases 
undecided, they might avail themselves of circumstances, and 
say, (though with chicanery) that the Treaty had been grat- 
ify 'd. However we have debts as a pledge — but that again 
sets the old sores to running. 

**Mrs M. has written I think twice to Mrs. McHenry — 
pray remember us both with the most cordial respect & kind- 
ness to her & accept these from us both — my compliments to 
my friend Mr. John McHenry. I have written thrice to Qenl. 
Washington. 1. under cover a blank cover to you, soon 
after my arrival. 2. inclosed by a gentleman to Baltimore 
to Mr Gilmor. 3d. lately by Cap. Izard, who returns an 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 285 

accomplished, refined right sort of young man. One letter 
from you, your first — & one from my brother are all — al] 
that I have seen from America! Mun's letters I have seen. 
I admire the way in which Col. P. has turned aside from him 
— god bless you, my dear friend, & believe me to be always 

** Sincerely & Affectionately yrs." 

On October 13, another letter was sent by Murray, ^ 
telling of the events of the European war and saying : 


The Hague 13. Oct. 1797. 
*'My dear Sir, 

**Were I in China I should not wonder at the total ab- 
sence of letters from those who are such friends as I am pos- 
sessed of. But so near, with such constant opportunities, I 
do wonder & grieve. If you have not time, my young friend, 
Mr John McHenry would write & let me know how you do & 
that I am not gone from all remembrance. Mrs. M. also 
grieves — for I have received but one letter from you — but 
one from my brother — & a line from Harper since I became 

**The Dutch Fleet at length resolved to try its title to the 
ocean with the british. They went out on Saturday last. 
Duncan's Squadron being supposed to be in port. The Fleets 
met a little South of the Texel, where, you may easily suppose, 
from the map I send for your acceptance, an engagement took 
place. The Dutch Fleet under AcUniral De Winter, formerly 
a Lieutenant of a ship, consisted of 17 of the line & ten Fri- 
gates & small ships. The British, it is said, of 15. of the line 
& some frigates (I do not hear how many). The Dutch, as 
might be expected from their inexperience & want of old 
ofiicers, & especially of old Seasoned, hetween-deck subal- 
terns, were defeated & eight fine ships of the line, some say 
ten, taken. They behaved very handsomely & with the great- 
est bravery. De Winter & another Admiral Krayestein were 
among the prisoners! 

*'0n the sailing of the Fleet, the greatest joy prevailed 

1 On October 24, Pickering wrote McHenry sls follows: 
•*Mr. Murray's last letter Is dated July 21. He mentions that last 
spring certain terms had been agreed between Delacroix & the Portu- 
guese minister at Paris, and the treaty prepared for signing — but Just 
then arrived the news of Bonaparte's great successes — and the Directory 
had the perfidy and the Insolence, not only to abandon the treaty agreed 
on, but to present a paper with very different terms to the Portuguese 
minister to sign: but he refused — and they ordered him to quit Paris — 
Tho' not France. He chose to go to Holland. I suppose It was from him 
that Mr. M. received the account." 

286 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

among the men in public life — &, on a false report of the 
british flying before the Batavian flag, the guns were fired at 
Rotterdam & great demonstrations of triumph took place. 
The sudden reverse of fortune has affected all classes, as you 
may imagine, with a steady gloom. Dead bodies, & the wreck 
of masts, sails, &c &c float up hourly upon the long line of sea 
coast & present a mournful detail of the defeat. 

**Thi8, though I can not help grieving for my Sober & 
honest friends the Dutch, who deserve to be a free & inde- 
pendent nation, under present circumstances will help us; as 
that british squadron which was large & expensive, will be no 
longer necessary on this coast. The French, the pivot of mod- 
em speculation, will find their rival enemy so veiy strong by 
this liberation of force from European attention in the West 
IndieSy as to render the vessels & supplies of the U. S. & their 
neutrality, more & more essential. 

** Parties here are diflferently affected by this event. The 
mass of the people, who appear to be orangists, do not lament 
it — many of them are to day drinking & rejoicing in private 
at this defeat, which they think will help their friend the 

**I have not heard from any of our Negotiators at Paris 
since their arrival. I have written every post. I am almost 
certain they would write. Since the publication of Mr 
Adam's letter respecting this country &c — I have reason to 
apprehend a great attention on the part of the French to all 
letters to a prime minister U. S. Indeed, I feel the effects of 
that publication in various ways, for it has produced an un- 
disguised resentment in the members of the Grovt. If you 
would have any minister ordered off — the way would be to 
publish his dispatches. I shall still do my duty, as I have told 
one of the members of the Commission des Relations Exter- 
ieures who, among others, spoke to me with rather a menace, 
or at best a warning, agt. such communications. So, my dear 
Sir, you will judge upon this affair. The minister must write 
the truth & the whole of it — & I shall do so — the Govt, must 
judge as to publication — always, however, under a Certainty 
that from that moment any minister becomes offensive at the 
place he is. As yet, from appearances, they seem to like me 
very well. 

**They have a committee upon another constitution. I 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 287 

very lately Mrrote by Capt. Stiles of Baltimore to you & to 
Genl. W. Fayette is liberated. 

**& believe me always affectionately Yrs** 

These difficulties with France disturbed Lafayette, who 
was now released, and wrote McHenry at the end of the year : 

''LhemkuU December 26th 1797 
**My Dear McHenry 

**I do not know Whether or Not My former Letters Have 
reached America. Should they have Miscarried I Hope the 
various Dangers now attending the Navigation Will Sufficient- 
ly Apologize for me. This prison Scrible of Mine I Risk at 
Random. Lieutenant Juimpi of the Artillery acquaints me, 
in a Letter Dated October the 24th, that, in a fortnight, He 
will Sail for Baltimore. I Heard of it But Lately And Depend 
Upon Some Mistake in the Date or an Unforseen Delay that 
May Have Detained him. I am Much obliged to Him for 
the Notice He Has given Me, nor was it His fault if it Comes 
too Late. To him also I owed on my passage through Ger- 
many the pleasing emotions I felt at the first Sight, after so 
long a time, of an American Uniform. How Many Dear Ideas 
it Recalls to My Mind and to My Heart ! Among Which My 
Beloved McHenry Comes in for a great Share. 

**I am Sick, and, for the Whole Winter, intend to Remain 
in this Solitary Country Seat in Holstein, on Danish Territory, 
where my fellow prisoner Latour Maubourg and our two 
families are With me. You know that State of our Health, 
particularly that of My Wife Has Rendered it impossible for 
us to travel farther. Much more so to Embark at this Season 
of the Year — we are in a Safe place, and Waiting for the 
Spring. I am Now Well again — it is not Yet the case with 
my two friends. My Wife, altho She is a little Better, Has 
not Hitherto made great Progress towards Her Recovery. This 
Captivity Has Been More Hurtful to Her than to any body 

**With great and Heartfelt Satisfaction I Hear that the 
Dreadful Distemper in Philadelphia and Baltimore Has Sub- 
sided. So Many friends I Have there. So Affectionate is My 
Attaehement to the Mass of the Citizens, and so Difficult is it 
to Hear Any thing from Your quarter that I Could not But 
Be Extremely Anxious, and So shall be until I Can Come at 
particulars about this Horrid Calamity. 

288 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

' ' There is another Subject of Unhappiness to me. These 
diflPerences Between America and France. How they Damp 
every enjoyment of My Restoration to Liberty and Life, How 
I regret not to be able to do more than write a few Letters, 
How I wish it was in My Power to adjust them With Equal 
Convenience and Equal Dignity to Both Countries I Need Not 
talk to You, My Dear McHenry — a Quarrell Between the two 
Common Wealths is So Unnatural a thing that I Had Never 
feared I Should Live to See it. 

** Inclosed is a letter to Gl. Washington Which I also trust 
to the Same very Uncertain Chance. That of Lieutenant 
Juimpi's not having sailed. I also enclose two quadrupli* 
cates to my two Heroic friends, Bolman and Huger. Present 
my Best and grateful Respect to the President, the Vice Pres- 
ident, and all our friends, Particularly to Your Family. I 
Have not Yet Heard from My Brother Noailles. Let him 
know How we are. I Hope His answers will Soon Come to 
Hand. Remember me also to Gen'l Kosciusko. I Hope His 
Health is Better, My Great Regard for Him Makes me More 
affectionately Partake in every thing that Concerns Him. You 
know. Dear McHenry, How Heartily I am forever 

**Your friend 

Other European letters came to McHenry from Lisbon, 
whither his friend, William Smith of South Carolina, had 
gone in the summer of 1797 as the minister and whence he 
wrote of the customs of the country and of the events of the 
European wars. Smith was a thorough Federalist and stood 
for a stem refusal to compromise with France. ^ 

During the course of 1797, the forts in New York harbor 
were begun. New York ^ appropriated $150,000 for these 
fortifications, in expectation of being repaid, without reference 
to the balance found due from the state to the nation, by com- 
missioners, and, as Adams ' thought, did not declare that the 
forts when built should belong to the United States, therefore, 
he thought the money should be expended by Hamilton, with 
reservation of rights of the national legislature. Pickering 
wrote that the jurisdiction of the forts was ceded, but doubted 

1 These letters were printed in Sewanee Review, xlv. No. 1, Janu- 
ary. 1906. 

2 J. Adams, vill, 556. 

3 Some Interesting letters from Murray to the President are printed 
In the appendix to volume 8 of John Adams's Works. 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 289 

whether the state intended to appropriate money to pay its 
debt to the United States and suggested, on November 6, that 
McHenry write Jay to direct the work to proceed, stating that 
sums expended by New York should be credited on account of 
the balance, to avoid a claim from the state. Winter was near, 
nothing could be done until spring and, consequently, a little 
delay would not hurt matters. 

On June 13, 1798, McHenry wrote the military committee 
of New York and sent the letter to Hamilton, asking whether 
the forts should be first undertaken on the islands in the har- 
bor, or on Sandy Hook. A letter from Hamilton to McHenry, 
dated June 1, seems to be upon this matter as follows : 

''My Dear Sir 

'*Our citizens are extremely anxious that some further 
measures for their defence should take place. Do me the 
favour to inform me confidentially what means are actually 
in the disposition of your department for this purpose, when & 
how they will be apllied. 

**Yrs truly &c 
**A Hamilton 

**A Capt Hacker formerly of our Navy is desirous of 
being employed. One or two good men have recommended 
him to me. It seems, however, — that he has been heretofore 
rather Democratic. I barely wish that his pretensions may be 
fairly but carefully considered & that he may have such chance 
as he merits 

**The sooner I hear from you the better,'' 

On February 27, 1798, McHenry reported to the house 
of representatives ^ that he had expended on forts, princi- 
pally on Fort Mifflin, Pa., $39,400, and that there remained a 
balance of the appropriation of $97,700. The delay in build- 
ing forts was largely caused by the tardiness of the states in 
ceding sites. He suggested that, as the frontiers are likely for 
a long time to need all the existing army and forts cannot be 
garrisoned by militia, the army be augmented and that a re- 
gard to ultimate economy required that the forts be con- 
structed of durable materials. 

From Mount Vernon, Washington wrote - McHenry on 
January 28, asking many questions on public and private mat- 
ters, especially as to the ** meaning of the calm and apparent 

1 state Papers, MlUt. Affairs, i, 119. 

2 Ford. xlll. 438. 

290 Liife and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

harmony'' in con<rress and whether there are **uo accounts yet 
from our envoys? If not, to what is their silence attributed, 
when the newspapers are filled with accounts of them as late 
as the middle of November from Paris, where they must have 
been at least six weeks." ^ 

1 Other unpublished letters from Washington on private matters, 
are datttl from this period as follows: 

"Mount Vernon 7th. Feb. 1798. 
"Dear Sir. 

"Your two letters, both dated the 1st. instant, came to hand yes- 
terday only. I thank you for giving me the perusal of their enclosures: 
and as I am upon the point of setting out to a meeting of the Stock- 
holders of the Potomack Navigation, and may be from home two or three 
days. I return them without delay, 

"I had. it is true, entirely forgot my old Coach until reminded thereof 
by Mr. Small; upon whleh, I wrot<' to Colo. Biddle (who transacts all 
matters of that sort for me in Philadelphia) to sell it for whatever it 
would fetch, and took It for granted thai all expences (as he had money 
of mine in his hands) had been paid Let me entreat you, therefore, to 
direct Mr. Small to that .«ource for payment. 

"As the G«»ut & Rheumatism are said to flM^] Cousin Germans, It is no 
matter on whieh Acct. (I hoi)e I may) congratulate you on a recovery 

from Coniplims. &e. — and T am always 

"Your Affecty 

"Go. Washington. 
*'Jame.-< McHenry Ksqr." 

"Mount Vernon 4th. Mar. 179S. 

"Your favour of the 9th ult. came duly to hand & would have received 
an earlier acknowledgment h;id not causes, of one kind or another inter- 

"Always desirous of promoting works which are calculated for the 
use and benefit of mankin<i : and believing that the one you have In 
contemplation if well compiled, will contribute to this end, I readily be- 
come a subscriber to it. 

"For the flattering terms in which you have been pleased to intro- 
duce the subject to me, I pray you to accept the thanks of, Sir 

"Your Most Obedt. — Hble. S<'rvt. 
"Go. Washington. 
"Mr. John Parker 

"Mount Vernon 4th. March 1798. 
"Dear Sir. 

"Knowing nothing of Mr. John Parker (whose letter I enclose you;) 
of his fitness for the work he contemplated ; — or the utility of it when 
done : except bringing All these Matters Into a connected view : — which 
Indeed Might be useful — But knowing as I Well do. that many men 
when they want money, and do not readily know how else to come at It, 
are too apt to set projects of this kind on foot, to obtain it ; sometimes 
for the mere purpose of catching a penny, without meaning more than 
to get hold of the money; and oftentimes without abilities to execute 
their designs In Useful undertakings, by which attempts, more competent 
pens lye unimployed. I .say, viewing things In this light, & presuming 
you have a better knowledge of what is stated in his letter than I can 
pretend to, — of his views ; and of the propriety of encouraging the pro- 
posed Undertaking ; I have taken the liberty of putting along with his 
letter. My answer, to be forwarded to him. or not, as in your Judgment, 
& from existing circumstances, you shall deem best. — 

"With truth & sincerity — I am always 
"Your affectionate friend 
"Go. Washington. 
"Are our Commrs, Guilotined? — 
or what else is the Occasion 
of th'-lr Silence?" 

From Mount Vernon Washington wrote, on June 22. 179S, complain- 

1797-1798] of James McHem^ 291 

As the year 1798 betran and a rejection of our envoys 
seemed pr()])able, Adanis addr(\ssed a series of rpiestions on 
January 24 to the heads of departments, asking: them if war 
should follow sueh n^ieefion. ^ 

Two days latt'r Mellenry wrote, enelosintr the president's 
queries: '*My dear Hamilton, Will you assist me, or rather 
your country, with such su»;*restions and opinions as may oc- 
cur to you on the subject of the within paper. Some of the 
<luestions it contains are very important and an immature step, 
or a wron^r policy, pursued or recommended, respeetinjr them 
may become extn^nu^ly injuri(ms, or be^ret disa<rret?able conse- 
([uenees. I am sure I cannot do su(ih justice to the subject as 
you can. Let ine, therefore, intn^at you to favour me, as soon 
as possible, with your ideas. Take care of the paper. I 
rect^ived it onlv this morninir. Vours most affcctionatelv. "' ^ 

Hamilton's answer to this is as follows: 

I k 

It may serve to prcpan* the way for a direct answer to 
the (1 nest ions stated by the President to make some preliminary 
observations : 

**1. It is an understood fact that there is a very jreneral 
and stronjj: aversion to War in the minds of the people ot* this 
Country — and a considerable part of the community (though 
even this part has been greatly alienated from France by the 
late violent conduct towards this country) is still peculiarly 
averse to a War with that Republic. 

**2. A forma 1 rupture between the two countries ipso 
facto earrit»s matters to the jrreatest extremity, and takes all 

in>? of McH(.Miry's fuiliiic to :ins\v<r lil« l»'tl"rs :in«l asking', "what has b'-cn 
done with a leiter of niin*-. i>ut iinrk'r cnv^r to you (early in Marcli last) 
to 1)C furwanlf «!, 'T supprts.-^* d. at your <ii«('r»'iion. to a Mr. Jolm I*ari<i-r: 
who fxliibiled Proi>osals to tht* I*uhIio. for pompilinff a oonipleto I-Mitjon 
of all the Journali* of Con^?r«s.s fr«.»ni the t-arljist P"rlo(I of tii«ni dtiwii to 
the present <lay?" — liar's "I^<'tt«^rs an<l R»'C)llL*(*tions of Washinj^ton." L'.t'.. 
On June Jfi. McHonry wrote Wa«liint?ton apoloKizini? for foru:»-*tllnff 
to anj^Wf-r owing to a pr<'ss of buslin-ss, and saying' that he did not ulvi- 
Parker Washington's letter for Parker was working for a Deniooratic 
printer and McHt-nry thought it l>est not to give a per.son the "countt-nance 
of your name whose politics, according ti) my information, entith'd him 
to non*'. If this objection is not valid." McH«nry will yet dt'livr the 
l»"'tt»»r. The obj«'Ction must hav«- bei-n valid, for tlie Ivlter to Parker re- 
maineil among McHenry's papers to this day. 

1 J. Adams, i. .'»! .'>. 

- C. F. Adams, in his life of his grandfatiu-r. in'^inuates th;tt Mc- 
Henr>''<* plan was drawn by Handlton with ref»^rence to Miranda and that 
thi.«< ♦•xplains McHenry's r«'fert'n«'«' to Spain. But Adams had ask»-d Mc- 
Henr>' to consider relations with Spain. C F. Adams aN.) groundlessly 
Insinuates that Pickering. Wolcott. and McHcnry kuf^w more of Miranda's 
project tlian they cared to disclose. 

292 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

the chances of evil which can accrue from the Vengeance of 
France stimulated by success. 

**3. A mitigated hostility leaves still a door open to 
negotiation and takes some chances, to avoid some of the ex- 
tremities of a formal war. 

'*4. By a formal war with France there is nothing to be 
gained. Trade she has none — and as to territory, if we could 
make acquisitions they are not desireable. 

'*5. These premisses if just lead to this conclusion, that 
in the event of a failure of the present attempt to negotiate, a 
truly vigorous defensive plan, with the continuance of a read- 
iness still to negotiate is the course advisable to be pursued. 

**Then, if one or more of our Commissioners remain in 
Europe, it may be expedient to leave them there (say in Hol- 
land) to have the air of still being disposed to meet any open- 
ing to accommodation. 

"If they all return, there is an end of that question, for 
they certainly are not to be sent back. 

* * The further measures presumed to be expedient for the 
Gtovemment in the event supposed are: 

**1. To give permission to Merchant Vessels under prop- 
er guards to arm for defence. 

**2. To prepare as fast as possible a number of Sloops 
of War, say Twenty, of from 16 to 20 guns each. Vessels 
already built may be procured fit for the purpose and perhaps 
in sufficient numbers. 

**3. To complete as fast as possible the three remaining 

**4. To give authority to the President, in case of open 
rupture, to provide, equip &c, by such means as he shall judge 
best, a number of ships of the line not exceeding ten in num- 
ber. Tis not improbable these may be procured from G. B. 
— to be manned & commanded by us. A provisional negotia- 
tion for this purpose may be opened. The authority ought to 
be broad enough, though correct in the terms, to permit the 
contracting with a foreign power to take such a number of its 
navy into the pay of our Government. 

* * In the first instance our Merchant & other armed vessels 
should be authorised to capture and bring or send in all ves- 
sels which may attack them and all French privateers, which 

they may find hovering within leagues of our Coast. The 

vessels to be condemned & the crews liberated. 


of Jarnes McHenry 


**To this end and for more important 
reasons, the Treaties of Alliance & Com- 
merce between the U. States & Prance 
to be declared suspended. 

**6. A substantial regular Force of 
20,000 men to be at once set on foot and 
raised as soon as may be. Of these not 
**5. A Regiment to| less than 2000 to be cavalry. An auxil- 

form two batalions 
commanded by a 

**Each batalion to 
be commanded by a 
Major & to consist of 

5 Companies to have 
a Captain two lieu- 
tenants 4 sergeants 

6 100 rank & file. 

iary provisional army to be likewise con- 
stituted of 30,000. Infantry on the plan 
heretofore suggested. ^ 

**7. To furnish the means, all the 
sources of revenue to be immediately 
seized and put in action with boldness 
& a loan to the requisite extent on com- 
putation to be authorised. 

* * The more Revenue we have the more 
vigour evidently we can act with & by 
taking a rank hold from the commence- 
ment we shall the better avoid an accu- 
mulation of debt. This object is all im- 
portant nor do I fear any serious obsta- 
cles from popular opposition. 

**The measures to be taken by Executive will therefore 
be. To Communicate to Congress with manly, but calm and 
sedate firmness & without strut, the ill success of the attempt 
to negotiate & the circumstances attending it. To deplore the 
failure of the measure. 

**To inculcate that the crisis is a very 
serious one &, looking forward to possi- 
ble events in Europe, may involve the 
safety, liberty & prosperity of this Coun- 

**That tho situation points out two ob- 
joots: 1. measures of immediate de- 
fence to our Commerce and 2. of ulterior 
s('ciirity in the event of open Rupture. 
Towards these the above mentioned meas- 
ures to be recommended but without de- 
tail as to numbers of Ships, troops &c. 
**The idea to be thrown in that the hope of an accomoda- 

1 McHenry, in his reply to the president, placed the regulars at 16,000 
and the provisional army at 20,000. 

'**I think the ov- 
erthrow of England 
& the invasion of 
this Country very 
possible so possible 
that any other cal- 
culation for our Gov- 
ernment will be 
bad one. 


294 Life and Conrsjumdence [Chap. xii 

tion, without prort*ediivir to an open Rupture, ouprht not to be 
abandoned or precluded, while measures of self preservation 
ought not to be omitted or delayed & ouf2:ht to be prosecuted 
with a vijrour commensurable with the present injury & event- 
ual frreatness of the danger. 

*'The further idea ought to be thrown out that France, 
by formally violating, has in fact susj)ended the Treaties — 
that they ought, conse(iuently mi interim, to bo suspended by 
us — since the observance on one side & not on the other can 
only i)roduce inconvenience & embarrassment. 

The necessity of ample provision of 

revenue & force ought to be dwelt upon 

** There has been | with emphasis accompanied by strong 

latterly too much. -illusions to great future possible dan- 

Epi(/ram in our Of-'gers. In all this a stile cautious, solemn, 

ficial Stile. | grave, but free from asperity or insult 

I is all important. 
**An Embargo seems now to be out of place & ineligible. 
'*With n^gard to Spain, nothing more seems advisable at 
present than to instruct our Minister at that Court to make 
respectful but energetic r(»presentations, pressing the fulfil- 
ment of the Treaty. The less is done with her Officers here 
the better. 

**With regard to Holland or Portugal, it is not perceived 
that any thing is requested except to endeavour to continue & 
cultivate good understanding. 

'*As to England, it is believed to be best, in any event, to 
avoid alliance. ^lutual interest will command as much from 
her as Treaty. If she can maintain her own ground, she will 
not see us fall a prey — if she cannot, Treaty will be a public 
bond. Should we make a Treaty with her & observe it, we 
take all the chances of her fall. Should France endeavour 
to detach us from a Treaty, if made, by offering advantageous 
terms of Peace, it would be a difficult & dangerous task to our 
Government to resist the popular cry for acceptance of her 
terms. 'Twill be best not to entangle. 

** Nothing more, therefore, seems proper to be done than, 
through Mr. King, to communicate the measures in Train — 
to sound as to cooperation in case of open Rupture, the furn- 
ishing us with naval force — point 'g the cooperation to the 
Floridas, Louisiana, & South American possessions of Spain, 
if rupture, as is probable, shall extend to her. To prevail on 
Britain to lodge in her Minister here ample authority for all 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 295 

these purposes; but all this without en^aj?ement or commit- 
ment in the first instance. All on this side the Mississippi 
must be ours, including; both Floridas []\lcllenry added New 
Orleans]. Twill be best to charp^e with the instructions a con- 
fidential ^lessen ger. 

**In addition to these measures, Tjet the President recom- 
mend a day to lh» observed as a day of fasting, humiliation, & 
prayer. On religious <rround, this is very proper. On politi- 
cal, it is very expedient. The Government Aviil be very un- 
wise, if it does not make the most of the relij^rious preposses- 
sions of our people, opposinjr the honest enthusiasm of Reli- 
gious Opinion to the phrenzy of Political fanaticism. The 
last step appears to me of the most precious importance & I 
earnestly hope, it w^ill, by no means, be neglected.'' 

On February 15, !McHenry ^ sul)mitted his answer to 
Adams, practically embodying Hamilton's paper. Later 
Adams submitted questions, when details of French news had 
come, whether the particulars should be disclosed to congress 
at once, and whether he shimld recommend a declaration of 
war. ]\rcllenry answered by appealing to his former paper. - 

McIIenry thus spoke of alliances: **As to England. 
Notwithstanding her naval victories and undisputed control 
of the ocean, her fate remains yet perhaps precarious and must 
continue, so as long as invasion remains practicable or possible. 
This consideration may render it best to avoid entangling our- 
selves with an alliance/' ^ 

On Februarv 20, Hamilton wrote regrettiuG: he had not 
found tiuK* to read a report McHenry had sent. ^ William 

1 On Fobruary 13, Hamilton wrote McFJ«'nry (Hamilton, vi, 267) 
In reference to his private debts. 

2 J. Adams, 1. HI 7. J. Adam?, viii. otls. C. F. Adams says J. 
Adams had no suspicion as to the source of Mc Henry's policy. 

3 Hamilton, vi. 27S. March i»7, 179S. Hamilton writing to Pick- 
ering. sugTKests no alliance v\'ith Grent Britain. J. Adams had by form 
of queries opposed English alliance. S»(! Hamilton, vi, 271, March 17. 


My Dear Friend 

I regret that my occupations hnve not permitted me to give your 
report more than a cursory rt-ading, bf for*^ my bving obliged to leave the 
city for Albany. T have put It under a cover addressed to you. If It 
cannot conveniently wait my n-turn, which will be In a fortnight, it will 
be sent you upon a line directed to Mr. "James Inglis at Col Hamilton's 
No. 2 Broadway N York." desiring him to forward you the Packet 
left In his care for you which will be done. 

Inttrpret favourably & forgive 
Yr Affect 

A Hamilton 
N York 20 Feb 

296 IJje and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

Pinkney wrote on February 26, from London, where he was 
commissioner to settle claims under the Jay Treaty. 

**When I had the pleasure to see you last you requested 
me to write to you — and, if I have not availed myself of this 
Request, it is only because I have had nothing to communicate 
which wd. not come to you more promptly as well as more 
satisfactorily from other channels. Of the progress of our 
Commission you wd. naturally be apprized by our Dispatches 
to the Secy, of State — and of the great Events of which 
Europe has been the Theatre, my Letters could give you no 
Information equal to that wch you have better Means of ac- 
quiring. I think, however, that my Silence has been blame- 
able — and that I shd. have written, if it were merely to 
remind you of my Claim to a place in your recollections, and 
to evidence the Value I do not cease to put upon your Friend- 
ship & good opinion. I beg you to pardon me, if you believe 
me to have been faulty in this respect — and to allow my 
promise of Amendment, with this Specimen of it, to make my 
peace. I am aware that, in saying this much, I appear to 
make myself of more Importance than I am entitled to do — 
but you will be good enough to ascribe this seeming Vanity to 
the Proofs I have heretofore received of your regard. 

**You have doubtless been much gratified by observing 
that, notwithstanding serious tho temporary Obstacles, the 
Execution of the 7th. art. of the Treaty has equaled our best 
Expectations, and you will be more gratified by learning that 
the prospect of an honorable Close to our Commission becomes 
every day more certain. We have supposed it probable that 
we shd. differ from the B. Comn. on a point of more Conse- 
quence than has hitherto occurred & upon the Decision of 
which wd. depend whether the article shd. be idle and illu- 
sory or a substantial efiicacious Provision. The Treaty pre- 
scribes 18 Months for the Exhibition of Claims in the first 
Instance, & gives us a Discretion to receive them within 6 
months after the Expiration of the 18. It is now perfectly 
certain that the judicial Remedy will not have been exhausted, 
in the great mass of the Cases within, either of those periods — 
as the Lords of Appeal decide nothing, or at least very little. 
The Treaty makes it an essential Ingredient in every Com- 
plaint that it shd. be shown that the Compt. cd. not procure 
Redress, in the ordinary Course of judicial proceeding, — 
and no Complainant can come to us, until he is in a Situation 
to alledge & substantiate that Fact, of Course it wd. become 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 297 

important to determine whether a Man, whose Cause is still 
subjudice, without fault on his part, at the End of the 18 
Months, is not authorized to demand our Aid, upon the Ground 
that he has tried the judicial Remedy to the Extent required 
by the Treaty. For, if he ed. not then demand it & his Cause 
shd. remain undecided by the Lords until the End of the 6 
Months, it is obvious that he wd. be forever witho't the pale of 
this provision, and, consequently, the Treatj' wd. b^ almost 
a dead Letter. Upon this point, on which we had anticipated 
difference of opinion, we shall probably be unanimous — and 
I do not foresee any other on wch we are likely to have any 
considerable Difficulty. I have Hopes of being able to return 
to America in the Course of the next Year — and it will, I am 
sure, give you pleasure to learn that my Health is so much 
recruited as to enable me to go back to the Bar without Incon- 
venience. If it shall happen that our Labours here have not 
been in vain (and there is every reason to hope so), I shall be 
80 far from having Cause to regret my absence from my Coun- 
try that I may justly felicitate myself upon it. 

*'Our Envoys at Paris are still statu quo. Tho French 
Law of the last Month denouncing indiscriminate Hostility 
agt. Neutral Commerce — & Talier's late motion for another, 
by which all Neutral Vessels are to be brought in for Adjudi- 
cation &, if armed, condemned without further Enquiry (a 
regulation obviously in Aid of the former) seem to be an un- 
equivocal Answer to our Demands of Redress for past Injur- 
ies. Mv Information does not enable me to form anv decisive 
Judgment, but I shd. think our Comm'rs cannot remain much 
longer in France. If a rupture with the proud Republic shd. 
be unavoidable without the Sacrifice of our national Honor 
and Interests (and of this there does not appear to be any 
room to doubt) I hope & trust that tho public Mind in Amer- 
ica will be prepared for it & that we shall meet the Necessity 
with all the Spirit & resources of the Country. Europe pre- 
sents every day fresh Instances of French Ambition and the 
baneful System by which it is to be gratified. Switzerland is 
upon the point of being revolutionized, & probably annexed 
to France not by the Troops of that Nation, but by the opera- 
tion of that detestable policy which plays off the lower & ' 
unprincipled portion of Society agt the Government. Berne 
is supposed to be prepared for a considerable Stand : but the 
prospect of its being an efficacious one is not such as could be 
wished. The Ecclesiastical States are on the Eve of being 

298 Life and Coi^espondence [Chap. xii 

deraorratized or sunk into a French province. Portugal is 
menaced with a powerful Invasion — & Spain has consented to 
the March of the necessary Forces thro her Territories — the 
consequences of which will obviously be fatal to both. Thus 
for thf^ want of a timely Coalition among the different Powers 
of the Continent, each will, in its Turn, become a Prey to the 
inordinate Views of a Nation which, with Union they are still 
able to resist. G. Britain alone preserves the firm attitude 
with which she commenced the contest. But her Efforts can 
only be defensive & can respect herself alone. The threatened 
Invasion of this Country is probably mere vapouring; but if 
attempted to be carried into Execution, has every possible 
chance agt. it. I ought to make an Apology for troubling you 
with politics. I did not intend to do so, because I can state 
nothing upon these Topics but w^hat I collect from New^spapers 
& common C(mversation, & because you have infinitely surer 
Sources of Knowledge. Mr. King's Dispatches have, I pre- 
.sume, made you ac((uainted with the State of our Claim to 
the Bank Stock. His good offices have been constantly em- 
ployed to secure to ^Faryland the Effect of its Right, & it is to 
be hoped will be finally successful. Every Motive of Justice 
& Policy points to an absolute Transfer of the Stock to the 
State's use & must ultimately produce it. Harper's Book has 
gained uncommon Celebrity here — & is read with avidity by 
people of every Description. Monroe's is re-published in 
London, but I have not seen it. From what I have heard of 
it, it contains that which onl^y the Govt, of the U. S. could give 
to the world — his Instructions &c. Whence a diplomatic 
Agent derived his Authority for the publication of such Docu- 
ments is inconceivable — unless the Govt, has given it to him. 
**I will not add more to this long & hasty Letter than to 
tell you that we pass our time pleasantly enough in London & 
that my Family enjoy better Health than formerly; but that 
I am anxious to return to Maryland. We do not precisely 
know the Value of our Country & our Friends, till we are 
separated from them. I beg you to be assured, my Dr. Sir, 
that of the latter there is none whom I remember w'ith warmer 
Sentiments of Regard than you. I do not ask you to write to 
me; but I cannot help remarking that, if you shall have Leis- 
ure to give me a Line, you will gratify me highly by doing so. 

*' Yours sincerely 

*^Wm Pixkney." 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 299 

On March 19, Adams annouiieoci to congress tliL* failure 
of the negrotiators, without publishinf* the correspondence 
showinp: the full details of the transactions. Not only the 
commissioners had failed but also Talleyrand's minions had 
demanded bribes and had been refused, Pinckney and Marshall 
had retired from Paris, leaving; Gerry there. 

On April 12, Murray wrote from the TIapjue: 

**My dear Friend, 

**At lenfrth I have heard once more from you & Mrs M — 
from her friend ^Ii'S McHenrv — vesterdav T reed, vour 
letter of Novr. It has been almost as lon^? in cominjr, as our 
Envoys dispatches are in ^oinpr. A year this day since we 
received the last of your kind offices at the boat in wh. we 
embarked! One Year — and I shall just bear myself clear 
of every expense — & that only with about 400 pruilders in 
Pocket — but I could not keep your commands — the 
livingr here is as dear as in Philada — the demands from com- 
pany more — the necessity of attending? to various people in 
this & other ^mvernm.ents, creator — & more urgent, as times 
waver from critical to temperate & back aprain. The style of 
entertaining? here is heavy, ceremonious, & costly. We are 
ri^d economists — we ^o in a Treck Schuyte if we cro out of 
to^vTi — in a hack, if we p:o in the rain, in town. I keep old 
Will & a man who speaks dutch & en^lish — who is essential 
to housekeeping. I keep no horse — nor have I been on one 
since I came — thouprh I want exercise. Yet my dear friend 
furnishes as manv rooms as we want onlv — & the noviciate 
amonp: the dealers for every thiufr of Life & they are all 
SHARPERS: so it is your ^lin. Resident is pretty much as 
he started — thoujrh I see there is a stii* in Congress about our 
Salaries. T know what you will say — retrench — but you 
know not th(^ sort of scene we are in — a marrijd. minister 
must, he must see certain people at thoir houses & of course 
at his own ! You observed once to Ilollinesworth, when I men- 
tioned that T intended to carry ^frs. ^l. with me to the Sprinprs 

— ^That is bad' — but on this voyaj^^e you know I could not 
help it — we are ri<rid <economists — & I often feel very un- 
oasy at the necessity of spendinp: money — we live as snucr as 
possible — but we could not live with d(»cencv as ^rented peo- 
ple under £800 a year Sterl — war has raised the price of 
everythinfr but house rent — we live in the house of the U. S. 

— in which we have, from its size, almost died this dreadful 

800 lAfe and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

winter, in damp & cold. The repairs of this house cost some 
money, the bankers undertook it — they said their original 
powers extended to repair. I shall pay for one room — the 
most expensive one. 

**We trembled for you in the fever, though we heard, as 
I mentioned in mine of 24. Jany — that you all were safe. 
In that letter, I mentioned the Revolution here — of which I 
have often written to the Secretary of State. The winds have 
been furiously West & N. W. ever since the 7. Oct. That must 
account, with probable captures, for your not hearing from 
the Envoys at Paris up to 3. Feb. But my dear Sir ! a stroke 
is struck at Paris at the Commission that will pose every body. 
The Directory have selected Gerry — & will open the negocia- 
tion with him. I understand from Genl. P. will order P. & 
M. to quit paris. I can not understand what new property 
Gerry has discovered in the mill stone ever turning & ever 
grinding every thing — what new property he has discovered, 
by means of algebra, in his own powers or in their plans — 
but so it is. The whole 3 made one commission — one is se- 
lected 'whose supposed opinions they say promise most confi- 
dence in themM ! thus my dear Sir the Directory have us 'on 
the hip ' — Why Mr. G. stays after all that has past — after 
the very ground of negociation is changed by acts subsequent 
to their arrival, no mortal but himself I believe can divine. 
I fear he is deceived in the degree of his own address & ability 
to tread in a labyrinth without a clue — if he had had a clue, 
his colleagues must have seen it — &, without one, I think he 
will lose himself. I do fear that with all his goodness of part 
he has the trick of mistaking the forms of a new & brilliant 
Society for deference to himself — the lamps of Paris for il- 
lumination — the kiss of the Fish women for public joy & 
these dames for dignify 'd matrons meeting to hail him as the 
great pacificator. I fear this — of his good intentions I have 
no doubt — of his knowledge of men — such men — & of 
women — & such women — & of politics conducted without 
chart or compass as ours are, I do doubt & he must obtain 
Justice, & settle the dispute on principles warranted by the 
spirit of America. And do that soon, or I shall think he 
wanted common sense in separating from such men as Pinck- 
ney & Marshall, under circumstances of calumny agt. the 
Govt. U. S. & dishonour to them too — if any thing said 
against an honest man by France, can be dishonour. If he 
does not obtain his objects speedily, it is entirely improbable 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 801 

he can justify a step that places so much power, in a crisis, 
in the hands of France, wh. step stagnates every measure in 
America while it strengthens France & yet binds not F. to 
anything but to treat with him — no principle established — 
no hope of success held out that (Jenl. P. had heard of on the 
6th. or he would have told me in his letter — in his of 23. 
March — they had resolved All to reject the proposal. 

**I have seen Mr. M's book — & despise it too much to 
dread another, wh. I should not be surprised to see engendered 
soon on the same soil & not very unlike it. 

"Harper's work does me much good. It is in England 
the property of a benevolent Society, the profits arising from 
its prodigious Sale are devoted to a charity. Pray tell our 
friend this — it has past 7. editions — & large ones. 

'*I will WTite again soon. The Govt, here are very friend- 
ly towards U. S. I rejoice Spain has opened her eyes as to 
Limits. I have taken great pains here with her minister, an 
amiable & sensible man, lately in the council of State, on this 
subject, ever since last summer — but do not know that he 
has communicated on it to his Court. Mr. Delacroix is very 
polite to us — & all his family. Pray remember me most 
kindly & respectfully to Mrs McHenry — & do also to our fair 
and amiable young friend now Mrs. Marcou — and do also to 
Sedgwick — Hindman — Harper — Mr. Dennis — Tracey — 
Rep. — S. Smith &c &c &c & Mr. Wolcott. 

* * Grod bless, you my dear f rienO & 
believe me always affectionately 
**Yrs. &c &c &c" 

On March 27, Washington wrote McHenry, ^ asking if 
it can be true that some members of congress have had treas- 
onable correspondence with the Directory. **0n this, as upon 
all other occasions, I hope the best. It has always been my 
belief that Providence has not led us so far in the path of 
independence of one nation to throw us into the arms of an- 
other. And that the machinations of those who are attempting 
it will, sooner or later, recoil upon their own heads." 

Some dissatisfaction had arisen as to McHenry 's admin- 
istration of his department and on April 27, 1798, Robert 
Goodloe Harper- wrote to Harailton: ** Could anything 
prevail on you to take the war department, a war minister is 

1 Ford, xiii. 493. Sparks, xi, 230. 

2 Hamilton, vl, 282. 

802 Life and Corresjyondence [Chap, xii 

more important than a general. If Adams understood your 
willin^rness to come forward, the arranjrement would imme- 
diately take place, Mclleiiry would pve way and there is no 
difference of opinion among the federal party on the absolute 
nec»essity of his doing so.'' No answer to this letter has been 

The growth of the navy demanded that more attention 
should bt» given it. On March 8, Mellenry recommended that 
the war department should be assisted by a commissioner of 
marine and from this suggestion came the navy depai"tment. ^ 
The frigate United States had been launched July 10, 1797, 
the Constellaticm on September 7 and the Constitution was to 
leave tln' ways in April, 179S. - 

On May 12, McTIenry wrote Hamilton ^ that one or two, 
of the frigates will shortly be ready for sea and that Capt. 
Dale will sail in the Ganges within six or seven days. lie 
asks for help in preparing instructions to the captains. As 
there is no s«»cretary of the navy as yet, McIIenry must pre- 
pare instructions to guide the conduct of the men of war in 
employing force to protect convoys against French ships. 
Congress shows a profound reserve and makes no declaration 
of war. 

On May 17, llamilton answered that the president, by the 
constitution, probably has power only **to employ the ships 
as convoys, with authority to repel force hy force (but not to 
capture) and to repress hostilities within our waters, including 
a marine league from our coasts. 

*' Anything beyond this must fall under the idea of re- 
prisals and requires the sanction of that department which is 
to declare or make w-ar.'' The president should exercise no 
** doubtful authority,'' but should send a message to congress, 
asking for authority to give more ** extensive protection" to 
our shipping. This ** course will remove all clouds as to what 
the President will do, will gain him credit for frankness and 
an unwillingness to chicane the constitution and will return 
upon Congress the question in a shape which cannot be elud- 
ed." A French privateer had made captures at the mouth 
of New York harbor. '*This is too much humiliation, after all 
that has passed. Our merchants are very indignant ; our gov- 

1 state Papers, I, Naval Affairs, 33. 34. 

2 IngersoU's War Department, 29. 

3 Hamilton, vi, 282. 

1797-1798] of Janies McHenry 308 

ernment very prostrate in the view of every man of en- 
erg}'. 1 

The na^y department was not lon^r to remain vacant. Ben- 
jamin Stoddert of Georgetown, a merchant of moderate abil- 
it>'. who had been a fellow member of the Marvland senate 
with ^McHenry, was appointed st^cretary and assinned the du- 
ties in June. After accepting the office, he wrote McIIenry 

**Geo. Town, Mav 28, 1798. 
''Dear Sir.— 

''Unqualified, as I really think myself, I have after a 
thousand struggles, accepted my honorable, and at this crisis, 
important appointment. Who that has the feelings of an 
American, could refuse to try, at least, to serve his country 
at such a tiriu^? I put in thus early my claim on your Friend- 
ship for all the assistance I shall need, and it will be a great 
deal. I nu'an to set out for Philadelphia as early as possible. 
I hope a Week's delay will not be thought lonL^ and I hope I 
shall not finrl it necessary to bestow more than a week on my 
private affairs. I go at first without my family, who are to 
follow, or to wait till the Fall, as I shall determine, after get- 
ting to Philadelphia. You did not writ<» me a word about 
your wishes as to my acceptance or refusal — make up for the 
deficiency by writing me on the receipt of this, and, if possi- 
ble, flatter me into a belief that I may be able to avoid merited 
reproach. One letter may reach me before I leave this. 

"I am. Dear Sir, with great esteem, 

y V Serv.. 

Bex Stoddert.'' 


\V»* l('f:rn of S|(MKl«rt's arrival in Phila<l«*lplii:i fr-an a 
letter written thenc(^ bv William llindnuin on June 13: 

'*Our P'riend Stoddart rearhM here Yester At^'ternoon, 
& will wait upon th»* President this Morning, beinL' anxious 
to be geered & enter upon the Duties of his Office: the appli- 
cants for Cl'^rkship ar»' nuin^^rnus. & some of the first Char- 
acters in the I'nited States. He will not probably appoint his 
principal Clerk for sume Days. 

**You will see by the Pa[)er, that there is to be a special 
Call of our House at after 11 Oclock to Day, as the Bills for 
the direct Tax And to authorize the Defenoe of the Merchant 
Ships of the United States against French Depredations; 

1 Lodge's Hamillon, x. 2>1. 

804 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xii 

will be read the third Time to Day. The last is a good Bill, 
tho' not so strong as some of our Friends wish'd it; I hap- 
pened to be out on a Visit to Mr : Stoddert, when the Yeas & 
Nays were called upon an Amendment moved by Mr : Harper. 

**I have just seen your Nephew — Your Family are all 

**I learn the joint Committee of both Houses to fix upon 
the Time of adjournment, will agree to rise the last of this 
Month or beginning of next, if They should thus report, I 
hope it will not be concurred with, tho' my Fears are it will. 
My best Respects to my much valued Friend Col Hamilton." 

On April 3 the famous X Y Z dispatches were made pub* 
lie and, amid the patriotic furor of enthusiasm they aroused, 
all were eager for action against France. ^ McHenry's report 
to the house of representatives ^ on April 9, 1798, contains a 
clear statement of his position in relation to France. That 
country ** derives several important advantages from the sys- 
tem she is pursuing towards the United States. Bi^sides the 
sweets of plunder obtained by her privateers, she keeps in 
them a nursery of seamen to be drawn upon in all conjunc- 
tures by her navy. She unfits, by the same means, the United 
States for energetic measures and, thereby, prepares us for 
the last degree of humiliation and subjection. To forbear, 
under such circumstances, from taking naval and military 
measures to secure our trade, defend our territory in case of 
invasion, and prevent, or suppress domestic insurrection, 
would be to offer up the United States a certain prey to 
Europe and exhibit to the world a sad spectacle of national 
degradation and imbecility. The United States possess an ex- 
tensive trade. Heavy expenses must be submitted to for pro- 
tection. The United States border upon the provinces of 
great and powerful kingdoms. Heavy expenses must be in- 
curred, that we may be at all times in a situation to assert 
our rights over our own territory." Therefore, he recom- 
mends an increase of the navy, by building 20 smaller ves- 
sels, and, in case of a rupture with a foreign power, 6 ships 
of the line or frigates, and 6 galleys of one or two guns ; the 
increase of the army by the addition of one regiment each of 
infantry, artillery, and cavalry, the first of these also to serve 
as marines; a law authorizing the President to call out 

1 Hamilton, vl, 285. 

2 State Papers, 1, Military Affairs. 120. 

1797-1798] oj James McHenry 805 

20,000 men as a provisional force if needed ; more forts cost- 
ing about $1,000,000; more supplies, such as cannon, small 
arms, powder, saltpetre, copper, and military stores; and, 
to pay for all these, more revenue to be raised. 

From Maryland, McHenry heard during the winter and 
spring. Uriah Forrest, on December 6, wrote from Annapolis 
urging Adams to agree to the request of the commissioners of 
the District of Columbia and ask Maryland at once for an ad- 
vance of money, in addition to the $100,000 loaned the year 
before. Two days later, he wrote again introducing a candi- 
date for office and talking of the election as United States 
senator of James Lloyd, who introduced the Sedition Act in 
June, 1798. **I have had to make wonderful exertion to get 
Lloyd elected a senator. Better might have been found, but 
none would go down. He is as strictly governmental as it is 
possible, a man of nice honor and pretty good judgment, slow, 
and heavy." Carroll of Carrollton wrote, on the same day, 
indorsing the same applicant, telling of Lloyd's election and 
asking for news from Europe of the embassy to France. 

On April 18, James Winchester sent McHenry a long 
and important letter as to conditions in Baltimore. ^ 

"My engagements in our County Court, which has been 
in session three weeks, & a bad state of health has prevented 
my hitherto acknowledging the receipt of the Communica- 
tions you was so kind as to enclose or to communicate the 
politics of this place. 

** Yesterday, we had a numerous meeting at the Court 
House on the interesting situation of our affairs, and certain 
resolutions were adopted — approbatory of our Government, 
which you will see in the papers. Certain events, otherwise 
trivial than as they serve to teach us prudence and a cautious 
avoidance of the declaration of pretended reformed politi- 
cians, mark so strongly the views of a party here that I think 
it my duty to communicate them to you. It happened that 
I was selected to open the object of meeting, which T did by 
a brief statement of the outrages committed on this Country 
by France, and a recital of the fate of the Neutral Nations, 
who had reposed confidence in them, and, calling on each 
individual to declare, if any there was, his dissatisfaction at 

1 Letters from McHenry's correspondence relating to Maryland 
politics in 1796 are found in So. Hist. Ass. Pubs., ix, 374 (November, 
190^5), and on the same subject in 1797 in So. Hist. Ass. Pubs., x, 31 (Jan- 
uary, 1906). 

806 Life arid Correspondence [Chap. xii 

the resolution propounded, no opposition appeared. But noi 
one of the name or immediate Connections of 8. Smith at- 
tended. One of their party (I hear J. A. Buchanan) asked 
tauntingly, was there any complaint of British orders! The 
answer Was no. The immediate observation in reply was, It 
is an electioneering stroke & has no other motive than to turn 
Genl. S. out of Congress. This I have learned this evening. 
They dare not face us. But they keep alive the spirit of the 
party in favor of France, tho' they are ashamed to avow it. 
They had rather sacrafice their Country, its honor, & national 
character, than their individual popularity. 

**Thi8, connected with a circumstance which occurred 
while I was at Annapolis during the last Session of Assembly 
attending the House as Council for the Landlords, satisfy 
me that there is a party here, however they may endeavour to 
conceal their real views by hypocritical professions, who ar- 
dently wish a connection with France of the nearest kind. 

**You know I am considered rather democratic, and, 
under this impression. Govt. Henry unbosomed himself to me 
after dinner at Wharf's tavern. Thus, — * Depend upon it, 
Sir, there is a British influence in this Country. I have seen 
it — yes, in this room. Mr. Jefferson is the only point to look 
up to resist it. He is the only mound to prevent its over- 
whelming us as a torrent — when I saw the British Treaty I 
did not think it could be possible I could have even been 
brought to vote for it — but the conduct of the late Execu- 
tive left us no alternative but to adopt it or go to war, — nec- 
essity therefore compelled assent to it.' This conversation 
became public. The event was Mr. Winder's defeat & Genl 
Loyds election. 

**I cannot help connecting the observation on our Town 
meeting. *Was there any complaint of British orders,' with 
Mr. Henry's declaration That British influence was about to 
overwhelm us and tho' they will not openly show, at this 
time, their predilection for France, they will discover it in 
the first calamitous event which may happen to our Country. 
Depend on it they are not to be trusted. I speak of the party 

**I have just had a meeting with Genl. Swan, Mr Carroll, 
Mr Dorsey, & Mr. Hollingsworth on the subject of an address 
to the Government, which we have agreed on, conformably to 
the Town Resolutions, Adding our willingness to submit to 
increased taxes, and praying that consideration of expences 

1797-1798] of James McHenry 807 

&c may not be put in Competition with the important rights 
now at stake. 

**The facts I have stated relative to Gov. Henry may be 
stated in any way in which they may be serviceable. Tis time 
to unmask hypocrites." 

On May 6, Washington wrote ^ McHenry urging the 
establishment of an arsenal at Harper's Perry and said: **The 
Demo's seem to be lifting up their heads again. They were 
a little 'crestfallen or one might say thunderstricken on the 
publication of the Dispatches from our Envoys, but the con- 
tents of these Dispatches are now resolved into harmless chit- 
chat — mere trifles, less than was or ought to have been ex- 
pected from the misconduct of the -Administration of this 
Country and that it is better to submit to such chastisement, 
than to hazard greater evils by showing futile resentment. 
So much for a little consultation among themselves.*' 

During the extra session of congress ^ a bill was passed, 
on April 27, to add another artillery regiment and a second 
one, on May 28, to provide for a provisional army. ^ 

Meanwhile Gerry remained at Paris, though his colleagues 
had left Prance. The news of Gerry's conduct aroused indig- 
nation on part of the administration and, on June 26, Mc- 
Henry wrote Washington, * * Gerry has been playing the double 
politician and besides a very foolish and hurtful game. He 
held conversations and correspondencies with Talleyrand, and, 
in other respects, has conducted himself in the most excep- 
tionable manner. Lest he should have misconceived the dis- 
patch of the 28th of March, he has been addressed to day in 
a manner which he will find it difficult to misconstnie and 
which, while it will mortify his pride, will prevent him from 
doing further miscltief, or longer sporting with the honour, 
dignity, and integrity of his country. I think it probable that 
letters of marque and reprisal will be shortly declared. You 
see how the storm thickens and that our vessel will soon re- 
quire its antient pilot. Will you, may we flatter ourselves, 
that in a crisis so awful and important you will accept the 

1 Sparks, xl, 231. Ford, xiii. 495. McHenry answered on June 
26, that it was very hard to have anything done for Shenandoah, but he 
win do what he can. 

2 State Papers, i, Military Affairs, p. 119. McHenry's report of 
March 8, and p. 123 report of April 12 on cannon contract. 

3 On June 5, Hamilton sent to Wolcott to hint to the president to 
moderate his tone. Hamilton, vl, 295. 

808 Life and Correspondence [Chap, xii 

command of all our armies? I hope you will, because you 
alone can unite all hearts and all hands, if it is possible that 
they can be united." 

McHenry still hoped for the best and, on July 1, wrote 
Washington : * * Enjoy your happy situation or, if it is to be 
disturbed, let it be only by transient domestic cares and the 
pain of sympathizing with those whom you have stationed in 
places where there are more thorns than roses. "^ Only a 
few days later, however, McHenry was directed to call Wash- 
ington into service again, that he might close his career at the 
head of the army. 

1 McHenry complains of rheumatism in his wrist and tells Wash- 
In^on. "Your carriage still pays rent." 



THE emergency which called George Washington into fed- 
eral service, as head of the Provisioii_ Army, was a 
most urgent one. On July 3, McHenry wrote him : * ' The 
crisis and almost universal wish of the people to see you at the 
head of the armies of the United States has been too strong 
to be resisted. The President has yielded to causes so power- 
ful and nominated you accordingly, which has been unani- 
mously confirmed to-day by the Senate and thus you are 
again called upon by all voices to fill a station which all think 
you alone qualified for at this moment. I know what must 
be your feelings and how many motives you must have for 
preferring the privacy you are in the enjoyment of, to the 
troubles and perplexities of a commander of an army. This, 
however, is the crowning sacrifice which I pray to God, you 
may agree to make for the sake of your country and to give 
the last finish to a fame that nothing short of such a call as 
the present occasion could have been capable of increasing. 

**I think it probable that the President will require 
me to be the bearer of his letter to you. I shall, in that case, 
have an opportunity to converse with you at large on sev- 
eral subjects relative to the army and agree with you upon 
such arrangements as may leave you as long as possible at 
Mount Vernon. Perhaps I shall set out on Friday or, at 
farthest, Monday next.'' 

Before he received this letter, Washington, in a letter 
written on July 4, ^ answered McHenry 's query of June 26 as 
to whether he would assiune command of the Provisional 
Army. In this frank communication he stated that he would 
not let his love of retirement cause him to withhold any ser- 
vices required by his country, especially when *'its dearest 
rights are assailed by lawless ambition and intoxicated 
power.'* He must have three questions answered affirma- 

1 Ford, xiv, 19. Sparks, xl, 246. 

810 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

tively, however, before he will accept the office : 1. He does 
not believe there is a danger of invasion and inquires whether 
he will be free from criticism for ''appearing again on a 
Public Theatre, after declaring the sentiments" of his vale- 
dictory address. 2. He wishes to be sure that the Americans 
do not prefer juvenile generals, as the French do, but that 
**it is the wish of my country, that the military force of it 
should be committed to my charge. " 3. He must be certain 
that the army **to be formed should be so appointed, as to 
afford a well grounded hope of its doing honor to the country 
and credit to him who commands it in the field." A general 
staff he feels to be all important and he gives his views as 
to the inspector general, quartermaster general, adjutant gen- 
eral, and commandants of artillery and engineers. 

Washington enclosed this letter in another personal one 
to McHenry, written ^ on the next day, in which he asked him 
to show the enclosure as from himself to Adams, to whom 
Washington has ** expressed tantamount sentiments, in more 
concise terms, ' ' and to write him the responses, ' * if you are at 
liberty and deem it expedient." Adams had already written 
Washington a letter, which **is strongly indicative of a wish 
that I should take charge of the military force of the country 
and, if I take his meaning right, to aid also in the selection 
of the General Officers." **The appointment of these are im- 
portant," Washington wTOte McHenry, **but those of the Gen- 
eral Staff are all important, insomuch, if I am looked to as 
the Commander in chief, I must be allowed to choose such as 
will be agreeable to me." One great difficulty concerned the 
time when Washington should take command. Adams may 
wish this to occur at once. Washington, however, will not 
*'come forward, before the emergency becomes evident," but 
is willing to have it Icnown that he **will step forward, when 
it does appear so unequivocally," if the ** matters, for which 
I have stipulated as previously necessary, are ascertained and 
accommodated." In the meantime, either the appointment 
of the general staff may be postponed, or the President may 
** advise with me on the appointment of them." Washing- 
ton refers to this matter now, as he feels sure he can secure 
the services of some **very fit men," who will not serve, ex- 

1 Ford, xlv, 29. Sparks, xl, 254. He thanks McHenry for informa- 
tion in the letter of June 26, and says that he has already been applied 
to by candidates for the position of director of the hospital and has re- 
fused both on general grounds and because he wishes Dr. Cralk appointed. 
If he ever needs a surgeon. 

1798-1799] qf James McHenry 811 

cept as his ''coadjutors." As to the ofiQcers to command the 
divisions and brigades, on whom much depends, Washington 
suggests that they be not chosen exclusively from the **01d 
Generals," several of whom are unsuitable. 

On the 6th, Adams sent instructions ^ to McHenry, who 
had been unwell, to set out at once for Mt. Vernon. The 
reasons for appointing Washington can not be detailed in 
writing. ** As it is a movement of great delicacy, - it will re- 
quire all your address to commimicate the subject in a manner 
that shall be inoffensive to his feelings and consistent with 
all the respect that is due from me to him." 

**If the General should decline the appointment, all the 
world will be silent and respectfully acquiesce. If he should 
accept, all the world, except the enemies of this country, will 
rejoice. If he should come to no decisive determination, but 
take the subject into consideration, I shall not appoint any 
other Lieutenant General, until his conclusion is known." 

Adams de.sired Washington's advice, especially as to the 
inspector, adjutant, and quartermaster generals, and sug- 
gested certain names for military positions to be mentioned 
to him. **His opinion on all subjects would have great weight 
and I wish you to obtain from him, as much of his reflections 
upon the times and service as you can." McHenry wrote 
Washington at once, asking that he be met at Alexandria. On 
the next day, Adams wrote Washington:^ ** McHenry, the 
Secretary of War, will have the honor to wait on you, in my 
behalf, to impart to you a step I have ventured to take and 
which I should have been happy to have communicated in 
person, if such a journey had been, at this time, in my 
power. Mr. McHenry will have the honor to consult you upon 
the or{?aiiization of the army and upcm everything relating to 
it. " Pickering had already written Washington, * urging him 
to insist on Hamilton as his second in command, and on the 

1 Schouler, I, 407, states that Hamilton sent his letter to Wash- 
ington, written on June 2, to Mt. Vernon in care of McHenry. If this 
be true, Hamilton kept the letter over a month before forwarding it 
(Hamilton, vl, 293). This shows how baseless Is one of the charges, 
against McHenry. Schouler probably means the letter of July 8 (Hamil- 
ton, vi, 389). 

2 J. Adams, vlil. 573. Sparks, xi. 531. 

3 J. Adams, viii, 575. Sparks, xl, 532. 

4 Pickering's Examination of Adams and C^inningham's letters. 1-1-61. 
On July 28, Pickering wrote Jay (Hamilton, vl, 330) that Washington 
was sometime balancing Hamilton and Pinckney as to priority and per- 
haps my letter of the 6th, which Washington did not show McHenry^ 
turned the scale. 

812 LAfe and Correspofidence [Chap. xiii 

llth, Washin^on answred, ^ stating that he had not yet seen 
McHenry, but preferred Charles Cotesworth Pinekney to 
Hamilton for second place. The same morning, Washington 
sent to Alexandria for McHenry and in the evening he ar- 
rived. 2 

On the next day, McHenry wrote Adams, ' that Wash- 
ington will probably accept, provided he be not called into 
active service, until his presence be absolutely needed. He 
showed McHenry his letters of the 4th and 5th, which had 
not arrived in Philadelphia before the secretary left that 
place, and McHenry notified Adams that the letter of the 
4th shall be given him, as it treats '*on several points that 
will require your attention.'' McHenry will obtain from 
Washington the names of the persons he considers the best 
qualified for his ** confidential officers. *' After completing his 
letter, McHenry showed it to the general, who asked him to 
add to the last sentence:* **and without whom, I think, he 
would not serve." 

Washington let McHenry return on the 13th with a 
*'full communication^ upon the several points he had in 
charge."^ ^^^ 

On the 14th, Washington wrote Hamilton "^ that he de- 
sired to put him next himself and feared that by this step will 
lose Pinekney. Knox, ''whom I love and esteem," has been 
placed last of the three. But ** after all, it rests with the 
President to use his pleasure." Hamilton answered this let- 
ter, stating that he had a great regard for Knox, but must 
stand up for his own rights. Yet rather than see Washington 

1 Slyarks. xi, 257. 

2 Mount Vernon 11th. July 1798. 
Dear Sir 

My carriage is sent to Alexandria to bring you, and any companion 
you may have to this place 

I am always Yours, — and 
Geo. Washinoton 
James McHenry Esqr. 
Secretary of War 
expected to be in Alexandria 

3 Adams, viii. 574. Sparks, xi, 533. 

4 See Washington's letter of September 16. 

5 Sparks, xi, 261. 

€ C. F. Adams charges, without any foundcution that I can dis- 
cover (Adams, i, 528. 529), that Pickering and McHenry, with other 
friends of Hamilton, set in motion the most extraordinary influences to 
bring about Hamilton's being named as second in command and that 
Washington was made to fear that Adams wished to appoint Burr as a 
major general. C. F. Adams's statement is also incorrect that priority 
had not been settled at the time of the nomination, though McHenry and 
Pickering had invoked Washingrton to decide it at once. 

7 Sparks, xi, 264. 

1798-1799] of Javies McHenry 818 

compromitted, ^ **I shall cheerfully place myself in your dis- 
posal and facilitate any arrangement you may think for the 
general good." On the 17th, Hamilton wrote Pickering that 
he was willing to go below Knox, but does not like to be the 
third in the list of major generals. ^ Meantime Washington 
had written Knox, * on the 16th, that Hamilton, Pinckney, 
and Knox, in the order named, were selected as major gen- 
erals. **The first of these, in the public estimation as de- 
clared to me, is designated to be second in command, with 
some fears, I confess, of the consequences, although I must 
acknowledge at the same time, that I know not where a more 
competent choice could be made.'' 

Knox answered, * declining the position, on the 29th, be- 
fore he had heard from McHenry. 

From Philadelphia, McHenry wrote on the 18th that he 
had returned on Tuesday, and found the session of congress 
over, but the senate still sitting to act on nominations. Be- 
fore he saw his family, he presented Washington's letter to 
Adams, while the president and Mrs. Adams breakfasted. 
Both of them were pleased. 

Adams wrote a message, ^ naming the three major gen- 
erals, in the order which Washington gave them, though he 
said Colonel Hamilton, former rank being considered, was not 
entitled to stand so high and asked why Pinckney was pre- 
ferred to Knox. McHenry told him Washington's opinions 
and showed a copy of the general's letter to Hamilton dated 
July 14. While they talked, Pickering came in and said the 
senate had adjourned for the day. On the morrow, Adams 
said his mind had changed and he could not think of placing 
Hamilton before Knox; but, finally, he agreed to send in the 
names in that order, on McHenry 's statement that the parties, 
if aggrieved, might appeal to a board of oflRccrs or to the 
commander in chief. Pickering then came in and placed 
Dra>i:on as a brigadier general above W. S. Smith, Adams's 
son-in-law. Adams grew warm and said Smith should be ad- 
jutant general and Drayton a brigadier. Pickering was silent 
as to this, but suggested Sevier as a brigadier. 

McHenry considered him unprincipled but waived ob- 
jections, as the appointment was one which might remain 

1 Sparks, xl, 537. 

2 Hamilton, vi, 326. 

3 Sparks, xi, 266. 

4 Sparks, xl, 534. 

5 Sparks, xi, 542. 

814 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

nominal and might have a good effect in Tennessee. As the 
provisional officers might be wanted before fall, it was thought 
best to appoint them at once. After Pickering left, he sent 
McHenry word that Smith was a swindler, which piece of 
information McHenry felt should have been given sooner. 
Before McHenry went to Moimt Vernon, Pickering had said in 
McHenry 's presence, that Smith would be a good officer. 
Hamilton had concurred in the propriety of appointing Smith 
and neither Wolcott nor McHenry had heard of the charges 
against Smith. Pickering now aided in the rejection by the 
senate of Smith's nomination as adjutant general and this 
exceedingly irritated Adams, who said there was an intrigue 
against Smith, who was no more in debt than Lee or Knox, 
who was no disorganizer and could procure proof from his 
creditors of their satisfaction with his conduct. 

Edward Carrington was asked by Washington if he would 
accept a brigadier generalship and answered at once favorably 
from Richmond on July 18, 1798. **By this evenings mail 
I had the honor to receive your letter of the 15th. instant, 
and am impelled, by the very great sensibility with which it 
fills my mind, to reply to it immediately. 

* * It is impossible for me. Sir, to disobey your call to any 
Station which, in the threatened crisis, you may suppose me 
capable of taking : were I ever insensible to the honor result- 
ing from the circumstance, the example under which your 
summons is made, could not but be irresistable in a mind im- 
pressed as that of every true American must be at this time. 
I freely give my assent to be disposed of agreeably to your 
judgment, with a view to the good of our beloved and injured 
Country, without annexing any conditions whatever. Hav« 
ing said this much. It may not be improper for me to observe, 
that the late increased duties of the office I hold, have brought 
into operation measures which, with the old business, render 
it of importance that my attention to the appointment you 
have assigned, be deferred as long as possible; and it would 
be my wish if the public interest admit of it, not to be called 
to it until indispensably necessary." 

The bill increasing the army to twelve regiments of in- 
fantry and a regiment of dragoons, comprising 6 troops, had 
passed ^ on the 16th, and on the 20th, McHenry wrote Ham- 
ilton, asking him to attend at once to providing a system for 
the forces. This letter Hamilton answered on the 22nd, thus r 

1 On the 16th, oongrress adjourned and the senate followed on the 19th^ 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 815 

**Your letter of the 20th. instant, inclosing one from 
General Washington came to hand this day. 

**The object you suggest in it is one, which no doubt de- 
serves a primary attention ; and it will be paid to it. But it 
will be useful that I should shortly confer with you fully on 
a variety of subjects, and after receiving an ofiQcial communi- 
cation of my appointment, I shall, without delay, repair to 

**I count always upon your confidence, as well in my per- 
sonal friendship for you as in my zeal for the public service ; 
and having no inclination to spare myself, it only remains for 
us to trace together the plan in which I can best second your 
operations and promote the service. 

**Yrs with true attachment 
*'A Hamilton 
**P S 

**In some instances we have missed it in our Brigadiers. 
It is very essential there should be no mistake about the field 
office — Festina lente in your choice of officers." 

On the same day, McHenry wrote a letter to Pickering, 
in which are contained germs of the ideas which resulted in the 
Louisiana Purchase and in the Monroe doctrine. He en- 
closed a memorandum, with reference to the instructions to be 
given Rufus King, our minister to Great Britain, and asked 
that Pickering talk with Adams as soon as may be on these 
points: **It presses very strongly on my mind that we ought 
not to lose a moment in forming our resolutions relative to 
the 2nd and 3d especially, as the determinations had thereon 
must sensibly influence my arrangements respecting the pub- 
lic force. Will it not be proper that King be instructed at 
once concerning the French West Indies and New Orleans? 
Is it right that the measures taken by our government which 
may eventuate in putting Great Britain in possession of the 
French W^est India Islands should be productive of no equiva- 
lent to the United States? 2. Is it not expedient that the 
United States should, in the event of the French West Indies 
declaring themselves independent, be in a situation to give 
them aid and that provisional arrangements be made with 
England to prevent her from taking exceptions thereto or de- 
feating the same ? 3. Ought not Mr. King to inform the British 
cabinet, without loss of time, that the United States can in no 
event permit New Orleans to pass from the hands of Spain, 

816 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

unless to become a possession and part of the United States.'* 
On July 22, Washington answers McHenry's letter of 
the 18th. He agrees to the nominations, ^ though he thinks 
Smith would do better in the line, than as adjutant general, 
and asks why no quartermaster general ^ is named. As to 
the man to be named for that office, he has a decided prefer- 
ence. Washington transmits an application for a commission 
and states that he will not take strong ground, in general, 
for any applicant. He suggests, however, that **when the 
President has fixed upon officers of established character to 
command companies, Oentlemen who prize their own honors 
and the reputation of their company, that it would be good 
policy to let them choose, or at least to recommend, their own 
substitutes.'' This would ** facilitate recruiting and contri- 
bute much to the harmony of the company." 

For commander of cavalry, Washington is inclined to rec- 
ommend Major Talmadge of New York (formerly of Shel- 
don's horse) and suggests a number of other names for com- 
missions of various kinds. 

On the 25th, McHenry informs ^ Washington that Adams 
has gone to Massachusetts for the summer and that it is 
planned to have Hamilton, the inspector general, revise the 
army regulations. Adams's long and frequent absences from 
the capital, while business was left in the hands of the secre- 
taries, who bore the responsibility without full power, was a 
great cause of the administration 's troubles. 

On July 29, Washington answered * McHenry *s letter 

1 He crttlolses the nomination of Sevier. Sparks, xl, 269 ; Ford, xiv. 

2 No such general was provided In the law, Is McHenry's reply. 
Washington wrote again upon the subject on August 2 : 

"Private) "Mount Vernon, 2d Aug't. ITSS. 

"Dear Sir 

'^Finding that I was not altogether correct, in giving the uniform of 
the Company of Chreyhec^da In the Town of Alexandria, I amend, as soon as 
possible, the mistake, by transmitting the letter of the Capt'n thereof — 
Col. Simms — to Mrs. Washington. 

"Have you received my letter of the 2 2d of July? The enquiry then 
made respecting the Quarter- Master-General is of serious, and interesting 
moment to me. If the business, which my own appointment has involved 
me in, increases — or even continues — I shall soon be under the necessity 
of calling upon that officer, or you, for a supply of stationery: — on you 
particularly for copying Paper; who, better than he, will know, or can 
direct the proper sort. I thought I came home well provided with these 
articles, but shall soon run short. 

"Yours affectionately, 

"Go. Washington." 

3 Sparks, xl. 540. He did not apprise Pickering or McHenry of the 
day of his intended departure. 

4FV>rd, xiv, 55; Sparks, xi, 276. 

1798-1799] of Jaines McHenry 817 

of the 25th, thanking him for the copy of the rules and regu- 
lations, asking that full information on all points be given 
him, and requesting that a secretary be allowed him at once, 
as he is overwhelmed with applications for commissions in 
the army. One of these early applications ^ for a captaincy 
for Wm. Champe Carter of Albemarle assigns as a reason for 
his appointment not only that it is ** praiseworthy in young 
men of fortune & character, at this juncture to step for- 
ward in defence of the rights of their country," but also that 
a few commissions might well be distributed in his part of 
Virginia as a ** certain character [i. e. Jefferson], in his route 
from Philadelphia to Monticello, used every indirect means of 
damping the patriot spirit of the people." ^ 

The demands for commissions to be given to friends were 
many. We have already noticed that Washington, Hamil- 
ton, and Murray asked that certain men be appointed and 
the extant letters are sufficient to show how the secretary 
of war was showered with requests, as he has been at each 
renewed enlargement of, the army. 

Washington's caution is shown in his letters of August 
10, and December 14: 

''Mount Vernon 10th. Aug. 1798. 
''Dear Sir 

"The letter from Mr. Ames to Mr. Best, containing 
further evidence to his good character, I send. 

1 Hie application la filed by hia brother Chas. Carter, Jr., of Cul- 
pepper. July 25. 

Another of Washinflrton's letters on the same subject was sent from 
Mount Vernon, on July 30, 1798. 
"Dear Sir, — 

"The writer of the enclosed letter, in name and character, is an entire 
stranger to me, — nor do I know whether, by the Law establishing the 
Cavalry, any provision is made under which such a person could be em- 
ployed, tho' certain it is. if Mr. Macharg understands what he professes 
to be master of, he might be employed very advantageously in training 
that part of our force. 

"I have wrote him to this effect : — adding, that as he is a stranger, 
his application to the War Office must be accompanied by ample testi- 
monies, not only of his skill in the business he professes, but to his char- 
acter in all other respects, with which, and my letter to him, he would 
come properly before you, and without which I conceived it would be use- 
less to apply. 

"I am. Dear Sir, your ob't., 
"Go: Washington." 

A number of letters with reference to appointments to army positions 
from the McHenry papers are published in So. Hist. Ass. Pubs., Ix, 99 
(March, 1905), and x, /289 (September, 1906), also in Granite Monthly, 
xxxvlii, 123 (April. 190«). 

2 Letters from the McHenry papers concerning politics in Vir- 
ginia during this period will be found in William and Mary College 
Quarterly, xiii, 102 (October. 1904), Virginia Magazine, xli. 2'57 (January, 
1905), xii, 407 (April, 1905). 

818 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 


The other letter from Mr. Carter (who married a niece 
of mine) though I send also, but request it may be returned; 
what he says of a certain character may be treasured up, but 
not reported as coming from him. 

**His brother is an utter stranger to me, and therefore 
I can add nothing to what he has said of him. The family 
you know, are among the most wealthy & respectable in this 

**My nephew Lewis might (but as he has never applied 
to me, I cannot say that he would) be glad of some appoint- 
ment, He was an aid to Genl. Morgan in the Western Expedi- 

**I am Dear Sir, Your Obedt. Servt. 
**Go. Washington.'' 

''Chester 14th. Deer. 1798. 
*' Private 
"Dear Sir, 

"Having requested that the nomination of Mr. Custis 
might be with held (even if it should meet the Presidents ap- 
probation under any circumstances) until I could consult 
his Grandmother (Mrs. Washington — ) and Mother, Mrs. 
Stuart ; I further pray that no mention of his name for such 
\ an Office may be made until the result is known ; — because, 
if their consent, being an only son, indeed the only male of 
his family, cannot be had, it would be better that the arrange- 
ment of him should pass entirely unnoticed, to prevent the 
uneasy sensations which might arrise from disappointment, if 
the knowledge of it should get to him. 

"He now stands as Comet, in the Troop proposed to be 
Commanded by Lawrence Lewis — who was an Aid de Camp 
to Genl. Morgan — on the Insurgent Expedition in 1794. 

"Just as I was leaving the City to day, I had an oppor- 
tunity for the first time of seeing Captn. Saml. Henley — who 
is a Man of a handsome & gentlemanly appearance. Having 
no evidence respecting him, except from his own letter, while 
we were arrangeing the Massachusetts line, he was not in- 
cluded in it. Afterwards, a letter from Genl. Shepherd rec- 
ommended him ; — but at that time we did not conceive it 
of sufficient weight to travel the ground over again. I must 
acknowledge however, that his external appearance (for I had 
no conversation with him) made so favourable an impression 
on me, that (being an old officer too, and brother to a very 

179S-1799] oj James McHenry 819 

worthy man) I should be very glad if his conduct will stand 
the t^t of investigation — to see him put as a Captain, in 
place of some Captain in that line, who has not served in the 
Revolutionary^ War. The particular one I cannot now name, 
but it will not be difiQcult to ascertain. With very great 
esteem & regard 

**I am — Dear Sir 

**Your Most obedt. Hble. Servt. 


**P. S. I know no character in the New England States 
(since the declination of Genl. Knox and Brooks) that have 
fairer pretensions to be appointed a Brigadier or even Majr. 
General, than Genl. Cobb. And if Genl. Dayton does not 
accept his appointment — pray press Colo. Howard strongly 
to come forward." 

McHenry wrote to Hamilton, ^ stating that he had been 
appointed inspector general, with the rank* of major general 
and that the nominations for generals had been sent to the 
senate on the same day and in the order of the annexed list, 
in which order they would be registered in the department. 
Adams considered that pay and emoluments of office should 
not begin until the officers were called into service. Ham- 
ilton accepted at once, recommended his nephew for a cap- 
taincy, - and came to Philadelphia. Doubtless, from his pre- 
vious relations with McHenry, he expected that he would be 
given complete control of matters, and when he found that 
McHenry proposed to keep affairs in his own hands, he re- 
turned home and wrote the following most ungenerous letter ^ 
to Washington on July 29. He feels that he must do violence 
to friendship by stating that **my friend McHenry is wholly 
insufficient for his place, with the additional misfortune of 
not having the least suspicion of the fact. This generally 
will not surprise you, when you take in view the large scale 
upon which he is now to act. But you, perhaps, may not be 
aware of the whole extent of the insufficiency. It is so groat, 
as to leave no probability that the business of the War De- 
partment can make any tolerable progress in his hands. This 

1 July 25 Hamilton, v. 137. 

2 Hamilton, v, 138. On September 9, 1798, Hamilton wrote a second 
letter recommending this nephew, Philip Church. September 30. 1798. 
McHenry said he would take good care of Philip Church as of his own 
son. Hamilton's acceptance dated July 28 is printed in JJodge, vl. 483. 

Z Hamilton, vl, 331. 

820 Life and Correspondefice [Chap. xiii 

has been long observed and has been more than mentioned 
to the President by members of Congress. He is not insen- 
sible, I believe, that the execution of the department does not 
produce the expected results but the case is of course delicate 
and embarrassing." 

**My real friendship for McHenry, concurring with my 
zeal for the service, predisposed me to aid in all that he could 
properly throw upon me and I thought that he would have 
been glad, in the organization of the army and in the con- 
duct of the recruiting service, to make me useful to him. With 
this view," Hamilton came to Philadelphia. **But the idea 
has thus far been very partially embraced" and Hamilton, 
returning to New York with little fruit of his journey, feels 
that the censure due McHenry will fall on the principal mili- 
tary officers also. He asks Washington to write McHenry for 
a statement of supplies. This will give necessary information 
and prompt the secretary to exertion. 

On July 30th, Hamilton, ^ who had returned to New York, 
wrote McHenry, asking that he and Knox be called into ser- 
vice. In addition to preparing the system of tactics and disci- 
pline, the inspector general may superintend recruiting and 
be useful in other ways, while Knox would be of "extensive 
service," especially in matters relating to artillery. Ham- 
ilton tells McHenry that ** scruples of delicacy" cannot with- 
hold him from stating what ought to be said, through ''friend- 
ship to you or regard to the service. " * * I observe you plunged 
in a mass of details. I know, from experience, that it is im- 
possible for any man, whatever be his talents or diligence, to 
wade through such a mass, without neglecting the most ma- 
terial things and attaching to his operations a feebleness and 
sloth of execution. It is essential to the success of the min- 
ister of a great department that he subdivide the objects of 
his care, distribute them among competent assistants, and 
content himself with a general but vigilant superintendence. 
This course is particularly necessary, when an unforseen 
emergency has suddenly accumulated a number of new objects 
to be provided for and executed." 

On the same day, McHenry sent Hamilton a list of appli- 
cants for commissions from New York and the adjoining 
states and asked him to report on them and to suggest other 

1 Hamilton, v, 138 ; Lodsre. vl, 483. On Ai«ust 8, Pickering and W61- 
cott wrote Adams on this matter. C. F. Adams mistakenly says they an- 
ticipated McHenry. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 821 

McHenry's answer to Hamilton's letter of July 30 is not 
preserved, but we find him writing on the 5th of August, 
asking for a list of ofiQcers from the southern states and stat- 
ing that Wolcott holds back the order for clothing. On the 
6th, McHenry wrote again, stating that he is indisposed and 
feverish, and told of the rejection of the nomination of W. S. 
Smith as adjutant general, and of the need that the appoint- 
ments should be hastened. Two days later, he informed 
Washington that he has a bilious complaint and that yellow 
fever has broken out again in Philadelphia. He has written 
Adams to allow Washington a secretary and asked that he 
may call Hamilton and Elnox into active service, ^ as other- 
wise he will be swamped with business. ^ On the 14th, Adams 
answered saying that Washington is in the public service from 
the date of his appointment and should have a secretary at 
once. Adams answered the other request thus:^ ** Calling 
any other general officers into service at present will be 
attended with difficulty, unless the rank were settled. In my 
opinion, as the matter now stands, General Knox is legally 
entitled to rank next to General Washington; and no other 
arrangement will give satisfaction. If General Washington 
is of this opinion and will consent to it, you may call him into 
active service as soon as you please. The consequence of this 
will be that Pinckney must rank before Hamilton. If it shall 
be consented, that the rank shall be Knox, Pinckney, and Ham- 
ilton, you may call the latter two into immediate service when 
you please. Any other plan will occasion long delay and 
much confusion. You may depend upon it, the five New Eng- 
land States will not patiently submit to the humiliation that 
has been meditated for them." 

On August 6, Hamilton wrote Wolcott, urging that the 
generals be called into service, and adding: '*It is impos- 
sible for McHenry to get through all that is now upon his 
hands in a manner honorable to himself, satisfactory to the 
public, or proportioned to the energy of the conjuncture.'' 

McHenry had written Knox on the 25th of July, virtually 
repeating his letter of the same date to Hamilton. Knox 
answered * from Boston on August 5, asking whether his 

1 On AuiTust 20, Hamilton wrote to Washington on this matter. 
Hamilton, vi, 342. 

2 Hamilton, vl. 334. 

3 J. Adams, viii, .=i80. 

4 J. Adams, viil, 579. On August 11, McHenry .sends Hamilton this 
letter and asks his opinion thereon. 

822 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

revolutionary rank should entitle him to rank before the 
others or not and, if not, he intimated he should not accept 
the position. To Knox's letter of the 29th of July, Wash- 
ington answered ^ on Augusrt; 9, repelling insinuations that his 
friendship was insincere and stating that he does not think 
the relative rank of much importance. Adams had nom- 
inated Washington without consulting him, induced, accord- 
ing to McHenry, by the urgency of his friends. As congress 
expected to adjourn on the Monday following Washington's 
notification of his appointment and as he wished that body to 
vest power in the president to make the necessary appoint- 
ments, he ** hastened, precipitately, Mr. McHenry 's return, in 
hopes he might be back in time to accomplish this object," 
and, therefore, Knox ^ could not be consulted, before his 
name was sent to the senate. Washington apologized for his 
advocacy of Hamilton, as he had been '' inundated with let- 
ters which said that Col. Hamilton was designated second in 
command (and first if I should decline an appointment) by 
the federal characters of Congress, whence alone anything 
like a public sentiment relative thereto could be deduced." 

To Hamilton, on the same day, Wai^ington wrote, com- 
plaining that McHenry does not keep him informed and an- 
swering Hamilton's complaint of July 28. He added' that 
Hamilton's opinion ** respecting the unfitness of a certain 
gentleman for the ofiice he holds, accords with mine and it 
is to be regretted sorely, at this time, that these opinions are 
so well founded. I early discovered, after he entered upon 
the duties of his office, that his talents were unequal to great 
exertions, or deep resources. In truth, they were not ex- 
pected, for the fact is, it was a Hobson's choice." But such 
is the case and what is to be done? Hamilton must have 
charge of recruiting and Washington will try to impress 
McHenry with the propriety of requiring Hamilton's assis- 
tance. ** Delicacy, if matters become serious, must yield to 

Not hearing from McHenry for a while and inspired by 
Hamilton 's ungenerous letter, Washington wrote * McHenry 
the day after he had written to Hamilton. The letter is ** pri- 
vate and confidential, dictated by friendship, and flowing from 

1 Sparks, xi. 280. 

2 On Augrust S, Knox wrote PlckerinflT that he cannot serve under 

3 Hamilton, vl, 337. 

4 Ford, xiv. 67 ; Sparks, xl, 286. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 828 

the best intentions." If it has ''too much the appearance of 
plain dealing/' McHenry should ''look to the motives and 
manner of the communication." Washington took the place 
of general with the understanding that he was to be kept 
apprised of what occurred, and offered to go to Philadelphia, 
if necessary, though it was midsummer, but McHenry has not 
written, and, fearing there may be delay, the general entreats 
McHenry, who has the more responsibility, because Adams is 
not a military man, to call Hamilton into service and place 
him in charge of the recruiting and also to call on Knox and 
to give Washington full information of what has been done. 
Much of the censure bestowed on McHenry was undeserved. 
He felt the danger of delay and asked ^ Adams on August 4, 
that he, with the assistance of Knox and Brigadier General 
Brooks, take under his immediate direction the Eastern States, 
that McHenry himself should look to the Middle States, and 
Washington care for Virginia and the South, all subject to 
Adams's final determination. Four of the twelve regiments 
should be raised in each quarter, and, in the hopes that Adams 
would agree to his plans, McHenry wrote Hamilton on August 
10, asking him to hold himself ready to come to Trenton, where 
the government will remove on account of the epidemic in 
Philadelphia. McHenry himself was unable to go to his office 
for several days before the ItSth, on account of his bilious com- 
plaint and, on the 14th, he and his family removed to Trenton. 

On the 13th, Washington wrote McHenry from Mount 
Vernon as follows, showing how his feelings toward McHenry 
had changed on news of his activity: 

*'The Messenger that carried my letters of the 10th. to 
the Post Office brought me your favour of the 6th. — and 
yesterday I received that of the 8th. 

"It gave me sincere pleasure to find by the letter, that 
you had suggested to the President, prompt & decisive meas- 
ures for Organizing and recruiting the twelve Regiments of 
Infantry, &c ; — and the propriety also of requiring the Ser- 
vices of the Inspector General and Major Genl. Knox, to aid 
you in arranging the details, and superintending the Execu- 
tion of different parts of your Multiplied duties — occasioned 
by the business coming upon you en Masse. 

1 Sparks, xl, 542, McHenry wrote Washington that the absence of 
Adams made It impossible to orgranize the twelve regrlments, unless Mc- 
Henry "concentred information, digested It," and submitted a plan such 
as he did in this letter. 

824 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

'^ Without such aid, & subdivision, it would be impossible, 
in my opinion (in such an emergency) to carry the Act for 
Augmenting the Army, into eflfect with the precision and 
promptitude it seems to have contemplated. 

**Any assistance I can give, consistently, to carry your 
Plans into eflfect, you may command with freedom. 

**It is extremely painful to hear that the Yellow fever 
has again made its appearance in the unfortunate City of 
Philadelphia, and is spreading its malignancy; — and it is 
with much concern I am further informed, that you have re- 
turn of your Billions complaint. I hope eflfectual measures 
will be pursued to check the first; and that you are, or soon 
will be, perfectly recovered of the latter. With very great 
esteem and regard — I am — Dear Sir 

**Your Most Obedt & Hble Servant 
'*Go. Washington.'' 

A second letter of the same date ^ from Washington al- 
most apologizes for his letter of the 10th: "Finding that my 
ideas accorded so much with the measures you had suggested 
for the consideration of the President, filled my mind with 
exquisite pleasure and it would be uncandid not to confess 
that your silence and my entire ignorance of what was doing 
with respect to the organization of the army and recruiting 
the men, produced very disagreeable sensations." He wishes 
he could obtain an adjutant general from Maryland, which 
is ''a respectable state well affected," but without a general 
oflScer, and hopes for McHenry a restoration to health. 

On Augusrt; 19, Hamilton wrote ^ McHenry that he will 
enter public service at once, if needed, but hopes he may not 
have to make "immediate change of residence," though he 
will "not object to a frequent attendance at the seat of gov- 

1 Sparks, xi, 230, a paragraph Ib omitted fnom the printed letter as 
follows : 

"(Private) Mount Vernon 13th. Aufft 1798. 

"My Dear Sir 

••• • • The enclosed letter from the Collector of New Yoilt to me, will 
■how what he has done with the tin box addressed to me. Some anxietj 
is felt concerning it; for as much as it is supposed to contain a present 
(probably a valuable one) from an Elast India aoquaintanoe of Mr. Laws 
to Mrs. Law. and directed to me in hopes of insuring its safety. 

"Always Your Affectionate 

"Gbo: Washinoton." 

Lodge, X, 317, prints a letter from Hamilton to McHenry advising the 
latter to communicate frequently and fully with Washington and on pi 318 
one from Hamilton to Sedgwick stating that McHenry is "loaded beyond 
his strength." 

2 Hamilton, vi, 338, 340 ; Lodge, x, 307, 309. 

1798-17991 of James McHenry 825 

eminent." Knox's letter, which McHenry showed Hamilton, 
''occasions me no small regret and embarrassment, my esteem 
and friendship for that gentleman would lead me far, but 
there is a very great difficulty in waiving a station to which, 
I am well convinced, I have been called, no less by the public 
voice of the country, ^ than by the acts of the Commander 
in Chief and of the President and Senate. The intention as 
to the relative grades of the officers appointed is presumed to 
be unequivocal. It is believed that the rule to which General 
Knox refers can have no application to the case of the forma- 
tion of a new army at a new epoch, embracing officers not pre- 
viously in actual service." He suggests that Knox may ac- 
cept, with a reservation of his claim **ad referendum," en- 
closes a draft of a suggested letter for Knox and states that, 
though he concedes a high value to Knox's merit, he cannot 
abandon his own pretensions. Pickering, meanwhile, was 
intriguing - against McHenry and, on the 21st, suggested to 
Hamilton that Knox be put in charge of the department of 
war, to solve the difficulty as to the generals, as Adams **has 
been informed of a very general dissatisfaction in its present 

Two days later, Pickering wrote Hamilton again, ^ stat- 
ing that McHenry had just handed him and Wolcott his letter 
to Adams, on the subject of calling the major generals into 
service, and Knox's letter to him : **I am glad to see you are 
tenacious." McHenry told the other secretaries that Wash- 
ington made Hamilton's appointment the »ine qua non of his 
acceptance and that he showed Adams the letter Washington 
wrote to Hamilton, notwithstanding which Adams placed 
Knox first. McHenry thought that the old rule as to seniority 
is not in force, nor ought to be, but suggested writing to Knox 
and asking him to accept, with reservation of his claim. Why 
should we urge Knox's acceptance? Pickering asks. McHenry 
is ** utterly uninformed" of Pickering's correspondence with 
Washington and Hamilton. 

On August 22, McHenry answered Adams's letter of the 
14th, stating that the choice of the major generals and their 
relative military rank proceeded, ** originally and exclu- 
sively," from Washington and that McHenry **had no agency, 
direct or indirect, before or while at Mt. Vernon, in deciding 

1 Asrainst this i>ara«rraph, McHenry wrote : "Certainly true." 

2 Hamilton, vl, 343. 

3 Hamilton, vl, 351. 

826 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

his mind, either as to the choice or the arrangement of the 
rank of those he had selected/' but that he said to Wa^- 
ington, when he ** showed me his choice, that I concurred, but 
that the nominations and relative rank of those nominated 
must finally rest with the President.'' Meanwhile, McHenry 
was not to be blamed so much as Adams, whose desire to put 
Knox above Hamilton and whose absence in Quincy caused 
embarrassment and delay. On the 25th, McHenry wrote ^ 
Washington asking him to select cavalry ofScers and to find 
out all he can concerning candidates for commissions from 
the South, and telling him that he is authorized to employ sec- 
retaries and draw pay for his own services. ^ A detailed 
statement of ordnance, powder, &c., is promised. Tents and 
field equipage will be ready for next year's campaign and 
McHenry **can give almost instant life and activity to the 
recruiting service," as soon as Adams will act, if clothes are 
in readiness. 

On the 26th, Knox wrote Washington ^ that he will not 
serve as a major general, but, if there be an invasion, he will 
gladly act as aide de camp. Three days later, Hamilton 
wrote * Sedgwick that the generals should be called into ser- 
vice. The decision on this point rests with Adams. ** Mc- 
Henry, as you know, is loaded beyond his strength." On the 
same day, Adams wrote McHenry, showing no signs of yield- 
ing r^ **My opinion is and always has been clear that, as 
the law now stands, the order of nomination, or of record- 
ing, has no weight or eflfect, but that officers appointed on 
the same day, in whatever order, have a right to rank accord- 
ing to antecedent services. I am willing to settle all de- 
cisively at present (and have no fear of the consequences) 
by dating the commissions, Knox on the 1st day, Pinckney on 
the second, and Hamilton on the third." (Jen. Washington * 
has acted with perfect honor and consistency. **The power 
and authority is in the President. I am willing to exert 
the authority at this moment and to be responsible for the 

1 Sparks* xi, 542. McHenry to Washin«rton, August 18, 1798. J. 
Adams, viii, 582. Adams wrote McHenry, asking if the cession of Castle 
Island had been accepted. Lodsre, vil, 44, prints letter from Hamilton to 
McHenry concerning the drafts of surveys of New York Harbor. 

2 On the 25th, Hamilton wrote McHenry suggesting that it would be 
well to write oftener to Washington. Hamilton, vi, 354. 

3 Sparks, xi. 538. 

4 Hamilton, vi, 534. 

5 J. Adams, viii, 587. 

6 The sentence : "Nor has he ever intimated a deeire of <the kind," 
printed in Adams's Works, is not in the original letter. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 827 

exercise of it. All difSculties will, in this way, be avoided. 
But if it is to be referred to Gen. Washington, or to mutual 
and amicable accommodation among the gentlemen them- 
selves, I foresee it will come to me at last, after much 
altercation and exasperation of passions and I shall then de- 
termine it exactly as I do now. Knox, Pinckney and Hamil- 
ton. ' ' Adams wrote, * * I will not send either of McHenry 's let- 
ters to Hamilton, as neither contains sentiments that I can 
approve.*' ** There has been too much intrigue in this busi- 
ness with General Washington and me, ^ if I shall ultimately 
be the dupe of it, I am much mistaken in myself." Adams 
closed by expressing sympathy for McHenry 's ill health and 
that of his family and stating that Mrs. Adams ''has been at 
the point of death, but is now a little revived." 

On August 30, we find the first of many letters which 
passed between Hamilton and McHenry as to details of man- 
agement of the army. It shows, as nearly all the correspon- 
dence does, how much friction there was between the various 
branches of the service: 


Col. Stevens tells me he has exhausted the money you 
sent him in preliminary purchase of Timber &c & is in debt 
with embarrassment to pay & likely to be compelled to dismiss 
workmen &c 

**Such a state of things is hurtful to the public service^ 
discredits the Administration & increases expense. It ought 
to be avoided if possible. 

** Stevens says pains have been taken to excite doubts 
about him — & he fears they may have some effect. In jus- 
tice to him I think it proper to say that I have the most 
entire confidence in his political fidelity to the Government 
& that, as far as my opportunity of being acquainted with his 
character as a man of business goes, there is good groimd of 
confidence in his pecuniary fidelity also. 

**But the plain alternative is to displace or to trust. The 
necessary operations must not stagnate on account of uncer- 
tainty about the Agent." 

Adams felt that he had settled the question of prece- 
dence and did not refer to it, while writing ^ on September 3, 

1 C. F. Adams, In a long note to thl8 letter, says McHenry was con- 
cerned In the Intrigue. The only proof he gives is that Hamilton was In 
Philadelphia on July 7 and sent a letter to Washington on the 8th, which. 
C. F. Adams alleges to have been carried by McHenry. Sparks, xl, 533. 

2 Adams, viii, 591. 

828 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

of certain nominations and calling attention to the exposed 
condition of Georgia. But the cabinet were not satisfied. 
On the 3d, McHenry wrote his friend, Uriah Tracy, that he 
has been much occupied and distressed by the humor (not a 
very pleasant one) which the president has discovered since 
leaving Philadelphia. If Knox be appointed second in com- 
mand, a *' serious rupture, or at least a misunderstanding, 
with Washington would follow." **A11 hands have been at 
work to prevent so many evils befalling us, at a time when we 
stand in need of the union of our best talents, men, and 
means. I hope and think we shall be able to subdue this 
storm, although it has blown almost a hurricane.'' . He asked 
Tracy whether he thinks W. S. Smith, Adams's son-in-law, 
should have a regiment, as he sends a certificate that he did 
not interfere in the election for governor of New York and 
thanks Tracy for a suggested list of ofiicers for the Connecti- 
cut regiment. 

Writing ^ to Hamilton on the 10th, McHenry states he 
does not blame his friend's determination, expressed in a let- 
ter written two days before, not to serve as third major gen- 
eral and that all the cabinet but the attorney general will 
make respectful representation to Adams on the matter. ^ 

Of matters not military we learn but little from Mc- 
Henry 's correspondence this summer. There is extant a let- 
ter from Lafayette: 

**Witmold — Holstein August the 30th 1798 
''My dear McHenry 

**When I Had last the pleasure to write to you, I was 
far from thinking I should, at this period of the Year Be Still 
detained in Europe. The Health of my wife, the primary 
cause of those delays, Has Been continually so Bad, it Had 
in the Spring taken a so dangerous turn, that untill now, 
there Has not Been for me a Moral possibility to embaric — 
even now that she is so far Recovered as to Have just Been 
able to Undertake an indispensable journey, for a few 
months, to Prance, I find that Besides tender motives not to 
hasten to put Between us the Atlantic, she shall soon Be ready 
to look with me. My presence on this Continent is essential to 
forward Arrangements respecting Her property which she 
is about to make. I need not telling you, my dear friend, 

1 Hamilton, vi. 355 ; Liodcre, x, 320. 

2 Hamilton, vi, 356. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 829 

that Had I the smallest Hope to be useful ia public Concerns, 
no personal Considerations, nor even the Dearer ones to my 
Heart could one instant detain^ me — may I, in my inactive 
But not unconcerned retirement, Be soon Blessed with the 
intelligence, now earnestly expected, of a mutual disposition 
to Reestablish Harmony Between two Nations, in the fate of 
whom my whole Soul is so deeply interested. 

**My principles and sentiments Have long Been known to 
you — the Appeal to liberty in the old world Has Reminded 
you of our Conversations in the New one — in my doctrine 
of opposition to long despotism, of obedience in a free Con- 
stitution to National laws, you could Anticipate the pain 
which in the several circumstances I Have Had to Act — from 
your knowledge of My Republican Heart you are sensible that 
my objections to the present state of Prance are not owing to 
Her form of Government But to Her want of freedom — while 
that Government who rescued me out of prison, and with 
whose Agents Abroad I Have every personal reason to be 
satisfied are nevertheless far from wishing to facilitate my 
return or discouraging the nonsense now and then published 
against me, I am not myself in Hurry to witness mMsures 
which I disaprouve, nor am I uncertain of the National opin- 
ion in my Behalf. But such as I am situated, I cannot Be 
prejudiced By any other influence than my attachement to the 
two Countries, When I now am persuaded that on the part of 
the directory there are actual and sincere dispositions to make 
up this unhappy Quarell. Hitherto I Have not, in my ex- 
pressed Hopes, ventured so far. But now, I repeat it, I Have 
reasons to think that they are in earnest, and to flatter my- 
self that either directly, or through the Batavian Mediation 
which I know is to Be oflfered to you, matters may Be properly 
and Amicably adjusted. 

**Thus far, altho' the Americans Have Been Materially 
injured, the Moral Advantages remain theirs — it appears to 
me the French Government Had caught the example not long 
Ago Given By that of Britain — this system of oppression on 
the part of the late plunderers and incendiaries of the Country, 
the late prison-ship-managers, the constant ennemies to Ameri- 
can independance, unjustifiable as it was. Had some thing 
less shocking than an imitation of such an unfair policy By 
the early defenders, the first and essential friends of the Unit- 
ed States — no doubt their Rulers were led into it on a sup- 
position that it Had Been the means to Bring about your 

880 Life and Correspondence [Chap, xiii 

English treaty — thank God, instead of submission they Have 
met with Noble, Spirited Resistance — the dignity of America 
Has Been asserted and a Reconciliation on proper terms can- 
not But leave Her with an increase of national Respectability 
and political consequence — that situation of Hers, in which 
no man can more Heartily exult than I do, would, in my 
opinion, Be lost, if by a Rejection of Honourable Means to re- 
store Harmony Between two Republics, By a precipitation of 
measures unnecessary for self defence, or an eagerness to Be 
too far entangled with other European powers You did Coun- 
tenance the Accusation of Having seised on the faults of the 
Directory to engage elsewhere that independance which you 
are now so justly Applauded to defend. 

* * The British Court I Dislike and Mistrust — not for their 
intrigues against me, nor for their Vindictive share in my 
captivity — it is a matter of course, nor shall they ever forgive 
American names formerly doomed to proscription. But I 
Have Heard the boasts and Hopes of those men with respect 
to America, I Have known their Machiavelism in Holland, I 
Have witnessed their wicked exertions to vitiate the Revolution 
of France, and while I think England Has many of the more 
enlightened and virtuous friends of true liberty to Boast of, 
while I glory in my obligations to Her fine characters, I am 
convinced that in Her present Government no cotifidence is to 
Be Had — on the other Hand, altho' my love to My Native 
Country is unalterable, the arbitrary measures of Her Govern- 
ment at Home cannot agree with me, and notwithstanding I 
ever expected the doctrine of the rights of men to Be extended 
from France throughout the ancient world as from the United 
States to the rest of America I now Have a due respect for the 
mutual independance of enfranchised nations — nay, there 
Have Been in certain Revolutionary circumstances compliment* 
from the United States which I would not Have paid to the then 
Governors of France — andjwhile I don't deny that the idea of 
a war Between those two dear countries cuts me to the Heart, 
you, my confidential friend. Have known that in every trans- 
action Great, or trifling, no man Has Been more than me tena- 
cious of the interest and Honour of the American Republics,, 
nor more attached to the Happy System of Federal Union. 
May I not, therefore. However Averse I am to the Actual Gov- 
ernment of Britain, However Bound to My Native Country 
By everlasting ties of duty and Affection, However anxious to 
See the true American principles of liberty, Equality, and Re- 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 881 

publicanism fairly and Honestly spred tiiroughout the world, 
may I not, says I, have my own opinion of the Dangers aris- 
ing from your Connection with England against France, of 
the Advantages to be found in an Honourable Reconciliation, 
and of the dispositions of the French directory to make for it 
a sincere and proper trial. 

** Measures, I Hear, Have Been taken with Respect to the 
piracies which, I really Believe, Have far exceeded the inten- 
tions of Government. Letters from Paris tell me that the 
Neutral Navigation shall soon Be on Better footing, was I not 
fearful to lose the opportunity to write to you, I would Have 
waited for answers I daily expect. I just now Have Hinted 
that Besides direct Communications the Batavian Common 
Wealth is ready to interfere. Mr. Murray Has acquainted 
you with the changes operated in that Country — to judge the 
sentiments of Her actual Gtovemors, one private circumstance 
may help you — on my emersion from the Olmuce Bastille the 
Batavians intended to invite me to their Country — the Janu- 
ary Revolution, Long foreseen put an end to their plan — 
now that the jaeobines are out, the new Government Has taken 
up the same idea — my going there, as in their kindness for 
me, I understand it will be Agreeable to them, Appears to Be 
Advantageous in many respects, particularly as it is much 
nearer to my family. Yet I am not Hitherto determined. 

** Notwithstanding the efforts and threats of England and 
Russia, the Kings of Danemark and Sweden Have refused to 
part from their system of neutrality — so Has the king of 
Prussia who is satisfied with protecting the North of Germany 
— at Vienna the two Hostile Courts are aided by female 
Neapolitan influence, and it is probable an Austrian War may 
Be Renewed, the result of which will be the Ruin of the Royal 
father in law and Heavy losses to the imperial young man. 
Bonaparte, after the taking of Malcha, Has arrived safely and, 
even uninterrupted at Alexandria — that expedition is Big 
with Consequences. 

**The Name and Merits of Yauhlanc are not unknown to 
you. He was in 92 a member of the legislative assembly, 
where His virtues, eloquence, and Courage Commanded imiver- 
sal admiration, and exposed Him to great dangers. His life. 
Highly valuable to His Country and His friends, Has Been 
Happily preserved to make Him Again shine in the Council 
of the Cinq-Cent, and Among the most undeserving victims 
of the fructidorian proscription, there is not a more illustrious 

882 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

and upright statesman — this excellent patriot is now wander- 
ing out of Prance to which He shall soon or late Be gloriously 
Restored. His wife and daughter, lately married to Gni Pink- 
ney's Nephew, are gone to America and intend to land some 
where in Virginia. I beg you, ray dear McHenry, I who re- 
quire all other friends to pay them the Attentions that are 
due to their personal merits, and to the Husband and father 
with whom they are Blest — to Him I am under great obliga- 
tions. He Has in 92 stood my defender. He Has Risked His 
life in my Cause. Gratitude and Affection Bind me forever 
to Him. I depend on you to let the two ladies experience that 
my American friends feel with me on the interesting occasion. 

**Here is an offer of a quite different Nature — a French 
emigrant of the Aristocratic party Having in a letter to me, 
on my Release from the Coalitionary prisons, exposed, the 
state of misery to which He is Reduced, and Reminded me 
of His Services in the American Army, I Regreted not to 
Have it in my power to present Him with pecuniary assist- 
ance — to the expression of that sentiment it was Natural to 
add an offer to Carry His petition to America — the inclosed 
one He sent to me. But for fear of differing too much, I 
forward it to you who Best know what can be done — the part 
incombent on me, I felt the readier to Act as' I Spurn the idea 
that His Having in Europe Belonged to a party opposed to us 
Could make me forgetful of His services to our Cause Under 
American Colours. 

** There goes with this letter one to Gnl. Washington. I 
Beg you to present My Respects to the president, to the Vice 
president, and to Remember me to all other friends about you. 
I Can't know whether or not the expressions of My dutiful 
patriotic Attachement, of My profound and lively Gratitude 
Have Ever Reached the United States — if not, I Hope it will 
not Be imputed to Any deficiency on My part. But I beg 
you to let me know what Has Been received from me. I Have 
written to You UnAnswered letters. My Son George requests 
me to Remember Him to You. I join with Him in affectionate 
Respects to Your Lady and family — adieu. My dear Me* 
Henry, You know How friendly I am 


** Lafayette 

* * Pay my Best Compliments to my Generous friends Bol- 
man and Huger — no answer from this excellent and Heroic 

1796-1799] oj James McHenry 888 

Huger Has yet Reached me. How Happy I would Be to Hear 
from Him!" 

From Baltimore James Ash wrote on August 24, urging 
that the Federalists be not too extreme in proscribing members 
of the opposition: 

**The judicious determination by Government, to put 
ourselves in a defensive posture, preparatory for any violence 
which France may offer, has been unanimously obeyed by the 
people. There are however, some characters here, I am as- 
sured intend well towards Government, who have acted very 
indiscreet and untvisely. They seemed to imagine, that noth- 
ing was left to be done, but to exterminate every one who had 
been of the Democratic side. It is true many are to be found 
in the Senate and Housq of Representatives, who no longer 
deserve to possess the confidence of the people ; and even this 
ought to be taken restrict ively. For if any persons of this 
description, from weakness of understanding, have been only 
tools to artful and designing men, and a hope remains of poli- 
tical reformation, I can see no reason why they should be con- 
demned with the guilty. But leaving alone, those who served 
in political capacities ; how must the mind and heart revolt, at 
the thought of the public wickedness, of these characters, being 
visited on all their dupes and followers; uninformed and mis- 
guided men amongst the people. The doctrine of extermina- 
tion would be a delightful way to introduce a civil war, while, 
on the other hand, changing the deluded people by degrees 
from past error, as different dispositions can bear it, will nerve 
our union. Country, and Government stronger than at any 
former period. A remarkable instance of this kind happened 
lately. In a publication written by Mr. Martin, signed a 
'Native American' one Mr. Pechin, a printer, here was Com- 
pletely denounced, not only as a citizen but a printer. Now 
if Mr. Pechin had imprudently done wrong, would it not have 
been the Wiser way to produce gradual reform in preference 
to extermination^ It appeared to me a miniature of the bar- 
barous cruelties practised by the French. It excited much 
warmth amongst about a thousand who were Pechin \s Suh- 
scribers. The publication of the inclosed observation, address- 
ed to Mr. Martin, I have reason to believe had a good effect. 
This made Pechin my friend, and if he were ever hostile to 
Government, he is now as warmly a friend. If extermination 

884 Life and Corresponderice [Chap. xiii 

be Mr. Martins policy, I shall never agree with him, because 
it is much better to reform, than to destroy. The one is a 
leading feature in genuine Christianity, and good Oovemment, 
the other the demon of anarchy and confusion. Before this 
newspaper acquaintance I never exchanged Six words with 
Pechin. He now Consults me on every movement of any im- 
portance. Yesterday he gave me a Manuscript pamplet to read, 
and requested my opinion; at this time he had not read it 
himself. It had a disorganizing tendency, tranquilizing the 
public temper as it respects us with France, and irritable in 
every other respect. I gave him an opinion in writing that 
no one but a Frenchman ought to publish such a Book^ or some 
one regardless of his Country's good. He went away well 
satisfied with the impression and advice. 

**I cannot either entirely agree, with some Gentlemen, 
in their views of our next election. Mr. Winchester has offer- 
ed under their support; he comes forward and declares his 
intention is to support the administration. Let us compare 
his professioyis with his actions, and trace the corresponding 
analogy. In the Day of Democratic Societies, Mr. Winchester 
was not only a member, but a violent one; and I have been 
lately informed from good authority, that he offered some 
resolutions at a meeting, which went to the subversion of all 
government. And when Electors were last chosen to elect a 
President, he voted and declared himself for Mr. Jefferson, 
and now he is to be the Supporter of the administration. *Let 
no such man be trusted.' The people want a man of judg- 
ment to form opinion, and with firmness to give that opinion 
uniform Support. The whimsical and capricious character, is 
little to be relied on. For these reasons I think him an im- 
proper choice. 

**I hope Gallatin may be turned out. I have written to 
several of my Correspondents, in that part of the Country, on 
the Subject. His Seat as it respects virtue, will be well sup- 
plied by Nevill, who is a man of honor, and worth. 

**From an opinion, that every one should be ready in 
some Capacity, or other to serve his Country, at a period so 
critical, I made a tender of my services to G^n : Washington, 
with a condition that I should have it in my power to attend 
the General Court twice a year, unless called into service." 

A fierce congressional campaign was made during the 
summer of 1798 on the Eastern Shore against Hindman, who 
wrote from Bellfield in Talbot county, on August 29 : 

1798-1799] of James Mc Henry 885 

**I was very sorry to see by the Papers Some Time ago, 
that Yon ^ere K*^:d up with a Fever, I hope You are now in 
perfect Health. Have You appointed the Officers to the 
Army? Col. Hindman perseveres in his military Zeal, & 
would accept of a Regiment in the provisional Army, but 
Nothing inferior. I wrote to You Some Time ago in Favor 
of Doct: Wm. Nicholson, who wish'd a Captaincy in the P. 
Army, & if not to be had would accept a Lieutenancy ; He is a 
Sensible Man & of great Intrepidity, & what exalts Him in my 
Estimation is his differing from his Relations in Politics, He 
has always advocated my Elections, & is now among my most 
active Friends & can do much; He & his Brother Jo: are So 
warmly opposed, that I wish it may not produce disagreeable 
Consequence, his obtaining Captain's Commission would aid 
the Federal Cause here very much, & I must confess I have 
his Success much at Heart. 

**The cunning Jacobins discovered, that the People are 
generally incensed against the French, are now the Foremost 
in abusing Them, & affect much Wrath at being thought at- 
tached to that Nation, I hope this Deception will not avail 
Them. I have been laid up for some Time with a sore Leg. 
it is now nearly well. My friends are getting verj' warm & 
active, which was highly necessary to counteract the furious 
Exertions & infamous Lies on the other Side, Report says 
Seney is losing Ground in Consequence of correct Informa- 
tion respecting many Misrepresentations against Me ; & a Cut 
given by a Mr : Clark in which He says that Mr : Seney avow- 
ed the Sentiment that Mr: Jefferson & Mr: Madison would 
have done better at the Helm of Affairs than Washington & 
Adams, I hear Soney denies it & wants to Strike out Washing- 
ton, conscious that any Thing said against Washinurton would 
damn Him with the People, it has just transpired, & Puzzles 
Them nnieh, I flatter Myself it will do great Good. I hear 
Seney has got a Cut from an Associate Justice, a poor Crea- 
ture of his, endeavouring to prove a Negative: what Cheats & 
Impostors these Jacobins are, From Thorn, good Lord, Fo.* 
ever deliver us. !^^any Betts are laid on the Issue of the Eh* •- 
tion, a curious One of 3000 Dollars to 130, that I have not a 
Majority in every County: Some of my Friends are Sanguine 
enough to think I Shall. I will not venture to predict the 
Issue, Things look more favourably than They did, & prob- 
ably will increase. 

**I have just received a Letter from Mr: Campbell & 

886 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

Doct: Harris, They both Speak donbtfullv of Mr: Winches- 
ter's Election, & I collect They are of Opinion that Qenl: 
Smith will be rechosen; if this Should be the Case I shall 
ascribe it to the Want of Exertion on the Federalists, whose 
purses ought to be open on the Occasion. 

**The Yellow Fever must have deranged You all very 

So bitter was the campaign against Hindman that, on 
September 16, 1798, J. Sitgreaves ^ writes McHenry from 
Easton, Pa., that Edward Tilghman has written him that great 
efforts are made to defeat Hindman. Consequently Sitgreaves 
has written Richard Tilghman, of Queen Anne's and suggests 
that McHenry also write as to Hindman 's ** Estimation with 
our best public men, in and out Congress, You can bear 
honorable Testimony; and you can assert with equal Confi- 
dence that He has been Confidentially consulted on all the 
Operations of the federal Interest in the House of Representa- 

When election came, Hindman ^ and three other Feder- 
alists were chosen from Maryland with four Jelfersonian Re- 

McHenry was now in constant correspondence with 
Washington. On September 3, the latter wrote, ^ acknowl- 
edging lists of applicants, complaining of illness, and asking 
for a list of captains and subalterns in the revolutionary army 
to help in selecting oflScers from the **wide expance" of the 
southern district. He wished for Pinckney's presence, sug- 
gested that it may be well to raise all of the cavalry in the 
southern states, and urged that our magazines be **well furn- 
ished with all necessary articles of foreign dependence-, the 
procuring of which, if the country should be invaded, will not 
only be rendered precarious, but they must come much high- 
er." The keepers of powder magazines should be directed 
to be attentive to turning and proving powder, that there 
may not ** appear to be a store," when there is none **fit for 
use." He urged rigid recruiting rules. **It is much better 
to have a few good soldiers, than a multitude of vagrant and 

1 A prominent lawyer who was member of con^ese from 1794 to 

2 Letters from the McHenry papers on Maryland politics In 1798 
are found in So. Hist. Ass. Pubs., x, 101 (March, 190^). and on Maryland 
politics in 1799 in So. Hist. Ass. Pubs., z, 150 (May, 1906). 

3 Ford, xiv, 79 ; Sparks, xi, 292. 

1798-1799] of Jaines McHenry 887 

indifferent ones, who, besides other imperfections, may desert 
their colors in critical moments.'* At the end, he writes:^ 
'*If any change should take place in settling the relative rank 
of the Major Generals, I shall hope and expect to be informed 
of it.'* On the 7th, McHenry told him of Adams's deter- 
mination to put Knox first and, as Washington had been ill, 
he added, **It will be proper you should intermit, for some 
time, your attention to business and avoid the early morning 
air, as well as much exposure to the hot sun. " ^ On the same 
day, Washington wrote Pickering that possibly he might have 
put Knox before Pinckney, if he could have gotten to Phila- 
delphia in July. The president ought to ponder well before 
he consents to a change in the arrangement Washington sug- 
gested. Washington answered^ McHenry 's letter on the 
14th, regretting the delay in recruiting and appointing offi- 
cers. For this delay, he blamed the executive, especially as 
that "spirit and enthusiasm which were inspired by the Dis- 
patches from our Envoys, that resentment which was roused 
by the treatment of our Commissioners by the Directory," are 
** evaporating fast" and it is now much harder to secure suit- 
able men. Two months have already been wasted. Wash- 
ington asked for longer letters from McHenry and fuller in- 
formation on certain points. His sacrifices entitle him to this 
and **from McHenry, as a friend and coadjutor, I certainly, 
shall look for it. " Needed foreign articles should be imported 
at once. If war ensues, they will cost more and **the obtaining 
them at all will be attended with hazard and delay." He 
objects to certain appointments, discusses the question of small 
arms and so ends this **free and friendlv letter." On the 
10th and 12th, Mcflenry wrote him of the proposed address 
to the president and, on the receipt of the former letter, Wash- 
ington said^ that the news ** filled his mind with much dis- 
quietude and embarrassment," but he cannot make any move 
at this time, ** without betraying your confidential communi- 
cation." He perceived ** 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 / consid- 
ered a compact or condition of acceptance of the appointment, 
with which he was pleased to honor me, or to return him my 
commission." He, therefore, asks to be furnished with a copy 

1 Ford, xlv. 87. 

2 Sparks, xl. 299. 

3 Ford, xlv, S7 ; Sparks, xi. 300. 

4 Ford, xiv, 91 ; Sparks, xi, 302. 

888 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

of McHenry's letter to Adams written from Mount Vernon 
and of the instructions from Adams, under which McHenry 
then acted. 

On the 19th, McHenry conveyed to Washington an ac- 
count of the change of plan and the decision of the cabinet 
to have Wolcott, who, having been absent in July, would not 
be charged with intrigue, answer Adams's letters of August 
14 and 29, which Wolcott did on September 17, urging ^ that 
Hamilton be placed first. McHenry continued i^ ** Con- 
ceiving the whole of this business of a very serious nature and 
intimately connected with the public interest, I communicated 
the letters from the President to me as they were received to 
Mr. Wolcott, Mr. Pickering and Mr. Stoddert, as also my 
answers to him. The services of Gen. Hamilton being consid- 
ered too important and consequential to be easily parted with, 
it was proposed that they should join in a respectful letter to 
the President. After, however, a good deal of deliberation, 
the idea of a joint address was relinquished for a representa- 
tion from Mr. Wolcott alone, who did not appear to be im- 
plicated in his suspicions of intrigue. This has been accord- 
ingly drawn up and forwarded. It contains the grounds upon 
which you were induced to expect your arrangement would be 
adopted and reasons resulting from the relative talents of the 
generals and public opinion.^' On the same day, McHenry 
gave Washington a detailed account of Adams's conduct. ^ 

Of Adams's letter of August 29, McHenry wrote* that 
part of the letter, ** being personal and unmerited, not a little 
wounded my feelings." On September 6, he wrote Adams, 
asking why he was accused of intrigue and said: ^ **It will 
sir, be a relief to me to be assured of your opinion in this 
particular, because I flatter myself I can convince you that, 
abhorring indirect practices, I never even contemplated any, 
or shall you not be convinced, I can immediately retire from 
a situation which demands perfect and mutual confidence 
between the President and the person filling it.'* 

Answer to this letter was sent by Adams on the 13th. 
Adams still directed McHenry to issue the commissions on 
successive davs and to call Hamilton and Knox into service. ^ 

1 Gibbs, 11, 93. 

2 Gibbs, 11, 93 ; Sparks, xl, 547. 

3 Sparks, xl, 542. 

4 Sparks xl 542. 

5 Gibbs, ' 11, ' 92. Brown's McHenry, 22-34, defends him from the 
charge of Intrlgrue. 

6 J. Adams, vlll, 593. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 889 

**Tour conduct throughout the whole has been candid. I 
have suspected, however, that extraordinary pains were taken 
with you to impress upon your mind that the public opinion 
and the unanimous wish of the Federalists was that General 
Hamilton might be first and even Commander-in-chief, that 
you might express this opinion to General Washington more 
forcibly than I should have done and that this determined 
him to make the arrangement as he did. If this suspicion 
was well founded I doubt not you made the representation 
with integrity. 

**The question being now settled, the responsibility for 
which I take upon myself, I have no hard thoughts concerning 
your conduct in this business and I hope you will make your 
mind easy concerning it." 

In his letter of September 19 to Washington, McHenry 
defended himself against the accusation of delay. Adams 
had as yet answered only two of the proposals McHenry made 
on August 4. Arms have already been ordered- Wolcott 
thinks we should fill our magazines first and raise the army 
last and so objects to the purchase of clothes. McHenry 
thinks both should be done at once. "I should have no confi- 
dence in troops suddenly assembled and cannot think it good 
policy to depend upon a militia to meet the first operations 
of an enemy inured to war and having no better support than 
such raw troops.'* If an invasion come from the south, no 
eastern militia could be used, as eastern regulars could and 
so, if we wait, we may be left, as to the south, to its own 
militia and half the country may be overrun and plundered, 
before anything like a regular force can be collected. Wol- 
cott is alarmed about finances and prefers to trust to chances, 
rather than to raise and pay an army, which may never be 
needed. ^ ** These things, my dear and revered sir, are men- 
tioned to satisfy your solemn and affecting inquiries. You 
will now see (although I may not have apprised you of all my 
proceedings) the reasons, in the very nature of the transac* 
tions just detailed, which have prevented me from making to 
you certain communications, until they became unavoidable 
and necessary', as well for your information as my justifica- 
tion. You will also be sensible that I have not been idle, nor 
inattentive to the importance of the objects which interest 
our country and have drawn you into your present situation." 

On the 21st, ^IcHenr^- wrote aeain that he had made new 

1 Washington in his reply agreed with McHenry's views. 

840 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

representations to Adams about Hamilton and Knox, on re- 
ceiving Washington's letter of the 16th. Adams had shown 
great obstinacy, but McHenry still counted on his acting wise- 
ly and yielding. He cannot resist the display of facts which 
have been laid before him. Four days later, Washington 
wrote ^ Adams, that he '* explicitly declared in July," he 
accepted, provided "That the general officers and general staff 
of the army should not be appointed without my concur- 
rence." Neither McHenry nor Washington had any doubt 
that this was the object of the former's mission and lest there 
should be doubt, Washington asked McHenry to declare this 
in his official letter to Adams, as Washington's letter might 
be made public; and, therefore, should not be encumbered 
with stipulations. Washington asked McHenry to take back 
the commission till Adams's reply. McHenry said that would 
not be necessary, for silence would be acquiescence and, if 
Adams did not agree, he would say so. Believing this and 
not wishing to imply distrust of Adams's intentions, Wash- 
ington assented. Now Adams changes the order of the major 
generals and appoints brigadiers without Washington's knowl- 
edge. Washington's arrangement of major generals was de- 
signed. He had heard that the Federalists wished Hamilton 
second and this impression had been confirmed, in most un- 
equivocal manner, by some respectable members of congress. 
If Adams did not like the order, why did he not alter it before 
submission to congress f Hamilton's place would be hard to 
fi^l. Why does not Adams begin recruiting! The rough 
draft of the letter, covering the foregoing points. Washington 
sent 2 McHenry, on the next day, in strict confidence, as even 
the rumor of a breach between him and the president would 
be attended with unpleasant consequences. If Adams will 
not yield, the people must decide between him and Washing- 
ton. On the 30th, Washington wrote ^ again, warning Me- 
Henry against giving commissions to the brawlers against gov- 
ernment, "who would endeavor to divide and contaminate the 
army by artful and seditious discourses and, perhaps, at a 
critical moment, bring on confusion. " There are enough Fed- 
eralists to fill the places and "you could as soon scrub the 
blackamoor white, as to change the principles of a profest 
Democrat," who "will leave nothing unattempted to over- 

1 Sparks, xi, 304 ; Ford, xiv. 92. 

2 Sparks xi, 315. 

3 Ford, xiv, 104; Sparks, xi, 317. 


1798-1799] of James McHenry 841 

throw the government of this country." On the same day, 
Adams sent this curt note from Quiney : 

**Quiney September 30th. 1798 

"Inclosed are the Commissions for the three Generals 
Signed and all dated on the Same Day. I am Sir 

your most obedient &c 
**JoHN Adams." 

Before this letter came, McIIenry wrote ^ Washington 
that, though he has received no word from Adams, he expects 
the affair to terminate happily. He asked for a list of officers 
for the southern regiments, and stated that he had advertised 
for clothes, but that Wolcott still opposed paying for subsis- 
tence. There is news of a new coalition in Europe against 
Prance. Our conduct seems to have inspired the peoples 
with fresh hopes and courage. 

About this time there must have arrived in Philadelphia 
the letters Murray wrote from the Hague on August 20 and 30, 
stating that his secretary', Dandridge, wished to return to 
America and enter the army and asking that McHenry 's 
nephew, John, might be sent in his place. In a later letter, 
he repeats the request thus : "I am at a great loss for a rapid 
French reader and a writer of that insolent language, that I 
fear is to clothe every right (public) in Europe in its own 
idiom, genius, and dress — curse it, I wish no body spoke 
French. It is not half so vulgar not to speak Dutch — but I 
do come on.'' The request was granted and, on April 28, 
1799, Murrav wrote McHenrv that John McHenrv arrived 
at Hamburg on 13th instant, after a passage of seventy-three 
days. - *'We expect him with impatience. He has left Ham- 
burgh and is well." 

In his letter of August 30, Murray said: **This letter 
is on a subject doubly interesting to me, as it relates to the 
determination of Mr Dandridge to leave me, & to the acqui- 
sition of another Secretary. 

**Ever since we heard of the martial movements at home, 
Dandridge has been desirous of going to America. He has 

1 On October 1, Washington wrote McHenry complaining of Adams's 
delay. Si>arks, xi, 318. 

2 January 7. 1799, Pickering WTX>te the United States at Hamburg 
to pay John McHenry $200 travelling expenses. 

842 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

at last asked my consent. I have given it on his repeated 
solicitations — for from the manner in which we have lived, 
he would do nothing to disoblige me in this way. He is a 
most excellent & estimable man & has most fully equalled the 
short but good character which our illustrious Washington 
gave me of him. I have an affectionate esteem for him & a 
brotherly solicitude for his happiness, prosperity & advance- 
ment. He looks to the military career ; & though without the 
vanity of ambition, he has its better features — a wish to be 
useful & an ardent desire to support the Independence & 
glory of his country. Dandridge has no pretence & no affec* 
tation of brilliance — but he has, I undertake to say, a sound 
& strong understanding cultivated beyond what his simplicity 
& modesty of manners would lead a stranger at first to attri- 
bute to him — of this accuracy of judgement I have often 
availed my self. He is completely a man for high & delicate 
confidence, in fact I set a great value indeed upon him. You 
know him, but not as well as I have had it in my power to do. 
I do not mention him thus particularly to recommend him, as 
in a mere letter of introduction, but to do him justice — & to 
prove, as far as I can, his claim to a handsome & honourable 
appointment in the army. 

**I then present him to you as a candidate for a commis- 
sion. I hope & believe that you will give one suitable to him 
as a man of uncommon worth — as a true American, well en- 
lightened on the subject matter of our dispute with France 
and as the late Secretary of the late President of the United 
States. I know that you are acquainted with my friend Dan- 
dridge — but I could not let him apply himself, as I feel 
interested in his career & future lot & wish to give him the 
proof of ray esteem. He has been our inmate constantly & 
Mrs. M. & myself part from him with sincere regret. He has 
also been very happy with us. So much for my friend, whom 
I part with & whom I commit to your kind protection. 

**Now for the acquisition of another to fill his place. I 
have long thought, that should anything deprive me of Dan- 
dridge, that I would ask you to give me Mr John McHenry, 
your very promising nephew & my correspondent! as I men- 
tioned this to you before I left America, I hope that you have 
thought over my proposal. I sincerely wish that nothing may 
oppose itself to this object. I believe he esteems me — & you 
know that he has always stood high in my regard. He shall 
live with us entirely as one of my family & I undertake to say 

1 798-1 799J of James McHenry 848 

that, if he can be happy out of your paternal family, he will 
be 80 with us. Both Mrs. M. & I like our young friend ; and 
his relation to you and Mrs. McHenry would endear us all to 
each other & insure harmony & friendship. He will have to 
find his own washing & mending and that is all. That is ar- 
ranged here with ease & perfect snugness — & the salary is 
301. 10 Stirlg a year. He can also pursue any course of read- 
ing that your judgement may dictate. He may learn Italian, 
Spanish, or German. Stay either as long as I do, or follow 
your directions & entirely your views, without being pledged 
to any time. The business is not laborious to so young & 
hearty a man viz. Copying, as to the article of Dress and 
clothes — it is not serious. His Philad. clothes are in a better 
style than is common here. Linnen cheaper & the making of 
it cheaper. At his time of life, a tour of this sort will be both 
pleasant &, I should hope, advantageous — & may be so 
shaped, by your advice, as not to disturb any future plans wh. 
you may have in view for him. In fact, I wish to have him 
with me & see no objections strong enough to oppose my plan. 
He had best come direct to Hamburg, or Bremen, or Holland, 
& on his landing speak to the American consul, giving his 
name & I will take care to write to those at these points to 
receive him & put him on the way to the Hague, where he 
will be kindly welcomed as your nephew & my friend. 

** Should no ship offer to these places — He had best come 
through England. He can easily get a passage across to the 
Tees or the Maas to Rotterdam & then he is with me. I once, 
in 1784, left London at 4 o'clock in the morning, dined at 
Harich, and next day dined at the Hague. A winter passage, 
say in Nov. or December is not much to — England. I 
came in those months in 1783-4. He can be with me by Xmas 
or in January easily. However, I shall wait for him. 

**Dandridge wishes a commission in the Infantry and, if 
he had experience, I would say that he has character enough 
to be at the head of a Regiment. I forgot to mention this in 
the first part of my application for him. 

**Mrs. Murray sends her love to Mrs. McHenry, pray 
make my kindest compliments to her & give the enclosed (if 
you please) to Mr John McHenry. 

**The Three ministers viz Prince Repnin for Russia, 
Count Cobenzl for Vienna, & Lord Elgin for London, who 
went not long since to Berlin to produce a new coalition have 
left Berlin in utter disappointment — Ld. E. gone home — Ct. 

844 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

C. gone to Petersburg & P. Repnin gone to Vienna. No coali- 
tion, general. If the war begins again, there will be one be- 
tween Austria & Russia. 

"The energy & great respectability of the United States 
have produced a State of things in the Directory at Paris 
from which we may see the rights of Neutral nations, in gen- 
eral, respected. It would dilate every artery in you to see 
the glory which is spreading over the United States at this 
moment in the eyes of Europe. She comes on the stage at an 
instant highly propitious to eclat. When the heart of the 
continent had sunk — She plants her foot with firmness — 
France recoils — and every body is revived — & in triumph 
— for Prance does recoil — & I believe reflection will but con- 
firm — what astonishment first produced, & that she will recoil 
further, if we will preserve a steady aspect & a vigorous prep- 
aration. God bless my country, she indeed acts to a charm. 
I will again write, in June I wrote. I am dear friend aflfec- 

**& truly always yrs" 

Murray wrote thus two days later: **Be firm and per- 
severing, my dear minister, and Prance will recoil, we shall 
triumph and once more establish the law of nations." 

On October 5, the letter from Adams, of September 30, 
reached Philadelphia and McHenry copied and sent it to 
Hamilton, saying, **the sun begins to shine • • • This is a 
regal letter and, at the same time, a loyal proceeding. Hasten 
the military regulations. I shall, I expect, soon call upon 
you." To this letter Hamilton thus replied: 

''New York October 9. 1798 
**I thank you, My Dear Sir, for the prompt communica- 
tion of the intelligence contained in your letter by yesterday's 

"As to the regulations (if as I suppose you mean) those 
for the tactics & discipline of the army — I must answer that 
hitherto I have done nothing more towards it than some pre- 
liminary reading & reflection. The undetermined situaticm ft 
the necessity of a close attention to my law business (which 
is in such a state I could neither abandon nor diminish) has 
prevented my doing more in respect to the matter in question. 
It will, henceforth, engage my particular attention; but it 
ought not to be precipitated. My plan will suppose a diflfer- 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 345 

ent organization of the troops & some previous legislative 
measures to precede its execution. Besides the present sistem 
must be essentially the base of another & there is no urgency 
for a change. The course of the Winter will fulfill every use- 
ful idea — & allow time to digest well additions or innovations. 
To organize & to raise the army are the immediate desiderata, 

**I shall be ready to attend your call 

**Trs affectlv 
**A Hamilton 
**P S Young Ruiledge, late Secy of General Pinckney, is 
himself desirous of going into the army but he cannot, in pro- 
priety, decide upon an application without the previous con- 
sent of his father whose permission he has asked. In the 
mean time, I would suggest for your consideration the exped- 
iency of keeping open for him a Captaincy of Infantr\'. His 
connections & qualifications, give him pretension to look to 
this. You will understand that he cannot now ask & may not 
perhaps be allowed to accept; so that whatever is done, must 
be provisory Ade AH" 

On October 10, Wolcott wrote ^ Hamilton, **You are first 
Major General.'* "I supposed McHenry had transmitted 
the commissions but find, he still hesitates. I will, however, 
prevail on him to do his duty, if I can." 

Adams wrote to Washington ^ on October 9, informing 
him what he had done and stating that the difficulties between 
the major generals will be submitted to the general, as com- 
mander-in-chief, and Adams will ratify his action, though he 
has no doubt that the president has authority to determine the 
rank of officers. Adams thus yielded his contention. Before 
the yielding was known, Washington wrote McHenrA% ^ on 
October 10, asking what would be the effect of his resignation, 
if Adams disregarded the order of rank of the generals and 
the conditions upon which Wavshington accepted his post. 
Could Washington **with propriety and a due respect for my 
own character" help from resigning. Washington wished on 
this point to know Pickering's opinion and those of **the 
gentlemen who act with you." Does Pickering like Hamilton, 
Washington inquired, because of the ** utility of the measure," 

1 Hamilton, vl, 365. 

2 Sparks, xi, 548. J. Adams, vlli. 600. If North refuses the adiii- 
tant generalship, Adams will nominate Dayton, unless Washingrton prefer 

3 Ford, xiv, 105. 

346 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiu 

or because he dislikes Knox t Would the New England states 
be disgusted, if Hamilton precede Knox in rankf 

On October 15, Washington wrote ^ again, with refer- 
ence to the appointment of oflScers in the engineers and in the 
southern regiments, and stated that, in his view, ofScers should 
be appointed: First, from officers in the revolutionary army^ 
who are in the prime of life ; and then from ** young gentlemen 
of good families, liberal educations, and high sense of honor," 
but, that care should be taken not to appoint **any, who are 
known enemies to their own government, for they will, as 
certainly attempt to create disturbances in the military, as 
they have done in the civil administration of their country.*' 
McHenry submitted his correspondence with Knox to the 
cabinet - on October 13 and asked whether they considered 
that Adams be held to acquiesce in the settlement of relative 
rank, on the principle of and agreeably to the order of nomin- 
ation and confirmation ; whether he should consult Adams fur- 
ther, or send the generals their commissions directly; and 
whether he should send Adams a copy of their reply to his 

Pickering, Wolcott, and Stoddert, on the same day, ' 
signed a reply stating that the only inference they can draw 
is that Adams consents to the arrangement proposed by Wash- 
ington and followed in nomination and confirmation, and 
therefore McHenry should send the commissions, directly, and 
it would not be ** respectful to the President to address him 
again on a subject, which appears to have been attended with 
difficulties in his mind and the discussion of which can pro- 

1 Sparks, xi, 322. Sparks, xl, 549, Is a postaoiipt to this letter. 
The be^nning of the letter and another unprlnted postscript foUow: 

"Mount Vernon 16th Oct. 1798. 
"Dear Sir, 

"Your letter of the 2d. and those of the '5th. Instant came duly to hand. 

"Those of the latter date were received late in the evening preceding 
my visit to the Federal City, when I was detained several dajrs on busi- 
ness ; and Is the cause of their remaining unacknowledged so long. * * ^ 
"P S. 

"in treating on the subjects of Hegrlmental officers for the augmenta- 
tions, Colo. William Smith of New York again occurs. I know not on 
what precise ground the nomination of him was rejected by the Senate, 
and therefore to advise bringing him forward again might be Improper, — 
nor should I incline to do It, If there was Just cause to Impeach either his 
Integrity or his attachment to the measures of Government. But I have- 
always viewed Colo. Smith In the light of an Officer possessing military 
talents, and conceive. If he would accept of It that the Command of our 
Regiments about to be raised In the Middle District of the United States 
could not be better bestowed. 

"G. W. ^n." 

On Col. W. S. Smith see an article by M. D. Raymond in Mag. Am. 
Hist., xxil, 74. 

2Glbbs, ii, 101. 

? Glbbs. H, 102- 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 847 

duce no public advantage. We also think that no communica- 
tion of our sentiments will be necessary, unless the Secretary 
of War shall discover, hereafter, that we have mistaken the 
President's intentions, in which case it will be proper that 
we should share in the censure." Guided by this opinion, 
McHenry sent the commissions and wrote this information on 
the 16th to Washington, ^ telling him of the course of events 
and that he had written Hamilton and Knox, calling them 
into service. Washington is requested to come to Philadel- 
phia, as soon as possible and at any rate, before November 
10, at which time McHenry hoped both Adams and Washing- 
ton may be together at Trenton, where the government is still 
carried on. This official letter was enclosed in a personal one, 
which is as follows: 

** You will see by the enclosed the step I have taken, and 
the information and aid which I expect to derive from the 
Major Generals, in case it is approved, and also the desire I 
have to draw you for a short time to Philadelphia. I know 
not how all this is to end, and feel perfectly tired of the un- 
certainty in which so many important measures are kept fet- 
tered and involved. 

**I hope you will approve of the exposition I have given 
of my views, and the propriety of my fortifying or correcting 
my own opinions by those of the Generals. I have informed 
Hamilton of the points upon which I shall look for his assist- 
ance that he may come prepared. 

'*! am extremely anxious to know the result of your let- 
ter to the President. 


Yours ever & aflFectionately'* 

Hamilton answered McHenry in two letters written from 
New York on the 19th. In one he expressed his satisfaction 
at the relative rank given him and promised to come, - but 
did not expect to arrive at Trenton before November 10, ^ as 

1 Ford, xiv, 115. 

2 Hamilton, v, 141 ; Lodge, vl, 485. 

3 Lod€re*s Hamilton, vl, 48«. "It Is my intention," wrote Hamil- 
ton to Waahln^on from New York on October 29, 1798, "to proceed on 
the first of November to Trenton. My aid to the Secretary, to the full 
extent of what he shall permit me to afford, will not be withheld. But every 
day brlniTS fresh room to apprehend that, whatever may be the props, 
the administration of the War Department cannot pro8i>er in the present 
very well disposed but very unqualified hands." 

848 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

Knox cannot arrive before that date. In the other letter, he 

My Dear Sir 

I received yesterday your private letter of the 16th with 
its inclosures, now returned. 

''It was essential for you to take a decisive course & to 
leave the blame of further delay at some other door. There 
can be no doubt of the propriety of combining the aid of 
General Officers. But Pinckney being now arrived, it seems 
to me very proper & necessary that he also should be called 
upon. You will learn with pleasure that he sent me a mes- 
sage by young Rutledge purporting his entire satisfaction 
with the military arrangement & readiness to serve under my 
command. Communicate this to our friends Pickering & WoU 
cott, as I am not well enough to write them by this post. 


*'A Hamilton" 

Though Washington wrote ^ Knox on October 21, urging 
him to accept the commission, the latter wrote Adams, on Oc- 
tober 23, before he could have received this letter, ^ that it 
would be impossible for him to serve under officers so much 
his juniors. **No officer can consent to his own degradation." 
Pinckney accepted at once and, on October 26, thanked^ 
McHenry for the commission and hoped to see him in Trenton 
on Monday. On the 31st, he wrote again, promising to be at 
Trenton on November 10, regretting Knox's declination, and 
expressing a willingness to rank below Kiiox, if that will 
induce him to reconsider. He is glad to serve under Hamil- 
ton, though he outranked him in the last war. On October 21, 
Washington wrote McHenry, * enclosing a copy of Adams's 
letter of the 9th and asking him to bum the note, that its 
existence might not be discovered and confirm Adams in his 
ideas of intrigue. He also asked for information, as to the 
captains and subalterns from the south, who served in the 
revolution, which information he had already requested some- 
time before. 

In another letter, ^ dated the same day, Washington ac- 

1 sparks, xi, 326. 
■2 Sparks, xi, 550. 

3 Hamilton, vl, 373. See Sparks, xl, 551. 

4 Ford, xlv, 114. 

5 Ford, xiv, 115; Sparks, xi. 331. 

1798-1799] of Jam£s McHcnry 849 

knowledges McHenry's letter of the 16th and approves of all 
he has done, except the plan to ofScer the new corps in the 
southern and western states, which relies too much on the 
opinions of members of congress, who press applications often- 
times to get rid of them or ''for local and electioneering pur- 
poses." Washington fears Knox's declination and asks for 
information as to Pinekney, who, he hopes, will accept and be 
of service in picking out southern officers. Washington had 
been ill, but wrote that he would try to be at Trenton on 
November 10, or about that time. On the 23d, he wrote again 
from Mount Vernon : 

''Dear Sir, 

"It gave me very sincere pleasure to find by your letter 
of the 17th reed, last night — that Genl. Pinckney accepts his 
appointment in the. Army of the United States. 

"If it would not be too inconvenient for him to remain 
at the Seat of Government until the 10th. of next month (the 
ulterior day, allotted for the Assembling of the Majors Gen- 
eral at Trenton or Philadelphia) and you would advise me 
thereof, immediately, I would make every exertion in my 
power to meet them at that time. 

"For a variety of reasons, which will readily occur, the 
sooner such a meeting could take place the better; — and 
perhaps no time, — season — or circumstances, would be more 
convenient than the one proposed : — nor more eligable for the 
purpose of concerting a Plan, upon general hypothesis ; — and 
rectifying, as far as possible, the evils, which have preceded 
from delav in Recruitg. 

"With great esteem and regard 

"I am Dr. Sir. Your Most Obedt Serv. 

' ' Go. Washington. ' ' 

Adams wrote McHenry, on the 22nd, that he will confirm 
any appointments which the generals and McHenry recom- 
mend. He cannot come on soon, on account of Mrs. Adams's 
illness. He had dated the commissions on the same day and 
agreed to confirm Wa.shington 's decision in the. matter. ^ 
He rather sneers at the recruiting ser\nce and says regiments 
are costly and no national plan has been formed for the main- 
tenance of an army, so far as he has seen. Adams was already 

1 J. Adam«. viil, 612. On October 26, McHenry wrote Washington 
that Adams had not answered Wolcott and is extremely sruarded In his 
expressions, but will not refuse your request. 

850 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

preparing for congress, as is shown by his letter to McHenry 
written on October 10 from Quincy: 

"Dear Sir. 

"The Meeting of Congress approaches, and it is necessary 
to consider whether Philadelphia is a safe Residence for Con- 
gress: and also the Particulars that will be proper to com- 
municate and recommend to both Houses at the opening of the 
Session. I ask the favour of you to revolve these sujects in 
your Mind and write me the Result as soon as you can. I 
have the Honor 

"to be, Sir your most obedient 
"John Adams'' 

On October 30, McHenry wrote to Washington that Knox 
declines, Pinckney will assist, Adams can not come, but "we 
wish you about Nov. 10." 

Amid the unpleasant aflFairs of the season, there were 
pleasant ones and McHenry had loyal friends like Tracy, who 
wrote from Litchfield on the 8th of October, 1798: 

"My Dear Sir — 

"Tour favour of the 3d inst. is duly reed. I thank you 
for it — and will endeavor to lay before you, names for an- 
other Corps. I conclude we shall in Connecticut be allowed 
as many Officers as will organize one more Regt. — including 
the provisional Army. If I am mistaken in this, please to let 
me know by an early opportunity. In the mean time, Gtovr. 
TumbuU, Col. Wadsworth, & I will be selecting the proper 
characters who shall be forwarded to you, as soon as may be. 
I thank you for the foreign news — & should be more thankful 
for the Domestic, if it were more grateful in its Nature. 
Storms we must have, & each must have his share — but it is 
a consummation devoutly to be wished, that they may cease 
from within our own household, as they increase from without. 

"I am aware that we must undergo some difficulty, by a 
hint I had from Enox in a letter, but I said nothing, hoping 
it would blow over without much mischief. As to Wm. S. 
Smith commandg. a Regt., you know the appointment is in 
the hands of the Executive, by law; and it must take its 
course ; but if all I hear of him is true, he ought, by no means, 
to have a Regt. Let it be remarked, that I may be misin- 
formed. I only give my opinion under present impressions. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 351 

Altho I am of opinion almost any compromise must be made, 
rather than have on our hands so much Executive blocking 
to our movements. The OflScers of the 12 Regt. & of the pro- 
visional Army, it seems to me should now be appointed as soon 
as convenience will possibly permit. The ardor of our Coun- 
try will I fear cool — and recruiting will drag heavily. For 
God*s sake let nothing retard this matter much longer — we 
must have our Army in forwardness. 

**As soon as possible, we will forward you another Regt. 
of OflScers, you can use them as Provisional or not, as you 
please. Could the Commissns. soon be sent to me, the success 
of recruiting is infallible. Every thing moves at present per- 
fectly right in Connecticut, but too long delay will at any rate 
do no good. * There is a tide in the aflFairs of men. ' 

**I am unwilling to tax a busy useful man to write me, 
but must ask you to give me a line, if any thing particular, 
either foreign or Domestic, srhould occur. I am Sir 

"with esteem & affection yrs. 
'* Uriah Tracy.'' 

McHenry wrote Washington on November 9, that he had 
lodgings for him and that he proposed to bring out a few 
volunteers to give him a military reception. Pinckney was 
delayed, for a short time, owing to an accident to his carriage, 
but, on the 10th, McHenry submitted to Washington, Pinck- 
ney, and Hamilton lists of officers and proposals as to the 
number of officers and men to be taken from each State, ac- 
cording to the census. ^ Discussion was also had, coneemini? 
allowances to officers detached on such services as to incur 
expenses on the road and at places, where there aro no mili- 
tary posts. 

WashiDjrton answered Mcnenr\'\s propr>saLs - in letters 
written at Philadelphia on November 13 and 14. The earlier 
of these letters reads thus: 

1 Hamilton, v. 152; Sparks, xi. r)o2. 

2 Certain other questions were subrnitud by McHenry to the o'.hor 
secretaries about this time. 


"Dr. Sir 

"I have .signed the paper upon which you requested tht opinion of the 
Heads of Departments. — I take the liberty to suir^est however, that writ- 
ten official Opinions ought not in my Judgement to be called for. without 
the direction of the President — 

**I am sir yrs. truly 

"Oliv Wolcott 

"Dec. 7. 1798. 

James McHenry Esq." 

852 IJfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 


''I observe by the concluding paragraph of your letter of 
the 10th. instant, that you contemplate conferences between 
the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury, and myself, for 
the purpose of obtaining auxiliary information from their 
departments. Several of the questions which you state, seem 
indeed, to require such information. But, on reflection, it 
has occurred to me, as most regular, that you should settle 
with these Officers what it may be reciprocally deemed neces- 
sary and proper for them to communicate ; — to the end, that 
they may themselves, bring forward, either through you, or 
directly to me, as may be agreed upon, but without any prev- 
ious application from me, such communications as the case 
shall be supposed to require. Whenever, too, I am to report 
a formal opinion, you will, I dare say, think with me, that the 
data upon which it shall be given ought, substantially, to be 
deposited with me in writing. Personal conferences besides, 
for more full explanation, may be useful, and will be very 
agreeable to me. Allow me to request your speedy attention 
to this Matter. 

**I find also, that the Documents refered to in your letter 
of the 10th. instant, did not accompany it. As these will be 
necessary in forming an Opinion on several points submitted 
to me in your aforesaid letter, and which I have communicated 
to Major Grenerals Hamilton and Pinckney, I must beg you 
to furnish me with them without delay. The documents re- 
ferred to are as follows — viz. 

** *List of persons who have been recommended for Com- 
missions in the Army, with their letters of pretensions.' 

** (N. B. A list of applicants South of the Potomac, and 
their letters, are in my hands. The lists and letters from the 
other parts will be wanting.) 

** 'Returns and Letters from Brigadr. Genl. Wilkinson, 
showing the Stations and number of the Troops on the North 
Western and Southern Frontiers.' 

* ' * Return i^owing the description, places of Rendezvous, 
Stations and number of Troops now on our Sea-board frontier. 

** 'Return from the Superintendant of Military Stores, 
showing the quantity and kinds of Cannon, Field Artillery, 
Military Stores, and other Articles now on hand, belonging to 
the United States.' 

**(N. B. This return should also exhibit the places at 
which these are deposited, and the quantity at each place). 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 858 


To these must be added the estimate which you had 
made out of the monies which you conceived would be required 
for Military service, and the times at which the same might 
be wanted. 

**I have in my hands a list of the General and Field 
OflBcers who served in the Revolutionary war, and of the Cap- 
tains and Subalterns from the States South of the Potomac. 
You will, therefore, be pleased to add to the documents, a list 
of the Captains and Subalterns from the other States, that the 
whole may be before me. 

*aam. Sir 

**With very great esteem & regard, 
* ' Your most Obedt. Servt. 
**Go. Washington." 

The second letter, written on the following day, is as 
follows : 

**In order to form an opinion on the query contained in 
your letter of the 10th. instant, whether it will be best to 
furnish Rations for the Troops by Contracts, or by purchasing 
and issuing Commissaries, it will be necessary lliat I should 
know the prices of Rations, now by Contract, at the several 
places where Troops are Stationed. 

**You will therefore be pleased to add this to the docu- 
ments which I Yesterday requested you to furnish. 

**With great esteem & regard. 
**Iam, Sir 
**Your most Obedt Servt. 
* * Geo. Washington. ' ' 

These letters he followed, after a month's stay in Phila- 
delphia, with three long oflficial ones dated ^ December 13 and 
16, and drafted for him by Hamilton. Washington forwarded 
with the letters of the 13th a brief personal note : 

** Private 
''Dear Sir, 

**I am really ashamed to offer the letters &c herewith 
sent, with so many erazures &e, but it was not to be avoided, 
unless I had remained so much longer here, as to have allowed 
my Secretary time to copy the whole over attain : — and my 

1 Sparks, xl, 346-376. 

854 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

impatience to be on my return homewards, on Account of the 
Season — the Roads — and more especially the passage of 
the Susquehanna — would not admit of this. With consid- 
eration & respect I am Dear Sir 

**Your most obedt. Servt. 
**Gbo. Washinoton. 
**P. S. Mr. Lear, you are sensible, was engaged with myself 
& the Genl. Officers; — of course could not be employed in 
Transcribing what you will now receive, as the result of our 
deliberation at the mom't. we were engaged in other matters.*' 

The difficulties connected with the appointment of Wil- 
liam S. Smith continued to exist and are the subject of a 
letter Washington wrote ^ on December 13. 


**You will observe that in the Arrangement of the Of- 
ficers allotted to New York, there is an alternative of William 
S. Smith, or Abijah Hammond for Lieut. Colonel Comman- 

** Various considerations demand that the motive of this 
hesitation should be explained. 

**Had military qualifications alone been consulted, the 
name of Colo. Smith would have stood singly, and he would 
have been deemed a valuable acquisition to the service. Had 
there been no other source of objection, than the erroneous 
political, opinions lately attributed to him, his honor and at- 
tachment to his Country would have been relied upon. But 
as well myself as the two Generals, whose aid I have had in 
the nominations, have been afflicted with the information, 
well or ill founded, that he stands charged in the opinion of 
his fellow Citizens with very serious instances of private mis- 
conduct ; — instances which affect directly his integrity as a 
Man. The instances alleged are various; but there is one 
which has come forward in a shape which did not permit us 
to refuse it our attention. It respects an attempt knowingly 
to pledge property to Major Burrows, by way of security, 
which was before conveyed or mortgaged, for its full value, 
to Mr. William Constable, without giving notice of the cir- 
cumstance, and with the aggrevation that Major Burrows had 
become the Creditor of Colo. Smith through friendship, to an 
amount which has proved entirely ruinous to him. While 

1 A letter of Hamilton dated December 17, treats of the matters In- 
cluded In Washington's letters. 

1798-1799] of Javies McHenry 855 

the impossibility of disregarding this information forbade the 
selection of Colo. Smith absolutely; Yet the possibility that 
it might admit of some fair explanation, dissuaded from a 
conclusion against him. 

**As it will be in your power to obtain further lights on 
the subject; it has appeared adviseable to leave the matter in 
the undetermined form in which it is presented, and to assign 
the reason for it. 

**You are at perfect liberty to communicate this letter 
to the President. Candour is particularly due to him in 
such a case. It is my wish to give him every proof of frank- 
ness, respect and esteem. 

**Tjest it should be supposed that Major Burrows has 
officiously interfered to the prejudice of Colo. Smith, it is but 
justice to him to declare that such a suspicion would be en- 
tirely without foundation. 

**With great consideration & regard 
**I have the honor to be, 
*'Your most Obedt. Servt. 

**Go. Washington." 

A week later, McHenry received Smith's defense. ^ He 
had been speculating in western lands and his detailed ac- 
count of his conduct proved satisfactory, so that he was placed 
in command of a regiment. 

The great questions of the army were not the only ones 
to occupy McHenry 's time during the summer and autumn. 
On July 27, Washington wrote him to procure colors for the 
** Gray-heads of Alexandria,'* ^ ^rjjQ jj^^j formed a company 

for the defence of the town and its vicinity, and about the 

1 See Pickering's Examination of the Adams and Cunningham letters 
p. 144. Adams in his letters to Cunningham. 123, said that Pickering, "at 
the instigation of Hamilton, I suppose, who was jealous of Smith as a 
favorite of Washlngrton and a better officer than himself, excited a faction 
in the Senate against him and, to my knowledge, propagated many scan- 
dalous falsehoods concerning him and got him negatived, though Wash- 
ington had recommended him to me. Btit no personal or family consid- 
erations would have Induced me to dismiss Pickering. My motives were 
public altogether." Pickering (In "Interesting Correspondence between 
his Excellency Gov. Sullivan and Col. Pickering," in which the latter 
vindicates himself against the groundless charges and insinuations made 
by the Govemour and others, 180S, p. .^2> says Adams never told him 
cause of removal. Smith's defense is published in So. Hist. Assoc. Pubs, 
for 1907. 

2 Ford, xiv, 55. On Augrust 13. McHenry wrote Washington that 
Miss Custis's colors advance. See also note 19. 

856 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

same time he received a charming letter from the fascinat- 
ing Eleanor Parke Custis: 

** Mount Vernon July 26th 1798. 


**You will perhaps be a little surprised when you see 
from whom this letter comes, as it is not very common for 
Ladies to begin a correspondence, however, as I have had the 
pleasure of your acquaintance some years, and I consider you 
as one of my old Friends; I wave all general rules, & will 
proceed accordingly in this my Epistle to the Secretary of the 
War Department. I hope you arrived in Philadelphia with- 
out accident, & found your family well ; I assure you we re- 
gretted your departure but indulge the hope you will again 
favor us with a visit, & bring with you, Mrs. McHenry and 
your young family. I shall now take the liberty of troubling 
you in regard to the Commission for a Standard, which you 
were kind enough to undertake for me. One of the Volunteer 
Dragoons dined with us today, he mentioned that the Com- 
pany had a colour Staff which from its antiquity & being 
used by the first Company in which Grandpapa was, in either 
the late War, or the French War (I forget which) they prized 
highly, and intended to honour my gift, by placing it on that 
Staff. If they send you the Staff for that purpose, will you 
be so obliging as to have placed on the tops of it — The Amer- 
ican Eagle, hansomely carved, and gilt in the best manner in 
one talon an Olive Branch, in the other, implements of War. 
And also to have my favorite Motto — Conquer or Die — in 
letters of Gold on the Standard, which America is represented 
as presenting to the Dragoon. The uniform, I suppose you 
have been informed of My Company will, I think, be very 
respectable, therefore, I wish My Standard to be the han- 
somest ever seen in America. If the Antique Staff is not 
sent, will you have one, very hansomely made, with the orna- 
ment above mentioned. 

"I hope you will excuse me for adding to your weight 
of business, which must already be allmost too much to bear. 

**I must trust your good nature, which is I believe, all- 
ways gratified by an opportunity of confering favors. 

* * I amuse myself sometimes with the recollection of your 
walks up Chesnut Street to your OflSce. & think you must 
find them disagreeably warmy particularly, with your regi- 
mental Coat and Large Hat. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 857 

**Be pleased to present my affectionate regards to Mrs. 
McHenry, & your Children; & to divide with them 

**The best wishes for your Health & Happiness 

** Eleanor Pakke Custis. 
**P. S. My regards to aU 
the Ladies, with whom I 
have the pleasure to be 

Miss Custis 's desire for the standard led her to write 
a second interesting letter on September 6 : 

"My good friend's entertaining letter, and wise admoni- 
tions I received in due time, why I have not answered and 
acknowledged them before this time, perhaps I might find 
some diflSculty in accounting for, but no doubt (as Ladies, 
all ways you know are guided by good reasons) I had some 
very cogent and sufficient reason for not doing that which I 
now acknowledge ought to have been performed long since; 
however I hope you will excuse me. I know that you have 
so much good nature, and kind consideration, that I make no 
ceremony of imposing upon it, allways anticipating forgive- 
ness. I beg you will accept my sincere thanks for your very 
polite and friendly expressions, I assure you, your letter gave 
me infinite pleasure, and I often entertain myself with reading 
it over. 

**I was very sorry sometime since to learn that you were 
very ill, but the clouds of regret have been chased away by the 
bright sunshine of pleasure on your recovery: I sincerely 
hope you will have no return of your indisposition, and that 
yourself and family may enjoy uninterrupted Health & hap- 
piness. That cruel Malady, the Yellow Fever, has driven 
you from Philadelphia I hear, it is a most unfortunate cir- 
cumstance for the poor Philadelphians, many who are now 
obliged to fly from that distressed City, will probably be pre- 
vented from returning, by the fear of the Yellow Fever be- 
coming a constant Summer visitor. 

**I am afraid the poor Painter who was executing the 
Standard for me has gone to The land of his Fathers — and 
left America, the Dragoon, and the Motto, to the mercy of 
the Yellow Fever : I assure you, I begin to be a little anxious 
for their fate, as I fear they will come to an untimely end. 

858 LAfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

How lamentable would such a dire event be. My Troop are 
all uniformed and waiting for the Standard, which they are 
determined to defend with a bravery never excelled; even 
in the annals of Chivalry y and in the earliest ages of romance. 
I am afraid their patience (which is already threadbare) will 
be entirely worn out, if it is much longer delayed, and not 
having * Conquer or Die' before their eyes, their patriotic 
and Heroic ardor may be exchanged for calculations of Loss 
and Oain and a resolution, — that it is better to stay at Home, 
and make money in Peace, which depends upon the caprice of 
a Foreign Nation, than to fight for their insulted Country, 
and a continuation of Our Independence, gain Honor and 
Glory, but spend their cash and love — their Heads. I will 
here take the liberty of informing you, that the Motto by you 
called sanguinary, has no enigmatical meaning whatever af- 
fixed to it, it is simply this in the literal translation, 'Never 
give up, whilst life remains, or Die rather than be conquered/ 
I never intend, be assured, to die of mortification on any 
account, and more particularly, for the cause you apprehend 
I mean. The Ten thousand Knights whom I carry along so 
triumphantly in chains, exist only in your Brain, I am per- 
suaded. I beg you to believe, that my intentions are peace- 
ful & charitable and not murderous and monopolizing; if any 
Chrysostom's wear chains, as they are forged by themselves, 
and worn voluntarily, so the peril be upon their own Heads, 
and the consequences, however disagreeable they may prove 
to them. 

**The beautiful and inexorable Marcella was unjustly 
accused, I think her answer to the charges brought against 
her on Chrysostom's account, is excellent. Heaven, you say, 
has given me beauty, nay such a share of it, as compels you 
to love me, in spite of your resolutions to the contrary ; from 
whence you draw this inference, and insist upon it, that it is 
my duty to return your passion. By the help of the small 
capacity which Nature has bestowed upon me, I know that 
which is beautiful is lovely ; but I can by no means conceive, 
why the object which is beloved for being beautiful, is bound 
t^ be enamoured of its admirer. Besides, you are to consider, 
that I did not chuse the beauty I possess ; such aa it is, God 
was pleased, of his own free will and favour, to bestow it 
upon me, without any solicitation on my part. The scrip of 
paper I received in due time, I am indebted to you for your 
polite attention to my commission, and for employing a 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 859 

Deputy, when business prevented you from attending to it 
yourself; I have no doubt I shall be pleased with the execu- 
tion of the Standard, which I am very anxious to see unfurled 
by My Troops, and I flatter myself, that should invasion im- 
pend, this company will be one of the first who march to 
repel the daring invaders ; that they will be endued with real 
spirit, and do justice to the favorite Motto. I acknowledge, 
my mortification would be very great indeed, was I to hear 
that the Troops had suflfered this Banner to fall into the 
hands of an enemy. If you can spare a few moments from 
the multiplicity of disagreeable business with which you are 
encompassed, you will oblige me infinitely by a hint on the 
subject, with information relative to its progression, and 
when I may expect to recieve it. 

**My Beloved Grandparents unite in kindest regards to 
Mrs. McHenry, yourself and Children, My Brother and self 
unite in respects and affectionate wishes to the same. 

*'Be assured my respected Friend 
**of the esteem and Friendship of 

** Eleanor Parke Custis." 

A rather amusing letter sent from Mount Vernon on Feb- 
ruary 16, 1799, shows that Miss Custis's martial ardor did 
not cause her to send those she loved into the field : 
Dear Sir, 

The enclosed letter from Major Lawrence Lewis re- 
quires explanation, and it is the purpose of this letter to 
give it. 

*'He had, it seems, been making overtures of Marriage 
to Miss Custis some time previous to the formation of the 
Augmented Corps in November last, at Philadelphia; with- 
out any apparent impression, until she found he was arranged 
as a Captain in the Regiment of Light Dragoons, and was 
about to try his fortune in the Camp of Mars. This brought 
into activity those afl^eetions for him, which "before she con- 
ceived were the result of friendship only. And I believe the 
condition of the Marriage is, that he is to relinquish the field 
of Mars for the sports of Venus. His own letter must speak 
the result. This explanation, after what has happened, I 
thought was due from 

** Dear Sir— Yr. Most Obedt & Hble 
"Go. Washington." 

Delays still continued, so that Hamilton grew impatient 

860 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

and wrote on December 16, 1798, ^ If he ia to have recruit- 
ing service, please let him know at once and send him instruc- 
tions, that he may gain for McHenry's ''final decision, new 
lights from officers, who have had experience in this branch 
of the service.'* His own experience is very limited **in this 
and, to form a right plan", is of ** great importance." 

He has been investigating tactics and will put more time 
thereon but must be paid and have travelling expenses, for 
his practice is falling off and he has a large family. 

McHenry answered at once ^ and said that recruiting 
will be wholly confided to him, but he must await supplies 
of clothing. * * It is certain you must have been a loser in the 
way you mention, by accepting the office you now hold, and 
as certain that justice requires that none of the pay or emolu- 
ments annexed to it should be refused." ^ 

Indefatigable in work, Hamilton wrote almost daily to 
McHenry on all sorts of military matters and forwarded let- 
ters he had written to others on these subjects, as for example 
his letter of December 22 to General Gunn, a senator from 
Georgia : 

**As to further military arrangement my ideas are these 
— Considering how little has been done towards raising the 
force already voted; that an important tax is yet in the first 
stage of an Essay — that a prospect of peace is again pre- 
sented by the temporizing conduct of France — that serious 
discontents exist in parts of the country with regard to par- 
ticular laws — it appears to me advisable to postpone any 
actual augmentation of the army beyond the provisions of the 
existing laws, except as to the Regiment of Cavalry, which 
I should be glad to see increased, by the addition of two 
troops, and by allowing it to be recruited to the complement 
which has been proposed by the commander in Chief as that 
of the war-establishment. What this is will probably be com- 
municated by the Secretary at War 

**But a considerable addition ought certainly to be made 
to our military supplies. The communications of the Com- 
mander in Chief will also afford a standard for the increase 
in this respect, as far as concerns the force to be employed 

1 Hamilton, v, 180; Lodge, vll, 42 vide p. 3. 

2 Hamilton, vl, 374. 

3 On the 19th, Hamilton wrote that he Is preparing a plan for the 
fortification of New Yoric harbor and wishes certain plans to bo bought 
t>y the United States and loaned to him. Hamilton, v, 182. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 861 

in the field. There are, however, some other objects of sup- 
ply equally essential, which were not within the view of those 
communications. Heavy Cannon for our fortifications and 
mortars for the case of a siege. Of the former, including 
those already procured and procuring, there ought not to be 
fewer than one thousand from eighteen to thirty two pound- 
ers, chiefly of twenty four — of the latter including those 
on hand, there ought to be fifty of ten inch Calibers. This 
you perceive looks to offensive operations. If we are to en- 
gage in war, our game will be to attack where we can. France 
is to be considered as separate from her ally. Tempting ob- 
jects will be within our Grasp. 

**Will it not likewise be proper to renew and extend the 
idea of a Provisional Army? The force which has been con- 
templated as sufficient in every event is 40,000 Infantry of 
the line, 2,000 Riflemen, 4,000 Cavalry, and 4,000 Artillery, 
making in the whole an army of fifty thousand. Why should 
not the provisional army go to the extent of the diflFerence 
between that number and the actual army? I think this 
ought to be the case, and that the President ought to be au- 
thorised immediately to nominate the officers — to remain 
without pay till called into service. The arrangement can 
then be made with suflScient leisure for the best possible selec- 
tion: and the persons designated will be employed in acquir- 
ing instructions. 

**It will likewise well deserve consideration whether pro- 
vision ought to be made for classing all persons from eighteen 
to forty five inclusively, and for drafting out of them, by 
lot in case of Invasion, the number necessary to complete the 
entire army of fifty thousand. In the case of Invasion, the 
expedient of drafting must be resorted to, and it will greatly 
expedite it, if there be a previous classing with a view to such 
an event. The measure too will place the Country in a very 
imposing attitude and will add to the motives of caution on 
the part of our enemies. 

** These measures are all that appear to be adviseable with 
regard to our military establishment under present appear- 
ances. A loan as an auxiliary will of course be annexed." 

On the copy of this letter sent to McHenry, Hamilton 
wrote : 

**This is communicated in confidence, I s(md as well be- 
cause I think it proper to do so, as because I wish you to see 
the train of mv ideas.'* 

862 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

Two days later McHenry's report on the reorganization 
of the army was sent to Adams and was transmitted by the 
president to congress on the 31st. McHenry's report is quite 
elaborate and states that **A very obvious policy ^ dictates to 
us a strenuous endeavor, as far as may be practicable, to place 
our safety out of the reach of casualties which may befall the 
contending parties and the powers more immediately within 
their vortices." He proposes to have each infantry regiment 
to consist of ten companies, formed into two battalions; each 
cavalry regiment to consist of ten troops formed into five 
squadrons; each artillery regiment to consist of four battal- 
ions, each battalion divided into four companies. The title 
ensign should be given up and that of lieutenant substituted 
therefor. There should be fewer officers. Aides should have 
their place filled by others in the regiment. There should be 
a quartermaster general and an hospital establishment. ^ We 
should bring in from the Austrian or Prussian armies one or 
two engineers and artillerists as colonels and have an inspec- 
tor of fortifications and of artillerists. Fit clothing for the 
soldiers can be made by tailors in the ranks. Regulations as 
to rations should be revised. **With regard to liquor, it may 
be best to exclude it from being a component part of the ra- 
tion,'* while allowing a discretion to commanding oflScers to 
cause it to be issued. Congre^ should make allowance for dis- 
banded soldiers to return home. The provisional army act 
and the militia law should be revised. An especial allowance 
should be made to the inspector general. There should be a 
purveyor of public supplies, exclusively for the war depart- 
ment, that the secretary need not be occupied with details of 
lesser concerns. Hamilton, when secretary of the treasury, 
thought that the purchase of military stores and supplies 
should be made through that department and so congress de- 
creed by the statute of 1792. The law was a mistaken one 
and partly responsible for St. Clair's defeat. Yet Hamilton 
advocated the policy thereafter, suggesting that a special pur- 

1 State Papers, Military AfTairs, i, 124. Other minor reports of 
McHenry about this time are the following: 

Letter from Sec'y of War, Inclosing Statement of the Number of 
Cannon purchased for the use of the Frigates, Revenue Cutters and Forti- 
fications, since January, 1794; etc. pp. 7. Phila. [1798]. 

Letter from Sec'y of War, accompanying his Rep. relative to Running^ 
of a Line of Experiment from Clinch River to Chilhowee Mountain, by 
Order of Gov'r of the Terr'y of the U. S. South of the Ohio. pp. 18. 
Phila. [1798]. 

2 Ingersoll's War Department, 212, quotes H. Bi. Brown's Med. Dept. 
of U. S. Army, 73, that the Medical Department was organised In 1798^ 
Stat, at Large, i, 721, and enlarged in 1799, but disbanded In 1800. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 868 

veyor of supplies be appointed under the secretary of the 
treasury. This was done in 1794 and the conditions so con- 
tinued until July 16, 1798, when the new law provided that 
the supplies should be purchased under the direction of the 
secretary of war. After McHenry 's report, referred to above, 
the act of March 3, 1799, authorized the secretary of war 
directly to make such purchases. As a result of the report 
the establishment of the staff departments may also be placed 
to McHenry 's credit. 

From New York on December 26, 1798, Hamilton wrote 
to inform McHenry that General Huntington has been dis- 
pleased at not having received official notice of his appoint- 
ment with his commission. ''I hear nothing of nominations, 
what malignant influence hangs upon our military affairs ^ 
♦ • • I left with General Pinckney a project of a Military 
School which he was to have sent me ? Has he quitted Phila- 
delphia? If so have you heard any thing of this paper? I 
want it." 

Two days later McHenry answered that the nominations 
"will probably be made to-day and Smith's will stand.'' 
Pinckney has gone without leaving a project of a military 
school. A foreigner cannot be put at the head of the second 
regiment of artillery. McHenry asked Hamilton to throw the 
conclusions of the report into a bill and hoped to begin re- 
cruiting soon. At the same time he wrote Washington con- 
cerning his report ^ and the nominations, stating that he ad- 
vised Smith's appointment. 

Washington had written to McHenry ^ from the east 
bank of the Susquehanna on December 16, where he was de- 
tained by wind and tide, proposing that military affairs in 
the Carolinas and Georgia be placed under Pinckney, or that 
Virginia be added to the department, and General William 
Washington be given South Carolina and Georgia, subject to 
Pinckney. All the other troops, including Wilkinson's army 
in the West, should be placed under Hamilton. The new 
recruits from Tennessee and Kentucky should be under Pinck- 
ney. The present force there should be under Hamilton, as 
part of Wilkinson's command. Washington himself will not 
act until the army is in the field. Meantime it will be well 

1 Lodge, vll, 47. 

2 The report was sent Washlngrton on January 5. 

3 Sparks, xi, 374. 

864 Life and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

to concentrate responsibility and have all orders reach Mc- 
Henry through the two heads. 

On January 6, 1799, Washing1;on wrote again from Mount 
Vernon : 

Dear Sir, 

Your favour of the 28th Ulto. I have duly received. 
I have no wish that any sentiments of mine, handed 
to you oflficially, should be with held from Congress, or the 
Public. All I should have desired, would have been, that 
such parts of my Report of the proceedings which occupied 
the attention of the two Major Generals and myself in Phila- 
delphia, and fit for Legislative consideration, might have been 
communicated entire; — with the reasons in support of the 

** Extracts, without these, does not always convey the 
sense, or the intention of the Reporter. 

**It is unnecessary I presume, to add, that such other 
parts of the Report as depend upon Executive decision, ought 
not to be delayed. Many valuable Officers & Men have al- 
ready been lost by it : — and if the arrangement is not an- 
nounced soon, more will be so. The regulations with respect 
to the Uniforms, and Army distinctions, should be announced 
at the same time (if approved) in clear and peremptory terms; 
to guard, in the first place. Officers against unnecessary ex- 
pence — and in the second place to prevent fantastic decora- 
tions at the whim of Corps. I do not recollect whether it is 
so expressed, but it was the meaning, that all Officers who 
are not directed to be distinguished by feathers, are not to 
wear any ; but if it is not forbidden at the time of the annun- 
ciation, to those who shall, the practice will still prevail in 
the lower grades ; — such is the propensity in favor of it. 

**That those who applied for higher grades than they 
have been appointed to Shd. decline accepting them, was in 
many instances, apprehended — but to find among others, 
who were appointed, unworthy characters, is more surprising ; 
although it is an evidence of the truth of the doctrine I ad- 
vanced, that there was no dependence (except in a few in- 
stances) on the mode of obtaining information — for reasons 
wch. I detailed at the time. 

**The Papers you have asked for went off before your 
letter was received — and safe with you, I hope ere this. 

**I ought to have taken your advice with respect to draw- 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 865 

ing three, in place of two months pay ; — Not keeping the 
ace. of my expenditures to, from, and at Philadelphia my- 
self — Mr Lear paying them out of the money he received 
there, on his own account. — and not coming to the knowl- 
edge of their amount until I got home, I presumed two months 
Pay &C. would have covered all my expences — but with the 
purchase of a few articles incidental to my journey, I find 
that the aggregate, amounts to $1115.^100 and the pay 
drawn, to 1039. 50-100 without including in the first sum the 

preparatory expence of equipment, for the jour- 
♦One item ney,* 

alone of ''This communication is incidental; not by 

which any application for a further allowance; — for 

a horse, cost I had rather sustain the loss, and the fatigues 
me $300 of the journey, than it should be thought I was 

aiming to draw an Iota more from the Public, 
than my declaration at the acceptance of my 
Commission would authorise 

**With very great esteem & regard 
**I am — Dear Sir 

**Your Most Obedt. and 
** Affectionate Servt. 
"Go. Washington." 

McHenry answered on January 10th, writing concerning 
Washington's salary and stated that Hite's name was left out 
of the nominations because he and his connections, *'who live 
in a very federal part of the country, are stated to be anti 
governmented and Jacobins" so that his appointment would 
excite disgust. 

Hamilton was naturally worried and complained ^ on 
January 7, 1799, of the unascertained situation he held. He 
has lost half his emoluments and he is uncertain as to whether 
he is **to derive from the scanty compensation of the office 
even a partial retribution for so serious a loss." 

McHenry answered - at once on January 9 : **Dear Ham- 
ilton. An official letter of this date fixes the commencement of 
your pay and emoluments. I shall, soon as possible, define 
your duties and command. In the meanwhile, I should be 
glad to have your own ideas on the subject. You will proceed 
in your report for a system of tactics and discipline. You 

1 Hamilton, v. 186; Lodge, vli, 50. 

2 Hamilton, v, 188. 

866 lAfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

will also endeavor to ascertain the best positions for your re- 
cruiting parties and general rendezvous &c." 

On the next day McHenry wrote that General Gunn of the 
senate committee has asked ^ for a draft of two biUs ; one 
based on McHenry 's report as to a regular peace and war 
establishment, and one on all new matters pertaining to the 
provisional army. Gunn also asked that existing provisions 
might be incorporate in these bills. This seemed a judicious 
idea and Hamilton was requested by McHenry to incorporate 
in the two bills all that ought to be retained of existing laws. 
The matter was urgent and on the 11th, McHenry wrote - 
once more, asking Hamilton to lay aside other business and 
occupy himself on the two military bills only, as the session 
is short. ^ McHenry cannot tell what will be done as to appro- 
priations. Hamilton knows the ''causes and obstructions 
which have prevented me doing anything" to carry the law 
for raising the army into effect during the past year. '*If 
you want money let me know, that I may send you your pay." 
Hamilton answered McHenry 's letters on the 14th from New 

"Dr Sir 

**I received on Saturday two letters from you, desiring 
that your different propositions might be thrown into two Bills 
& suggesting the idea of an Incorporation of the several exist- 
ing laws into one system. This idea is a good one, but to ac- 
complish it with sufficient correctness would require severd 
days to examine carefully and prepare with accuracy. Be- 
sides this, I incline to the opinion that it will be best in the 
first instance to present the alterations and additions pro- 
posed independently — that the progress of them may not be 
embarrassed by the consideration of an entire System; and 
I had even thought of a distribution into more than two divi- 
sions to secure at all events the passage of some things. The 
organisation on my plan would form one bill comprehending 

the Sections in the inclosed draft No. 1 to inclusively 

— The Hospital department would form another Bill. The 
provisional army & volunteers a third. The miscellaneous 
points a fourth. The plan however of two Bills is now pur- 
sued, except that I shall preserve the sections for the Hos- 

1 Hamilton, v, 188. 

2 Hamilton, v, 189. 

3 See Ingersoirs War Dept., 25. 

1798-1799] of James McRenry 867 

pital establishment separately; which with the provisional 
army Bill will go by tomorrow's Post. 

''I do not exactly seize your idea about the Inspector of 
Fortifications and, therefore, have prepared nothing on that 
point. Is it essential to have a distinct officer of this charac- 
ter t Or may not the objects of it be fulfilled by some one 
of the Engineers of the establishment t I will endeavour to 
embrace your plan on this head and, if I do, I will throw it 
into the form of a Section of a Bill. 

''I do not lose sight of the idea of an Incorporation of 
the whole Military system into one law; but I believe you will, 
on more reflection, judge it advisable to make this a subse- 
quent operation of greater leisure and care. 

**I remain with great esteem & 
regard Dr. Sir 
''Yrs. Obed 
**A Hamilton" 

On the 15th, he forwarded ^ a provision to be incorpor- 
ated in the bill sent the day before and re<?retted that he could 
not yet send the provisional army bill. He sent the medical 
establishment bill ^ on the 21st. 

McHenry asked ^ Hamilton on the 22nd for a proper 
arrangement of the forces, since Washington declines to take 
an active part. Hamilton replied on the 24th that this is a 
delicate subject for him and suggests that he and Pinckney 
be given authority, as Washington outlined, and that all com- 
munications from the West be sent open under cover of the 
secretary of war, who, in urgent cases and in the absence of 
Hamilton, will himself give orders and, otherwise, will leave 
Hamilton to control matters under the department's instruc- 
tions. **You will take and reject as shall appear to you 
proper, assured always that, personally, I shall be content with 
any arrangement you may think advisable." 

On Fobruarj' 4, ]McHenry answered, "* eivin^ IlaiTiilton 
instructions according to the ideas of Washincrton. and adding: 
** Finally I cannot conclude these instructions, without express- 

1 Hamilton, v. 190, Mcirrnry wrotf Tousard on tho l^th to inspect 
the fortifications of Newport, Boston, Marblehead, and Portland. 

2 Hamilton, v. 195: Lodire. vli. 3. 54. 2S. Gimn. who knew nothing 
of Hamilton's hand in the matter sends Hamilton on the 23d a bill Mc- 
Henry had Riven him and asks him to prepare one for the provisional 

3 Hamilton, v, 197; TvDdge. vii, 59. 

4 Hamilton, v, 199; Sparks, xl, 563. 

868 Life atid Correspondence [Chap. xiii 

ing my most unlimited confidence in your talents to execute the 
high trusts which the President reposes in you and my own 
most perfect reliance upon your cooperation and assistance, 
in everything that concerns the army establishment, and the 
means to remedy whatever defects may be found to exist there- 
in ; and that I shall at all times recognize, in the execution of 
the orders which you may receive, the most perfect evidences 
of your candor and friendship." 

Hamilton answered on the 6th, discussing the recruiting 
districts and regretting that the objection that several ** char- 
acters proposed" were anti-federalists prevented their appoint- 
ment. ^ **We were very attentive to the importance of ap- 
pointing friends of the government to military stations, but 
we thought it well to relax the rule in favor of particular 
merit, in a few instances, and, especially, in reference to the 
inferior grades. It does not seem advisable to exclude all 
hope and to give to appointments too absolute a party feature. 
Military situations, on young minds particularly, are of all 
others best calculated to inspire a zeal for the service and 
the cause in which the incumbents are employed." 

On the 7th, Sedgwick wrote ^ Hamilton that he had 
been to see McHenry about hastening supply of clothing and 
enlistments and found that Adams was opposed to an army 
and objected to the title of general. The next day McHenry 
wrote ^ Hamilton that Adams has the recruiting instructions 
and seems in no hurry. They will be sent, ajs soon as he 
decides on them. Washington had been frequently writing 
to McHenry : on January 27, on the details of uniforms, * 
on January 28, on the arrangement of the relative rank of 
certain regimental officers;* on February 10, again on his 
own uniform. The last letter is as follows: 
**My dear Sir, 

**Your letter of the 1st. instant is received. Whatever 
appearance or shape, the Uniform intended for me, may take, 
by your direction, will be entirely agreeable to my taste. It 
being the commencement of a distinguishing dress for the 
Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States 

1 Hamilton, v, 209 ; LiOdire, vil, 62. 

2 Hamilton, vl, 393 ; Lod«:e, xvll, 54. prints a letter from Hamilton 
to McHenry dated January 16, 1799, and accompanying a draft of a bill 
for a provisional army. 

3 Hamilton, v, 211. On February 16, Hamilton (Hamilton, v, 21.1) 
asks to have the additional regiments distributed among the states with- 
out delay. 

4 Ford, xlv, 148: Sparks, xl, 394. 

5 Sparks, xl, 396. 

1798-1799] of James McHenry 869 

(whom so ever he may be) and probably will be a permanent 
one My wish (although as it respects myself personally I 
have no choice) is, that it may be correctly executed; — for 
which reason I thought it more eligable, in the first instance, 
that the direction concerning it should preceed from the De- 
partment of War, than from myself. 

•'I hope it will be made & sent to me by the time men- 
tioned in my last; — accompanied with the Cockades, and 
Stars for the Epaulets ; without the whole of which the Dress 
will not comport with the order; of course must be incom- 

**If my Nephew, Mr. Bushrod Washington, should not 
have left Philadelphia before the above articles are ready, 
and is certain of being here by the 22d. instant, it would 
afford a good and safe opportunity for the conveyance of 
them to me ; — but if he has doubts on this head, I would not 
hazard the receipt of them by him, by that time ; as you will 
perceive by the enclosed letter to Mr. McAlpin left open 
for your perusal and with an excuse for troubling you with 
these small matters, at a time when I presume you are pressed 
by important ones. I am with esteem & regard, and much 

*' My dear Sir 

''Your Affect Hble Servant. 
'*Qo. Washinqton." 

While matters were thus progressing slowly, Adams, who 
had never thoroughly favored war, startled the United States 
on February 18 by sending the senate the nomination of Mur- 
ray as envoy to France. 



ADAMS, on June 21, 1798, had stood with the extreme 
Anti-Gallican federalists ^ and had announced that 
**I will never send another minister to France, with- 
out assurance that he will be received, respected and honored 
as the representative of a great, free, powerful and independ- 
ent nation." He had signed the naturalization, alien, and 
sedition bills. But he was not anxious for war. Twelve 
years later, McHenry wrote: **I shall not pretend to pene- 
trate into all the motives that weighed with Mr. Adams to 
retire from the ground of this declaration and send a third 
mission to France. "^ in Jiig letters to the Boston Patriot 
defending his administration, Adams acknowledged that he 
concealed this intention from the heads of departments and 
stated that he was equally careful not to inform any member 
of either branch of congress. **I knew,"* he wrote, **if I 
called the heads of departments together and asked their 
advice, three of them * would very laconically protest against 
the measure and the other two^ would more modestly and 
mildly concur with them." The consequence would be that 
the thing would be instantly communicated to members of the 
congress and a clamor raised against it in the newspapers, all 
of which would probably excite the senate to put their nega- 
tive on the measure. It may be briefly said, in answer to this, 

1 In July, 1798, Col. John E. Howard wrote a letter to Dr. Thomas of 
Frederick, who printed it, statlngr that Gen. Samuel Smith said, at the 
president's table, that he would have srlven the douceur demanded by Tal- 
leyrhnd as the price of hearing our commissioners, that it would have 
been cheaper than war, that he was severely reprimanded by the president 
for his sentiments, that no person except Mr. Bayard present supposed 
him not to be In earnest, that at another time he said he would ^ve double 
the sum, or £100,000 sterling. Adams said he would not give the duty on a 
pound of tea, was surprised to hear such sentiments and had hoped that 
no virtuous American entertained them. (Broadside issued by F*ederal- 

2 Lodge's Cabot, 204. 

3 Letter XI. 

4 i. e. Plckerin^r. Wolcott, and McHenry. 

5 Stoddert and Lee. 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 871 

that the obvious course of obtaining new advisers whom he 
believed trustworthy should have been followed, if Adams 
distrusted his secretaries. 

The sending to the senate of Murray's name ^ as envoy 
to France aroused surprise and many objections.^ To the 
objectors to Murray's appointment to the French mission, 
Adams said that he thought Mr. Murray ''a gentleman of 
talents, address, and literature, as well as of great worth and 
honor, everyway well qualified for the service and fully ade- 
quate to all that I should require of him, which would be a 
strict compliance with his instructions, which I should take 
care to provide for him, on all points, in terms that he could 
not misunderstand. That my motives for nominating him, 
in preference to others, were simply because the invitation 
from the French government had been transmitted through 
him and because he was so near to Paris that he might be 
there in three or four days, and because his appointment 
would cause a very trifling additional expense." He nomin- 
ated an envoy because a letter written by Talleyrand to Pichon 
on September 28, and sent from the Hague by Murray to 
Adams, approved the preliminary overtures Pichon had made 
and gave continued assurances that an American minister 
would be treated with proper respect. Murray was rejected 
by the senate, and Adams then nominated ^ on February 25, 
Murray, Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, and Patrick Henry 
of Virginia. When Henry declined, he was succeeded by 
William B. Davie of North Carolina. Murray's nomination 
was not altogether a surprise to him, as is evident from his 
letter to McHenry of January 30. 

**You say nothing of my letters in Augt. respecting my 
friend John whom I begged of you as my Secretary, Dand- 
ridge having gone by my consent in Sept. to Mr King — & I 
having taken a temporary Secretary' for Three months unless 
Mr. J McHenry arrived sooner. This temporary Secretary I 
took (Mosr. Montflorence) from Genl. Pinckney's introduction 
& because he had been very faithful to Govt at Paris in the 
worst of times. I continued bin till the 20. Deer. Mr. McH 
not coming:. I continued him the 20. Jany. — & then till the 

1 February IS. J. Adams. Ix, 249. On Murray see Clement Sulli- 
vane's article In Southern Hiatorical Society Publications, v, 151, and 
Carey's Am. Museum, 11, 220. 

2 J. Adams. Ix, 249. In his letter to the Boston Patriot 

3 McMaster, ii, 429. 

872 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

20 next month — always under the terms express & * unless 
Mr. McH. should arrive sooner/ After the 20th Feb. I unll 
not have any Secretary, unless John come, as I sincerely hope 
he will. I wish he had written fiv6 lines, by five ships, some 
one would have got to me — but I every day expect to see 
him enter & announced by old Will. He will be quite at 
home with us — & I recall more identically our pleasant even- 
ings at your house — at Philada. — that charming city so dear 
to my memory what dreadful affliction it has suffered! Mr 
Hill I hear is dead — Miss Breck — Miss Westcot — good old 
Mr Anthony and poor Fenno — Bache too has still kept him 
company vis a vis ! But doubtless many others have gone whom 
I knew — here I know nothing of what passes except by your 
letters & one I had at the same time from Mr Bingham — I reed, 
a letter yesterday from My brother of 20. May 1798 ! & I hear 
from a Dutch gentleman not long from St Thomas's that the 
Delaware & a 44 gun frigate were there as envoys. He seemed 
almost ajs much delighted as I was — & from Mr Smith at 
Lisbon I hear to day that a new 28 was launched & coppered 
at Newbury Port in 74 days ! — from Hamburg I learn also 
to day that on the 7th. Dec the President was too much 
indisposed to meet the Houses & of course no speech then. 
I sincerely hope that he has recovered & been strong enough 
to look them full in the eye & give them a firm determination. 
''My dear Sir one half of the miseries which is brought 
upon the Sevl. nations whom french power has swallow 'd up 
has been owing to the timidity of the Executive power. It is 
true that generally that was the centre of all power on this 
continent — this however only serves to illustrate more strong- 
ly the folly of timidity at all, in govt. The treasons wh. have 
latterly disgraced the very species of Man were in a great 
degree the consequences of this timidity in the Head of the 
Govt That timidity, temporising, shuffling & rank cowardise 
could but be seen by those in places of high trust & in the 
army — when discovered a new principle of calculation was 
gradually formed in minds long weakened by a philosophy 
that refines away the coarse but more valuable properties of 
our nature, and each man becoming a politician, in the low ft 
selfish sense, balanced, doubled, feared the success of french 
enterprise, & gradually was prepared so to act before hand as 
to be in a sort of character, by wh. he might avail himself of 
unlucky contingencies, if they came on. Thus Treason is 

1799-1800] ofJavies McHenry 878 

really more a moral than a political disease in many of the 
public functionaries all over this continent! The People, on 
the contrary, true to nature, are willing & anxious for that 
energy in the protecting Govt. wh. would save them from 
foreign domination. The gentry, call them nobles, in general, 
destitute of energj', seem to me incapable of high spirited 
action — of course when a moment comes, like that the other 
day at Turin & all over Piedmont, in the Roman & Neapolitan 
Territory all was policy without energy — & submission wt. 
out salvation ! 

**We have nothing official of the Neapolitan army since 
3 Jany inst. Then Mack well fortify 'd in Capua had offered 
an armistice to Championnet wh. was haughtily refused. It 
is believed that there has been immense Treason in the N. 
army! That the French shJ. have retired from the Tuscan 
Territories, wh. it is believed they have done, is a singular 
thing if true — & leads some to believe that the Emperor & 
France will yet agree — a thing wh. seems to me almost im- 
possible ! We have as yet nothing official on these things. 

''The insurrection in Belgium still rages — sometimes in 
battles of 3 — & 4000 well fought — often in skirmishes from 
woods, & harrassing better managed. The dear silky gentry 
are out of the struggle — but they will not escape, many rich 
men have been taken up & sent to Paris on suspicion of secret- 
ly aiding with money the insurgents, who are literally poor & 
hardy peasants, fighting with the cross marked on their 
clothes. The french suffer exceedingly in this kind of desul- 
tory war & the soldiers prefer any sort of battle to that with 
which they are regaled if they show themselves in smaller par- 
ties — of this sort we could give them a plenty. 

**I had written thus far when Colonel Hitchborn ^ (431. 
1512. 1238. 1246. 1451. 710.) was announced. He is just 
from Paris. He seems much altered in his opinions as he now 
most heartily curses them. My particular reason for men- 
tioning him here is this — a circumstance that has made me 
think with rapidity & pain! He says that after he & those 
with whom he associates of our country knew what the pro- 
posals were wh. Woodward & Mr Gerry carry 'd out last sum- 
mer, he & they recommended me (1050) as the person to whom 
government shd. send a commission if anyminister were named ! 

1 The numerals are written In the text of the letter and the mean- 
ing of the cipher was written over them after the letter wels received 
by McHenry. 

874 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

I regret this whole affair & so told him. I know the state of 
parties. I know their ways of thinking on hearing of such an 
unsought unthought of thing. I feel that it is due to you & 
myself (920. 1463) to declare solemnly that I (1308) 
never hinted even such a thing — never expected it — 
& NEVER WISHED IT! and that it is teetotaUy with- 
out a hint from or to (me) 1050! In fact I have but 
one character on this great question particularly. Those 
of both parties who know me, know what it is — to make 
proselites to the great cause of our Govt. & our country's 
Independence, I do certainly vary my small means occasion- 
ally & adapt them, as far as I can penetrate, to the characters 
of those whom I would save if possible & bring over — but not 
a moment do I disguise my opinions. This gentleman passed 
a week here in Sept. on his way. I had heard of his violence 
agt. our Govt. &c &c &c — he paid me a visit. I treated him 
with politeness — & after that often canvassed things with 
him. I found we differed — but whether his politeness short- 
ened the difference or whether a knowledge of what he saw 
here had worked, he spoke rationally & apparently with sound 
views. I there pointed out what I believed to be the mtention 
of France as to general Dominion, at least in Europe. He did 
not think with me. Since, to day — He has declared to me that 
he is now convinced of that truth. That plunder & repine & 
Dominion are their objects. That they shd. so treat us had 
they the power &c &c &c. 

**His son in law (612. 489. 948. 1457. 1005.) has been late- 
ly put in the Temple at Paris, & he (954) ordered to quit 
Paris — he stay 'd at Passy a few days. As those letters from 
that party at Paris may reach your ears I thought it due ta 
you my dear Sir & to myself & the Govt, to make this explan- 
ation — & Col. Pickering, who will have the goodness to 
decypher for you, will also do me justice in reading this letter 
Happy here — dreading storms & quicksands, my ambition 
goes not higher. You wd. never hear such remarks from me,, 
indelicate but in such circumstances, had I not got at the in- 
telligence wh. I have troubled you with. I am always 

**My dear Sir most truly & affecty yrs." 

Written on cover of letter by Murray was : 

*' Observe my seal. Tis the old one. The 
cock for a crest. The Goose — that vigilant 
guardian of the Capitol, I see with pleasure, 

1799-1800] of James McHenry 875 

is yours. But why a wild one — for I see 
it is chained ! It is however a good device. 
**on reflection — I wish that nothing may be said to Col. P. 
or anyone on the particular intelligence which I have mention- 
ed. Unless circumstance render it proper — because protes- 
tations, even agt. such an idea are indelicate to be first men- 
tioned. If you copy the cypher on a bit of paper it can be 
decyphered without showg the whole. 

* * Since writing the inclosed, there is reason to suspect that 
french affairs in the Neapolitan Domn. are not so flourishing 
— and it is said & believed that the French retired from Tus- 
cany in consequence of a threat from the imperial Gtenl. — 
doubtful I think. A report circulates this evening that Eh- 
renbritstein has surrendered. Peace appears to me impossi- 
ble, while power remains in such hands as wield it at Paris. 
Personal safety & views impel them to exterior war. They 
would tear out the very vitals of F. had they exterior peace ! 
Feb. 1799.'' 

Congress meanwhile considered ^ and passed the medical 
establishment act on February 25 and the act for better organ- 
izing the troops on March 2. By the latter act the army was 
directed to consist of four regiments of dragoons, one regiment 
and a battalion of riflemen and forty regiments of infantry. 
This act, of course, caused a great increase in efforts to recruit 
troops, of which subject the following letters of Hamilton 

• * private New York March 10. 1799 


** Ought it not to be a rule to forward from your depart- 
ment to the Major Generals, as they are passed, copies of all 
laws respecting the military establishment? At any rate you 
will oblige me by sending those of the session just finished. 

**I believe in the 5 § of the Recruiting Instructions, filled 
up in Manuscript, the term of enlistment is five years. The 
law for augmenting the army § 2 directs the enlistment to be 
*for and during the continuance of the existing differences 
between the U States & the French Republic' If there be 
any thing varying this, it has escaped me. Will you inform 
me? This inquiry is suggested by a new revision of the re- 
cruiting instructions. 

As it may yet take time to prepare for me a complete list 

1 Hamilton, v, 218-233. 

876 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

of the officers of the army, I should be glad to have one of the 
field officers only, with a note of the stations or destinations 
to which they have been assigned. I want much to place them 
over the detached posts & to concenter the direction. 

**I observe the XIII § of the Recruiting Instructions au- 
thorises the appointment of certain Courts Martial. Where 
is the power for this Regulation? 

** Sometime since I requested you to send me the organ- 
ization of the officers, as reported by the Commander in Chief. 
You replied that no such document had come to you. I 
imagine that I must not have expressed myself clearly, for I 
well remember that the document, which I mean, wag made 
out in Mr Lear's hand writing for the purpose of being sent 
by you. It was an arrangement or distribution of the Officers 
who were nominated into Regiments, batalions, and Compan- 
ies, assigning to each company, by their names, its proper 
complement of Officers. 

**It appears to me very important that the Regimental 
Pay Masters & Quarter Masters should be designated without 
delay. They are the proper organs through which all issues 
of monies & supplies ought to pass. If I remember rightly, in 
the late war, the Q. Master & Adjutant were appointed by the 
commander of the Regiment. The Paymaster was designated 
by the Officers of each Regiment. What has been the practice 
lately? Whatever be the mode, I wish very much to be in- 
structed to have the thing done. 

**Will it not be advisable speedily to direct the field Offi- 
cers of each Regiment to report for the consideration of the 
President an arrangement of the relative rank of their officers 
in the Regiment. This will not work any inconvenience as to 
the corps, of which the Officers have not yet been appointed. 
And it being done will facilitate future operations. 

**Yrs very truly 
**A Hamilton'' 

* * Private New York March 14. 1799 

"Dear Sir 

**It is a construction of the law warranted by usage that 
the President shall appoint the requisite number of Lieuten- 
ants & leave three of them to be designated for Quarter Mas- 
ter & Pay Master in the manner practiced in the late army. 
But if this is supposed not to be a good construction, the end 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 877 

may be produced by making it a rule that recommendations 
shall come through the described Channels to the President & 
that, unless for some extraordinary reason, he will, as of 
course, nominate or appoint. 

**But whatever be the mode, pray let it be adopted at 
once & put in a train of execution that these essential officers 
may be appointed. Yrs. truly 

*'P. S. 

** Since writing the above, it has occurred to me as worthy 
of consideration whether it will not be expedient to enlist 
indiscriminately for all the corps and to insert an alternative 
in the call as to the term of service thus — * for and during the 
continuance &c or for the term of five years, at the option of 
the U States. ' As there are soldiers of both descriptions to be 
enlisted, I incline to think the laws will bear out the alterna- 
tive in point of executive propriety — & the option would be 
evidently valuable. The principal question is whether sol- 
diers would not more readily enlist for the casual duration of 
existing differences than for the known time of five years.'* 

The indefatigable Hamilton wrote daily, sometimes even 
twice a day. He sent acceptable amendments ^ to the recruit- 
ing regulations, and submitted arrangements of districts ^ for 
recruiting from Connecticut and the Middle States, offering 
to do so also for all New England, Maryland, and Virginia. ^ 
He did not understand that he might begin recruiting at once * 

1 McHenry on the 18th accepted Hamilton's work. Hamilton, v, 23'>. 

2 March 15. Hamilton, v, 234. 

3 Finckney may do It for the Carollnas and Georgfla, and resident? 
of Kentucky and Tennessee for those states. March 16, Hamilton, v, 234. 

4 March 17, 1799 
Dr Sir 

I send you the draft of a third Bill. I shall quickly send you that of 
a fourth which will comprise whatever more remain. 

Yrs truly 
A. H. 

Private New York March 18. 1799 

Dr Sir 

If my memoranda be right I sent Wilkinson's letter, by duplicates 
through you. If so I presume It is not necessary for the certainty of 
conveyance to send a triplicate. If I am mistaken in the first idea, or If 
any thing more is requisite, be good enough to say. If otherwise, no reply. 

It is very extraordinary that I receive no acknowledgement of my 
letters from the commandant at Fort Mifflin (Elliot I believe) Duplicates 
went through you. Can you Inform me? Has not this officer too strong 
a love of independence? 

Mr. Tracy seems to have understood you that it was left to my discre- 
tion to begin the business of recruiting whenever I thought proper. I 
have so understood the matter. If this be your Idea be so good as to 
express It 

Yrs Affecly A Hamilton 

878 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

and urged that there be an agent for the commissariat at 
Philadelphia. ^ 

McHenry 's position was a hard one and he had not enough 
sternness to surmount all the difficulties of a procrastinating 
president and a cautious secretary of the treasury. Wash- 
ington again admonished him, ^ in a long letter, which was not 
only private but **a friendly one from George Washington 
to James MoHenry.'* The general added, most generously: 
**If the sentiments which you will find in it, are delivered with 
more freedom and candour than are agreeable, say so, not by 
implication only but by explicit language ; and I will promise 
to offend no more by such conduct, but confine myself, if oc- 
casion should require it, to an official correspondence." He 
complains that commissions are kept back, the recruiting ser- 
vice arrested, and himself left uninformed. Washington is 
not a ** mercenary officer,'' but, came forth through a **high 
sense of the Amor Patriae^ ^ and should be told all that occurs, 
** though detached from the army'* at present. The ** golden 
opportunity^' for recruiting and the idle winter months have 
nearly passed. In the busy summer, recruiting will be ex- 
tremely difficult and the **rif raf of the populous cities, con- 
victs and foreigners" must be taken. Such regiments are no 
better than militia. Washington first intended to stop with 
these remonstrances; but, reflecting that he may not again 
write with such freedom, continues with the further complaint 
that the five weeks' work of the two major generals and himself 
at Trenton and Philadelphia has been set at nought, for **any 
member of Congress who had a friend to serve, or a prejudice 
to indulge." Special instances are referred to and the better 
course is emphasized of following absolutely the arrangement 
made by the board of general officers. The president had 
power to make any promotion he pleased, but must observe 
rules and attend to the feelings of the officers, if **he wishes 
to preserve the peace and harmony" of the army. 

* * There is one matter more, which I was in doubt, whether 
to mention to you or not, because it is of a more delicate na- 
ture than any I have touched upon ; but finally friendship has 
got the better of my scruples. It respects yourself person- 
ally. 3 

**• • • Whilst I was in Philadelphia, and after the Mem- 

1 Hamilton, v, 23«. March 19. "Pleaae send list of Connecticut offi- 
cers. Is not the Adjutant General exofflclo the deputy Inspector generair" 

2 Ford, xlv, 158; Sparks, xl. 406. March 25. 

3 This paragraph has never before been printed. 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 879 

bers of Congress had begun to assemble it was hinted to me in 
pretty strong terras by more than one of them, that the De- 
partment of War would not, nay could not, be conducted to 
advantage (if War should ensue) under your auspices; for 
instead of attending to the great outlines, and principles of 
your office, and keeping the Subordinate officers of the Depart- 
ments rigidly to their respective duties, they were inattentive, 
while you were bewildered with Trifles." 

Washington calls to McHenry 's attention the fact that 
he had already advised McHenry to leave details to others and 
"bestow your thoughts and attention to the more important 
duties.'* These **were alone sufficient to occupy the time and 
all the consideration of the Secretary.'' The delay in issuing 
commissions and beginning recruiting, which **excite<l general 
reprobation and blame," causes Washington to recur to the 
subject and to say that most people attributed the delay to 
**the want of system and exertion in the Department of War." 
Washington writes this, **as a private man to his friend," and 
knows such a letter would be improper from the commander 
in chief to the secretary of war. If McHenry does not receive 
it in good part, the purity of his intentions is the best apology 
Washington can offer. In any case, he is McHenry 's **most 
obedient and affectionate humble servant." ^ McHenry soon 
answered, defending himself from the blame of the delay. He 
was not offended at the rebuke, but wrote: ** Accept my sin- 
cere thanks for your letter and let me intreat you to continue 
to give me such proofs of your friendship, as often as you 
think they will be useful to apprise me of the public expecta- 
tions, or any omissions or faults into which I may fall." The 
delay in issuing commissions is due to the fact that ninety-five 
men, to whom they have been offered, have not answered Mc- 
Henry 's letters and the relative rank can not be settled, until 
all are heard from. To issue a partial list of commissions 
would be a questionable proceeding. The delay in recruiting 
was due, first, to the pestilence in Philadelphia ; next, to the 
troubles concerning Hamilton and Knox ; thirdly, to the condi- 
tion of the federal treasury. The United States cannot furn- 
ish sufficient white cloth for vests and overalls. The pur- 
veyor has as many men as he can get making clothes. Lastly, 
the president's procrastination and opposition to the expense 
of the army have delayed recruiting. Adams has said, **Why 

1 Ford, xlv, 166; Sparks, xl, 413, 420. March 31. 

880 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, xiv 

should any one enlist for $5 per month, when he can get $15 
at common work'* and that ** there was no more prospect of 
seeing a French army here than in heaven." **The situation 
into which I have been thrown, during the past year, by others, 
who prevented all those measures from being carried into ef- 
fect, which the public expected would necessarily take place 
in conformity to the laws, could not fail to attach to me much 
censure and excite in the minds of persons, who could not be 
informed of the facts, that I wanted capacity for the proper 
conducting of my department.'' 

Washington was satisfied by McHenry's defense of his 
official conduct and answered, ** While I was at Philadelphia 
and since, when I heard your conduct arraigned, for not hav- 
ing the augmented force organized sooner, and for the conse- 
quent delay in recruiting; I did then, and on all other proper 
occasions, declare that circumstances over which you had no 
control were the causes thereof and that no blame ought to be 
attached to you. ' * About the delay of the commissions, how- 
ever, Washington felt something must be done. If the depart- 
ment of war waits to receive answers to its letters, ** months, 
nay even a year," may be consumed. 

** Those who live in Post Towns — near Post Offices — or 
who are in the habit of enquiring at these places for letters, 
would have been enabled to answer your address to them in 
time ; but a number of others may be uninformed of your letter 
to them at this hour — especially as many of them have been 
sent to wrong offices, & will only be heard of by the adver- 
tisement of them." 

To avoid this delay, he suggests the insertion in the news- 
papers, which nearly every one sees, the names and grades of 
the men from whom no answers come, with the request that 
such persons reply without further delay. 

On April 23, Washington sent McHenry word that he ap- 
proved of his plans, but regretted greatly that the favorable 
moments for recruiting had passed. He spoke of certain oflS- 
cers and assured McHenry that his own purpose was merely 
to have the general good advanced. ^ Adams left Philadel- 
phia early in the season. On March 29, he wrote - McHenry 
asking that a record of vacancies and recommendations be sent 
him, before any army appointments be made, and, on April 

1 Ford, xlv, 174; Sparks, xl, 420. 

2 AdamB, vlli, 629. 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 881 

1, Wolcott^ wrote Hamilton, **We have no President here 
and the appearances of languor and indecision are discourag- 
ing to the friends of the government/' He complained of 
McHenry who **does the best in his power, yet his operations 
are such as to confirm more and more a belief of utter unfitness 
for the situation." 

The tireless Hamilton transmitted, on April 8, a plan ^ 
for improving methods of procuring and issuing military 
stores, which plan McHenry approved, thinking it like that of 
the Revolutionary army and thus supported by experience. * 
Courts martial caused some concern, as the United States were 
not now in a state of general hostility, nor at war ; Hamilton 
transmitted* a sentence against a deserter without acting 
upon it, though he thought an example should be made, and 
asked ^ that sentences be not referred to him, where the courts 
were instituted by the department and not by him. Adams 
was inclined to show clemency towards deserters sentenced to 
death and the proceedings of courts martial, at times, showed 
* * culpable ignorance of the rules of war. ' ' On May 27, Hamil- 
ton wrote McHenry^ that desertion prevailed to a ruinous 
extent. The remedies for it are a greater attention to disci- 
pline, '^ to which Hamilton will look ; better care in furnishing 
supplies, to which McHenry will doubtless see; forbearance 
to enlist foreigners, and energy in punishment of oflfenders. 
As to the last, Adams should be urged that severity is indis- 
pensable to uphold discipline. * McHenry answered at once * 
agreeing to Hamilton's arguments, stating that one of the de- 
serters should be executed and that apprentices should not be 
enlisted. To this last point, Hamilton agreed. ^^ On the 
question of executing the deserter, considerable correspondence 
passed. Adams wrote ^^ McHenry, that he did not object to 
sentencing such persons to death, but wished to be sure that 
the officers of the court martial were regularly commissioned 
and objected to the fact that it accepted a plea of guilty. 

1 Hamilton, vi, 406. 

2 Hamilton, v, 247; Lodge, vli, 69. 

3 Hamilton, v, 25^; Hamilton, v. 248. On the 17th, Hamilton notified 
McHenry that he was coming to Philadelphia for a personal conference. 

4 Hamilton, v, 249. April 20. Lodge, vli, 7«. 

5 Hamilton, v, 250. April 23. Lodge, vii, 77. 

6 Hamilton, v, 263 ; Lodge, vii, 88. 

7 McHenry had suggested this step on May 9 and Hamilton adopted 
It in his letter of the 25th. Hamilton, v, 261 ; Lodge, vll, 87. 

8 Hamilton, v, 264. 

9 May 28. Richard Hunt. 

10 May 29. 

11 June 5. Adams, viil, 654. 

882 Litfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

McHenry was doubtful as to the regularity of the commissions 
and Adams replied that he will approve the death sentence, 
if the court be considered regular by the unanimous vote of the 
heads of depaitmemts. ^ A month later, Adams wrote that 
another deserter should be hung and, probably, also the one 
first spoken of, but that the question should be submitted to 
McHenry 's colleagues.^ 

The cabinet thought the judgment of the court martial 
probably legal and Adams finally left the question of clem- 
ency in McHenry 's and Hamilton's hands. ^ Unless they ad- 
vised mercy, the man should be hung. McHenry consulted 
Hamilton as to this and found the latter to incline towards len- 
iency. * * * The temper of our country is not a little opposed 
to the frequency of capital punishment. Public opinion in 
this respect; though it must not have too much influence, is 
not wholly to be disregarded. There must be some caution, 
not to render our military system odious, by giving it the 
appearance of being sanguinary. Considering the extreme 
lenity in time past, there may be danger of shocking even the 
opinion of the army by too violent a change. The idea of 
cruelty inspires disgust and, ultimately, is not much more 
favorable to authority than the excess of lenity.'* So Hamil- 
ton proposed merely to degrade the deserter, unless McHenry 
sent word to the contrary. In the early autumn, Adams au- 
thorized. ^ McHenry, if he desire to do so, to pardon, at the 
foot of the gallows, a soldier who was not only a deserter, but 
aided two prisoners to escape from confinement, when he was 
sentinel in charge of them, and lost his own arms and accoun- 
trements. A noteworthy question as to duelling led to a letter 
from Lee to McHenry. 

' * Office of the Attomev General 
'Philadelphia 26 april 1799 


**I had the honor to receive your letter of the 9th. instant 
which, enclosing a statement of the case of Captain Vance, 
propounded several questions to which my answer is requested. 

* ' The challenge contained in Capt Vance 's letter of the 2d. 

1 Adams, vl, 659. In another Irregrular court martial case, which 
occurred about this time, Adams Instructed McHenry to approve of the 
dismissal from the service of the men court martialled. Adams, vlii, 65«. 

2 July 13. Adams, viii, 665. 

3 Adams, viii, 667. 

4 July 29. Hamilton, v, 289; Lodfire, vii, 100. 

5 Adams, ix, 30. 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 388 

of april to Mr. Simmons is expressly predicated by Capt. 
Vance on the expressions of Rlr. Simmons threatning to 
punish him personally as soon as the trial before a court mar- 
tial should be concluded. If these expressions were used by 
Mr. Simmons, I do not know how it is possible they can have 
been either necessary or proper in the exercise of his official 
duties as accountant in the war department, and especially if 
uttered in the absence of Capt Vance. Though the latter part 
of the letter alludes to the motives which he ascribes to Mr. 
Simmons for the part he took in prosecuting him before a 
court martial on another charge, yet the challenge appears to 
me to have proceeded from the threats of personal punish- 
ment declared by Mr. Simmons in the presence of Capt Butler. 
If these threats had not been expressed, there is no probable 
cause to Delieve the challenge would have taken place. The 
affair is therefore to be considered as a private one, to which 
the principle of protecting civil officers in the discharge of 
their official duties, from the resentment or violence of military 
officers ought not to be extended. Consequently the president, 
in my humble opinion, ought not to be advised to dismiss 
Capt. Vance from the service of the United States before a 
trial, nor ought a trial before a court martial to be ordered of 
his transaction. 

*'The letter undoubtedly amounts to a challenge, which 
is by the laws of Pennsylvania deemed an offence, that is 
cognizable and punishable in the ordinary courts of common 
law jurisdiction. 

** There certainly are cases where an officer of the army 
should be made to answer before a court martial, for his mis- 
conduct or crime in relation to other citizens; as for instance 
if he should, with the aid of the soldiery seize, and punish 
with stripes of his own motion a citizen of the United States, ' 
or if he should steal the property of a citizen, or commit any 
other enormity manifestly degrading to the station of a Mili- 
tary officer : the present case is not in my opinion to be consid- 
ered of this kind. 

**The sentence of a military court in the case of Capt. 
Vance and Mr. Simmons, would not be a legal bar, to a prose- 
cution in a court of civil jurisdiction. 

**I have the honor to be sir your most 
** obedient servant 
*' Charles Lee'' 

884 ls\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

Adams felt^ that McHenry's doubts as to whether the 
president could appoint to newly created offices in the recess 
of the senate were ill-founded and said such appointments were 
his right and duty. Hamilton differed from this and wrote * 
McHenry that the president had no power to appoint the 
new officers in the recess, as no vacancy existed. A vacancy 
is a power to fill a place, after a casualty, not to make an 
original appointment. Lee, the attorney general, agreed with 
Hamilton, although the title of the act authorized the presi- 
dent to **fill certain vacancies in the army and navy," and 
Adams decided ^ that, as there was a difference of opinion 
and no need of haste, he would defer appointments until the 
senate should meet. 

McHenry, therefore, asked * Hamilton 's opinion as to 
the best rule to be adopted, with reference to promotion of 
officers in the twelve additional regiments, and received the 
following replies: 

** Philadelphia April 26th 
'*Dr. Sir 

**I have reflected, as you have desired, on the most proper 
principles for regulating the relative ran,k of the field officers 
of the Twelve additional Regiments. 

* * It is always prudent, when no special reasons dictate a 
deviation, to adopt for cases of this kind a rule which steers 
clear of comparison of personal merit and avoids the danger 
of wounding the pride of any of the parties concerned. With 
this view (since I am not aware of any special reasons that 
recommend a different course) I am of opinion that as to all 
such of the Field officers, who have served in the army of the 
U. States, it will be advisable, among those now of equal grade, 
to let their relative rank at the close of the war govern. This, 
according with military prepossessions, will be most likely to 
be satisfactory to all. 

**As to those who may not have served in the army, con- 
siderations of personal merit and weight of character can 
alone decide, except that where they may have served in the 
service or Militia, other things being equal, their relative rank 
there may guide. 

1 Adams, vlll, 632. AprM 16. 

2 Hamilton, v, 255. May 3. Liodere, vil, 80. 

3 Adams, vlli, 647. Letter of May 16. 

4 Hamilton, v, 250. Letter of April 23. 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 385 


As between those who have served in the army and 
those who have not, it appears to me expedient to prefer the 
men who have served in the army, except where very superior 
qualifications may manifestly claim a superiority 

**With great esteem & regard 
**Yrs Obedly 

*^A Hamilton'' 

** Philadelphia April 
26. 1799 
•'Dr Sir 

**I have a second time maturely reflected on the proper 
rule for promotions in the army, and I continue to adhere to 
that which was adopted by the General Officers last winter, & 
which is recapitulated in your letter. I am persuaded that, 
in the general course of things, it will work well and satis- 

**A moment's hesitation as to its uni- 
versal application arose from the situa- 
tion of the four Regiments of the old 
establishment. The understood rights of 
The promotions the older Captains, as resulting from 

to field offi- past usage may appear to be enfringed — 

cers should be But this inconvenience must be encoun- 

complete before tered — perhaps mitigated by a distribu- 

the rule is tion of the oldest Captains among the 

applied four Regiments. There cannot with pro- 

priety or order be two Rules — That 
which is proposed will after a little time 
operate favourably every where & give 
equal chances. 
**With great esteem & regard 
**I am Dr Sir 

**Yr obed servt. 

**A Hamilton" 

Hamilton was urgent, ' before he left Philadelphia, that 
the artillery regiments be organized into companies and dis- 
posed of and submitted McHenry a plan for this, asking 
that McHenry settle the arrangement and communicate it to 
the major generals. McHenry wrote Washington, on April 
29, of the promotion plans and that he will now push the 

1 Hamilton, v, 251. Utter of April 2C. 

886 ls\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

recruiting and the supply of clothes. As to the speed of the 
preparation of clothing, Hamilton was very sceptical and 
wrote on his return to New York: 

New York April 30. 1799 
My Hear friend — 

I hear of no cloathing arrived. The recruiting service 
is now actually begun here and elsewhere. I trust that the 
cloathing and other articles will certainly reach the Regi- 
mental rendezvouses before any of the men are there. It will 
be a discouraging omen, if it proves otherwise. I beg you to 
appreciate the importance of having the articles forwarded 
as soon as they can be, even to those places where the busi- 
ness is not yet completely organised, in the reliance that what 
remains to be done must be quickly completed. 

**Yrs. truly 
''A H'' 
^'P. S. 

**I find by a return of Cloathing just received from Mr. 
Hodgsdon that the process in preparing the Cloathing con- 
tinues to be very slow — proving more & more the expediency 
of changing the button No. 1 on the six hundred and odd 
suits — I pray you to let such articles as are ready be for- 
warded to the several destinations, for it will damp extremely 
the recruiting service which is now begun, if the supplies for 
the recruits are not ready to be delivered to them — fast as 
they may be raised." 

McHenry suggested, on April 29, that Hamilton corre- 
spond with Washington. He did not know that his friend 
was so doing and that the correspondence was not always 
friendly to him. Thus, on May 3, Hamilton wrote: **It is 
understood that the President has resolved to appoint the 
officers to the provisional army and that the Secretary has 
thought fit to charge the Senators ^ of each State \\ath the des- 
ignation of characters.*' The clothes are still delayed and 
report states that Adams and Wolcott do not wish to accelerate 
the raising of the army. Yet, if McHenry 's ** energies for 
execution were equal to his good Dispositions, the public 
service under his care would prosper as much as could be 
desired. It is only to be regretted that good dispositions will 

1 This reference to senators produced trouble In New Hampshire. 
Lodge's Hamilton, vil, 79 ; Granite Monthly, xxxviii, 123. 

1799-1800] of James McHenry 887 

not alone suffice and that, in the nature of things, there can 
be no reliance that the future progress will ,be more satis- 
factory than the past/' 

On May 5, Washington wrote ^ McHenry that, while 
the officers who lived near the capital should draw pay from 
the time of their acceptance, they should not hold relative 
rank from that date, for such a course would be most unjust 
to officers appointed from a distance. 

Two days later, Adams wrote concerning appointments. 
** Merit I consider, however, as the only true scale of grada- 
tion in the army. Services and rank, in the last war or in 
any other war, are only to be taken into consideration, as 
presumptive evidence of merit, and may at any time be set 
aside by contrary proofs. "2 

Hamilton wrote constantly. What shall be the disposi- 
tion of troops for the summer, why does not the accountant 
pay money more promptly, why should not the colonels rec- 
ommend officers for promotion, why not annex Maryland to 
Pinckney's command and give Hamilton command of all the 
forces in the West?^ Such are some of the queries which 
are sent during the early days of May. McHenry answers 
and gives various directions that Maryland had better not be 
taken away from Hamilton's command at present, that en- 
listments are for five years, that the colonels are to recom- 
mend, but that even they are not exempt from partialities, 
that no foreigners are to be enlisted, if it can be avoided. * 
He is also busy making contracts for the supply of rations 
to the forces. About this time, ^ Washington wrote, con- 
cerning the officers to be appointed from Virginia, whom he 
had been asked to select. He feels not sufficiently acquainted 

1 Sparks, xl. 426; Ford, xlv, 174. He approves of McHenry's plans 
for promotion. May 2, McHenry wrote, asking who should suggest officers 
from North Carolina, where the governor was not sufficiently impressed 
with the need of real federal men. 

2 Adams, viii. 640. 

3 May 30, McHenry Informed Hamilton that Tennessee would be 
under Plnckney. 

4 May 23, McHenry asks Hamilton to recommend officers from New 

5 May 13, Sparks, xi, 429. Sparks leaves these sentences unprlnted: 

"Your favour of the 2d. Inst, concerning dispatches of the 10th ulto. 
was brought to me by the messenger who carried my letters to you (of the 
5th & 6th.) to the Post Office in Alexandria. • • • There are many matters 
necessary for me to settle before I could leave home with any tolerable 
conveniences, and many things, the providing of which would run me to an 
unnece8sar>' expence, if I am not called to the Field. • • • " 

Sparks, xi, 447. August 12, Washington wrote that there was no im- 
mediate prospect of officering the Virginia quota unless some other method 
of finding officers be provided. 

888 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

with the people to do this alone, but has summoned the aid 
of Generals Morgan, Lee and Marshall, and Colonels Heath 
and Carrington. The task is delicate, for he must find 
whether men will accept positions, which may not be offered 
them. He suggests, therefore, that the war office give public 
notice that it may have to raise the twenty-four additional 
regiments and that it requests that **all those, who are de- 
sirous of serving their country on the terms specified in that 
act, would signify the same*' to Washington, or to whomever 
the department should appoint in any state to receive the 
applications. These applications should be in writing and 
accompanied by testimonials and would be of great use in 
selecting persons to receive appointments. Washington 
thinks, from Adams's acts, that ** stronger indications of hos- 
tility have been received*' and asks to be told at once, if this 
be so, that he may prepare for active service. He also urges 
that the **most prompt and pointed attention be given to the 
procuring and instructing" men in artillery and engineering; 
in which the ** great advantage of the armies of Prance" lies. 
McHenry answered, six days later, that he feared to adver- 
tise for officers, lest people should say the service was unpop- 
ular. To this subject, Washington recurred in a letter of 
June 6, enclosing letters from Marshall and Lee, which show 
they can be of little assistance. He promises to pursue the 
search for officers from Virginia to the best of his ability. 
Washington transmits ^ a number of applications for ap- 
pointment as oflScers and discusses them, reverting especially 
to the position of chief of engineers, for which he thinks no 
Frenchman ought to be employed at this time. 

We also learn of Virginia matters from a letter sent from 
Charlottesville on May 3 by John Nicholas. 

**Your inclosures of the Commissions to the OflScers of 
Capt. Hay's company of volunteer rifleman, together with a 
letter to myself, & another to Cap Hays, have been duly re- 
ceived ; the delay of which I can readily believe imputable to 
no other cause than those you have assigned. The propriety 
of the govt's giving incouragement to federalism in this quar- 
ter of the Union, where its' sparks, I am sorry to say, are 
too rare, can not be unknown to those in the President's and 
your situation. It was my great zeal for those principles & 
that conduct which I have ever approved of in the administra- 

1 S!parks, xi, 432. 

1799-1800] of James McHenry 889 

tion of our govt., I undertook to recommend the volunteer 
corps of riflemen of Albemarle ; & am not a little gratified, I 
can assure you, to find that recommendation has met the 
approbation of the President & yourself, altho' all **the requi- 
sites of the law have not been complyed with.'* Those re- 
quests shall be attended to, & the necessity of a complyance 
with them fully impressed on that little band, which I will 
also endeavour to have encreased. But I have to inform you, 
which is the principal object of troubling you at present, that 
the Sprinters copy of general regulations,' mentioned in your 
letter to me, was not inclosed : owing, no doubt, to the variety 
& multiplicity of other and more important business of your 
department. You will, therefore, oblige me by inclosing a 
copy of those regulations as soon as the business of your office 
will admit. 

**You will, before you receive this, have learnt the state 
of our elections. As far as they are yet known, there is 
great reason to hope w^e shall obtain a federal majority from 
this state. At any rate we have secured Marshall (& Goode 
in the room of T. Claiborne) two important changes. I have 
lost my own election by a very great majority, owing to the 
powerful influence, the well known opinions and great exer- 
tions of my good friends & much admired patriotic Country- 
men T. Jefterson & James Monroe; but if I mistake not, the 
first of those gentlemen will feel the influence of a majority of 
the citizens of his own state against him at the next election 
for a vice president. I flatter myself the northern states 
will join us in the election of Marshall or Pinckney to that 
office; & in case of our present good old president's declining 
(which God forbid) either those two, or Hamilton & one of 
them to the two offices. 

**With due consideration, I am Dr. Sir 
*'Your most obedient huble servant" 

Washington wrote again about his uniform ^ on June 7. 

1 Mount Vernon 7th. June 1799. 


When I began the enclosed letter (left open for your perusal) I in- 
tended to addres it to Colo. Biddle ; who transacts all mattt-rs of that sort 
for me in Philadelphia; but as I wrote on, it oc6urred tha.t, possibly, 
the Quarter Master might be a more appropriate character to accomplish 
my order : — for this reason, I have left the letter without a Superscrip- 
tion, in order that you might direct it to the one, or the other as you shall 
de«m best. — and I give you this trouble for the reason which is assigned 
on it ; and for which, & troubling you with such trifles, I pray your excuse. 

I had thoughts once, of asking Genl. McPherson to execute this 
Commission for me: (believing, thereby, that it would be well done) but 
never having been In the habit of corresponding with him, I declined It, 

890 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

The question of uniform was an engrossing one. Hamil- 
ton had written McHenry ^ that he did not like the hats 
provided for the soldiers. '* Nothing is more necessary than 
to stimulate the vanity of soldiers. To this end a smart dress 
is essential. The Federal government can afford to provide 
this and should do so." He urged also that arms be speedily 
provided and no time be lost in teaching the recruits their 
use, in performing guard and other duties. The provision of 
supplies was still tardy and Hamilton wrote concerning this : 


private & confidential New York June 14. 1799 

**I use, my Dear Sir, the privilege of an old friend to 
write to you in language as explicit as the occasion requires. 
The fact is that the management of your Agents, as to the 
affair of supplies, is ridiculously bad. Besides the extreme 
delay, which attends every operation, articles go forward in 
the most incomplete manner. Coats without a corresponding 
number of vests. Cartouche boxes without belts &c &c noth- 
ing intire — nothing systematic. Tis the scene of the worst 
periods of our revolution war acted over again even with 

**Col Stevens tells me that lately materials for tents were 
purchased here and sent to Philadelphia. This is of a piece 
with what was done in regard to cloathing and it is truly 
farcical — proving that the microscopic eye of the purveyor 
can see nothing beyond Philadelphia. It is idle to pretend 
that the materials in such cases cannot be made as well else- 
where as at Philadelphia and that double transportation and 
the accumulation of employment in a particular place beyond 
its means can tend to economy or any other good end — and 
the delay is so enormous as to overballance any minute advan- 
tage, if any there be, that attends the plan. 

* * It is a truth. My Dear Sir, and a truth which you ought 
to weigh well that, unless you immediately employ more com- 
petent Agents to procure and to forward supplies, the Service 
will deeply suffer and the head of the War Department will 
be completely discredited. 

on reflection ; — and of course the Stars for my Epaulets have stood sus- 
pended. A I would thank you for sending them to me ; — and If It is not 
heaping too many trifles upon you. also for requesting Mr. McAlpln (if 
he has been able to obtain the gold thread) for letting me have my 
Uniform Cloaths by the Anniversary of our Independence — forwarded 
in the manner he has heretofore been directed. I am always and very 

Affectionately Yours 


1 Letter of Biay 18. Hamilton, v, 256 ; Lodge, vii, 80. 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 891 

**The object will very soon be mucli enlarged to an extent 
to which such men and such measures can never suffice. 

**You must immediately get a more efficient Purveyor & 
I believe a more efficient Superintendant — or nothing can 

**My frankness & plain dealing are a new proof of the 
cordial friendship which I must always cherish for you Adieu 

'* Affect yrs 
'*A Hamilton" 

McHenry replied, on the next day, that Hamilton's at- 
tacks on the purveyor ^ and superintendent ^ are but too well 
founded. He expects to appoint an assistant to the former 
but the latter **has so strong a supporter, that I dont see how 
to get rid of him." 

McHenrj' was much interested in the development of a 
permanent laboratory', or arsenal, in Philadelphia and wrote ta 
have Captain Elliott sent there. He also enquired why Major 
Toussard should be sent to the Potomac, instead of completing 
the duty which McHenr>' had assigned him. 

Hamilton answered McHenry 's letter thus: 

''New York June 17. 1799 
'•Dr. Sir — 

''Your favour of the 15th. is received. I am very glad 
you have determined on changing the Purveyor. I think it 
likely that Mr. Williams will be a good substitute. 

"As the subject of the Q. M. G' — removal to the seat of 
Government began with you. I think it best that you should 
write the definitive order. 

"My instruction to Major Toussard only communicated 
his eventual destination. It was my idea that he should first 
execute the duty to which you had assigned him. I shall take 
care that there is no misapprehension. 

"I have not time to recur to my letter ordering Capt 
Elliot to Philadelphia. But I believe the idea was included 
of his calling upon you for orders. The inclosed will settle 
the matter Yrs. Affecly 

"A Hamilton" 

In his frequent letters to McHenry, Hamilton urged the 
sending of .supplies and bounty money; ^ suggested that there 

1 Tench Fraxida. 

2 Colonel Stevens. 

3 Hamilton, v, 272. Letter of June 18. 

892 L\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

be fast sailing vessels and signals before the principal ports, 
that we be not entirely surprised by the enemy; and, contin- 
ually pressed for steps to be taken to increase the supply of 
clothing and tents. If blue cloth cannot be found ^ in suffi- 
cient quantity to avert the terrible delays, he proposes to take 
some other color for whole regiments. The delay in raising 
cavalry seemed to Hamilton especially grievous and he sug- 
gested raising one troop and enlisting the non-commissioned 
officers of the other and then enlisting all the officers for in- 
struction and exercise. ^ Cavalry tactics must be established. 
That arm of the service is not brought to perfection even in 
England. This plan McHenry thought well of, but seems to 
have done nothing at the time, from a desire to husband his 
means and guard against interrupting the infantry recruit- 
ing. ^ Hamilton thought the engineers and artillery should 
be separated and complained * that the artillerists were not 
uniformly drilled. About this time, McHenry proposed to 
offer Count Rumford the positions of lieutenant colonel and 
inspector of artillery or of engineer and superintendent of the 
proposed military school, a project McHenry had at heart. 
Adams approved of the plan and McHenry made proposals 
to Rumford, through Rufus King, but without success. Rum- 
ford had written King suggesting that he would be happy to 
present to the proposed military academy of which King had 
told him, his collection of military books. King thereupon 
wrote McHenry suggesting that Rumford wished to revisit 
America and that his experience might be useful for the 
academy. McHenry at once conferred with Adams and on his 
consenting to the offer, asked Rimiford, through King, to Xske 
charge of the academy, but Rumford, after considering the 
matter, declined to accept the position and King on September 
28 transmitted McHenry this declination. ^ 

From Litchfield, Connecticut, Uriah Tracy sent cheerful 
news of the recruiting on June 10: 

« < • • • The recruiting Officer in this Town has nearly his 
number, & can have the whole in an hour, but I have advised 
him to wait a little & pick the best. He has a fine set of stout 

1 Hamlltxm, v, 271. Letter of June 16. Ix>d«e. vll, 94. 

2 Jun« 21 and 25. HamMon, v, 275, 276 and 278; Liodffe. vll, 95. 
July 2, Hamilton wrote again. Hamilton, v, 284. 

3 July 27. Adams, Ix, 4. 

4 Hamilton, v, 278. Letter of June 28. Adams, vill, 660. Letter of 
June 24. 

5 Bllls's Life of Rumford, pp. 352 to 359. 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 898 

orderly Yanky 's as you would wish to see — and the recruiting 
is very successful all over the State — as I am informed." 

*'N B. Are we to have a minister from France? If so, 
ought not the Senate to be collected?" 

He wrote again from Litchfield on June 24: 

**• • • In the county where I live, there is one compleat 
company raised, & three more can be raised here in a month, 
altho' the busiest season of the year — & in next autumn, I 
can raise a Regt. here in this single county in a month — & 
they shall all be natives, & the best of men for activity, size, & 
character. This looks like bragging, but it is not so. I de- 
clare it is a sober statement of facts, as I really believe. Capt. 
Ramsey, the recruiting oflBcer here, informs me he is troubled 
to get rid of men, who wish to inlist — & that he could have 
inlisted 200 by this time, had he had money & clothing. I 
will write to Mr. Sedgwick, but not disclose my knowledge of 
his letter. 

**If the Devil should send a French Minister to the U. 
States — altho' I dread a journey to, or stay at Philada. in the 
hot season, yet by all means let the Senate be convened. I 
had rather risk it, than not to have it in my power to say at 
once, as I will most certainly, that he ought, be he who he may, 
to be sent directly back again. I will not consent to say a 
word to a French Minister on the subject of negociations. I 
sincerely wish it were so, that the Executive could & would 
dismiss him instanter. If he offered an indemnity for past 
injuries I would accept, but go no further, we want no con- 
tract, league, or covt. with that set of wretches. 

* * I trouble you often, & now with a long letter, your good- 
ness will excuse me." 

Even there, however, there was complaint concerning 
supplies, as we learn from a letter written at Litchfield on 
June 17, by John Allen : 

**Your favour of the 12th. relative the proposed Contract 
for officers shoes is duly reed. It furnishes me, too, with the 
knowledge of the Cause of the ver>- miserable manner in which 
the soldiers are supplied with that article. Capt. Ramsey, 
who is stationed at this place, unites his protestation with 
those of his men against the scandalous frauds practiced on 
them. The shoes which have been dealt out to the men here, 
& I understand the same to be the fact at all the other stations, 
are of the very worst leather and, worst manufacture. A 
march of 20 miles would totally ruin the greater part of them 

894 Ijfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

— and the heels of many of them drop off immediately on 
handling them. The hats of the Soldiers are of the same 
quality, a rain or two has rendered several of them utterly 
useless — and the Cloaths are but little better, particularly 
in the making, 

**By these things the public service is discouraged, & the 
Oovernment itself discreditted. Very many respectable people 
impute these defects to circumstances that should not be often 
named — they surely deserve, & I trust will undergo a rigid 
scrutiny — they must be traced to their source, 

** Permit me also to inform you that the recruiting ser- 
vice has met with very handsome success. Capt. Ramsey^ 
here, already has 56 fine fellows. But Sir, why are they not 
furnished with Arm^l The appearance of so many soldiers 
scattered thro' the Country, part of them only properly clad, 
& none of them with Arms, makes the whole business assume 
too much of the air of a farce. The people call out for more 
promptness & energy in their business — and really, sir, if the 
Administration is to be saved from contempt & ridicule of the 
Country it must be by a more vigilant & irresistable pressing 
forward of the proper measures. 

*'I am induced to write thus plainly by the Murmurs of 
both Citizens and Soldiers, and which the Interest and honour 
of the Government demand there should no more causes for." 

There were obstacles at Philadelphia, whence McHenry 
wTote Hamilton ^ that Wolcott had prejudices against aug- 
mentation and said the revenues were inadequate, that either 
the army or navy must be suspended or dropped, and con- 
templated a statement on these points to Adams. McHenry 
felt that ** peace, honour, and respect, at home and abroad, 
depends upon the permanency of our litle army" and intended 
to press forward, as he could. Pickering seemed favorable 
to vigorous measures and McHenry thought of writing para- 
graphs for Fenno's newspaper, showing **the necessity of our 
army.'* He exhorted Hamilton to '*keep up, among your 
Eastward friends, a due sense of the propriety*' of action. 

At this time, Hamilton wrote: ^ **It is a pity, my dear 
sir, and a reproach that our administration have no general 
plan. Certainly, there ought to be one formed without de- 
lay.** Among other things it should be agreed what precise 
forces should be created, land and naval, and this should be 

1 Hamilton, vl, 408. Letter of June 26. 

2 Hamilton, v. 283 ; L<od«e, vil, 99. 

1799-1800] of James McHenry 895 

proportioned to the state of our finances. We should have 6 
ships of line and 20 frigates and sloops of war. He offered 
to come to Philadelphia, if advisable, and try to form a gen- 
eral plan, in consultation with the cabinet, feeling that, if the 
chief is too desultory, the ministry ought to be united and 
steady.^ ** Besides eventual security against invasion, we 
ought certainly to look to the possession of the Floridas and 
Louisiana and we ought to squint at South America." The 
United States has money enough to do what is needful. Mc- 
Henry felt the truth of this last statement and wrote Adams : '^ 
''Being a nation and, not of the lowest order, there are 3 
things essential for the maintenance of our proper grade 
among the powers of the earth: (1) An army and means 
adequate to its support, (2) A system calculated to keep its 
wants regularly supplied, (3) Genius in the general who com- 
mands it. If we can combine these things with a navy, and 
I believe we can, we shall have nothing to fear from without 
or within. * ' 

A sportive side of the war is found in McHenry 's sending 
Washington and Hamilton small boxes called the game of 
Tactics containing military figures, as a substitute for chess- 
men. In acknowledgment, Hamilton wrote: 

'Mune 21, 1799. 

**I thank you, My Dear Sir, for the military figures you 
have sent me. Tactics, you know, are literally or figuratively 
of very comprehensive signification. As people grow old, they 
decline in some arts, though they may improve in others. I 
will try to get Mrs. Hamilton to accompany in games of Tac- 
tics new to me. Perhaps she may get a taste for them & 
become better reconciled to my connection with the Trade- 

**I will endeavour to get the Book you mention. 

** Adieu Yrs. 
'*A. H. 
**In answer to a private letter long since received from you, 
I ought to tell you that I am in the kahit of writing to General 
Washington,^ ^ 

The postscript shows a slight shame that he had concealed 
this correspondence so long. 

1 McHenry wrote Hamilton "The army and the expenses attendins: 
U are not to all equally desirable. The Secretary of the Navy has no 
objection to a few regiments, but thinks the rest of the revenue would be 
better applied to the marine. I go on." 

2 Adams, viii, 662. 

896 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, xiv 

Another point urged by Hamilton was the promotion of 
Wilkinson to the grade of major general. McHenry did not 
trust Wilkinson, and even Hamilton urged the promotion, 
chiefly, because it would be good policy to avoid all just 
grounds of discontent and to make it the interest of the indi- 
vidual to pursue his duty. ^ 

**Half2 confidence is always bad." Hamilton wrote: 
**This officer has adopted military life as a profession. What 
can his ambition do better than be faithful to the government 
if it gives him fair playf McHenry answered^ that he 
would not oppose the promotion, if Washington desired it, but 
wished nothing to be said of the matter to Wilkinson and 
added, *' until the commercial pursuits of this gentleman, with 
his expectations from Spain, are annihilated, he will not de- 
serve the confidence of government.'* Washington asked Mc- 
Henry how the promotion would be made and was * told that 
he should recommend it, in an official form, to be laid before 
the president. Washington declined to do this, saying that 
other officers had been appointed to important places, without 
consulting him, and there should be consistency in the course 
of the administration. He especially objected to shouldering 
the responsibility, in doubtful cases such as this. ^ He also 
regretted that Howard and Lloyd declined to recommend offi- 
cers from Maryland and said he did not know the people of 
that state well enough to do it himself. Even in his own state, 
as the secretary would not advertise for applicants, Wash- 
ington finds a difficulty in obtaining suitable men, which could 
be avoided only by dividing the state into districts and com- 
mitting the recommendation from each district to some one 
man. * 

1 Letter of June 15. Liod«re, vli, 92. On promotions see Hamilton's 
letter to McHenry of June 15. printed in Lodse, vii, 98. 

2 Hamilton, v, 278. 

3 L#etter of June 27. -See Washington's letter to McHenry of June 25. 

4 Letter of June 29. 5 Sparks, xl, 445. 
6 A little later Washington wrote : 

"Private) Mount Vernon 14th. July 1799. 

••My dear Sir, 

"After reading, and putting a wafer into the enclosed letter, be so kind 
as to send it as directed. — 

"The young Comet (in my family) is anxious to receive his Military 
equipments. Daily fruitless enquiries are made of me to know when they 
may be expected. — 

"Perhaps if you were to jog Mr. Francis, the Purveyor, the sooner 
they might be purveyed and the young gentleman gratified. — 

"I wish them to be handsome and proper for an Officer, but not expen- 
sive. In my last on this subject I requested that the Sword might be 
silver mounted. Yet any other mount, such as the Officers of Cavalry »*«. 
would answer just as well. With esteem and regard — I am always 

"Your Affect Humble Servant 


1 799-1 800] qf James McHenry 897 

The plan which McHenry sent Adams on ^ June 29, for 
providing and issuing military supplies, seemed to Adams one 
which the presidential authority alone was not adequate to 
establish and he wrote McHenry, asking whether he wished 
the project adopted by congress, and that he look into it care- 
fully with Wolcott and Pickering, before recommending it for 
enactment as law. Adams refers to McHenry 's zeal for his de- 
partment thus, ** As it is an excellent principle for every man 
in public life to magnify his office and make it honorable, I ad- 
mire the dexterity with which you magnify yours, by repre- 
senting an army and means adequate to its support, as the first 
thing necessary to make the nation respected." 

McHenry ^ wrote to Samuel Sewall, chairman of the com- 
mittee of defence, on June 28, 1799, stating that, as the ord- 
nance is in bad condition, and the secretary of war cannot visit 
foundries, etc., there should be an inspector of artillery, to see 
that contracts are properly carried out. He took up the 
subject of a military academy and stated that instructors in 
arithmetic, geometry, mechanics, hydraulics, and designing are 
needed to teach artillerists and engineers the art of forti- 

Matters went far too slow for the assiduous Hamilton, ' 
who wrote on July 10 : 

**Why, My Dear friend, do you suffer the business of 
providing to go on as it does. Every moment proves the in- 
sufficiency of the existing plan & the necessity of auxiliaries. 
I have no doubt that at Baltimore, N York, Providence, & 
Boston additional supplies of Cloathing may promptly be pro- 
cured & prepared by your Agents & it ought to be done, 

1 Hamilton, v, 285 ; Adams, vili, 662. 

2 State Papers, Military Affaire, i, 128. 

3 New York July 15. 1799 
My dear Mac 

If Meade was here he would tell you there never was an Irishman but 
would now &. then discover the potatoe on his head — 

I did not mention the particulars you cite In the case of the Hollander, 
because the very necessity of troubling you on the subject Implied that he 
toa9 not naturalised & was without the letter of the Reffulation 

Agreeably to your permission, I shall give a special authority to Col 
Ogden to enlist the man In question. 

Trs. truly 

A H 

My dear Ham. If you will read your case you will perceive It was 
Impossible that I should find the Hollander within the spirit of the regula- 
tions where you seemed to have placed him. If it had been so I should 
have tho't a special permission unneces.sary. 

J M H 

898 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap, xiv 

though it should enhance the expense. Tis terrible at this 
juncture that there should be wants any where. 

**So of Tents. Calls for them are repeated from Massa- 
chusetts, where better and cheaper than any where else they 
can certainly be provided. 

**Pray take a resolution adequate to the exigency & rescue 
the credit of your Department. 

**Yrs Affecly 

McHenry answered at once, ^ that recruiting must stop ; 
unless clothes can be provided. Last year, the contract for 
clothing failed, because not enough white kersey for vests and 
overalls could be found in the United States and, this year, no 
person could be found to make a contract, because of a well 
founded belief that not enough white and blue cloth could be 
procured in the United States, in season to complete the needed 
nimiber of suits before late autumn or early winter. Most 
of the cloth was imported, after the arrival of the spring ves- 
sels, which explains the delay. Now 400 suits per week can 
be furnished. Will this nimiber suflSce ? On the 22nd, Ham- 
ilton replied that two-thirds of the quantity of clothes prom- 
ised would suffice. 

Rations and winter quarters for troops also commanded 
Hamilton's attention ^ and he wrote concerning them : 
**My Dear Sir 

**I perceive by your letter of the 16th that mine of the 
12th has not been rightly understood. 

1 Hamilton, v, 288. July 8, letter from HamUton to McHenry. 
answering one on questions of rank and promotion. LiOdge, vii, 98, see 
p. Ill for a similar letter of August 25. 

2 July 17, lie wrote McHenry about stationing troops where rations 
were cheapest and July 30 (Hamilton, v. 292) he sent regulations for 
delivery of fuel, stationery, and horses, and wrote concerning the barracks. 
Hamilton, v, 288: Lodge, vii, 107, prints a letter of August 19 about or- 
ganizing supply departments, etc. 

• Private "New York July 1799. 

"Dear Sir 

"I return you enclosed your draft of a letter dated the 25th instant to 
the several contractors «ftc — with a paragraph at foot which is submitted 
to be added for reasons that itself will announce. 

"The doubts you mention are natural They had occurred to my mind. 
But considering that the Public is entirely free as to the stationing of 
the troops, I think tiiat with candour and good policy the measure may be pursued. 

"I hesitate whether the invitation ought to extend to the contractors 
for Massachusetts. Their price is as low as it can well be. The position 
heretofore intended for three Regiments is in Massachusetts, and it seems 
Just that the moderation of the contractors there should be rewarded by 
the enjoyment of the advantage. The competition of Connecticut New 
York & New Jersey may be excited with a view to the three regiments, 
which were intended to be placed in the vicinity of Brunswick. 

"With great regard 
"Yrs. truly 
"A H** 

1799-1800] qf James McHenry 399 


Its principal object was the supply of the present year. 
This it aimed at cheapening by exciting a competition among 
the actual contractors, on the ground that the troops, while 
not required for actual service, might be stationed collectively 
where the supply was cheapest, as at Brunswick or Trenton in 
New Jersey, or East Chester in New York or Bristol in Penn- 
sylvania, it being immaterial whether three Regiments are at 
one or the other of those places and the Government having 
its option to station them at either. Thus the contractors in 
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, & New York might be induced to 
bid against each other. So the contractors in Maryland & 
Virginia, it being indifferent whether the three Regiments 
shall be on one or the other side of the Poto\*Tnack. 

**In Massachusetts, the ration is Eleven cents & five Mills. 
This is reasonable & shews how it may be afforded. In the 
State of Rhode Island it is fourteen Cents. No reason for this 
difference. In Connecticut it is still higher with still less 
reason. The three Regiments for the Northern Quarter will 
of course be stationed in Massachusetts in the vicinity of Ux- 

*'The Price in New York where issues exceed 400 is 10 
cents & 5 Mills. This is much too high though predicated on 
the old ration. At Brunswick in Jersey it is 16 cents & 2^^ 
Mills predicated on the New Ration. This is higher still. At 
Trenton it is 16. This is still too high. But the difference 
ought in my opinion to give a preference to Trenton over 
Brunswick. I think, however, upon my plan a reduction may 
be obtaintxl at both places. And 'tis by care in operations 
of this kind that economy on a large scale will be attained. 

**I hope I have now explained myself suflfieiently. If 
your views vary in consequence of the explanation, you will 
inform me officially — if not privately. And I shall govern 
myself accordingly. It was my intention to have written 
myself to the Contractor respecting Winter Quarters, after 
having settled with you the General Principles. But if you 
think proper to do so yourself, it will be equally agreeable to 
me. But I shall be glad previously to know your intention 
& submit to you some ideas. 

**Yrs. Affectlv 
*'A Hamilton 

**P S 

**My suggestions as to the Contract for next year were 

400 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

merely incidental. I had not seen your advertisement as I 

McHenry had written Adams, on July 12, that an army 
and navy establishment is essential to the present and future 
interests and greatness of the United States and that **we 
must run the risks which other nations have run'' and Adams 
agreed to this, but still thought congress must Approve the 
plan for supplying the army. ^ He is satisfied, however, to 
agree with the heads of departments, if they think the powers 
already given are sufiRcient. ^ When dissatisfied with Mc- 
Henry 's department, Hamilton did not hesitate to say so, as 
is shown by a letter written July 22, on which McHenry 
endorsed, **This is not so, this error arises from the articles 
being forwarded at different times." Hamilton's letter reads: 

**The return lately sent me shows strongly the want of 
system of your Agents. Instead of an equal apportionment, 
while some Regiments are altogether without certain articles, 
others have a full, a very ample supply of them. This ap- 
pears particularly as to Muskets, Cartouche boxes. Knapsacks^ 
& canteens — with regard to some of these articles, indeed, I 
know that orders have been given for supplies which do not 
appear in the return. But as to others, I am not informed 
of any similar circumstance. I call your attention to these 
particulars that the inaccuracy may not, in the pressure of 
your business, escape your observation. 

**An apportionment, where all cannot be fully supplied 
tends to distribute accommodation & to prevent discontent." 

Still Hamilton wrote, ^ on the same day: **I count al- 
ways upon your confidence, as well in my personal friendship 
for you as in my zeal for the public service, and having no 
inclination to spare myself, it only remains for us to trace 
together the plan, in which I can best second your operations 
and promote the service." To this letter, he signed himself, 
** Yours with true attachment." 

Towards the end of July, * Adams wrote to McHenry 
that he has no objection to raising a troop of cavalry but adds, 
**I never think of our means without shuddering. The system 
of debts and taxes is levelling all government in Europe. We 

1 July 18. W. S. iSrnlth sent McHenrj' his revolutionary record 
On August 10, McHenry wrote him that no allowance was made for fuel 
to officers. 

2 McHenry submitted the question to Pickering on the 2l8t 

3 July 30, Hamilton wrote McHenry asking that the routlr.e of pro- 
motion be followed and the rules which govern it be promulgated. 

4 July 27. Hamilton, v, 288. 


1799-1800] qf James McHenry 401 

have a career to run, to be sure, and some time to pass, before 
we arrive at the European crisis, but we must ultimately go 
the same way. There is no practicable or imaginable exped- 
ient to escape it, that I can conceive. " At this time, McHenry 
referred the question of establishing another arsenal to the 
other heads of departments. The answers of Lee and Stod- 
dert are preserved. 
Sir Philadelphia 1 August 1799 

1st. I am not satisfied that there is a necessity for estab- 
lishing a fourth arsenal with magazines at the present time, 
when the three which have been established, are not carried 
to the extent of usefulness of which they are obviously capa* 
ble. It appears to me to be an unnecessary expenditure of 
public money, because such an establishment will not for 
sometime to come be requisite, the three others answering all 
the present purposes. 

**2d. The buildings and alterations at Springfield should be 
immediately commenced. 

**3 The buildings at Harpers ferry should be prosecuted. 
**4 The buildings at Rocky mount should be commenced. 

* * I have the honor to be very respectfully your most obed- 
ient servant. 

** Charles Lee'' 

**Navy Department 

**1 August 1799. 
^*Dear Sir 

**I am unwell & cannot attend the meeting without pain. 
I will however give you ray opinion on the subject of a fourth 
Arsenal — for I presume it is a fourth — & that neither of 
the others are to be declined. 

*'If the three Arsenals already Fixed on, were completed 
& filled with Arms, I should suppose — it might be proper to 
establish a fourth a fifth & a sixth — provided there was 
money — but under present circumstances, I really think it 
will be most wise, to go on with great spirit, with the three 
already, determined on, and which, in my opinion are properly 
placed — One being to the East — One to the South — & one 
in the middle of the States — and to let a fourth alone, until 
these three are filled with arms. 

*'I think your submissicm contained a query, whether 
Work begun at Harpers Ferry should be finished — or whether 
addl. works should be made there. 

402 Li\fe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 


Judging as an oflScer of the United States, with a view to 
the Interest of the whole — & on this principle only, will I 
judge while I remain in office — it is most clearly my opinion, 
that the Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, should there be an differ- 
ence in point of magnitude in the three, should be the more im- 
portant — the Mother Arsenal. It is without comparison the 
most convenient of the three to the Western Country. It is 
more convenient than either of the other places to all parts of 
the States. It is nearly in the centre. 

**Your submission also. If I recollect right, contained a 
quere — whether additional Works should be made at Spring- 
field. There is no question with me, that all the works neces- 
sary to the object, should be made there, without hesitation or 

**To sum up in few words — my opinion is — that the 
three arsenals, in the places designated by the Qenl. officers, 
viewing with a military Eye, the land, should be pushed with 
all possible vigor — and that, when money can be spared after 
filling these, it will be time enough to think of other Arsenals. 
Excuse my abruptness. I write in pain. I have the honor to 
be with great respect Dr Sir Yr ms Obedt Servt. 

**Ben Stoddert.'' 

Another difficulty with Hamilton occurred concerning one 
Captain Frey whom McHenry had ordered to discharge cer- 
tain men and to report to Major Hoops, commandant at New 
York. Of this Hamilton wrote : ^ 

*^\. Y. July 31 1799. 

**You will see, my Dear friend, in the case of Capt. Frey, 
the evil tendency of correspondence, by the head of the War 

I Hamilton had previously complained of McHenry's directly dealing 
with officers. 

"New York May 2d. 1799 
"My Dear Sir 

"Your letter having informed me, that you some time since encouraged 
Capt Wining to expect a furlough, and having learnt from him that in 
consequence of this encouragement he had made arrangements and enter- 
ed into engagements for the voyage, I thought it would compromlt you 
to refuse the request. I have therefore very much against my own judg- 
ment complied. The precedent In my opinion Is a bad one. Let me tn- 
treat you on future occasions to avoid the occasion of similar embarrass- 

"Yrs. AffecUy A H" 

On October 24, McH^^nry wrote Hamilton that Elliott wishes hia 
own men at the Philadelphia Laboratory and asked McHenry for them 
directly. Hamilton was hurt, wished Elliott to go to the field and wrote 
that, if the "representations of a particular officer, founded upon a detach- 
ed view of the subject and addressed to the Secretary of War, are to 
decide in the 1st Instance the propriety of the employment of any given 
force, there will remain very little continuity In our mllitaTy establish- 
ment" McHenry did not yield, but said. "Send any 25 men." 

1799-1800] qf James McHairy 408 

Department with inferior oflSeers, when there is a superior. 
For a thousand good reasons, it cannot be too carefully avoid- 
ed. Perhaps a sudden emergency, when the superior officer 
is in a situation that recourse to him might defeat the object 
is the only exception. 

**Yrs truly 

He also issued a general order, stating that Frey exceeded 
his powers, **Nor can the seeming countenance which was sub- 
sequently given to his acts by the department of war vary 
their real nature. The circumstances which had intervened 
were probably unknown and a disposition to give facility to 
the service must be presiuned to have caused the Secretary to 
have overlooked the incompatibility of the proceedings with 
his instructions.*' This stricture, wrote McHenry, was not 
necessary and ** should have been avoided. The head of the 
department of war ought not to be held up in a general order 
as having been ignorant of or having been inattentive to his 
duties. '' **I perceive you entertain an opinion that I have 
wantonly or ignorantly given orders to inferior officers within 
the command of their superior. This is not the case, whatever 
may have been insinuated to you to the contrary.'* McHenry 
'* always received from his friend his intimations with, at least 
a disposition to benefit by them;" but this accusation was 
unjust. Hamilton's idea of the relations of the secretary and 
the various officers was as follows: **In my conception, the 
true rule is this. The Secretary of war and his subordinate 
agents may correspond inunediately on the business of ex- 
penditure and supply in its various branches, with all those 
officers who are charged with it, such as Quartermasters, com- 
missaries, pavTnasters, and other descriptions of persons, form- 
ing what is commonly called the civil staff, but they ought to 
hold no communication with any merely military officer, i. e. 
any officer not attached to the business of expenditure or sup- 
ply, other than the principal officer of an army or within a 
military district or command. This rule would confine the 
communications of the Secretary of war to Gen. Washington 
and the 2 Major Generals. It is true that there are special 
cases, in which it may be proper to depart from the rule, such 
as sudden and unforeseen emergencies, where the public inter- 
est or service might suffer by a delay incidental to a communi- 
cation with the chief and there may be geographical circum- 
stances which may require exceptions, but these ought to be 

404 Ltfe and Correspondence [Chap. xiv 

previously settled with the chief, defining the extent and the 
objects — complaints by inferiors of injuries received or sup- 
posed to have been received from the chief, but the cases are 
and must always be supported by some important reason of a 
special nature." 

He had not intended to offend McHenry and wrote : 

New York Aug. 5th. 1799. 

If there be any thing in my general order lately sent you 
which imputes to the Secretary of War ignorance or inatten- 
tion, I agree with you, my Dear friend, that it ought not to 
have been there. I add that, if done with design, it would be 
a very culpable indecorum. But if it does bear this construc- 
tion, I have very clumsily executed my own intention. And I 
give you my honor that so far from being sensible of it, my 
aim was quite the reverse. 

**I have already told you my opinion, that the letter from 
you to Capt Frye was, in the view of Military Etiquette, ir- 
regular. It ought to have been addressed to Major Hoops. 
If my memory serves me right, it refers to the matter by Capt 
Freye & thus gives hi