James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Israel Smith and Others, 19 January 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Israel Smith and Others

19 January 1805, Washington. “We take the liberty to recomend James Wetherill1 Esqr & Now Cheif Justice of the County of Rutland in that State as A proper person for a Judge of the Territory of Michigan—he is A man of Talents & Urbanity & will be useful to the Gove[rn]ment wherever he is placed.”

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–9, filed under “Witherill”). 1 p.; docketed by Jefferson. Signed also by Gideon Olin and Matthew Lyon.

1Dr. James Witherell (1759–1838) was a veteran of the Revolution who served in the Vermont legislature from 1798 to 1802 and was a judge in Rutland County from 1803 to 1806. He was a member of Congress from 1807 to 1808, when Jefferson named him federal judge for Michigan Territory, a position he held until he became secretary of the territory in 1828. Witherell was taken prisoner when William Hull surrendered to the British at Detroit during the War of 1812 but was paroled and later returned to Detroit.

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