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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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841. BISHOP (Samuel), Appointment as Collector.—
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841. BISHOP (Samuel), Appointment as Collector.—

I have received the remonstrance
you were pleased to address to me,
on the appointment of Samuel Bishop to the
office of Collector of New Haven, lately vacated
by the death of Daniel Austin. The
right of our fellow citizens to represent to the
public functionaries their opinion on proceedings
interesting to them, is unquestionably
a constitutional right, often useful, sometimes
necessary, and will always be respectfully
acknowledged by me. Of the various
executive duties, no one excites more anxious
concern than that of placing the interests
of our fellow citizens in the hands of
honest men, with understandings sufficient
for their stations. No duty, at the same time,
is more difficult to fulfil. The knowledge of
characters possessed by a single individual
is, of necessity, limited. To seek out the
best through the whole Union, we must resort
to other information, which, from the
best of men, acting disinterestedly and with
the purest motives, is sometimes incorrect.
In the case of Samuel Bishop, however, the
subject of your remonstrance, time was
taken, information was sought, and such obtained
as could leave no room for doubt of
his fitness. From private sources it was
learned that his understanding was sound,
his integrity pure, his character unstained.
And the offices confided to him within his
own State, are public evidences of the estimation
in which he is held by the State
in general, and the city and township particularly
in which he lives. He is said to
be the town clerk, a justice of the peace,
mayor of the city of New Haven, an office
held at the will of the legislature, chief judge
of the court of common pleas for New
Haven County, a court of high criminal and
civil jurisdiction wherein most causes are decided
without the right of appeal or review,
and sole judge of the court of Probates,
wherein he singly decides all questions of
wills, settlement of estates, testate and intestate,
appoints guardians, settles their accounts,
and in fact has under his jurisdiction
and care all the property, real and personal, of
persons dying. The two last offices, in the
annual gift of the legislature, were given to
him in May last. Is it possible that the man
to whom the legislature of Connecticut has
so recently committed trusts of such difficulty
and magnitude, is “unfit to be the collector
of the district of New Haven,” though
acknowledged in the same writing, to have
obtained all this confidence “by a long life
of usefulness”? It is objected, indeed, in
the remonstrance, that he is seventy-seven
years of age; but at a much more advanced
age, our Franklin was the ornament of human
nature. He may not be able to perform
in person all the details of his office; but if
he gives us the benefit of his understanding,
his integrity, his watchfulness and takes
care that all the details are well performed
by himself or his necessary assistants,
all public purposes will be answered.
The remonstrance, indeed, does not allege
that the office has been illy conducted, but
only apprehends that it will be so. Should
this happen in event, be assured I will do in it
what shall be just and necessary for the
public service. In the meantime, he should
be tried without being prejudged.—
To the New Haven Committee. Washington ed. iv, 402. Ford ed., viii, 67.
(W. July. 1801)