Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Langdon, 20 January 1803

From John Langdon

Portsmouth Jany 20th. 1803


I am informed that a statement of the conduct of our Destrict Judge Mr. Pickering has been transmitted to government, by which it will be seen, by intemperence and other causes, it would be highly improper he should be continued a moment longer in his important office, if he is removed and it should be your pleasure to appoint John Sam. Sherburne Esq who is now the Destrict attorney who I think would fill the office of Judge to your Approbation; in which case I beg leave to Name John Steel Esq of Durham near this Town a gentleman of the Law, and now Clerk of the Destrict Court, as well qualified to take the place of Mr. Sherburne as Destrict Attorney, and who, no doubt would give general satisfaction.

I have the honor to be with the highest consideration and respect.

Sr. your Oblig’d Hbl. Servt

John Langdon

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 29 Jan. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Shelburne & Steel to office”; also endorsed by TJ: “Sherburne John Sam. to be distr. judge v. Pickering Steel John. to be District atty v. Sherburne.”

For the conduct of federal judge John pickering of New Hampshire, and his subsequent impeachment and removal by Congress, see Langdon to TJ, 14 May 1802, and TJ to the House of Representatives, 3 Feb. 1803. Following Pickering’s removal in 1804, TJ appointed John S. sherburne to the U.S. district judgeship and Jonathan Steele (steel) in place of Sherburne as U.S. attorney for New Hampshire. Steele, however, declined the appointment, stating that “I was unwillingly made a contributory instrument in creating vacancies; and a due regard to my own reputation forbids me to profit by that achievement” (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 , 1:466; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 7:108–9).

In an undated note, TJ recorded additional recommendations for the position of U.S. attorney in New Hampshire made by William Eustis: “Henry Langdon son of Woodbury to be atty of N.H. by Dr. Eustis his bror in law. Jacob Eustis bror of the Dr. he prays he may have no office yet very fit for it” (MS in DNA: RG 59, LAR, 7:0055; entirely in TJ’s hand).

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