George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 5 October 1789

To John Jay

United States, October 5th 1789.


It is with singular pleasure that I address you as Chief Justice of the supreme Court of the United States, for which office your Commission is here enclosed.

In nominating you for the important station which you now fill, I not only acted in conformity to my best judgement; but, I trust, I did a grateful thing to the good citizens of these united States: and I have a full confidence that the love which you bear our Country, and a desire to promote general happiness, will not suffer you to hesitate a moment to bring into action the talents, knowledge and integrity which are so necessary to be exercised at the head of that department which must be considered as the Key-Stone of our political fabric.1 I have the honor to be, with high consideration and sentiments of perfect esteem, Sir, Your most Obedient and most Humble Servant,

Go: Washington

LS, LNT; LB, DLC:GW; Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

For background to GW’s judicial appointments, see his letter sending nominations to the United States Senate, 24 Sept. 1789.

1Jay replied on 6 Oct.: “When distinguished Descernment & Patriotism unite in selecting men for Stations of Trust and Dignity, they derive Honor not only from their offices, but from the Hand which confers them.

“With a Mind and a Heart impressed with these Reflections, and their correspondent Sensations, I assure you that the Sentiments expressed in your Letter of Yesterday, and implied by the Commission it enclosed, will never cease to excite my best Endeavours to fulfill the Duties imposed by the latter, and as far as may be in my power, to realize the Expectations which your nominations, especially to important Places, must naturally create” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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