George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 2 January 1790

From Samuel Huntington

Norwich [Conn.] Jany 2d 1790.


I am honoured with your letter of the 28th Ulto.1 Sensible that You must be wearied with Solicitations for appointments to Offices, it is with reluctance that I now take the liberty to mention Dudley Woodbridge jun. Esq: as a suitable character to supply the vacancy lately made by the decease of Genl Parsons in the supreme Court in the western Territory.2 Mr Woodbridge sustains an amiable & virtuous Character: Having receivd the honours of Yale College with good reputation, he applied to the study of the Law, & made good proficiency under my care and inspection for a number of years & was introduced to the practice of the Law with encouraging circumstances & persevered therein for some time until unfortunately an inveterate Phthisic distressed him in his Exercises as a public Speaker to such a degree as threatened a disolution of his Constitution, & obliged him not without Reluctance to abandon his hopeful prospects in that Profession; he hath since been unsuccessful in trade: having a growing family & his Connections being respectable & influential Characters in this State, he could not endure the prospect of retiring from business in [the] prime of life, with his rising family & amiable partner unprovided for in future; but hath taken the Resolution to settle himself & family, at Marietta where they now dwell. I beleive his character & abilities such as will give satisfaction to the public & do honour to the Office should he be appointed to fill the vacancy I have mentioned, & from the character he sustains with the advantages of his education, more especially his knowledge in jurisprudence he may reasonably expect employment in some learned profession where he may render essential service to mankind, & receive some consolation under his peculiar misfortunes. With the most perfect Esteem and Respect I have the honour to be Your Obedient humble Servant

Saml Huntington


1No letter from GW to Huntington of 28 Dec. has been found. Huntington may have meant to refer to GW’s letter of 23 December.

2For the circumstances surrounding the death of Samuel Holden Parsons, see Winthrop Sargent to GW, 27 Nov. 1789. Dudley Woodbridge, Jr. (1747–1823), was a native of Stonington, Conn., who moved to Norwich around 1770 and opened a store. During and after the Revolution he held a number of minor posts in the town in addition to running his business. In 1789 Woodbridge moved to Marietta in the Northwest Territory. More information on his background was supplied to GW by Benjamin Huntington in a letter to the president of 23 Mar. 1790, recommending Woodbridge for a judgeship in the Northwest Territory: “I have been personally acquainted with Mr Woodbridge for more than twenty Years and know his Character is good—He is the Son of Dr Dudley Woodbridge a Reputable and wealthy Gentleman in Connecticut his Wife is of one of the best Families in the State & a Niece of Governor Griswold.

“Honorable Connections are indeed no Qualifications for an Office when not Accompanied with Personal or Professional Accomplishments—Mr Woodbridge had a liberal Education, After which he Studied Law under the Tuition of Governor Huntington he was admitted and Practised as a Lawyer in the highest Courts in the State about five or six Years with Honor and Reputation untill the War at which Time he went into Trade—He took a Decided part with his Country in the Dispute with Great Britain and was a very Useful Man in the Politics and Provisions of his Country—He is about forty Years of Age and I make no doubt of his being an Important man in the Western Territory” (DLC:GW). When the vacancy left by Parsons’ death was filled by GW in March 1790, Rufus Putnam, not Woodbridge, received the appointment (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972–. description ends , 2:66).

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