Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Hall, 7 March 1801

From John Hall

Philadelphia March 7. 1801.


From your Character for integrity which I have been taught to respect ever since I entered the Army of the United States in our revolutionary war in the year 1777, and from the excellent sentiments contained in your inaugural Speech, (every one of which is congenial to my heart) I have been led to believe no subordinate Officer of the General Government who has not been defficient in duty, will be dismissed from his Office; But having heard that attempts are now making to exite in you an unjust opinion of my Official conduct, I have taken the liberty to enclose several Certificates from Gentlemen who have been witnesses, the nearest and best witnesses of my Conduct.

To those Certificates I submit the issue of a request to be continued in my present Office. Should further evidence be necessary of my impartiality in the selection of Juries, or should proofs be required of my early and uniform Attachment to the Cause of my Country, and to the genuine principles of true Republicanism as declared in your Speech, they shall be procured from Gentlemen of the most respectable characters in Pennsylvania, and transmitted to you by the earliest opportunity.

With sincere wishes that your administration may be conducted and end, with the auspicious circumstances of peace and Union to the Citizens of the United States with which it commenced on the memorable 4th. of March 1801.

I have the honor to be Most respectfully Your Excellencys Mot. Obt. Sevt

Jno Hall
Marshal of the US
for the District of Penna.

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Mch. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Certificate of Richard Peters, 7 Mch. 1801, describing Hall as “diligent & punctual” and conducting himself with “Impartiality, in all Things,” with no complaints of “Failure in his Duty, or of any improper Conduct” coming to his attention (MS in same; in Peters’s hand and signed by him; endorsed by Hall: “Certificate of Richard Peters Judge of the District”). (2) Certificate of William Rawle, Philadelphia, 7 Mch. 1801, stating that Hall executed his duties as marshal with “integrity, diligence, perspecuity, promptitude and firmness” and that few would be found better qualified than he to hold the office (MS in same; in Rawle’s hand and signed by him).


John Hall (1760–1826) of Harford County, Maryland, was the second son of Elihu Hall, a well-established landholder, and the son-in-law of John Ewing, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Philadelphia and provost of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1782 Hall married Sarah Ewing, a popular essayist who wrote for Joseph Dennie’s Port Folio. Hall was secretary of the Pennsylvania land office from 1796 until 1799, when John Adams nominated him to replace William Nicholls as marshal of the district of Pennsylvania. Hall unsuccessfully petitioned Congress on 4 Feb. 1801 for relief of a settlement of his accounts with Treasury officers. TJ included him on a 28 Mch. list of removals for misconduct and delinquency, namely for packing juries (Sarah Hall, Selections from the Writings of Mrs. Sarah Hall, Author of Conversations on the Bible, with a Memoir of Her Life [Philadelphia, 1833], ix, xiii, xiv, xv, xxx, xxxi; 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, 3 vols. description ends , 1:325, 403; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:784–5, 841; PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877-Preston, Catalogue Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, Westport, Conn., 2001, 2 vols. description ends , 84 [1960], 474n; Maryland Genealogies, 2 vols. [Baltimore, 1980], 2:34; Papenfuse, Maryland Legislature description begins Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, Gregory A. Stiverson, eds., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789, Baltimore, 1979–85, 2 vols. description ends , 1:383; Appendix I, Lists 2, 3, and 4).

Hall’s witnesses both received appointments during Washington’s administration. William Rawle, a prominent Federalist, served as U.S. district attorney from 1791 until 1800. Richard Peters served as a Pennsylvania district court judge from 1792 until his death in 1828 (Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser., 7:250–1, 9:426; 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, 3 vols. description ends , 1:86, 351).

In his letter to TJ on 8 Apr., Pierce Butler claimed that TJ had been “misinformed respecting the Marshal of Pennsylvania District. He is a Man of mild manners; and well qualified for the Office. I believe he has never been indellicate. I understand that the Family he Maried into indulge a latitude of unjustifiable expression; but I am persuaded that he disapproves of it. If I know You, it is not Your intention to remove good and qualified Men, if they even shoud not think exactly with Yourself on Publick good” (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 29 Apr. and so recorded in SJL).

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