It was also during this month, on July 1, 1870 to be precise, that the Department of Justice officially began operations. The DOJ can trace its roots, post revolution, to the Judiciary Act of 1789 which established the fundamental framework for the judicial branch of the new government. The U.S. Marshals Service is one of the seven federal law enforcement agencies administered by the Department of Justice and the only one set up by the Judiciary Act.
Seven of the original sixteen Marshals appointed by George Washington have been profiled in earlier features this year. Meet the remaining nine.
Phillip’s occupation was farmer and merchant. From 1782 to 1789, he also served in the Connecticut General Assembly. In 1789. Washington appointed him Marshal of Connecticut.
Following his tenure as Marshal in 1802, he retired from public service. Phillip passed away at the ripe old age of 82.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, the First Marshal of Massachusetts, Jonathan Jackson, was a Harvard grad that later became a shipper and importer. His firm, Tracy & Tracy, which he founded with members of his wife’s family, ultimately failed due to his support of the Revolution. He joined John Hancock and other community leaders in the founding of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and this endeavor did not fail.
Jackson held a number of positions throughout his lifetime including first U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts, Federal Supervisor of Revenue, Treasurer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Treasurer of Harvard University, and President of Boston Bank.
He married Hannah Tracy and together they had nine children. Son Charles Jackson served on the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Son James Jackson earned a medical degree and founded Massachusetts General Hospital becoming its first physician. Great Grandson Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. served on the U.S. Supreme Court.
His great grandson wrote of him, “a man of transparent, straightforward character; ardent, loyal, care-taking; and devoted; judicial and conservative in temperament; eminently fair minded; not remarkably talented or studious, but disposed, in the face of present needs, to make the most of his powers for the welfare of the public and of his friends; a lover of law and order, and consequently a warm supporter of the builders of the Federal Constitution and of the government of Washington and Hamilton.”
Another New Englander, William Peck, was First Marshal of Rhode Island. Following his Yale graduation, Peck joined the Continental Army as a First Lieutenant. He rose rapidly through the ranks becoming Deputy Adjutant General of the Eastern Department with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He retired from this post in 1781 and became a merchant.
Like his fellow Marshal, Jonathan Jackson, Peck’s business affairs were unprofitable for him. By 1790, he was penniless and out of work. Friends rallied to his side and encouraged George Washington to offer him a position in government. Washington complied by offering Peck the position of U.S. Marshal. Jackson stayed in this position for twenty years, the longest tenure of any of his fellow marshals.
Isaac Huger was the first Marshal of South Carolina. Another war hero, Huger was born into a wealthy South Carolina family.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, he received a commission as Lieutenant Colonel in the First South Carolina Regiment. With his star quite literally on the rise, he rose to Brigadier General of the Southern Army. He was wounded in battle multiple times – at Campbell and Prevost, at the Battle of Stono Ferry, at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and at the battle of Hobkirk’s Hill where he commanded the right wing of the American forces.
Following the war, Huger returned to the family business, but was again called to service as U.S. Marshal on September 26, 1789. With his wife, the former Elizabeth Chalmers, he fathered eight children. Isaac died on October 17, 1797 at the age of 54.
John Parker, first Marshal of New Hampshire, was born in Portsmouth where he apprenticed as a merchant. Following a brief stint as Captain in Biddle’s New Hampshire Rangers, Parker returned to his home state where he served as Sheriff of Rockingham County until his appointment as U.S. Marshal in October 1789.
At 56 years of age, Parker was the oldest man appointed to the position. Sadly, he passed away two years later at the age of 58.
Samuel McDowell, First Marshal of Kentucky, left home at age seventeen to serve in the Army where he achieved the rank of Colonel. At 25 years, McDowell was Washington’s youngest appointee to the office of Marshal.
Following the war, he moved to Kentucky and became a surveyor. He was a founding trustee of Liberty Hall (later Washington and Lee University) and an ardent supporter of the War of 1812. Son, Dr. Ephraim McDowell, has been called the founding father of abdominal surgery. Grandson General Irvine McDowell served in the Civil War and commanded the Army of the Potomac.
His family described Samuel as a “well-informed, thoughtful man of sense. A deeply religious man, without parade or austerity, his character was as attractive as his temper was amiable.”
A fellow southerner, First Marshal of North Carolina, John Skinner was a wealthy merchant who owned a mill, a bakery and a fishery. The Governor of North Carolina once described him as a “gentleman of respectable connections and property”. Fortune’s wheel turned for Skinner however and at the time of his death his estate was “more than Two Thousand Pounds the worse”.
Two of the original sixteen U.S. Marshals were born abroad – Thomas Lowry and Robert Forsyth.
Thomas Lowry, First Marshal of New Jersey, immigrated from Ireland with his family at the age of ten. Lowry remained in the state as an adult becoming a successful merchant and landowner.
When the Revolutionary War broke out, Thomas Lowry accepted a commission as Lieutenant Colonel in the Third Regiment of the New Jersey militia. He never saw action though but served as commissary officer.
His close friendship with George Washington led the President to offer him the position as First Marshal of New Jersey. He served in this capacity from October 1789 until 1801. Five years after his retirement from this position, he passed away at the age of 69.
First Marshal of Georgia, Robert Forsyth, was born in Scotland and moved to this country as a teen. At age twenty two, he enlisted in the Continental Army and three years later, in 1779, he received a commission as Captain of the Corps of the Partisan Light Dragoons (Lee’s Legion) under Major “Lighthorse Harry” Lee. One year later Forsyth accepted a new post as Major of the First Legion.
After the war, Forsyth moved to Augusta, Georgia where he worked as a tax assessor Justice of the Peace and Trustee of Richmond Academy. He bought 6,000 acres of land. He was elected Master of the Lodge Columbia and Deputy Grand Master for the State of Georgia. Washington appointed him Marshal in 1789 at the age of 35 years.
On January 11, 1794, Marshal Forsyth, accompanied by two of his deputies, went to the house of a Mrs. Dixon to serve a civil court process on two brothers, Beverly and William Allen. Beverly Allen, a former Methodist minister from South Carolina, saw the Marshal approaching, so he hid in a room on the second floor of the house. When Forsyth knocked on the door of the room, Allen fired his pistol at the direction of the knocking. The ball hit Forsyth in the head, killing him instantly. Forsyth’s Deputies arrested the killer who twice escaped from jail, fled the state and was never recaptured.
Forsyth left behind a widow and two sons. Son John Forsyth became governor of Georgia and then US. Minister to Spain. As such, he negotiated the treaty acceding Florida to the United States. He also served as Secretary of State under Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.
Robert Forsyth was the first U.S. Marshal to be killed in the line of duty. Since then, over 200 federal Marshals, Deputy Marshals, Special Deputy Marshals and Marshals guards have given their lives in service to their nation.
This month, we honor their memory and their sacrifice.