George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Timothy Pickering, 26 July 1796

Department of State July 26. 1796.


In the letter with which you honored me, bearing date the 27th of June, your expressed your approbation of John Davis, the late Comptroller, to be appointed to the office of District Attorney of Massachusetts, provided his professional knowledge (of which you had no correct information) should be deemed adequate to the discharge of its duties, and he would place himself in a situation to render them conveniently to the public.

I was hence induced to write to Stephen Higginson, Esqr. of Boston, a private letter, requesting him, by enquiring among gentlemen of law-knowledge, to ascertain Mr Davis’s professional talents. Mr Higginson’s answer I received yesterday, and have now the honor to inclose. I also wrote to a nephew of mine in Boston for the same information; and his answer corresponds with Mr Higginson’s. Both being so decidedly in favour of Mr Davis, I have this day transmitted to him his commission; it appearing to the Secretary of the Treasury & to me, upon comparing your letters to us, that you desired no delay in the commissioning of Mr Davis, when we should be satisfied of his professional abilities. With the highest respect I am, sir, your most obt servant

Timothy Pickering

DNA: RG 59—ML—Miscellaneous Letters.


Boston July 20 1796

Dr Sir

Your Letter of 7 instant I recieved, & have delayed answering it to ascertain whether mr Davis intended removing to this Town, as well as the ratesof his professional Abilities. Judge Lowell considers it as an essential point that the Attorney for the District should reside in this Town. he, & all whom I consider as the best Judges, think very handsomely of mr Davis in his profession; &, taking his whole character into view, They think him the best man in the District for the office. in my opinion he will do much better than the One who declined, he has qualities important in that Office, beside professional Talents.

mr Davis has been contemplating the Subject, he has decided upon removing here. & will take the Office.

I hope you are more at ease than you have been, the public mind, in this quarter, is very much so; & all now rejoice that the last Session of Congress terminated as it did. the Report of mr marbois, upon the Subject of Treaties, which you will see soon at length, has stopped the mouths of Jacobins, & established the propriety of the orders of the Government as to french prizes. with due respect I am Sir yours &c.

S: Higginson

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