From Tobias Lear, with Jefferson’s Note
Thursday Morning 28 Feby. 1793.
The President requests the Secretary of State to call upon him this morning as he goes to the War Office so as to give him about 10 or 15 minutes conversation.
[Note by TJ:]
This was to consult about the premature nomination of Judge Patterson.
RC (DLC); addressed: “The Secretary of State”; with note by TJ at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Feb. 1793.
On 16 Jan. 1793 Thomas Johnson of Maryland submitted his resignation as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court to Washington, citing his distaste for the arduous schedule of circuit court duty assigned to each justice. Washington accepted Johnson’s resignation on 1 Feb. 1793 and began to search for a successor. In the course of this search Washington considered five candidates, including Governor William Paterson of New Jersey, a former United States Senator who had played a leading role in drafting the 1789 Judiciary Act that created the federal court system. Washington asked Attorney General Edmund Randolph to evaluate the candidates, and on 18 Feb. 1793 Randolph advised the President that Paterson’s legal abilities made him best qualified to maintain harmony between the federal and state judiciaries. Randolph also endorsed Paterson during a personal meeting with the President on the following day and, upon Washington’s urging, requested an opinion from TJ, who also strongly supported the nomination. Accordingly, Washington submitted Paterson’s nomination to the Senate on 27 Feb. 1793 after first ascertaining his willingness to serve on the Supreme Court (Maeva Marcus and others, eds., The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800, 3 vols. [New York, 1985– ], i, pt. 1, p. 80–9, pt. 2, p. 723n, 738–9; Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 36, 59, 60, 69, 71; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends , i, 134).
Almost as soon as he had submitted his name to the Senate, however, Washington realized that Paterson’s nomination was premature because of Article I, Section 6, of the United States Constitution, which forbade the appointment of a member of Congress to any federal post that had either been established or for which the emoluments had been increased during his term in office. Although Paterson had resigned from the Senate to become governor of New Jersey in 1790, Washington decided that this provision disqualified him from service on the Supreme Court until the term for which he had been chosen to serve in the Senate expired on 3 Mch. 1793 (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 74). Consequently, after meeting with Washington this day, TJ drafted a message to the Senate in the President’s name withdrawing Paterson’s nomination and Washington submitted it to the upper house with only minor changes on the same day. Then, on 4 Mch. 1793, Washington resubmitted the nomination to the Senate, which immediately approved it (Washington to the Senate, with Jefferson’s Note to Washington, 28 Feb. 1793; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends , I, 135, 138). On the same day TJ wrote a brief covering letter notifying Paterson of his appointment and enclosing his commission as associate justice (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL, at head of text: “William Paterson Esquire”; not recorded in SJL), but he undoubtedly did not send it until Washington signed the commission on 6 Mch. (Commission for Paterson as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 4 Mch. 1793, MS in NjP, signed by Washington and TJ; FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Permanent Commissions). See also Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 82. Paterson acknowledged receipt of his commission in a brief letter to TJ of 12 Mch. 1793 from New Brunswick, noting that he had been “initiated into office, by taking the necessary oaths before judge Cushing” (RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR; addressed: “The honorable Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State Philada.”; endorsed by George Taylor, Jr., as received 14 Mch. 1793).