TYLER, John (1790-1862), President. Autograph letter signed ("J Tyler") as President, with TYLER'S AUTOGRAPH FREE FRANK ("J Tyler"), to Secretary of War John C. Spencer (1788-1855), [Washington], 28 September 1843. 1 page, 4to (10 x 8 in.), irregular clean tears to top right portion (repairable) with no loss of text, integral address leaf with seal hole and marginal tears, vertical fold reinforced. [With:] SCOTT, Winfield (1786-1866). Autograph letter signed ("Winfield Scott") on the verso of Tyler's ALS, to Spencer, [Washington], 28 September 1843.
TYLER GRANTS LEAVE TO A WEST POINT CADET, AND IS CHASTISED BY GENERAL WINFIELD SCOTT
A letter by which President Tyler extends leave to recent West Point graduate Lewis Neill, dismaying General Winfield Scott, who vehemently discouraged such practices. Having been presented with Neill's request, Tyler informs his Secretary of War: "I have been acquainted with circumstances which make it desireable and proper that the leave of absence heretofore granted to 2d Lt. Niel[l] of the Rifle Regiment be extended to the first of May." It is possibls that Tyler took a special interest in Neill, who hailed from his home state of Virginia.
But Winfield Scott, recently appointed General in Chief of the Army, strongly opposed extended leave for Lewis and forcefully explains why in a response written on the back of Tyler's letter: "The President's directions in the case, must of course, be obeyed, but I trust that the order extending the leave, may be given by the War Department & not in my name." Scott details several reasons why he does not want to personally approve the extension and concludes: "I cannot grant a leave to one officer, without granting them to others...without opening a door to partiality & favour, which would destroy me with the army, & what would be infinitely worse--destroy the Army with the Country."
The recipient, Spencer, was third to serve as Secretary of War in Tyler's troubled cabinet and resigned not long afterwards in opposition to the annexation of Texas. Neill was brevetted first lieutenant during the Mexican War for gallant and meritorious service, but died shortly afterwards in January of 1850.