George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Joseph Jones, 15 November 1789

From Joseph Jones

[c.15 November 1789]

Dr Sr

After a conflict in my breast for two weeks past, whch I should transgress a rule from which I have in no instance departed, al[t]ho’ honoured with several respectable appointments by my Country, I have determined to inform you of my wish to come into the office of district Judge—the emoluments of the appointment with the profitts I could make from my fortune though small would enable me to disc[h]arge in a few years a debt I owe the estate of the late Col. Tayloe for which I am much pressed and to pay which demand I have offered to sell my land in King George County but cannot (such is the depreciation of property) obtain a reasonable price for it or indeed as yet any offer. Necessity I well know is an unfavourable pretence to offices of great trust, but I think I have integrity and resolution sufficient to bear me through any trial I may be exposed to where doing justice shall occasion the embarrassment—the principal difficulty with me was whether I could execute the trust with propriety, and if I do not deceive myself, notwithstanding my having been long out of the business of the Courts, and am as the common phrase is rusty, yet I Fear not being able to put the business in motion and to carry it on in such manner as not to disgrace the appointment—I should not have presumed to come forward while the office was open to Pendleton, Wythe, Blair and E. Randolph, but as they are no longer in the way should you be at liberty to nominate me consistent with the ⟨rules⟩ prescribed to yourself for such important appointm⟨ents⟩ you may rely my best endeavours shall be exerted in the office and that should I find myself unequal to the undertaking I shall as soon as the discovery is made afferd you an oppertunity of introducing a more proper person—let the issue of this application be what it may, you will hear no complaint from but as usual retain the good wishes of Dr Sr aff. & obed. Servt

Jos: Jones1

ALS, PWacD: Feinstone Collection, on deposit at PPAmP.

Joseph Jones (1727–1805) of King George County was a prominent Virginia jurist. He served as a delegate to the House of Burgesses before the Revolution, as a member of the Continental Congress during the war, and as a judge of the Virginia General Court from 1778 to 1779 and from 1789 to 1805.

1On 30 Nov. GW replied to Jones’s letter: “Your favor, without date, came to my hands by the last post, but not till after I had decided in favor of Mr Cyrus Griffin, and directed the commission to be made out—This being the case your application for the office of District Judge has not, nor will it be mentioned by me” (LB, DLC:GW). The remainder of GW’s letter to Jones dealt with his reasons for appointing Griffin to the post and is printed in Griffin’s letter of application to GW, 10 July 1789, source note.

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