Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Gabriel Duvall, 13 March 1801

To Gabriel Duvall

Washington Mar. 13. 1801.

Dear Sir

The office of Chief judge for the district of Columbia being become vacant by the resignation of mr Johnson, my desire to procure for offices of so much confidence, & permanence, persons whose talents & integrity may ensure to the public the honest benefits expected from them, and strengthen the mass of confidence which from the people at large […] so necessary for their own service, has induced me to propose it for your acceptance. the office is during good behavior, & the salary 2300. Dollars a year. the first session for the county of Washington being fixed to the 4th. Monday (23d.) of this month, I will sollicit the favor of as early an answer as possible. accept assurances of my high consideration and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); faint; at foot of text: “The honble Gabriel Duval.” Not recorded in SJL.


Gabriel Duvall (1752–1844), a Revolutionary War veteran who was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1778, served as a Maryland congressman from November 1794 to March 1796, when he resigned to become chief justice of the General Court of Maryland. He promoted the Jeffersonian-Republican cause in Maryland, describing TJ as “the Friend of the People.” As a presidential elector he cast his vote for TJ in 1796 and 1800. In 1802 TJ appointed Duvall the first comptroller of the U.S. Treasury, a position he held until 1811 when President Madison appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served as an associate justice until 1835 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Biog. Dir. Cong.; Papenfuse, Maryland Legislature description begins Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, Gregory A. Stiverson, eds., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789, Baltimore, 1979–85, 2 vols. description ends , 1:290–2).

The office of chief judge for the district of Columbia was left unfilled when Thomas Johnson declined the appointment offered by Adams (Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 6:90–1; 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, 3 vols. description ends , 1:401; note to List of John Adams’s Appointments, printed at 23 Feb. 1801).

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