George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 5 April 1792

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia April 5. 1792


Both Mr Blair and Mr Wilson are now at Trenton.1 I have never heard Mr Blair say a syllable upon the subject of the representation bill. Some days ago I met Mr Wilson in Sixth Street, and he stopped to ask me, whether Mr Blair had communicated to me an idea, which both of them entertained on a late law of the present session, requiring the judges of the circuit courts to hear applications of pensioners, invalids &c.2 I informed him, that Mr Blair had not mentioned it to me; but that it was said in town, that they meant to refuse to execute the act. Upon his making a strong remark against its constitutionality, (but by the way I suspect that in this the judges, if they persist, will be found wrong) I observed, that doubts had been entertained by some discerning and respectable men as to the constitutionality of the representation bill. To this he replied, it can never come before me, as a judge, and therefore I will say that congress appear to have forgotten the source, from which representation flows. We immediately separated, without exchanging another word. I have the honor sir, to be with the most affectionate attachment and respect yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph


1GW apparently had earlier requested Randolph to consult with U.S. Supreme Court justices James Wilson and John Blair about the constitutionality of the Apportionment Bill.

2For “An Act to provide for the settlement of the Claims of Widows and Orphans barred by the limitations heretofore established, and to regulate the Claims to Invalid Pensions,” which GW signed on 23 Mar. 1792, and the protests of the U.S. Supreme Court justices against its provisions, see Caleb Brewster to GW, 15 Mar., n.4, U.S. Circuit Court Judges for New York to GW, 10 April, GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 16, 21 April, and James Iredell and John Sitgreaves to GW, 8 June 1792.

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