Paterson, William


Rare 1786 ADS of the Framer of the Constitution, 2nd Governor of New Jersey and one of its 1st US Senators, Supreme Court Associate Justice 1793-1806


Type: Document
Description: (1745-1806) Irish-born New Jersey statesman, Framer of the US Constitution, 2nd Governor of New Jersey 1790-93, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court 1793-1806.

Entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) at 14, studied law with Richard Stockton, admitted to the bar 1768. He was selected as Somerset County delegate to the 1st 3 New Jersey provincial congresses, where, as secretary, he recorded the 1776 State Constitution. After Independence, he was 1st State Attorney General 1776-83.

At the 1787 Philadelphia Convention he proposed the “New Jersey Plan” for a unicameral legislative body with equal representation from each state. The eventual compromise resulted in the Senate with 2 members per state and the House of Representatives apportioned on the basis of population.

As one of New Jersey’s 1st US Senators (1789–90), he supported the Federalist party. A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he played an important role in drafting the Judiciary Act of 1789 that established the federal court system; its 1st 9 sections are in his handwriting. He resigned from the Senate in 1790 to succeed William Livingston as Governor of New Jersey.

George Washington nominated him to the Supreme Court on Feb. 27, 1793 for the seat vacated by Thomas Johnson. The nomination was withdrawn the next day when Washington realized that since the law creating the Supreme Court had been passed during Paterson’s term as Senator, his nomination violated the Constitution. He re-nominated Paterson on March 4, 1793, after his Senate term expired; he was immediately confirmed and resigned the governorship. On circuit duty, he presided over trials of individuals indicted for treason in the Whiskey Rebellion. Paterson, New Jersey, and William Paterson University are named after him.

4 x 5 ¼ ADS, no place, May 15 1786, receipt of 20 pounds 1 shilling & 3 pence for the account of Peter D. [illegible] Esq., Collector of Somerset; docket on verso says it is for rent. With color portrait in judicial robes. Rare autograph!

Condition: Very good, trimmed at top not affecting content, 2 vertical folds

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