James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Benjamin Pond, 20 May 1812 (Abstract)

§ From Benjamin Pond1

20 May 1812, Washington. Recommends William P. Van Ness “as a person of high respectability … who is well versed in legal knowledge.” Believes him suitable for appointment to a district judgeship in New York.2

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Van Ness”). 1 p.

1Benjamin Pond (1768–1814) was a Republican representative from a northern New York district in the Twelfth Congress.

2JM was to receive four other letters in support of William Peter Van Ness’s candidacy for a district judgeship: from Ebenezer Sage and Uri Tracy (undated), describing Van Ness as “a real and decided friend to the Administration” (ibid.; 1 p.); from Jonathan Robinson and Samuel Shaw, 20 May 1812 (ibid.; 1 p.); from James Fisk, 23 May 1812 (ibid.; 1 p.; directed by JM to “The Secretary of State”); and from John P. Van Ness, 25 May 1812 (ibid.; 2 pp.). In this last letter John P. Van Ness wrote that when he recently had the honor of an interview with JM, he omitted to mention that his brother, William, had been engaged by the New York legislature “(altho violently opposed by Mr. Clinton’s friends)” to make a digest of the laws of the state and that he had completed this task satisfactorily. He further noted that had his brother’s friends been aware that recommendations might have been useful in the present case, they could have obtained a number of them without difficulty, even from those in New York City who had written in support of John Ferguson’s bid for the same position. In this last category John P. Van Ness mentioned the name of Colonel Few, who had written to the secretary of the treasury on Ferguson’s behalf. “The full impression,” Van Ness concluded, “however, was that the opinions & wishes of the public Gentlemen at the seat of Government representing the State of New York and the neighborhood, or at least those of them who are friendly to the Administration would principally be attended to by the Executive.” For JM’s nomination of William P. Van Ness to a district judgeship, see John P. Van Ness to JM, 22 Nov. 1811, and n. 2.

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