Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jefferson’s Certification of William Short as an Attorney, 30 September 1781

Jefferson’s Certification of William Short as an Attorney

Sep. 30. 1781.

At the desire of the Executive I have examined Mr. William Short and report it as my opinion that he is duly qualified to practise the law as an Attorney. Given under my hand on the day above-mentioned.

Th: Jefferson

MS (Vi); entirely in TJ’s hand; endorsed in part: “Feby 18. [1782?].”

Below TJ’s statement is the following in the hand of George Wythe: “Nov. 2. 1781. From an intimate acquaintance, of some standing, with Mr. W. Short, and from several exercises I have heard him perform, I am fully persuaded, and accordingly report it as my opinion, that he is duly qualified to practice the law, as an attorney. Given under my hand. G. Wythe.” This MS is filed in Vi with Short’s undated petition to the Governor and Council, stating that, “having been for a considerable time engaged in the Study of the Law, and being now desirous of entering into the practice thereof, he begs to be referred to some proper Gentlemen to be examined therein, in order … to his obtaining a legal Licence.” On the verso of this MS is David Jameson’s statement referring the petitioner to “Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, John Blair, Jerman Baker and Henry Tazewell esquires, or any two of them … to examine into his abilities to practice … and to make report thereof to the Executive” (dated 19 Sep. 1781; the names of Wythe and Blair are interlined in the hand of Tazewell). Short, “having been examined and reported as fit to practice as an attorney in the County and other inferior courts,” was granted a license on 18 Feb. 1782 (MS Va. Council Jour., Vi).

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