Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Dorsey, 25 November 1806

Philadelphia, November 25th 1806.

To Thomas Jefferson, President
of the United States

The undersigned citizens of Pennsylvania, respectfully represent to you their candid sentiments. To this they are impelled, not only by a duty they owe themselves, but by a paramount duty to their country. They are well persuaded that truth is at all times acceptable to you, and from your uniform declarations of deference for the public will, and of attachment to the interests of the people, they hesitate not to persuade themselves that, the present representation will have a candid consideration and a due effect.

The trial by jury involves every thing that is precious and dear to man; property, character, liberty and life depend upon it: The undersigned owe it to themselves and to the best interests of their country, therefore, to endeavour to procure impartial jury trials. The Constitution of this state has a rotatory principle in respect to Sheriffs, who are the returning officers of juries, which excludes any citizen from holding the office more than three years, out of six; thereby wisely intending to guard against the abuse of the power intrusted to them, by an exclusion by rotation. This principle is highly appreciated by the people of this state, and the undersigned would gladly see it applied to the office of marshall. Indeed, the law of the United States seems to imply a rotation in this office, as it limits the period of the commission to four years.

It appears to be the design of certain characters, in this state, to prostrate the democratic party, by persecutions at law of prominent republican characters; it becomes highly important, therefore, that the men who select our juries should be free from that spirit of persecution, which has gone forth among us. The experience, which the undersigned have had, has taught them, that, too long a continuance in office makes the incumbent forget his creator; on the ground of justice therefore, as well as of expediency, they are desirous of seeing the principle of rotation applied to the office of Marshall.

The uniform tenor of your conduct leaves the undersigned no room to doubt your disposition to perpetuate republican principles, and to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of his rights; they, therefore, flatter themselves that the principle of the Pennsylvania State Constitution in respect to Sheriff, will be extended to the office of a Marshall of this district.

J: Dorsey

and 54 other signatures

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

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