Millard Fillmore photo

Special Message

January 14, 1851

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives adopted July 18, 1850, requesting the President to communicate his views on sundry questions of rank, precedence, and command among officers of the Army and officers of the Navy, respectively, and of relative rank between officers of the Army and Navy when brought into cooperation, I caused to be convened a board of intelligent and experienced officers in each branch of the service to consider the matters involved in said resolutions and to report their opinion for my advice and information.

Their reports have been made, and I have the honor herewith to submit copies of them, together with bills drafted substantially in accordance therewith, on the subject of rank in each branch of the service.

The subject is one of great interest, and it is highly important that it should be settled by legislative authority and with as little delay as possible consistently with its proper examination.

The points on which it will be perceived that the two boards disagree in regard to relative rank between officers of the Army and Navy are not esteemed of very great practical importance, and the adoption of the rule proposed by either would be acceptable to the Executive.

But even if a decision on these shall be suspended, it is hoped that the bills which are designed to regulate rank, precedence, and command in the Army and Navy as separate branches of service may receive the sanction of Congress, with such amendments as may be deemed appropriate, in the course of the present session.


Millard Fillmore, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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