Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Wirt, 8 January 1803

From William Wirt

WmsBurg. Jany. 8. 1802. [i.e. 1803]

Dear Sir

I understand that the office of a judge for the Indiana Territory is vacant by the death of Mr. Clarke, and that Mr Ninian Edwards of Kentucky has been proposed for that appointment. I hope that I am not presuming too far on my acquaintance with you in certifying my opinion of Mr. Edwards.

Having known him from youth to manhood, I feel a pleasure in having it in my power to declare, with certainty, my opinion that few judgments are more clear and sound, no heart more scrupulously upright & honorable than Mr. Edwards’. He has, I am told, practised the law in Kentucky with great reputation; but of his legal acquirements, the discontinuance of my intercourse with him for several years disqualifies me for expressing an opinion—I am, Dr. Sir, Yr. frd, & dev. Sev.

Wm. Wirt

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ. Recorded in SJL as received 8 Feb. 1803 with notation “Ninian Edwards to be judge of Indiana.”

ninian edwards, a former classmate of Wirt’s, served as a judge in Kentucky until 1809, when James Madison appointed him territorial governor of Illinois (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Pres. Ser., 1:137–8).

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