Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Levi Lincoln, 6 July 1802

From Levi Lincoln

Washington July 6—1802


I have the honor to enclose a letter which I recd some time since respecting the continuence of Mr Smith as a marshal of the district of Pennsylvania

In looking into the act, to amend the judicial system, which passed the last Session, and compareing it with those, with which it connects, I do not find the reappointment of the marshals, which you mean to continue, absolutely, necessary; but as there must be some act of the executive expressive of its continuing the officer, a reappointment may be the best mode of doing it, with a notification to the discontinued one of it, and of his discontinuence. This mode, of reappointment appears to me, the most eligible one, as it will be less likely to admit of any mistake, respecting the taking of new bonds, which appear to me to be indispensable—The existing bonds of a continued Marshal, altho they may bind him under the operation of law, it being his own act, to extend his jurisdiction, & of course his responsibility & hazard; Yet, I conceive, they cannot bind his sureties, to indemnify for any injuries, which may result from the increased Jurisdiction, which the law has given to their principals. The power of the legeslature not extending to such a retrospective effect—

I am Sir most respectfully your obedt Sert

Levi Lincoln

RC (DLC); at head of text: “President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 July and “Marshals” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

John SMITH was the marshal of one of the two districts allotted to PENNSYLVANIA by the Judiciary Act of 1801. The 8 Mch. 1802 repeal of that act removed the additional districts that had been created under the 1801 law, making Pennsylvania once again a single judicial district. The 29 Apr. act TO AMEND THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM empowered the president to “discontinue” marshals from districts that had ceased to exist, making no mention of any ACT OF THE EXECUTIVE required for marshals “who shall be continued in office” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States . . . 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:132, 164; Vol. 33:246–7; Vol. 37:85–6).

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