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Samuel Dexter to Perez Morton



Woodstock, January 23, 1776.

SIR: Your letter of the 1st instant, wrote by direction of the major part of the honourable Council, informing me of my appointment to be first Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, for the County of Suffolk, did not come to hand till the arrival of the third post after its date, or I should sooner have returned the answer expected from me.

At a time when my declining a seat in the General Court has removed all ground of objection from any supposed impropriety of acting, both in a legislative and judiciary capacity, I should not choose to excuse myself from accepting this trust, did not the ill state of my health absolutely require it.

My complaints, which have been, gradually, increasing for more than two years past, are chiefly of the nervous kind, and forbid any degree of mental application beyond what is indispensably necessary for the management of my private concerns. I cannot promise myself strength sufficient even for matters of such comparatively small importance.

Such of the honourable gentlemen with whom I formerly sat in Council will testify for me, that, however poorly I acquitted myself in the discharge of my duty to the publick, I ever appeared solicitous to act a part that should meet with approbation.

Although in the department designed me, but moderate attention and study may be thought requisite, yet even that I am, by indisposition of body, which affects my mind, rendered totally unfit for.

Some time since I came to a determination never to engage in any new kind of employment of a publick nature; and, for the future, to do no more than a conscientious regard for my oath should demand of me in the office I have, for divers years past, sustained; and I have, sir, to request that you would, by communicating this letter, make their Honours acquainted with a resolution which I have, upon mature thought, found it needful to enter into.

I am no less desirous that the honourable Board should know that I have a grateful sense of the honour they have done me; and that I wish their happiness with a fervency not to be expressed, although exceeded by the ardour with which I pray for the salvation of my country.

I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


To Perez Morton, Esq˙, Deputy Secretary of Massachusetts-Bay, Watertown.