Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 | Next Page
Expansion of the Empire
Senate mark-up of the Military Establishment Bill [HR-126A]
Senate mark-up of the Military Establishment Bill [HR-126A], February 17, 1791, previously unknown imprint found bound in the Senate rough journal (Courtesy of the National Archives)

Despite Knox's hope for a humane Indian policy, the demands of Americans in the West and the activities of hostile Indians led to calls for increasing the size of the small federal military establishment in 1790. Under the command of General Josiah Harmar, the American Army suffered a bitter defeat in October 1790. Despite the fact that individual members such as Sen. William Maclay warned that "the Constitution certainly never comtemplated a Standing Army in time of Peace," Washington obtained congressional authorization for an additional regiment even though Congress had not declared war. After Congress adjourned, the army returned to the Ohio under the command of General Arthur St. Clair. His defeat ranks among the worst in American history.

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