James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Fenner, 3 August 1812

From James Fenner

Providence August 3rd. 1812


I am informed that Judge Barnes of this District, in consequence of a severe malady under which he is now suffering without hope of recovery, has sent forward his resignation as District Judge.

Presuming the report to be true, I take the liberty of nominating the Hon David Howell, at present our District Attorney, as the Successor of Judge Barnes.1 Your knowledge of Mr Howell renders it unnecessary for me to mention the several honorable appointments which he has held from both the National and State Governments. He was one of the Commissioners appointed by President Washington for ascertaining the St. Croix boundary; and is now a Commissioner under Massachusetts for settling the conflicting land titles in the Province of Maine. As a literary Gentleman and a Lawyer he is without a rival in this State; I think, therefore, that his appointment would give general satisfaction. With highest respect and Esteem, Your Obt Servt.

J Fenner

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Howell, David”).

1Fenner had already recommended Howell for the office of judge of the district court of Rhode Island in 1810, when he hoped that David Leonard Barnes would vacate the office by replacing William Cushing on the Supreme Court. JM received letters from the following on Howell’s behalf: Benjamin Howland, 8 Aug. 1812, Isaac Wilbour, 8 Aug. 1812, Elisha Mathewson, 12 Aug. 1812, Elbridge Gerry, 12 Oct. 1812, Asa Messer, 3 Nov. 1812, John Pitman, 5 Nov. 1812, and Jeremiah B. Howell, 9 Nov. 1812, enclosing Stephen Gano to Howell, 4 Nov. 1812 (ibid.). JM nominated Howell for the position on 12 Nov., and the Senate approved him on 16 Nov. 1812 (Fenner to JM, 3 Dec. 1810, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (5 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 3:44–45; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:303, 304).

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