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[538] from this dilemma, so embarrassing to both the President and the general, except by appropriate legislation.

The most important military reform now required in this country is a law authorizing the President, ‘by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,’ to appoint, not a commander of the army, but a ‘general-in-chief,’ or ‘chief of staff,’ to aid him (the commander-in-chief) in the discharge of his military duties. The President ought to have the power to retire such officer at any time, with due regard for his rank and services, and to appoint another in the same manner. The title ‘commanding general of the arm’ is inappropriate and misleading. There never has been any such office in this country, except that created especially for General Grant in 1864. The old title of ‘general-in-chief,’ given to the officer at the head of the army before the Civil War, is the appropriate title in this country. That officer is, in fact, the chief general, but does not command the army.

If it be considered the best policy to reserve the two highest military grades,—those of general and lieutenant-general,—to be conferred only by special act of Congress for distinguished services, appropriate distinction may be given to the officer at the head of the army at any time by the title of general-in-chief, with such additional compensation as is necessary to defray his living expenses in Washington. Neither the rank nor the pay of an officer in a subordinate position can possibly be regarded as appropriate to one in a higher grade of duty. Every grade of public service should have an officer of appropriate rank and compensation, certainly the highest in any department even more than any other. The government of this country has not been duly regardful even of its own dignity and self-respect, in denying to its chief military officer appropriate rank, and in requiring him to expend all the savings of a lifetime to maintain his official position for a few years at the seat of government.

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Frederick Dent Grant (1)
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1864 AD (1)
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