George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate, 9 February 1790

To the United States Senate

United States [New York]

Gentlemen of the Senate,February 9th 1790.

Among the persons appointed during your late Session, to offices under the national Government, there were some who declined serving. Their names and offices are specified in the first column of the annexed list. I supplied these Vacancies, agreeably to the Constitution, by temporary appointments; which you will find mentioned in the second column of the list. These appointments will expire with your present session, and indeed ought not to endure longer than until others can be regularly made—for that purpose I now nominate to you the persons named in the third column of the list, as being in my opinion qualified to fill the Offices opposite to their names in the first.

Go: Washington

A List of Vacancies and appointments which have taken place in the national Offices, during the late recess of the Senate, and of persons nominated for them by the President of the United States on the 8th day of February 1790.

First Column. Second Column. Third Column.
Resignations. Temporary Appointmt Nominations.
  Robert H. Harrison—one of the Associate Judges of the Supreme Court James Iredell1 of North Carolina.
  Thomas Johnson—District Judge of Maryland William Paca2 William Paca
  Edmund Pendleton—District Judge of Virginia Cyrus Griffin3 Cyrus Griffin.
  John Marshall—Attorney for the District of Virginia William Nelson Junr4 William Nelson Junr
  Thomas Pinckney—District Judge of South Carolina William Drayton5 William Drayton.
  George Handley—Collector of the Port of Brunswick, in Georgia Christopher Hillary6
  Peyton Short—Collector of the Port of Louisville in Kentuckey Richard Taylor7
  Asher Miller8—Surveyor of the Port of Middletown in Connecticut Comfort Sage9

LS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Executive Nominations; LB, DLC:GW.

Lear delivered this message to the Senate on 9 Feb. 1790. The Senate considered it the next day, confirmed all the appointments, and laid a certified copy of its “advice and consent” before the president (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:61–62). An “a” following each name on the list was probably added later to indicate the Senate concurred in the appointment.

1GW sent Iredell his commission on 13 Feb. 1790, and Iredell acknowledged its receipt on 3 Mar. (Hugh Williamson to GW, 19 Sept. 1789, n.1).

2GW wrote to Paca on 13 Feb. 1790, notifying him that “The appointment which you now hold as Judge of the United States in and for the district of Maryland, having been made during the Recess of the Senate of the United States, can endure no longer than to the end of their present Session; and a new Commission, specifying your appointment by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, will become necessary for your continuance in the discharge of the duties of that Office. This Commission I have now the pleasure to enclose, requesting that you will acknowledge the receipt of it as soon as it gets to your hands” (LS, MdHi: Vertical File Papers; Df, in Tobias Lear’s handwriting, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB DLC:GW). Lear sent this letter to John White, the Baltimore postmaster, the same day, requesting him to forward it by a safe conveyance in a reasonable time (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Paca’s 6 Mar. reply from Wye Island in Queen Anne’s County, Md., noted that he received GW’s letter on 2 Mar., as “it lay some Time in the Post Office in Baltimore” (DNA: RG 59, State Department).

3A note appended to the letter-book copy of GW to Paca, 13 Feb. 1790, indicates that copies of that letter were also transmitted to “the Judges of the Districts of Virginia [Cyrus Griffin] and South Carolina [William Drayton], and to Wm Nelson Junr Attorney for the District of Virginia” (DLC:GW). Griffin responded from Williamsburg, Va., on 16 Mar.: “After discharging the business of the last special Court I paid a visit to a Brother who lives at some considerable distance from the post road, and over two pretty wide Rivers, which prevented me the honor of receiving your letter of February the 13th untill this day, enclosing a second Commission for the Judge of the Virginia district” (DNA: RG 59, Acceptances and Orders for Commissions, 1789–1893, State Department).

4Nelson acknowledged the receipt of his commission on 2 Mar. (GW to John Page, 23 Sept. 1789, n.2).

5Drayton wrote to GW on 16 Mar. 1790 that GW’s letter of 13 Feb. enclosing his commission arrived on 14 Mar. (DNA: RG 59, Acceptances and Orders for Commissions, 1789–1893).

6Lear sent Hillary his commission on 11 Feb. 1790 and requested acknowledgment of its receipt (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

7Lear sent Taylor his commission on 11 Feb. 1790 and requested acknowledgment of its receipt (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

8Lear wrote to Miller on 13 Feb. 1790, acknowledging receipt of his 1 Feb. 1790 letter of resignation and requesting return of Miller’s commission to the president (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

9Lear sent Sage his commission on 11 Feb. 1790 and requested acknowledgment of its receipt (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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