Thomas Jefferson Papers

John G. Jackson to Thomas Jefferson, 5 April 1811

From John G. Jackson

Clarksburg 5th April 1811


Judge Nelson who was assigned to this Circuit has resigned his Office, & my friends have procured my consent to become a Candidate for it. The Law requires that his successor shall reside within the Circuit & there is not any person here to dispute my pretentions. I presume the Executive will not deem it good policy to send strangers to us to fill our local offices, for the reason that it would be presumptuous in Western men to expect local Offices beyond the mountains

If this conjecture be correct [th]e Executive will doubtless favor my views on proper application. I am personally known to but two of the members, & take the liberty to solicit your friendly offices if you think it not improper to recommend me. Born in the District & having an extensive practise at the bar for more than ten years; aided by the confidence of the people; & the circumstance that my inability to pursue my profession actively was the result of zeal in the public service—are, I hope, a sufficient justification for the interposition of my friends. I pray you to be assured that I shall not1 feel any disappointment at your declining to interfere in my behalf—I have2 too much affection for your person & veneration for your Character to wish you to do an act which the most scrupulous delicacy could forbid or condemn.

I am Dr Sir your mo. Obt.

J G Jackson

RC (MHi); damaged at seal; at head of text: “Honble Thos Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Apr. 1811 and so recorded in SJL.

John George Jackson (1777–1825), attorney and industrialist, was born near Buckhannon (now West Virginia) and lived in Clarksburg most of his life. He represented Harrison County in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1798–1801 and 1811–12, and served in the United States House of Representatives, 1803–10 and 1813–17. Jackson was seriously injured in a duel over a political disagreement with his fellow congressman Joseph Pearson in 1809. At this time he and TJ shared an interest in breeding merino sheep, and in 1818 they served on the Rockfish Gap Commission to choose a site for the University of Virginia. Jackson was a brigadier general in the state militia in 1812 but soon resigned the post. James Monroe appointed him a United States judge for the new District of Virginia West of the Allegheny Mountains in 1819, and he held the position until his death. He was a brother-in-law of Dolley Madison through his first marriage to her sister Mary Payne (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Stephen W. Brown, Voice of the New West: John G. Jackson, His Life and Times [1985]; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 212, 216, 220, 266; Joseph Dougherty to TJ, 5 Dec. 1809; Jackson to James Madison, 5, 19 Apr. 1811, Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 3:247, 274–5; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 3:177 [22, 24 Feb. 1819]).

Hugh nelson was judge of Virginia’s eleventh judicial circuit and resigned when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ). Jackson did not succeed him.

1Word interlined.

2Word written over what appears to be “feel.”

Index Entries

  • Jackson, John G.; identified search
  • Jackson, John G.; letters from search
  • Jackson, John G.; seeks judicial appointment search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Madison, Dolley Payne Todd (James Madison’s wife); mentioned search
  • Nelson, Hugh; as circuit court judge search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Payne, Mary search
  • Pearson, Joseph; duel with J. G. Jackson search