James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Washington, [ca. 8 September] 1789

From George Washington

[ca. 8 September 1789]1


The points which at present occur to me, and on which I wish your aid, are brought to view in the enclosed statement—I give you the trouble of receiving this evening that you may (if other matter do not interfere) suffer them to run through your Mind between this and tomorrow afternoon when I shall expect to see you at the appointed time.

Besides the enclosed

Would it do now that Mr Barton has declined the Judges Seat (western Territory) to nominate Col Carrington for that Office? If not, can you think of any other that would suit him, of new creation—by this I mean, which has not an actual occupant or one who from similarity of Office may have better pretensions to it.

Can you bring to mind any fit character for the vacancy just mentioned (west of New Jersey). As Virga. has given & may furnish characters for important Offices probably it would be better to exclude her also on this occasion.

What sort of a character in point of respectability and fitness for this Office has Majr. Turner late of So. Carolina now of Philadelphia.

Have you any knowledge of the character of Mr. Laurence?—a practising Attorney and Son in law to General St. Clair.2

What can I do with3 A—— L—— he has applied to be nominated one of the Associate Judges4—but I cannot bring my mind to adopt the request. The opinion entertained of him by those with whom I am most conversant is unpropitious and yet few men have received more marks of public favor & confidence than he has. These contradictions are embarrassing.

Should the sense of the Senate be taken on the propriety of sending public characters abroad—say, to England, Holland & Portugal—and of a day for thanksgiving.

Would it be well to advise with them before the adjournment, on the expediency and justice of demanding a surrender of our Posts?

Being clearly of opinion that there ought to be a difference in the wages of the members of the two branches of the Legislature would it be politic or prudent in the President when the Bill comes to him to send it back with his reasons for non-concurring. Yrs. sincer[e]ly

G Washington

RC (PPRF). Addressed by Washington. Docketed by JM late in life, with the notation: “date to be inferred in 1789–90.” Enclosure not found.

1The approximate date of this letter has been determined from Washington’s mention of George Turner as a potential nominee for a judgeship in the Northwest Territory. The president nominated Turner for this post on 11 Sept. Washington also indicated that he expected the legislative compensation bill to come before him shortly. On 8 Sept. the Senate agreed to a conference with the House to resolve disagreements over details in this bill (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds., Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America (3 vols. to date; Baltimore, 1972—). description ends , I, 145–46, 150, 157, 166; II, 38).

2Late in life JM added here: “McDougal meant.” John Laurance married Alexander MacDougall’s daughter, Elizabeth, in either 1774 or early 1775.

3Years later JM inserted an asterisk here and wrote at the bottom of the page “*Arthur Lee.”

4See Arthur Lee to Washington, 21 May 1789 (DLC: Washington Papers).

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