Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Pierpont Edwards, 24 March 1806

24 Mch 1806

Extract of a letter from Pierrepoint Edwards to Th:J. dated New York Mar. 24. 1806. (the original returned to mr Gallatin)

In the opinion of all the intelligent friends to the present Administration of the U.S. it is deemed vastly important that the Officers in Connecticut, concerned in the administration of justice under the laws of the United States, should not only be friends to our Constitution & Government, but should also be able Men—& I am ready to declare that if the Judge of the District, the Marshall, & clerk of the Court are ever so well qualified for their respective offices still there will be a weakness in that department, which nothing can ever do away, if the District Attorney be not a man of firmness, respected for his law knowledge, & who has (& deservedly) a Confidence in his own abilities.—and Sir, I am bound by every obligation which ought to have any influence with an honest man to tell you that the Gentleman whom common fame has announced as District Attorney is not a man in whom these important qualifications are to be found—he is honest: he is well affected & sincerely attached to the constitution of the U.S. and to the present administration of its Government—but he is certainly deficient in Law Knowledge—never had a good education—is a man who has a habit of procrastinating every thing—tomorrow and tomorrow—is the Sin which easily be[sots] him—besides the public voice of the Democratic party is not in favour of this Appointment, & on the ground which I have Stated.—I have no favourite whom I wish to have appointed and if there be a man in Connecticut who is friendly to me, it is the Gentleman to whom I have Alluded.

There are three other Gentlemen who are in every respect as well qualified as this Gentleman & in some respects much better.

Epapras Wm. Bull of Danbury & Asa Spalding Esqr. of Norwich, both are respectable—but there is some considerable difference in the qualification of these Men.

Mr. Bull is a Young Man of very good talents, a good Speaker of great firmness, a hard Student, is progressing in fame & reputation as a Man & a lawyer, & bids fair to be an able advocate. he is now perhaps about twenty eight or thirty years of age.

Mr. Spalding is a man of solid understanding, but has never read law with any degree of zeal. indeed he is very far from Knowing much law, as it is written in books, but having been for about twenty three or four years at the bar, & done much business, & possessing withall a tolerable good understanding, he is now possessed of a decent stock of law Notions; but he is not Accurate either as an Attorney or as a Counsellor, & he will never be more of a lawyer than he is at this moment—he is a most determined inflexible friend to the present Administration, undaunted, & possessed of an Ample fortune, & therefore cannot be dismayed by any abuse or threats.

The other Gentleman is Isaac Mills Esqr. of New-Haven. he has been a federalist, of this however he has long been thoroughly sick—He has in the worst of times been on friendly terms with me, and, I presume I have been the only man to whom he has dared for some years past to unbosom himself on politics—the federalist have given him up, for more than two years past, nor has he Co-operated with them during that period—he is equal to either of the other Gentlemen in point of talents; superior to either of them as to law learning & learning in General, is a Student constantly progressing in his professional Knowledge, is not a Gentleman of as flowing an elocution as Mr. Bull, but much Superior in that respect to Mr. Spalding—correct & accurate as an Attorney & equally so as a counsellor—is a very independent Man in his sentiments; is possessed of an handsome estate, is about thirty six years of age; his connections are respectable, most of them are federalists, but several of his nearest connections are now & always have been open, avowed friends to the present administration, & have been very active & efficient men in the Struggle in Connecticut—Among them is his brother & his Brother in law (Colo Ague Judson) a Gentleman whom the Republicans in that state have set up for a Member of Congress.

There is much to be done in that District, & if the judicial Department is managed with uprightness, wisdom & energy, much may be done to wipe away all open opposition to our Government and to give rest to the friends of it in that State.

I am sensible that the business upon which I have troubled you is a matter of extreme delicacy—I am friendly to all the Gentlemen, whose names I have taken the liberty to mention; & I had, when I left Connecticut, determined that I would not interfere in the appointment of my Successor; but since I find that I must have much intercourse with the man who shall be district Attorney, & that I may be, in Common with other Citizens of Connecticut, involved in the consequence of his incompetency to the duties of the Office, I have been Constrained to address this letter to you—I presume Sir, that you will consider every thing which I have taken the liberty to suggest as perfectly confidential. Your honor, & the interest of the Government, may be compromitted, for want of a candid disclosure. This I trust I have made, & I flatter myself that you will have the goodness to beleive, that an ardent desire to serve you faithfully, is not among the smallest of the motives which have prompted me to this task. I pray you to accept the Assurances of My highest esteem & respect

[Text in italics in Thomas Jefferson’s hand]

DNA: RG 59—LAR—Letters of Application and Recommendation.

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