James K. Polk

Special Message

June 08, 1846

To the Senate of the United States:

I communicate herewith a report from the Secretary of War, transmitting the correspondence called for by the resolution of the Senate of the 5th instant with General Edmund P. Gaines and General Winfield Scott, of the Army of the United States.

The report of the Secretary of War and the accompanying correspondence with General Gaines contain all the information in my possession in relation to calls for "volunteers or militia into the service of the United States .... by any officer of the Army" without legal "authority therefor," and of the "measures which have been adopted in relation to such officer or troops so called into service."

In addition to the information contained in the report of the Secretary of War and the accompanying correspondence with "Major-General Scott, of the United States Army, upon the subject of his taking the command of the army of occupation on the frontier of Texas," I state that on the same day on which I approved and signed the act of the 13th of May, 1846, entitled "An act providing for the prosecution of the existing war between the United States and the Republic of Mexico;" I communicated to General Scott, through the Secretary of War, and also in a personal interview with that officer, my desire that he should take command of the Army on the Rio Grande and of the volunteer forces which I informed him it was my intention forthwith to call out to march to that frontier to be employed in the prosecution of the war against Mexico. The tender of the command to General Scott was voluntary on my part, and was made without any request or intimation on the subject from him. It was made in consideration of his rank as Commander in Chief of the Army. My communications with General Scott assigning him the command were verbal, first through the Secretary of War and afterwards in person. No written order was deemed to be necessary. General Scott assented to assume the command, and on the following day I had another interview with him and the Secretary of War, in relation to the number and apportionment among the several States of the volunteer forces to be called out for immediate service, the forces which were to be organized and held in readiness subject to a future call should it become necessary, and other military preparations and movements to be made with a view to the vigorous prosecution of the war. It was distinctly settled, and was well understood by General Scott, that he was to command the Army in the war against Mexico, and so continued to be settled and understood without any other intention or my part until the Secretary of War submitted to me the letter of General Scott addressed to him under date of the 21st of May, 1846, a copy of which is herewith communicated. The character of that letter made it proper, in my judgment, to change my determination in regard to the command of the Army, and the Secretary of War, by my direction, in his letter of the 25th of May, 1846, a copy of which is also herewith communicated, for the reasons therein assigned, informed General Scott that he was relieved from the command of the Army destined to prosecute the war against Mexico, and that he would remain in the discharge of his duties at Washington. The command of the Army on the frontier of Mexico has since been assigned to General Taylor, with his brevet rank of major-general recently conferred upon him.


James K. Polk, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/200973

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