George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Clement Biddle, 23 August 1793

From Clement Biddle

Philadelphia Augst 23 1793.


When you did me the honour to appoint me to the Office of Marshall of the Pennsylvania District, there was a prospect of its being at some time beneficial to me and I have ever held myself under the greatest Obligation to you for the Confidence placed in me by that Appointment,1 but I found that the Arrangements of the Judiciary System were such as would not compensate the marshalls for the great risque and hazard that would necessarily attend the Execution of their Duties.

I determined however, to contribute all in my power to the support of the Government of the United States, to execute the Office during the period to which you did me the honour to appoint me and I have endeavour’d to execute it with fidelity and to merit the Confidence you were pleased to place in me, but I find that the Expense attending the Execution has been equal or greater than the Emoluments of the office and the hazard and Responsibility attending the same are so great that I can not think myself justified in continuing to hold the Office, if you should have been pleased to think of conferring the same upon me, when the time limited by my Commission expires.2

I shall ever hold myself bound by the strongest Ties of Gratitude to you personally and have the honour to be With the greatest respect sir Your most Obedient and very humle Servt

Clement Biddle

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1On Biddle’s solicitation for the federal marshal position and for GW’s appointment of him to that office, see Biddle to GW, 19 June 1789, and source note, and GW to U.S. Senate, 24 Sept. 1789.

2Section 27 of “An Act to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States,” 24 Sept. 1789, mandated that a federal marshal be appointed to each judicial district for a term of four years. His duty was to attend the district and circuit courts and “to execute throughout the district, all lawful precepts directed to him, and issued under the authority of the United States” (1 Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends ., 87). According to Alexander Hamilton’s “Report on an Account of Receipts and Expenditures of the United States for the Year 1793,” 26 Dec. 1794, Biddle received $101.57 on 27 Dec. 1792 and $439.98 on 10 June 1793 in payment for his salary and expenses as marshal (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 17:501).

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