Long Branch August 1796
I am just informed that the office of District Judge in the State of Georgia is become vacant by the resignation of Judge Pendleton.
It is a trust on which the good order of the government, as well as the satisfaction of the people so much depends, that I cannot forbear to express my opinion and wishes on the subject of filling that vacancy. The State is at this time unhappily in a situaiton to make it more than commonly difficult to collect that satisfactory information which is desirable in making such appointments. I submit my opinion with the expectation that it may be compared and crossed by the information and opinions received from others that a proper result may more readily be seen. Since the death of the late Judge Houstoun, of which I am just informed, who had very respectable recommendations to that office when the first appointment was made, my opinion is that Joseph Clay Jr Esqr. is the person most proper to be appointed to the office. His name has been before brought into the view of the President, if I mistake not, by a unanimous recommendation from the Senators and Representatives of that state, for the appointment of attorney general of the United States at the time when the late Mr Bradford was appointed. Their unanimous opinion at that time is perhaps a stronger testimony in his favor, than can at this time be obtained for any one.
I have intimately known him for many years, and have known few persons, who have possessed so great a share of my respect. He is a native of Savannah, of the most respectable connexions. He received a regular education at Princeton College, I have often heard Dr Witherspoon and Dr Smith observe that they had known few superior to him at that College. He received his law education under Dr Wythe at Williamsburgh in Virginia. His natural talents are very distinguishing. His virtues and moral character have been uncommonly respected from his childhood. He has been a steady friend to the present form of the constitution of the United States; and I have no doubt will discharge the duties of a Judge in a manner to reflect dignity on the government and to procure the respect and confidence of the people. With great respect I have the honor to be Sir your obedient Servant
DLC: Papers of George Washington.