Thomas Jefferson Papers

II. Memorandum on Justices of the Peace for the District of Columbia, [on or before 16 March 1801]

II. Memorandum on Justices of the Peace for the District of Columbia

[on or before 16 Mch. 1801]

reduced the number from about 20. to 15. for each county adding to 11. of those named by mr Adams for Alexandria1 county, the 4. others marked with an * in the following list, & to 14. of those named by mr Adams for Washington county, 1 other have been added.2 a commission is consequently made out as follows.

for Washington county for Alexandria county
  Thomas Sim Lee   George Gilpin
  Daniel Reintzell   William Fitzhugh
* Thomas Corcoran   Francis Peyton
  Daniel Carrol   Richard Conway
  Cornelius Cunningham * Elisha Cullen Dick
  Thomas Peter   Charles Alexander
  Robert Brent   George Taylor
  Thomas Addison   Jonah Thompson
  Abraham Boyd   Abraham Faw
  Benjamin More3   John Herbert
  John Mason * Alexander Smith
  William Thornton   Cuthbert Powell
  Benjamin Stoddert4 * Peter Wise junr.
  William Hammond Dorsey   Jacob Houghman
  Joseph Sprigg Belt. qu * Thomas Darne

MS (DNA: RG 59, MCL); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated, but the names for Washington County are in the same order as they appear in the Washington County commission dated 16 Mch.; perhaps prepared in two sittings (see notes below).

In 1803, Levi Lincoln testified that when he came into office as acting secretary of state there were “several commissions for justices of peace of the district made out; but he was furnished with a list of names to be put into a general commission, which was done, and was considered as superseding the particular commissions; and the individuals whose names were contained in this general commission were informed of their being thus appointed.” TJ may have given Lincoln the list above to prepare the commission naming the 15 justices of the peace for Washington County. The names in the temporary commission, dated 16 Mch., appear in the same order as above. In the commission, TJ noted: “reposing special Trust and Confidence in your Integrity, Ability, diligence and discretion, I have appointed you jointly and severally and every one of you Justices of the Peace in the County of Washington in the District of Columbia, and to keep and cause to be kept all laws for the good of the peace, and for the preservation of the same, and for the quiet rule and government of the people” and “further to do and perform every act and thing within the said County, which by law, you or either of you may do and perform as Justices of the Peace” (Cranch, Reports description begins William Cranch, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, 1801–1815, Washington, D.C., 1804–17, 9 vols. description ends , 1:145; RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 5 [1902], 265–7). A similar commission naming the 15 for Alexandria County has not been found, but undoubtedly was made out at the same time. On 18 Mch., Samuel H. Smith printed the names of the newly appointed officeholders in the National Intelligencer. The names of Benjamin More and Benjamin Stoddert, interlined in place of John Laird and Thomas Law, respectively, appear in the commission, indicating that TJ made the substitutions before it was issued (see notes below). In early 1802, Jacob Wagner recalled that More’s name was inserted “on an erasure of the original commission.” More’s name does not appear in Document I, but perhaps TJ was persuaded to make the substitution by the recommendation he received from Nicholas King and others in early March 1801 (Vol. 33:180). As the document above indicates, TJ did not place an asterisk by More’s name and he continued to maintain that he had kept 14 of Adams’s nominations in Washington County. Although More appeared on the State Department list of interim appointments (see Document III), the president named Laird, not More, as justice of the peace in his message to the Senate, a mistake he corrected by another message on 5 Apr. (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 , 1:417–18; Wagner to TJ, 6 Feb.; TJ to Samuel A. Otis, 8 Feb. 1802).

1Interlined in place of “Washington.” At the same time TJ interlined “Washington” in place of “Alexandria” later in the sentence and overwrote the figures to reflect the changes.

2TJ first wrote “4 others have been added” before altering the passage to read as above.

3Name interlined by TJ in place of “John Laird.”

4Name interlined by TJ in place of “Thomas Law.”

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