George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jacob Read, 6 September 1796

Philadelphia 6th Septr 1796


Mr Nathaniel Pendleton late District Judge of Georgia having quitted that State and as it is Understood resigned his Commission at the request of Mr William Stephens of Savannah I pray leave to mention him to your Excellency as a Candidate for the Vacant Seat on the District Bench.

I have known Mr Stephens intimately from my early youth and with pleasure offer You assurances of his great Probity and respectability—I am Certain he is as well informed and as Sound a Lawyer as any at Present in the State of Georgia Altho’ he is not perhaps so imminent as a Speaking Counsel at the Bar.

Mr Stephens Studied with a Gentleman of great Ability and afterwards had the advantage of three or four Years Attendance at Westminster Hall—From his length of practice at the Georgia Bar he has had an opportunity of Maturing opinions and is not likely to be on every occasion pursuing the Uncertain guide of Individual Immagination—and rejecting precedents and long established and approved Law, to be taking up new and Undigested opinions Call them Principles & fly in the face of all Authority and received Law which I Can Assure you is not unfrequent in this day of Innovation.

Mr Stephens has heretofore filled the Offices of Attorney General and of Chief Judge of the State of Georgia and is at this time a Judge of the Supreme Court of that State and no man in Georgia has a greater Weight of character. I take leave further to Mention that Mr Stephens is a Native of Georgia Son of one of the original Setlers under the Trustees of the Province of Georgia and a Descendant of a very respectable English family—At the Commencement of the Revolution he Chose to relinquish forever very flattering offers & prospects in England and under that Government—(when from his near relationship to an English Baronet of a Very Wealthy & Antient family with Considerable parliamentary Interest his Success was Considered as Certain) to take part with his Countrymen—I also knew Mr stephens to be a real friend to order & good Gouvernment in the United States.

I hope I Shall be pardoned for the length of this Letter but in Obeying the request of Mr Stephens to Present him to the Notice of the President, I felt it a duty to my friend to State fully his Pretensions to the Office he Sollicits and my own knowledge of his Character & ability to fulfill the duties of the appointment Shou’d he be so fortunate as to obtain it—with the greatest Esteem and Respect I am Your Excellency’s Most Obedt & Most Humle Servt

Jacob Read

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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