James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Samuel Hopkins (Abstract), 20 March 1805

§ From Samuel Hopkins1

20 March 1805, Henderson County, Kentucky. “I am induced to address you, (presuming Upon our small Acquaintance, & your Benevolence) in behalf of Judge Coburn of this state, who is A Candidate for an Appointment in the Federal Judiciary.2 I have many Years Known him, in his public, & private Charecter; & I can with Confidence Avow, that in every relation he is entitled to the patronage of his Country.

“I pray you to believe sir, this declaration is not influenced by Interested or personal Motives; it has for its Object the Good that will result to our Country by the Occupancy of the firm inflexible republicanism, the Genious, Talents, & integrity of Judge Coburn; as well as the satisfaction of seeing such Worth Cherished & protected; if you will be pleased to signify thus Much to the President.”3

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–9, filed under “Coburn”). 1 p.; enclosed in John Coburn to JM, 5 Apr. 1805.

1Samuel Hopkins (1753–1819) was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, served in the Revolutionary War, and in 1797 moved to Kentucky, where he practiced law. He served as chief justice of the Kentucky court of criminal common law and chancery from 1799 to 1801, and was a member of the state house of representatives in 1800 and 1801 and again from 1803 to 1806. He served in the state senate from 1809 to 1813, and was a Republican presidential elector in 1809. In 1812 he commanded a troop of Kentucky militia in the Indiana and Illinois territories. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1813 to 1815 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 5:484 n. 1, 485 n. 2).

2See Coburn’s 28 Feb. 1805 application to JM.

3On 20 Mar. 1805 Isaac Shelby of Kentucky also wrote JM, asking him to recommend Coburn to Jefferson, and stating: “I can assure the president that Mr. Coburn is a Gentleman possessing talents & qualifications necessary for an honourable discharge of public trust. He has been one of the Judges of the District, or Circuit Courts of Law in this State almost from the Commencement of our Government and I can venture to say Should he meet the approbation of the President That it would be an event altogether agreeable to the Western Citizens. Mr. Coburn is so well known to the representatives from this State in Congress that every information necessary may be readily obtained” (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–9, filed under “Coburn,” 1 p.). Revolutionary War veteran Isaac Shelby (1750–1826) served in the Virginia and North Carolina legislatures, was elected governor of Kentucky in 1792 and 1812, and also served in the War of 1812. A public-spirited individual, throughout his life he held many other positions of responsibility, both public and private.

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