Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph Crockett, 15 February 1801

From Joseph Crockett

Jessamene County Kentucky Febry 15th 1801


By the law establishing federal Courts I beleve it is provided there shall be a reappointment to the Office of Marshal to that Court once in four years. If that is the case applications I Suppose will be numerous to you for the Office; That Supposition is founded on its being generally beleved that Some one will succeed Saml McDowell Junr the present Marshal, I flatter my self that I hold an equal rank in your esteem with any other person who may be a candidate, and Should I be so successfull as to meet with it, I hope I will give general Satisfaction to the people, and it will confer a Singlar favour on Sir your Most Obedt and very Hble Servt.

Joseph Crockett

PS It is thought this State will be laid off in Two Districts and a federal Court in each if so I expect Kentucky River will divide the two I live on the North Side


RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 12 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

Colonel Joseph Crockett (1742–1829), a native of Virginia, served on the frontier prior to and during the American Revolution. In 1776 he enlisted in a company of minutemen of the Continental Army, was later a lieutenant colonel of the Illinois regiment, and continued in military service until February 1781. An acquaintance of TJ’s, Crockett surveyed most of the land around Monticello. In May 1782, Crockett wed Elizabeth Moore Woodson, the widow of TJ’s relative Tucker Woodson. They moved to Kentucky in 1784, where they established a farm on 1,900 acres on Hickman Creek in Jessamine County. Crockett was a representative to the Virginia Assembly in 1786 and 1790 and served in the newly formed Kentucky House until 1795. From 1800 to 1804, he was a member of the Kentucky Senate. TJ appointed him on 26 June 1801 as marshal for the district of Kentucky to succeed Samuel McDowell, Jr. When informed of the applicants for the marshalcy and of Crockett’s candidacy, TJ is said to have exclaimed to his secretary, “You need not read any more. I will appoint honest Joe, for I know him personally to be true, and faithful, and honest.” In his capacity as marshal, Crockett was most known for his arrest of Aaron Burr in 1806 (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:303; G. Glenn Clift, Kentucky Obituaries, 1787–1854 [Baltimore, 1977], 59; John E. Kleber, ed., The Kentucky Encyclopedia [Lexington, Ky., 1992], 242; Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:571; Samuel W. Price, Biographical Sketch of Colonel Joseph Crockett, [Louisville, Ky., 1909], 4, 7, 9–10, 17–19, 26–29; Vol. 4:303–4; Vol. 5:142–3).

The law establishing federal courts, An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States, or the Judiciary Act of 1789, stipulated that “a marshal shall be appointed in and for each district for the term of four years, but shall be removable from office at pleasure” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:87).

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