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U.S. Marshals Service


Recognition of the Need for Federal Marshals

The Authors of the Judiciary Act of 1789 (cont.)

As one of Connecticut's first two senators, he took an active part in the work of building the new government. He was a committed Federalist intent on establishing broad powers for the federal government. In addition to writing the Judiciary Act of 1789, he formulated the first set of Senate rules; he reported from committee the first 12 amendments to the Constitution (which included the Bill of Rights); he framed the measure admitting North Carolina to the Union; and he devised the boycott that eventually forced Rhode Island to ratify the Constitution.

In 1796, George Washington appointed him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the second man to fill that seat. In 1800, he negotiated a treaty with France to avert a war between the United States and Napoleon Bonaparte. Poor health forced Ellsworth to retire from public service after this diplomatic mission.

William Paterson, the second author of the Judiciary Act, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, on December 24, 1745. He died in Albany, New York, on September 9, 1806. Paterson's parents emigrated to the colonies in 1747, where they made their home in New Jersey. Like Ellsworth, Paterson also graduated from the College of New Jersey with a Master of Arts degree before reading for the law and gaining admittance to the New Jersey bar in 1769. He declined election to the Continental Congress in 1780, preferring, instead, to carry out his duties as attorney general of New Jersey. He accepted election to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Paterson's opposition to the Virginia Plan" of electing representatives on the basis of a state's population led him to formulate the 'New Jersey Plan." This plan proposed three branches for the federal government, but with a unicameral legislature composed of equal numbers of representatives from each state.  Elected one of New Jersey's first senators, Paterson helped draft the Judiciary Act, but he left the Senate in Jersey.

Washington appointed him an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1793. His duties on the court included presiding over the trial of some of the rebels who were indicted for treason during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794.  Thus, the two authors of theJudiciary Act of 1789 were prominent men of their day who served the new nation with distinction. Each was a committed Federalist intent on ensuring a strong federal government to unite the 13 disparate colonies.

Although they never achieved the fame gained by their colleagues Washington, John Adams, or Alexander Hamilton, their influence was no less important. The Judiciary Act was but one of the many significant contributions that both Ellsworth and Paterson made in the early history of the United States.

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