Saturday, August 7, 2010

p. 18, A New Birth of Freedom, Jaffa, ISBN 0-8476-9952-8

How is the British practice of purchased officer commissions the equivalent of Senate approval of higher rank commissions in the United States? How did this British practice come about?

Answer: With the Restoration, England was determined to keep the powers of the purse and the sword separated. It was in the aftermath of Cromwell that purchase of military commissions was instituted. This seemingly irrational practice (which lasted until after the Crimean War) served to assure the country that the officer class would be drawn from the propertied class and would not consist of adventurers who might expect their fortunes from the booty of the conquests of their commander-whether that commander was a popular leader like Cromwell or a hereditary monarch. (The British experience explains why the president of the United States, as commander in chief, must be a civilian and why all appointments to the higher ranks of the armed services must be consented to by the Senate. This consent is the American equivalent of purchase.)

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