George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Carrington, 26 October 1789

From Edward Carrington

Richmond Octo. 26th 1789


I had the honor a few days ago to receive your Letter of the 30th Ult. enclosing a Commission for the Office of District Marshal for Virginia, together with sundry Acts upon the Judiciary system.1 The confidence you are pleased Sir, to repose in me, in confering this Commission, is an evidence of your good opinion exceedingly flattering and gratifying; and the terms in which you have thought proper to communicate it, excite in my mind the highest sensations of gratitude and respect.

Having indeavoured to possess myself of the extent of the duties and degree of responsibility involved in this Office, and also of the probable competency of emoluments to enable the occupant to execute it properly, I perceive that the former are very considerable, and that the latter can only be ascertained from experiment:2 this experiment I am willing to make, and shall be happy to continue in the appointment, should I find myself enabled to execute it with honor to myself, and advantage to the public.

Being a Member of the State Legislature now in session, it is my wish not to vacate my Seat before the duties of this appointment may require it; this I Conceive will not happen before the period appointed for the sitting of the first District Court on the third tuesday in December, when I shall be ready to accept the office of Marshal, and to quallify according to the terms thereof.3 I have the Honor to be Sir, with the greatest respect your Most Obt humble Servt

Ed. Carrington

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Acceptances and Orders for Commissions.

1GW’s pro forma letter of appointment, 30 Sept. 1789, to Carrington was sold in 1947. See American Book-Prices Current, description begins American Book-Prices Current. New York, 1895—. description ends 53:594.

2No fixed compensation for marshals appointed under article 27 of the Judiciary Act was specified by law.

3Carrington’s letter of acceptance, 14 Jan. 1790, is in DNA: RG 59, Acceptances and Orders for Commissions. He apparently accepted the post with some reservations. On 25 Oct. he wrote Henry Knox, thanking the secretary of war for his good offices in securing the appointment. “What will be the real Value of the appointment confered upon me is yet to be ascertained from experiment, & my acceptance will be founded upon a determination to resign or hold it, according to the discovery which shall be made, as to the adequacy of compensation to the responsibility of the Office. upon this there are various calculations. . . . The Judiciary system is so defective that it will doubtless undergo much alteration in the next session of Congress” (NNGL: Knox Papers).

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