George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas FitzSimons, 10 May 1791

From Thomas FitzSimons

Philada 10 May 1791.


I have no better Apology to Offer for Giving you the trouble of this letter than that it is written at the desire of some of Mr Peter’s friends who wish him to be honored with the Appointment held by the late Judge Hopkinson.

of his fitness for the Station I presume not to say any thing but as delicacy, on his part will prevent his offering himself it has been thot that a doubt might arise: as to his exchanging his present situation: Upon that point I am authorised to say that the Appointment Would be very Acceptable to him and a Great gratification to many of his fellow Citizens.1

I hope I shall be pardoned for haveing taken the liberty of giving this information. And have the honor to be with the Greatest respect sir Your Most Obdt & Most hble servt

Thomas FitzSimons


Thomas FitzSimons (Fitzsimmons; 1741–1811), a native of Ireland, in 1761 married Catharine Meade, daughter of the Philadelphia merchant Robert Meade, and shortly thereafter formed with her brother the firm George Meade & Co., which traded extensively with the West Indies. He helped found the Bank of North America in 1781 and was elected to the Continental Congress in 1782. FitzSimons was an active member of the Federal Convention and supported the administration’s measures in the House of Representatives in the First through Third Congresses.

1Francis Hopkinson, whom GW appointed federal district judge for Pennsylvania in September 1789, died suddenly on 9 May 1791. On 16 May, six days after FitzSimons recommended Richard Peters to succeed Hopkinson, the Rev. William Smith, provost of the College of Philadelphia, wrote to GW to urge the appointment of his half brother, Thomas Smith, “a Man of the most unquestionable Integrity and Abilities.” After describing Thomas’s Revolutionary War service and noting the public offices he afterwards held, Smith continued: “His Practice in the Law has been large & sufficiently lucrative; but, extending over Seven or Eight Counties, even to the Extremities of the State, has become too laborious for his advanced Years. The Governor of this State has been pleased to designate Him for a Seat on the Bench in our new Judiciary Arrangement, with a Salary of £500 and travelling Charges, sufficient to gratify his Wishes in Point of Emolument—But by the Constitution of this Commonwealth, Residence where he now lives, viz. at Carlisle, is required; being 120 Miles from Philadelphia, where he wishes to educate his Children” (DLC:GW). GW chose neither Peters nor Smith as district judge at this time but offered the position to William Lewis, U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania, who reluctantly accepted it in July 1791 but resigned five or six months later. The president then in January 1792 appointed Peters, who served until his death in 1828. See Edmund Randolph to GW, 13 July 1791, n.1, GW to the U.S. Senate, 12 Jan. 1792 and Lewis to Lear, 12 Jan. 1792, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

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