Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Thomson Mason, 20 October 1803

From John Thomson Mason

Annapolis 20th Octo. 1803

Dear Sir

I some time ago took the liberty to mention to you my friend N. Fitzhugh as a person willing to fill the vacancy about to be made by the resignation of James Marshall. Why or wherefore I know not, I have this day received two letters from thorough going Feds. To you I take the liberty of inclosing them, not because I think them recommendations but merely because they relate to a subject upon which it belongs exclusively to you to judge.

Did I not from an intimacy of upwards of twenty years know Fitzhugh to be a man entirely to be relied on, I should I confess feel my suspicions excited by such letters from such men

Wishing you health and happiness I have the honor to be with great respect Your friend & Servt

John T. Mason

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Geo. T.” received 25 Oct. and “Fitzhugh Nichs. to be judge” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Thomas Swann to Mason, Fairfax Court House, 20 Sep. 1803, recommending the appointment of Nicholas Fitzhugh as associate judge of the District of Columbia upon the resignation of James Marshall; 12 years as a practicing attorney in Fairfax County has given Fitzhugh a knowledge of the rules and proceedings of the Virginia courts, and “his character as a Citizen and neighbour is respected and esteemed.” (2) Charles Simms to Mason, Fairfax Court House, 20 Sep.; as the president will probably consult Mason when deciding upon a replacement for Marshall, Simms recommends Nicholas Fitzhugh, noting the appointment would be “pleasing to the people of the County of Alexandria, his competency and integrity being well known to them from his long practice as an attorney in Fairfax Court and his character as a Citizen and a neighbour respected and esteemed” (both RCs in same).

Mason’s letter to TJ recommending Nicholas fitzhugh is dated 7 July.

thorough going feds.: during his last days in office, John Adams nominated Alexandria attorney Thomas Swann as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, but he did not take office; TJ nominated Mason in his place. Charles Simms, appointed collector at Alexandria in 1799, continued to carry on his law practice while he served as collector. An ardent Federalist, he actively campaigned against TJ in the 1796 presidential race (Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service [New York, 1977], 113-14; Washington, Papers, Ret. Ser., 1:399n; RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004- , 10 vols. description ends , 4:221n; Vol. 29:193-6; Vol. 33:123-4, 172-3, 203n, 238, 333).

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