Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Israel Smith, 27 August 1802

To Israel Smith

Monticello Aug. 27. 1802

Dear Sir

I am afraid some want of sufficient explanation has prevented my recieving recommendations of proper persons as Commrs. of bankrupts for your state. I had thro’ a particular channel desired that the favor might be asked of yourself & General Bradley to recommend, and understood it would be done on your return home. by your letter to mr Madison of the 16th. inst recommending Samuel Prentiss only, I apprehend you had not so understood the thing. I have therefore now to ask the favor of you, as I also do of Genl. Bradly to name three or four1 persons, lawyers or merchants of understanding & integrity2 of republican principles convenient for the exercise of the office at the place where the federal court holds it’s session in your state. to avoid the infinite number of nominations which would be necessary to spread these officers over the whole face of every state, most of which would be useless, we instruct the Attorney of the district to apply to the Secretary of state whenever any case arises too distant for the general commissioners & to recommend others for the special case. Accept assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “The honble Judge Israel Smith Rutland.”

Born in Suffield, Connecticut, Israel Smith (1759–1810) moved to Bennington County, Vermont, with his parents, Daniel and Anna Kent Smith. He graduated from Yale in 1781 and returned to Bennington to study law with his brother Noah, another Yale graduate. He was admitted to the Vermont bar in 1783 and served several terms in the state general assembly. In 1789, Smith and Stephen R. Bradley were appointed to the commission to settle the boundary dispute between Vermont and New York and, in 1791, both attended the state constitutional convention, which led to statehood. Later that year, Smith was elected to Congress, where he served in the House of Representatives from October 1791 to March 1797. His alliance with the Jeffersonian Republicans in the House, as they unsuccessfully opposed appropriations for the Jay Treaty, led to his defeat for reelection. He served briefly as chief justice of the state supreme court, but was removed when the Federalists regained control of the state government in 1798. Smith was defeated in his gubernatorial bid against Isaac Tichenor in 1800, but returned to Congress, serving in the House from 1801 to 1803, and in the Senate until 1807, when he became governor of Vermont. One of the founding trustees or fellows of Middlebury College in 1800, Smith continued his interest in education as governor (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Dexter, Yale description begins Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the College History, New York, 1885–1912, 6 vols. description ends , 4:201–2; Acts and Laws Passed by the Legislature of the State of Vermont [Windsor, Vt., 1801], 131–4).

YOUR LETTER: see TJ to Stephen R. Bradley of this date.

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Preceding three words and ampersand interlined.

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