George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Isaac Smith, 14 February 1792

From Isaac Smith

Trenton [N.J.] Feby 14th 1792


Being informed that the Office of Attorney general in the western Territory is at present vacant, I beg leave to introduce to your Notice my Son John Penington Smith, who is already settled in the Practice of the Law in Fort-Washington.1

He is 27 Years of Age, served his Clerkship under Mr Houston and our present Governour Mr Paterson, and, from the Recommendation of the Supreme Court, was licensed to practise in all the Courts of New Jersey by Governour Livingston; and was likewise admitted to the Bar in Pensylvania four years ago; since which Time he has practised in Kentucke, till last September when he moved into the Goverment west of the Ohio.

I know him to be a young man of Honour & Abilities, both natural and acquired, and his political Principles such as a real Friend to his Country would wish them to be. Altho’ a Father I would not wish to mislead. It is probable many of the Gentlemen of the western Army are acquainted with him. I have the Honour to be, Sir, with due Respect, and long and sincere Attachment your very humble Servant,

Isaac Smith


Isaac Smith (1736–1807) of Trenton, N.J., graduated from Princeton in 1755 and served as a tutor there before studying medicine in Philadelphia. He returned to Trenton to practice medicine in 1765. Smith became an active patriot leader in Hunterdon County and was a member of the New Jersey committee of correspondence. He served as a colonel in the state militia and was with GW’s troops on the Delaware in 1776. Smith resigned his commission in February 1777 to accept an appointment as a justice of the New Jersey supreme court, on which he sat for twenty-eight years. He also concurrently served a term in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1795 to 1797. GW appointed Smith a commissioner to treat with the Seneca Indians in 1797 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 2 Mar. 1797).

1John Penington Smith (born c.1765) was one of Isaac Smith’s three sons, all of whom predeceased their father. He received no appointment from GW.

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