Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: The Justices of the Supreme Court to George Washington, 20 July 1793

The Justices of the Supreme Court to George Washington

Philadelphia 20 July 1793


We have taken into Consideration the Letter written to us by your Direction,1 on the 18th. Instant, by the Secretary of State.

The Question “whether the public may with propriety be availed of the advice of the Judges, on the Questions alluded to?” appears to us to be of much2 Difficulty as well as Importance—as it affects the judicial Department, we feel a Reluctance to decide it, without the Advice and participation of our absent Brethren.3

The occasion which induced our being convened, is doubtless urgent: of the Degree of that Urgency we cannot judge, and consequently cannot propose that the answer to this Question be postponed, untill the Sitting of the Sup. Court.

We are not only disposed but desirous to promote4 the welfare of our Country, in every way that may consist with our official Duties. We are pleased Sir! with every opportunity of manifesting our Respect for you, and are5 sollicitous to do whatever may be in our power6 to render your administration as easy and agreable to yourself as it is to our Country.

If Circumstances should forbid further Delay, we7 will immediately8 resume the Consideration of the Question, and decide it. We have the Honor to be with perfect Respect Sir your most obedient & most h’ble Servants

John Jay
James Wilson
Ja. Iredell
Wm. Paterson

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); in Jay’s hand, signed by Jay, Wilson, Iredell, and Paterson; at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by Tobias Lear. Dft (NNC: Jay Papers); written entirely in Jay’s hand on other side of sheet containing Dft of covering letter; only the most important emendations are noted below. Enclosed in Washington to TJ, 20 July 1793.

1Preceding three words interlined in Dft.

2In Dft Jay here canceled “Magnitu.”

3Here in Dft Jay canceled a new line starting the next paragraph: “We are persuaded that from our being convened.”

4Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “being instrumental to.”

5Word added in Dft in place of “we personally regret every <Restrict> obstacle which may restrain us from.”

6Preceding three words interlined in Dft in place of “proper.”

7In Dft Jay here canceled “wish to receive some of the Questions.”

8Word interlined in Dft.

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