George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Thacher, 14 September 1789

From George Thacher

City of New York 14th Septemr 1789


I take the liberty of handing to you the names of two Gentlemen either of whom in my opinion will make a respectable District Judge for the District of Maine—viz. the Honourable David Sewal & William Lithgow Junr.1 The former was appointed one of the Judges of the Supreme Judicial Court, for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, about the year 1776—which office he has sustained to the present time—He lives at York in the District of Maine.

The latter is a respectable Attorney at Law of about thirteen years standing he lives at Hollowel on Kennebeck River[.] He served four or five years in the Army—where he lost the use of his right arm by a ball he recieved in an engagement with the enemy—He is now Major General of the Militia in the eastern Division of Massachusetts.

Should the former be appointed Judge in Maine District—the latter appears to me the most suitable person in that District for the Attorney to the United States in the said District—But if the latter be appointed Judge, I wish to mention Daniel Davis of Portland as a suitable person for the Attorney in that District.2

I further take the liberty of recommending Joshua Bailey Osgood, as a proper person for the Marshall in Maine District3—His situation at Portland or Biddeford will accommodate the District—His property, education & general Character, where they are known, I believe, will fully justify this recommendation. I am with the greatest respect Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

George Thatcher


George Thacher (Thatcher; 1754–1824), a Harvard graduate, studied law with Shearjashub Bourne in Massachusetts and began his law practice in 1782 at Biddeford, Maine. Thacher was elected to the Confederation Congress in 1781 and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1789 to 1801 when he became an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. In the early nineteenth century he changed the spelling of his name from Thatcher to Thacher.

1David Sewall (1735–1825) was a 1755 Harvard graduate who practiced law at York, Maine. In 1777 he was appointed a justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court and in 1781 of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. GW named him judge of the U.S. District Court for Maine in 1789; he held the post until 1818. William Lithgow, Jr. (1750–1796), served with Massachusetts militia during the Revolution and on the Massachusetts General Court. GW appointed him U.S. attorney for the district of Maine in 1789.

2Daniel Davis (c.1762–1835) came to Portsmouth, Maine, from Boston in 1782 and practiced law there until the early nineteenth century. He received no federal appointment in 1789 but served several terms in the state legislature. In 1796 GW appointed him U.S. attorney for the District of Maine to replace Lithgow. In 1801 he was appointed solicitor general of Massachusetts.

3Joshua Bailey Osgood (1753–1791), a native of Haverhill, Mass., graduated from Harvard in 1772 and settled in Fryeburg, Maine. He did not receive a federal appointment but was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1790.

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