Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 | Next Page
Creation of the Judiciary
Rep. Abiel Foster's Letter

Rep. Abiel Foster's Letter, Page 2Rep. Abiel Foster's Letter, Page 3

Rep. Abiel Foster of New Hampshire to Oliver Peabody, September 23, 1789 (Courtesy of the Boston Public Library)Full text transcript of Rep. Foster's letter.

In this legislation, more than any other, the members of Congress sought advice from constituents, especially attorneys and judges. A second printing of the bill had to be ordered because so many copies had been sent off for comment. In this letter, Rep. Foster of New Hampshire says that he has heard of uneasiness in his state about the bill and wishes "those politicians who are opposed to it, will be pleased to propose a substitute." He goes on to counter objections to the legislation and state that he has "given my hearty concurrence to the judicial Bill." His colleague from New Hampshire in the Senate, Paine Wingate, supported the bill with reservations:
That the administration of justice in the way proposed will cost more than it is worth. The judiciary is calculated by pretty good judges to cost between 50 & 60 thousand dollars pr. annum & yet it will not extend to a tenth part of the causes which might by the constitution come into the federal court. (to Nathaniel Sargeant, July 18, 1789, Peabody Essex Museum)

Considerable advice was offered by those consulted. For example, Joseph Jones warned James Madison that, "where there is danger of clashing jurisdictions the limits should be defined as acurately as may be." (July 3, 1789, Library of Congress)


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