Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Chipman, 14 July 1791

To Nathaniel Chipman

Philadelphia July 14. 1791.


Your favour of May 10. came to hand on the 21st. of June. The Commission to you as judge of the district of Vermont was made out at the same time with those for the Attorney and Marshal, and, as the chief—clerk of my office assures me, it was put under the same cover with them to one of your deputies then at New York. I inclose you a copy of the letter which accompanied it. Having learned however that it had never reached your hands I had another commission prepared, which was signed by the President on his return, and is now inclosed. I hope this will come safely to hand, and with sincere expressions of satisfaction that your country will have the benefit of your talents employed in it’s service, I have the honour to assure you of the esteem & respect with which I am Sir Your most obedt. & most humble servt,

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU); at foot of text: “Honble. Mr. Chipman.” PrC (DLC). FC (DNA: RG 59, PCC No. 120).

To the complications which attended the admission of Vermont were added the difficulties which Nathaniel Chipman experienced in obtaining his commission as federal judge for the district. When the state was admitted as of 4 Mch. 1791, Washington, on TJ’s advice, called a special meeting of the Senate on that day to act upon nominations to the following offices in addition to that of Chipman: Stephen Jacobs, district attorney; Lewis R. Morris, marshal; and Stephen Keyes, collector for the port of Alburg. All were confirmed, and, on the same day, TJ dispatched their commissions (see Editorial Note and group of documents on admission of Vermont and Kentucky, at 4 Mch. 1791). Two months later Chipman reported to TJ that he had never received his (Chipman to TJ, 10 May 1791; recorded in SJL as received 21 June but not found). The duplicate commission which TJ enclosed with the above letter met with the same fate, according to a communication from Chipman to TJ of 28 Aug. 1791 (recorded in SJL as received 22 Sep. 1791 but also missing). Remsen received that letter during TJ’s absence in Virginia and, by direction of the President, immediately issued a triplicate commission which went forward directly to Chipman without being attested by TJ (Remsen to TJ, 9 Sep. 1791). Apparently the other federal officers in Vermont received their commissions without experiencing such difficulty.

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