Smith Thompson to MVB, 25 March 1823

Smith Thompson to MVB, 25 March 1823


My Dear Sir

Your letter of the 21st. has just reached me. The President has been about for the last week, returned only yesterday, very little as yet has been said relative to filling the vacancy on the bench of the Supreme Court. It rests entirely with myself whether I will take it or not it has been offered to me in a manner highly gratifying to my feelings. And I have no doubt with a sincere wish to save me. And at the same time that I should ^be^ at perfect liberty to act as I shall think most advisable. I have not given a definitive answer. My present impression is very strong against accepting it. My hesitation arises principally and indeed I may say solely from my state of health. I quit the bench in New York because I found the labors too severe and arduous for me. And I have found great benefit from the change. I find that a few weeks steady and close attention to business, and especially if the mind is constantly employed in any thing like study it affects my health very sensibly. I do not believe the duties of the office would be as arduous as in New York Supreme Court. The Circuits would be nothing comparatively. But the term here for six or seven weeks is very trying to a feeble constitution. The opinions are in most cases made up and delivered the same time the cases are argued, which requires constant confinement and study day and night. And besides my former duties as a Judge led me principally to turn my attention to the study of the common law. The questions that arise in the Supreme Court of the US. are mostly upon other branches of legal service, and would therefore be in some measure a new field for me. And to acquit myself in a manner that I should wish, would I am pretty well pursuaded require more steady application, than at any time of life, and with my constitution would comport with my health. I have no doubt but before long there will be some alteration in the Judiciary system of the US. probably the Circuit duties of the Judges of the Supreme Court taken away, and they confined to term duties, which will probably bring them all to this place. And the Salary is not adequate to the expense of living here where you are unavoidably exposed to much company.

This is undoubtedly the most expensive place in the U.S. Under all these circumstances I am inclined to think I shall not accept the appointment. I come to this point however hesitatingly. And it may be unwisely. I like the place I now hold. And I must take my chance for the future. Now my Dear Sir assuming that  am out of the question will you permit me to offer your name to the President. I have not interchanged a word with him respecting any other person than myself for the office. If you wish it and I can serve you, rest assured it will give me great pleasure. If not who ought the man to be

Yours truly

Smith Thompson

PS. I have written you two letters since you left here addressed to you at Albany 


S. Thompson


M.VB. March 25th 1823

Suggesting the

appointment of

Judge. S. C. U. S.

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