Declaration of Independence Signer Samuel Huntington’s Copy of an Act of Congress Signed by Thomas Jefferson
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:
This act establishes the exact places and dates for the spring Circuit Courts to meet for the eastern districts of New-York, Connecticut, Vermont, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This copy of the act, duly signed by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson a day before the official date of the end of the Second Congress, was sent to Governor Samuel Huntington of Connecticut because the act specified that the spring circuit court “shall henceforth be held … for the district of Connecticut, at New-Haven on the twenty-fifth day of April…” THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State. “An Act to alter the Times and Places of holding the Circuit Courts in the Eastern District, and in North-Carolina,...”
Philadelphia, Pa., March 2, 1793. 2 pp., 9¾ x 15 in. Signed in Type by George Washington as President. Lengthy docket by Samuel Huntington.
In Samuel Huntington’s hand: “an Act to alter the times & places of holding the Circuit Courts in the Eastern district & in North Carolina, & for other purposes. March 2d – 93.”
North Carolina did not have a sufficient number of judges to hold circuit court in the November 1792 term, so this act gave power to the district judge to direct the court clerk to summon jurymen to court and ordered the marshal to execute the process “and the jurymen legally summoned in consequence thereof, are to attend the said court under the like penalties for disobedience as if the said process had been ordered to be issued as usual by the said court…”
“An Act to alter the times and places of holding the Circuit Courts, in the Eastern District, and in North Carolina, and for other purposes.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, Times for holding spring circuits of eastern district and N. Carolina altered.
That the spring circuit courts of the eastern district, instead of being held at the times and places now established by law for holding the same, shall from henceforth be held at the times and places following respectively, namely; for the district of New York, at New York, on the fifth day of April; for the district of Connecticut, at New Haven, on the twenty-fifth day of April; for the district of Vermont, at Windsor and Bennington alternately, beginning at the first, on the twelfth day of May; for the district of New Hampshire, at Portsmouth, on the twenty-seventh day of May; for the district of Massachusetts, at Boston, on the seventh day of June; and for the district of Rhode Island, at Newport, on the nineteenth day of June. And if any of the said days shall happen on a Sunday, the courts, respectively, shall commence and be holden on the day following....
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted,N. Carolina circuit court after June where to be held. That from and after the expiration of the session of the circuit court of the state of North Carolina, which is to commence on the first day of June next (which session shall be held, any thing in this act notwithstanding, at Newbern) the stated sessions of the said court shall be held at Wake courthouse, either in the courthouse belonging to the said county, or in some convenient building contiguous thereto, until there shall be convenient accommodations for the said purpose in the city of Raleigh....
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted,District judge of N. Carolina how to have jurymen summoned for said June term. Inasmuch as there was not a sufficient quorum of judges to hold the circuit court for the district of North Carolina, for the purpose of doing business, at November term one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, that it shall and may be lawful for the district judge of the state of North Carolina to direct the clerk of the said court to issue such process for the purpose of having jurymen summoned to attend the said court at the term to commence on the first day of June next, as he had before issued for the like purpose, returnable to November term above mentioned; that the jurymen ordered by the said process to be summoned shall be ordered to be summoned in the same proportion, and from the same counties, as those jurymen who were ordered to be summoned by the process returnable at November term above mentioned: And the marshal is to execute the said process, and the jurymen legally summoned in consequence thereof, are to attend the said court, under the like penalties for disobedience...”
Legislative measures signed by Jefferson as Secretary of State
Following a law passed on September 15, 1789, Thomas Jefferson, as Secretary of State, signed two copies of each law, order, vote, or resolution of Congress for distribution to the executive of every state. (By the same law, a single copy was distributed to each U.S. senator and representative, though these copies did not require Jefferson’s signed authentication. Those copies were unsigned and printed on much smaller paper.) At the time this resolution was passed, there were 15 states. Thus, it is likely that just 30 copies were signed by Jefferson.