The First Federal Congress Project
Documentary History of the First Federal Congress

War Department Bill [HR-7]

 June 27, 1789 

An Act to establish an Executive Department to be denominated the Department of War

[1] Be it enacted by the Congress Of The United States ,6 That there shall be an Executive Department, to be denominated, "The Department of War," and that there shall be a principal officer therein, to be called the Secretary for the Department of War, and7 who shall perform and execute such duties as shall, from time to time, be enjoined on, or intrusted to him, by the President of the United States, agreeably to the Constitution, relative to military commissions, or to the land and naval forces, ships, or warlike stores of the United States, or to such other matters respecting military or naval affairs,8 as the President of the United States shall assign to the said department, or relative to the granting of lands to persons entitled thereto, by reason of9 military services rendered to the United States, or relative to Indian affairs: And furthermore, That the said principal officer shall conduct the business of the said department, in such manner as the President of the United States shall, from time to time, order or instruct.
[2] And be it further enacted , That there shall be in the said department, an inferior officer, to be appointed by the said principal officer, to be employed therein as he shall deem proper, and to be called the Chief Clerk in the Department of War, and who, whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office, by the President of the United States,10 or in any other case of vacancy, shall during such vacancy, have the charge and custody of all records, books and papers, appertaining to the said department. Provided Nevertheless , that no appointment of such Chief Clerk shall be valid until the same shall have been approved by the President of the United States.11
[3] And be it further enacted , That the said principal officer, and every other person to be appointed or employed in the said department, shall before he enters on the execution of his office or employment, take an oath or affirmation, well and faithfully to execute the trust committed to him.
[4] And be it further enacted , That the Secretary for the Department of War, to be appointed in consequence of this act, shall forthwith after his appointment be entitled to have the custody and charge of all records, books and papers in the Office of Secretary for the Department of War, heretofore established by the United States in Congress assembled. 1789, June 27.
Read the third time and passed the House of Representatives.

[New -York , Printed By Thomas Greenleaf .]

House Bills, Senate Records, National Archives. Otis noted the Senate amendments on the printed bill.
    6. The Senate struck out "Congress of the United States " and inserted "Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled."
    7. The Senate struck out "and."
    8. The Senate disagreed to a motion to strike out "and naval," "ships," and "or naval affairs." (Senate Legislative Journal, p. 104)
    9. The Senate struck out "by reason of" and inserted "for."
    10. By a recorded vote of 10-9, the Senate refused to strike out "and who, whenever" through "United States." (Senate Legislative Journal, pp. 104-5) [On Motion to strike out the words — line 14th, "And who, whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the United States" —
And the Yeas and Nays being required by one Fifth of the Senators present, the determination was as follows: —

Yea

Nay


Yeas 9
Nays 10
So the question was lost, and the words proposed to be struck out, were retained. (DHFFC, 1:104-105.)]
    11. The Senate struck out this proviso.

Recommended citation: Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2002). XML version based on the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1986) Vol. 6, pp. 1975-1991; 2028-2032. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]

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