James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Pierpont Edwards, 23 May 1809

From Pierpont Edwards

Bridgport May 23d 1809


I wrote you last week from New-Haven, and inclosed General Wilcox’s resignation. I then expressed the opinion, of a number of the friends of Government and mine also; as to a successor; I have suffered so much vexation while I have been District Judge occasioned by the conduct of the late Marshall, that I feel that my personal comfort may be again deeply affected, shou’d an impropper man happen to be appointed to that office.

It is said that two gentlemen, whose names I have not mentioned to you, are soliciting the appointment—Major Henry Seymour, of Hartford, & Captain Elisha Tracy of Norwich.1 The merits of both these were fully considered before I wrote my last letter. Mr Seymour’s Character is fair. He is a man whome, as a citizen, we respect; but he possesses no energy, of either body, or mind. Mr Tracy is not dificient in either, but, most unfortunately for himself, & for all who must do business with him, he is a man of uncontroulable irratibility. He has no controul of his passions, and when under the influence of a gust of it, is very abusive. I shall expect, shou’d he be appointed Marshall, that I shall be obliged to commit him for a contempt, or to submit to have my authority as Judge, trampled under his feet. His reputation, in point of integrity, (for aught I know) is fair; this notwithstanding, he is, in that part of the State where he resides, the most unpopular Republican there is in the State. I have had an opportunity of conversing with Mr Alexander Wolcot, of Middltown, & with Mr Spalding of Norwich, each in the most explicit manner derermined [sic], that nothing wou’d be more unfortunate for the District, than his being appointed Marshall. It is said that Mr Granger is favorable to his appointment: that Gentleman ought not to add to the Load, which his impropper & most unfortunate recommendation to the late President, of Mr Huntington, the present District Attorney has laid upon me—this load is quite as much as I can carry, & more than I can with patience. I am with great respect your obedt Servt

Pierpont Edwards

RC (DLC). In a clerk’s hand, except for corrections, complimentary close, and signature. Docketed by JM.

1Tracy was a perennial Republican office seeker whom JM appointed a deputy commissary after the outbreak of war in 1812 (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:290; Tracy to JM, 31 Jan. 1809 [DLC]).

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