George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John B. Ashe, 5 June 1790

From John B. Ashe

New york 5th June 1790

Sir

Having been this evening informd you wish to have the opinion of the No. Carolina Representatives, of Persons, proper to fill the offices of the Government South of the Ohio, also those of the Federal Judiciary in No. Carolina, I beg leave to give mine Sir, and will do so, with candor and disinterest’dness, Colo. William Blount, who I may presume, you are acquainted with, has long and on various occasions had the confidence of the People of that Country, and who in private life has ever conduct’d himself with firmness & independence, and is a man of abilities and business, therefore I think Sir, he wou’d fill the office of Governor with as much dignity, and Satisfaction to the Citizens who he is to preside over, as any one within my knowledge.1

Colo. Robert Hayes, an old and valuable officer in our late army, of the rank of Lieutt who has been living in that Country Several years has been a representative from it, in the Legislative body of the State of No. Carolina Several times, I conceive Sir, wou’d fill the office of Secretary of State with propriety;2 Mr David Campble, a Mr John McNairy, and Mr Howell Tatum,3 the offices, of Judges, the two former I have no personal knowledge⟨,⟩ of⟨,⟩ they act in those capacities in that Country at present under appointments of No. Carolina—The latter Gentleman, was an old Captain in the late army, and probably may be known to you sir, he now practices the Law in that Country and is consider[ed] clever at his profession, is a man of great application and of a fair and unimpeach’d character. As a States Attorney I wou’d mention a Mr Edward Jones, a young Gentleman, who I [am] not well acquaint’d with, but who I have often heard spoke of as a young Gentleman of Merit and an inlighten’d understanding[.]4 As a Federal Judge, I beg leave to mention Mr John Stokes, who Mr Steel tells me, he express’d his opinion of, to you, this day, and as Federal Attorney Mr John Sitgreaves, a Gentleman who has practi⟨c⟩’d the Law for some years past in No. Carolina, tho’ not so brilliant in abilities, Stands as a favorably as to rectitude of mind, as any of his profession 5 in perfect obedience to your Wish sir—I have been more prolix, than I wish’d to have been and which I hope will excuse me to you. With sentiments, of the highest respect sir, I beg leave to conclude myself your Very Obedt And Very hble Servant

John B. Ashe

ALS, DLC:GW.

John Baptista Ashe (1748–1802) served as an officer in the North Carolina Line during the Revolution, rising to the rank of colonel. He was a member of the North Carolina house of commons from 1784 to 1786, serving as speaker in 1786. In 1787 he represented the state in the Continental Congress; he served as chairman of the committee of the whole in the North Carolina convention that ratified the Federal Constitution in 1789. He was elected to the state senate in 1789 and shortly thereafter, to the First Congress.

1The North Carolina delegation in the House of Representatives was unanimous in recommending Blount for governor of the Territory South of the River Ohio (see Hugh Williamson to GW, 28 May, John Steele to GW, 4 June, and Timothy Bloodworth to GW, 5 June).

2Robert Hays (1758–1819), an associate of William Blount, settled in the Cumberland Valley about 1784 and by 1790 was one of the principal landowners in the region (Arnow, Seedtime on the Cumberland, description begins Harriette Louisa Simpson Arnow. Seedtime on the Cumberland. New York, 1960. description ends 330). He represented Davidson County in the North Carolina house of commons in 1787 and was justice of the county court (Ely and Brown, Legal Papers of Andrew Jackson, description begins James W. Ely, Jr. and Theodore Brown, Jr., eds. Legal Papers of Andrew Jackson. Knoxville, Tenn., 1987. description ends 372). He did not receive an appointment from GW at this time, but in February 1797 GW appointed him U.S. marshal for the district of Tennessee (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 17 Feb. 1797).

3John McNairy (1762–1837), a North Carolina lawyer, was admitted to the bar in 1784 and elected judge of the superior court of Davidson County by the North Carolina general assembly in December 1787. GW nominated him for judge of the Territory South of the River Ohio on 7 June 1790; the appointment was confirmed by the Senate the next day (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 7 June 1790; 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 2:79). McNairy served in this capacity until Tennessee was admitted as a state, when GW appointed him judge of the new federal district court; he served on the federal bench in Tennessee until 1833 (Ely and Brown, Legal Papers of Andrew Jackson, description begins James W. Ely, Jr. and Theodore Brown, Jr., eds. Legal Papers of Andrew Jackson. Knoxville, Tenn., 1987. description ends 378; see also GW to the U.S. Senate, 17 Feb. 1797). On David Cambell and Howell Tatum, see Hugh Williamson to GW, 28 May 1790.

4Edward Jones (1762–1841) was born in Ireland and settled in Philadelphia in 1783. In 1786 he moved to Wilmington, N.C., where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1788. In that year he was elected to the North Carolina house of commons, serving until 1791. In 1791 he became solicitor general of North Carolina, a post he held until 1827 (Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, description begins William S. Powell, ed. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. 6 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1979–96. description ends 3:317). Jones was recommended for the post of U.S. attorney for the Territory South of the River Ohio by Timothy Bloodworth (see Bloodworth to GW, 5 June 1790). He received no appointment from GW.

5On John Stokes, see John Steele to GW, 4 June 1790. John Sitgreaves (1757–1802) was born in England, attended Eton College, and settled in New Bern, N.C., where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. During the Revolution he served in the militia and as a clerk to the state senate. He was elected to the North Carolina house of commons in 1784 and again from 1786 to 1788. In 1785 he represented North Carolina in the Confederation Congress (Biog. Dir Cong., 1818). Sitgreaves was also suggested for the post of U.S. attorney for North Carolina by Timothy Bloodworth (see Bloodworth to GW, 5 June 1790). GW nominated him on 7 June 1790, and the Senate confirmed the appointment the next day (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 7 June 1790; 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 2:79). GW appointed Sitgreaves judge of the federal district court for North Carolina in December 1790 after the death of John Stokes (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 17 Dec. 1790).

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