Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Chittenden, 4 September 1793

To Thomas Chittenden

Philad[elphia] 4. Sep. 1793.

The letter of July 8. which you did me the honor of writing was duly recieved, and I immediately delivered to the President that which it covered, recommending to him Mr. Knight as successor to Mr. Chipman in the office of Judge for the district of Vermont. The circumstances you stated in favor of Mr. Knight, and your own and your council’s testimony on his behalf placed him on ground as favorable as it was doubtless just. The President, feeling it his duty, however to make enquiry into the comparative fitness of different persons proposed for the office, took time for that purpose, and after the best enquiries in his power to make, the qualifications of Mr. Hitchcock, the Attorney General of your state, appeared to him to preponderate, and consequently to make it his duty to nominate him, which he has accordingly done; and he has no doubt that the justice of yourself and your council will approve the motives by which he has been governed. A just sense of Mr. Knight’s merit, and of the respectability of the recommendation on which he was brought forward, has rendered him anxious that these motives should be understood. I have the honor to be with great respect Your Excellency’s Most obedient servt.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); faded, with date overwritten in ink by Benjamin Bankson; at foot of text: “H. E. Govr. Chittenden.” FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL).

Neither Chittenden’s letter of July 8, recorded in SJL as received from Windsor on 15 July 1793, nor the enclosed letter to the president has been found. A missing letter to TJ of 10 Aug. 1793 from Vermont Senator Moses Robinson, recorded in SJL as received from Bennington on 24 Aug. 1793, had recommended Samuel Hitchcock for the judgeship (Washington, Journal, 230). Unlocated letters from Vermont Senator Stephen R. Bradley of 24 June and from Vermont Representative Israel Smith of 2 July 1793, recorded in SJL as received from Westminster and Rutland on 29 July 1793, may also have related to the vacant post. On 9 Sep. 1793 TJ sent Hitchcock a note enclosing his interim commission as Judge for the District Court of Vermont (PrC in DLC, in Benjamin Bankson’s hand, signed by TJ, with “Samuel Hitchcock. Vermont” at foot of text and endorsement in ink by Bankson on verso; FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL; not recorded in SJL). The commission is dated 3 Sep. 1793 (MS in DLC: Ethan Allan Hitchcock Papers; in a clerk’s hand, with date completed by Washington; signed by Washington and countersigned by TJ). The Senate confirmed the appointment on 30 Dec. 1793 (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, 143–4).

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