George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Blount, 17 January 1797

Philadelphia January 17th 1797


We beg your Permission to recommend to you for your Nomination for District Judge of the District of Tennessee John Rhea Esquire: We recommend him upon the following grounds; In the late Revolution he embraced every opportunity to give Proofs by rendering personal services and otherwise of his firm Attachment to the Principles upon which the Independence of the United States was established, he is about forty five years of age, eighteen of which he has resided within the Limits of that Tract of Country at present denominated the State of Tennessee he is among the oldest Lawyers of that State with a great share of Practice and universally acknowledged to be possessed of as much legal knowledge and as good Abilities as any other in the State, a Man of unexceptionable moral Character, of general Science firmly attached to the present Form of Government and we assure you that his appointment to that Office will be pleasing to the Citizens of Tennessee in general: And as further Proofs of the Wishes of sundry respectable Citizens of Tennessee touching the appointment of Mr Rhea we inclose herewith several Letters a List of which is subjoined and have the honor to be very respectfully Your obedient Servants

Wm Blount

Wm Cocke

List of Papers inclosed herewith

No. 1. Letter from Govr Sevier 24th Novr 1796.

2 Do from Colo. John McLelland 5th Novr 1796.

3 Do from George Gillaspie Sheriff and Colo. of—Washington County 16th Novr 1796.

4. Do from Landon Carter Brigr Genl Washington— District—25th Novr 1796.

To which is subjoined the Certificate of Andrew Grier esquire.

Mr Blount has also received other Letters equally recommendatory of Mr Rhea which cannot be inclosed because the Paragraphs respecting Mr Rhea are intermixed with others on private business, namely one from Brigadier General White of Hamilton District, another from Charles McClung Esquire Clerk of Knox County Court, a man of Character and good legal Abilites and another from James Stuart Esquire Speaker of the house of Representatives of the State of Tennessee.

Mr Blount & Mr Cocke will be glad if the President has any Doubt as to the Propriety of nominating Mr Rhea that he would make Inquiry of the Representative of Tennessee Mr Andrew Jackson who is himself a Lawyer.

DNA: RG 59—ML—Miscellaneous Letters.


Jonesb’ro 24 November 1796


I am induced to suppose, that there will be several Candidates for the Judges place, John Rhea esquire is among the Number; As to his Qualifications to fill that office I need not Mention to you, as you Are Very Well Acquainted with his Abilites and General Character. permit me to observe, that Mr Rhea in My opinion Will be very Acceptable to the people at large; perhaps More So than Any other person I have yet heard of Among the Number, And I make no doubt you Will use your interest to have him Appointed. I have the honor to be sir, Your Mo. obedt Servt

John Sevier


Knoxville November 5th 1796.

Dear Sir,

You will no doubt have heard, before this reaches you that Mr John Rhea would accept the appointment of Federal Judge for this district.

I am informed that Mr David Campbell will go on to Philadelphia to ask in person that appointment.

If the voice of the people in this State would have any influence on him who is to nominate and those who are to advise and consent to that appointment it would, I believe, be almost unanimous in favor of the former.

I have conversed with many on the subject and never heard any express a wish that any person should receive that appointment in preference to Mr Rhea: but on the contrary all appeared anxious that he should have it. I have the honor to be, with much esteem Your Obedient Servant

John McClennan


16 November 1796

Worthy Sir,

It is the report of this place that Judge Campbell is gon on to philadelphia or is a Bout to start there, in order to be appointed Federal Judge Application was made me by a Number of the Citizens of this County to wright to you knowing that you and myself was well aquainted that It was not thair wish he should be Appointed by any means, the reasons they give was this that they ware well a quainted with him as Judge and did Corduly despise him and it is also my wish that he be not Appointed If possiable it can be prevented I am Shore that nine tenths of the people of this State is Opposed to Campbells being Judge, I was requested to make mention to you Mr Rhea was the wish of the people in Gnl. If is Should Meet with your good Approbation I hope you will put his name in nomenation and have him Appointed if posiable, there Appears Nothing new at present Colo. Carter is Our Brigedear Gnl for this district on monday last was the election for the elector of this district and Hugh Nelson esqr. was Appointed the elector—Mother and Family are well at present Brother allens Complements to you. I am Dear Sir with respects yours &C.

Geo. Gillespie


Jonesborough November 25th 1796


The mindes of the People Particularly of a number of my Acquaintances appear to be Adjutated Respecting the appointment of a Judge of the District of Tennessee und[er] an Impression that Judge Campbell were making considerable exertions to obtain the Same which by no means appear to meet their Approbation which have been fully demonstrated by Written Instructions from the People of Washington County by their Representatives in Committee met in Jonesboro[ugh] to their Representatives in General assembly at Knoxville by no means to Reappoint him as a State Judge when on the other hand they appear to be anxious that John Rhea Esqr. Attorney at Law Should fill that Vacancy and fllatter themselves that through the assistance of thier Senators he may obtain the Same in preference to any other Person we hear of in Nomination, I should have wrote more fully to yourself and Mr Cocke had not been for Want of time the Post being in haste, Pleas to Present my Compliments to Mr Cocke, I should be glad to Recive a Line for you both when ever Convenient. I am Sir with every Sentiment of Respect and Esteem Yours &C.

Landon Carter

P.S. Previous to Sealing this Andrew Grier Esqr. Signified his assent to the foregoing Sentiment and therefore hath hereunto assigned his name.

Andw Grier [   ]

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