List of federal judges appointed by John Adams

President John Adams saw most of his appointments undone when the circuit courts to which they were appointed were abolished.
It is without question that the most significant impact John Adams had on the judiciary was the appointment of Chief Justice John Marshall.
William Cranch was later elevated by Thomas Jefferson to Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Circuit, and was one of the longest-serving federal judges in U.S. history.
Elijah Paine was one of two District Court judges appointed by Adams whose service surpassed the forty year mark.

Following is a list of all United States federal judges appointed by President John Adams during his presidency.[1] In total Adams appointed 23 judges, including three Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States (including one Chief Justice), sixteen judges to the United States circuit courts, and four judges to the United States district courts. Fourteen of the sixteen circuit court judges appointed by Adams were to positions created at the end of his tenure in office, in the Judiciary Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 89, which became known as the Midnight Judges Act. All of these offices were abolished by the repeal of this Act on July 1, 1802, by 2 Stat. 132. The remaining two were to judgeships for the District of Columbia, authorized under a different Act of Congress, not the Judiciary Act.

However, Adams made an indelible impact on the judiciary with the appointment of John Marshall as Chief Justice.

United States Supreme Court Justices

JusticeSeatStateBegan active
Ended active
Marshall, JohnJohn MarshallChief JusticeVirginiaJanuary 31, 1801July 6, 1835
Moore, AlfredAlfred MooreSeat 5North CarolinaDecember 10, 1799January 26, 1804
Washington, BushrodBushrod WashingtonSeat 1VirginiaSeptember 29, 1798[Note 1]November 26, 1829

Also appointed, but declined: John Jay (Chief Justice).

Circuit courts

JudgeCircuitBegan active
Ended active
Bassett, RichardRichard BassettThirdFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Benson, EgbertEgbert BensonSecondFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Bourne, BenjaminBenjamin BourneFirstFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Clay, Jr., JosephJoseph Clay, Jr.FifthFebruary 24, 1801July 1, 1802
Cranch, WilliamWilliam CranchD.C.March 3, 1801February 24, 1806[Note 2]
Griffith, WilliamWilliam GriffithThirdFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Hitchcock, SamuelSamuel HitchcockSecondFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Key, Philip BartonPhilip Barton KeyFourthFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Lowell, JohnJohn LowellFirstFebruary 20, 1801May 6, 1802
Magill, CharlesCharles MagillFourthMarch 3, 1801July 1, 1802
Marshall, James MarkhamJames Markham MarshallD.C.March 3, 1801November 16, 1803
McClung, WilliamWilliam McClungSixthFebruary 24, 1801July 1, 1802
Smith, JeremiahJeremiah SmithFirstFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Taylor, George KeithGeorge Keith TaylorFourthFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802
Tilghman, WilliamWilliam TilghmanThirdMarch 3, 1801March 8, 1802
Wolcott, Jr., OliverOliver Wolcott, Jr.SecondFebruary 20, 1801July 1, 1802

Also appointed, but declined: Thomas Bee (5th circuit), Jared Ingersoll (3rd circuit), Thomas Johnson (D.C. circuit), Charles Lee (4th circuit), and John Sitgreaves (5th circuit).

District courts

[Note 3]
Began active
Ended active
Davis, JohnJohn DavisD. Mass.February 20, 1801July 10, 1841
Hobart, John SlossJohn Sloss HobartD.N.Y.April 12, 1798February 4, 1805
Paine, ElijahElijah PaineD. Vt.March 3, 1801April 1, 1842
Winchester, JamesJames WinchesterD. Md.October 31, 1799[Note 4]April 5, 1806

See also


  1. Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 19, 1798, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 1798, and received commission on December 20, 1798.
  2. Elevated to Chief Judges by Thomas Jefferson on February 24, 1806; thereafter served until September 1, 1855. Because of the unique structure of the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, Thomas Jefferson's elevation of William Cranch to chief judge of the Court is considered a separate appointment.
  3. See List of United States district and territorial courts
  4. Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 8, 1799, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 10, 1799, and received commission on December 10, 1799.


  1. Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, passim.


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