James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Henry VanderBurgh, 15 November 1802 (Abstract)

§ From Henry VanderBurgh1

15 November 1802, Vincennes. Since Governor Harrison is visiting the counties along the Mississippi River, VanderBurgh takes the first opportunity to give JM the “disagreeable news of the death of Chief Justice Clarke who died on 11th. instant of a Pleurisy.”2 The services of territorial judges are “highly necessary” at this time as the business of the court has greatly increased. In addition to holding semiannual court at the capital and attending the legislature, justices must ride to distant counties to hold annual circuit courts and other sessions as required. Circuit duties are “extremely laborious and some times dangerous So much so that at certain Seasons of the year it is almost impracticable to perform it.” Judges must travel through country “which for nearly 200 miles is totally uninhabited and entirely destitute of any sort of accommodation for the traveller; and in the Season of high water there are several large Rivers over which there are no Ferries established they must therefore either be rafted or Swam.”

Index Entries