George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edmund Pendleton, 17 March 1794

To Edmund Pendleton

Philadelphia March 17th 1794

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 5th instt came duly to hand. I know not from what source a report that, the next associate Judge was to be taken from the state of Georgia, could have been derived. Nothing from me, I can venture to say, gave rise to it; first, because there is no vacancy on that bench at present.1 2d because, whenever one does happen, it is highly probable that a geographical arrangement will have some attention paid to it; and (although I do—at all times—make the best enquiries my opportunities afford, to come at the fittest characters for offices, where my own knowledge does not give a decided preference) because, 3dly, no one knows my ultimate determination until the moment arrives when the nomination is to be laid before the Senate.2 My resolution, not to create an expectation, which thereafter might embarrass my own conduct (by such a commitment to any one as might subject me to the charge of deception) is co-eval with my inauguration; and in no instance have I departed from it. The truth is, I never reply to any applications for offices by letter; nor verbally, unless to express the foregoing sentiments; lest something might be drawn from a civil answer, that was not intended.

A gentleman of my acquaintance has presented me with a little of the Nankeen cotton with the Seed in it; half, or more, I enclose to you; and it might have been better, perhaps, if I had sent you the other half also; as the climate & soil at Mt Vernon is too cold, I conceive, for this plant; but it is due to the donor, that I should make an experiment.3 With very great esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Your Most Obedt & Affe H. Ser.

Go: Washington

ALS, MHi: Washburn Papers; ALS (letterpress copy), DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW; copy, CSmH.

1Pendleton had written GW on 5 March to recommend a Georgia resident for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

2The current justices of the Supreme Court were James Wilson of Pennsylvania, John Jay of New York, William Cushing of Massachusetts, John Blair of Virginia, James Iredell of North Carolina, and William Paterson of New Jersey. When Jay resigned in 1795, GW nominated John Rutledge of South Carolina to replace him (Senate Executive Journal description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends , 194).

3For GW’s receipt of this cotton seed, see John Jay to GW, 1 March. GW sent the other half of this seed to his estate manager at Mount Vernon (GW to William Pearce, 16–17 March 1794).

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