From William Murray
Lexington Decr. 7th. 1792
An Act of the Assembly of this Commonwealth having provided that no person shall hold an Office of Honour Trust or profit under the State who holds such an Office under the Government of the United States, the Office of Attorney for the Kentucky District becomes inconsistant with that of Attorney General for the State.
This makes it necessary that I should resign the Office with which I have been honoured under the Government of the United States. I therefore beg leave to enclose my patent and to assure you, that I am, with great consideration, your most obedient and humble Servant
RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); at foot of text: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Jan. 1793.
William Murray, a lawyer who had been appointed United States district attorney in Kentucky in 1791, served as the state’s attorney general until 1795 and became such a staunch Federalist that as a member of the state House of Representatives he consistently opposed the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and was sometimes the lone dissenting vote against them (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends , i, 77; Joan W. Coward, Kentucky in the New Republic: The Process of Constitution Making [Lexington, Ky., 1979], 87, 100, 111).
On 18 Feb. 1793 Washington appointed George Nicholas, Kentucky’s first attorney general, to replace Murray as United States district attorney in Kentucky. Although promptly confirmed by the Senate, Nicholas declined the post later in the year. In November 1793 Washington appointed John Breckinridge, but he too declined to serve. Owing to opposition in Kentucky to the excise laws, the post was vacant for four years (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends , i, 129, 143; Mary K. Bonsteel Tachau, Federal Courts in the Early Republic: Kentucky 1789–1816 [Princeton, 1978], 69–71, 98–105). TJ transmitted Nicholas’s commission with a brief covering letter of 19 Feb. 1793 (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 360, DL). See also TJ to Nicholas, 15 July 1793.