James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Sprigg, 21 August 1805 (Abstract)

From William Sprigg, 21 August 1805 (Abstract)

§ From William Sprigg.1 21 August 1805, Trumbull County, Ohio. “On the 3d Inst. I received from the President of the United States the appointment of Judge in the Territory of Michigan. Having previously received Information of the Destruction of the Town of Detroit by fire I thought it best not to be precipitate but to take some time to consult and enquire. The Commission reached me just before the Commencement of our Circuit so that I cannot with propriety visit that Country without first resigning my Office here which I think under all Circumstances it would not be prudent in me to do at this time. I feel myself honoured and greatly obliged by the President of the United States for this Mark of his Confidence which had I accepted, it should have been my Study to endeavour to prove not wholly misplaced and undeserved. With Sincere thanks and assurances of profound respect for the President and yourself I beg leave to decline the honour of accepting this Commission.”

RC (DNA: RG 59, LRD). 2 pp.; docketed by Wagner as received 14 Sept.; docketed by Jefferson.

1Maryland native William Sprigg (b. ca. 1770) of Steubenville, Ohio, was appointed judge in Orleans Territory in 1806, from which position he resigned in 1807. At some point he returned to Ohio, where he again served on the supreme court until he and the other members of that court were removed by the legislature in 1809. In 1812 he was named judge in Louisiana Territory and resigned from that post in 1813. In that year he was named judge on the supreme court of Illinois Territory and served on that bench until 1818 (Sharon J. Doliante, Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families… [Baltimore, 1991], 936; Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:626, 753 and n. 13; Carter, Territorial Papers, Louisiana-Missouri, 14:547, 699–700; Senate Exec. Proceedings, 2:401, 418; James E. Babb, “The Supreme Court of Illinois,” Green Bag: A Useless but Entertaining Magazine for Lawyers 3 [1891]: 221; James Harrison Kennedy and Wilson M. Day, The Bench and Bar of Cleveland [Cleveland, 1889], 167).

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