James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Levi Lincoln, 15 February 1811

From Levi Lincoln

Worcester Feby 15th. 1811.

Dear Sir

The last papers announce the nomination of Alexander Wolcott Esqre.1 as an associate Jud⟨ge o⟩f the Supreme Court of the United States, & that the nomination ⟨has⟩ been submitted by the Senate to a Committee for inquiry & consid⟨eratio⟩n. It is conceived, as this commitment was not of course, that ⟨it is?⟩ indicative of opposition & delay, if not of obloquy to be heaped on ⟨the?⟩ Candidate, & the advocates of the appointment. Resistance ⟨is to?⟩ be expected from political opponents, in proportion as the nominated ⟨mi⟩ght appear to them, capable, decided, independent, firmly attached ⟨to the⟩ administration of the General Government, & devoted to the suppor⟨t of⟩ its general policy & its particular system of measures. For years, ⟨I hav⟩e been acquainted with Mr. Wolcott, & have met with few men of ⟨firm?⟩er mind, of greater perceptive & discriminating powers, of more ste⟨ady⟩ & uniform adherence to the principles of the Union & the arrangemen⟨ts o⟩f the general government. His literary acquisitions are known to many ⟨of o⟩ur friends at Washington. Of his professional merits & standing as ⟨a⟩ Lawyer, I am unacquainted. His pride, patriotism & sense of dut⟨y w⟩ill be pledges of his exertion. He will have in Custody, not only his ow⟨n, b⟩ut the reputation of his friends. Whatever therefore may be his present ⟨attai?⟩nments & legal habits, an industrious application to professional stud⟨ies &⟩ official duties will soon place him on a level, at least, with his As⟨soci⟩ates. His independence firmness & patriotism, in being thus a valuab⟨le ac⟩quisition to the Bench, will, I conceive, be peculiarly useful & satisfact⟨ory⟩ to the friends of the National Administration, in this section of the Union. I have thus early volunteered my opinion, not only from the int⟨er⟩est I feel, in countenancing an useful measure, against which Calumny has already commenced her common place whispers, but from a general preference to that explicitness, which subjects to responsibility, than to that timid & cowardly reserve, which ultimately joins in the Chorus, refutted by the experiment.

My son Daniel Waldo Lincoln, journeying from Boston to the Seat of government on business, & desirous of paying his respects to the President of the United States will avail himself of the delivery of this letter as an introduction for that purpose.

Please to present me respectfully to the recollections of Mrs. Madison & accept the assurances of the high esteem & friendship, with which I am your most obedt servt.

Levi Lincoln

RC (DLC). Damaged at fold. In a clerk’s hand. Docketed by JM.

1Alexander Wolcott (1758–1839) was born in Windsor, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale College in 1778. Strongly Antifederalist and Republican in his politics, he served in the Connecticut General Assembly from 1796 to 1801, and in 1802 Jefferson appointed him customs collector at Middletown. JM nominated him as associate justice of the Supreme Court on 4 Feb. 1811, but the Senate rejected the nomination on 13 Feb. (Franklin Bowditch Dexter, ed., Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College [4 vols.; New York, 1885–1912], 4:80–82; 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 , 2:165–67).

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