Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Enclosure: William Cranch to William Thornton, 9 May 1812


William Cranch to William Thornton

May 9th 1812

Dr Sir—

Mr Greenleaf will sell the domestic roving & spinning machine which he purchased of Barret for the same he gave for it, which is 50 Dollars—it has 12 spindles—he will have it put in order—and it may be pack’d in the same case in which it came. He wishes you, when you send for it, to send a person to pack it—and to pay the money to me. It will be ready some time next week.

Yrs respectfully

Wm Cranch

RC (MHi); dateline beneath signature; at foot of text: “Doct. Thornton”; conjoined with RC of following enclosure.

William Cranch (1769–1855), judge and legal reporter, was a native of Weymouth, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1787 and read law in Boston before being admitted to practice in the Court of Common Pleas in 1790. After establishing law practices successively in Braintree and Haverhill, he was allowed to plead before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by 1793. The following year Cranch moved to Washington as an agent for the real estate firm of Morris, Nicholson, & Greenleaf, a speculative venture that failed and rendered him insolvent. Late in 1800 President John Adams, the husband of Cranch’s aunt Abigail Smith Adams, appointed him a commissioner of the federal district, and early the next year he made him an assistant judge for the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. Cranch became a reporter for the United States Supreme Court about the same time, and two years later he began publishing his Reports of Cases argued and adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, 9 vols. (Washington, 1804–17). Despite Cranch’s Federalist views, TJ named him chief justice for the circuit court, in which capacity he served until his death. He edited a code of laws for the District of Columbia in 1819, and eight years later he authored a memoir of John Adams. Cranch published the decisions of his own court as Reports of Cases Civil and Criminal in the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, from 1801 to 1841, 6 vols. (1852–53). He died in Washington (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; New England Historical & Genealogical Register 1 [1847]: 77–80; Allen C. Clark, Greenleaf and Law in the Federal City [1901], esp. 47–66; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 32:377, 33:665; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:387, 389, 2:21, 22 [28 Feb., 3 Mar. 1801, 21, 24 Feb. 1806]; Boston Daily Advertiser, 3 Sept. 1855; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 3, 14 Sept. 1855).

Index Entries

  • Adams, Abigail Smith (John Adams’s wife); family of search
  • Adams, John; presidency of search
  • Barrett, Oliver; spinning machine of search
  • Cranch, William; buys spinning machine search
  • Cranch, William; identified search
  • Cranch, William; letter to W. Thornton from search
  • Greenleaf, James; and spinning machine search
  • spinning machines; sent to TJ search
  • Thornton, William; as agent for O. Barrett search
  • Thornton, William; letter to, from W. Cranch search