From James Gunn
[Washington, December 18, 1800]
I presume some of your friends will present you with a copy of the French Convention.1 The thing is detestable—The Independance of our country humbled to the dust.
The President this day nominated Mr. Jay Chief Justice2 —Mr. Elsworth resigned.3 Mr. Jay having once declined the office of Chief Judge it is no compliment to re-appoint him to that office,4 nor was it decent to wound the feelings of Judge Patterson.5 Either Judge Patterson, or Genl. Pinckney6 ought to have been appointed, But both those worthies are your friends.
Jefferson and Burr, as yet, have an equal vote, and it is genly. believed they will each have Seventy-Three votes.7 It is probable that the Federalists will have to Choose among Rotten Apples.
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. For information on the Convention of 1800 (Treaty of Môrtefontaine), see H to John Marshall, October 2, 1800; William Vans Murray to H, October 9, 1800; Oliver Ellsworth to H, October 16, 1800; Harrison Gray Otis to H, December 17, 1800; Theodore Sedgwick to H, December 17, 1800.
2. On December 18, 1800, John Adams nominated Governor John Jay of New York as Chief Justice of the United States, and on the following day the Senate approved the nomination (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 360). On December 19 Adams informed Jay of the appointment (LC, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston), but Jay declined to serve (Jay to Adams, January 2, 1801 [ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]).
4. Jay had already served as Chief Justice of the United States from 1789 to 1795.
5. William Paterson, a New Jersey lawyer, was a member of the Constitutional Convention and served in the House of Representatives from 1789 to 1790. In 1790 the New Jersey legislature appointed him governor to fill the unexpired term of William Livingston. On March 4, 1793, George Washington appointed him associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Senate confirmed the appointment on the same day (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 138).
6. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.