John Jay: Wikis


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John Jay

Portrait of John Jay painted by Gilbert Stuart

In office
September 26, 1789 – June 29, 1795
Nominated by George Washington
Succeeded by John Rutledge

In office
July 1, 1795 – June 30, 1801
Lieutenant Stephen Van Rensselaer
Preceded by George Clinton
Succeeded by George Clinton

In office
May 7, 1784 – March 22, 1790
Preceded by Robert Livingston
Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson
(as United States Secretary of State)

In office
December 10, 1778 – September 28, 1779
Preceded by Henry Laurens
Succeeded by Samuel Huntington

Born December 12, 1745(1745-12-12)
New York, New York
Died May 17, 1829 (aged 83)
Bedford, New York
Spouse(s) Sarah Livingston (see Livingston family)
Alma mater King's College (now Columbia University)
Religion Episcopalian

John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, President of the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1779 and, from 1789 to 1795, the first Chief Justice of the United States. During and after the American Revolution, he was a minister (ambassador) to Spain and France, helping to fashion United States foreign policy and to secure favorable peace terms from the British (the Jay Treaty) and French. He co-wrote the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

As leader of the new Federalist Party, Jay was Governor of New York from 1795 to 1801 and became the state's leading opponent of slavery. His first two attempts to pass emancipation legislation failed in 1777 and 1785, but the third succeeded in 1799. The new law he signed into existence eventually saw the emancipation of all New York slaves before his death.


Early life



Jay was born on December 12, 1745, to a wealthy family of merchants in New York City.[1] He was the eighth child and the sixth son in his family.[2] The Jay family was of French Huguenot origin and was prominent in New York City.[3] In 1685 the Edict of Nantes was revoked, thereby abolishing the rights of Protestants and confiscating their property. Among those affected was Jay's paternal grandfather, Augustus Jay, causing him to move from France to New York and to establish the Jay family there.[4] Peter, Augustus's son and John's father, was a merchant and had ten children with his wife, Mary Van Cortlandt. Only seven of the ten children survived.[5] After Jay was born, his family moved from Manhattan to Rye for a healthier environment; two of his siblings were blinded by the smallpox epidemic of 1739 and two suffered from mental handicaps.[5]


Jay spent his childhood in Rye, New York, and took the same political stand as his father, who was a staunch Whig.[6] He was educated there by private tutors until he was eight years old, when he was sent to New Rochelle to study under Anglican pastor Pierre Stoupe. In 1756, after three years, he would return to homeschooling under the tutelage of George Murray. In 1760, Jay continued his studies at King's College, the then-sixteen-year-old forerunner of Columbia University.[7] In 1764 he graduated[8] and became a law clerk for Benjamin Kissam.[5]

Entrance into lawyering and politics

In 1768, after being admitted to the bar of New York, Jay, with Robert Livingston, established a legal practice and worked there until he created his own law office in 1771.[5] He was a member of the New York Committee of Correspondence in 1774.[9]

His first public role came as secretary to the New York committee of correspondence, where he represented the conservative faction that was interested in protecting property rights and in preserving the rule of law while resisting what it regarded as British violations of American rights. This faction feared the prospect of "mob rule". He believed the British tax measures were wrong and thought Americans were morally and legally justified in resisting them, but as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774 he sided with those who wanted conciliation with Parliament. Events such as the burning of Norfolk, Virginia, by British troops in January 1776 pushed Jay to support independence. With the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, he worked tirelessly for the revolutionary cause and acted to suppress the Loyalists. Thus Jay evolved into first a moderate and then an ardent Patriot once he decided that all the colonies' efforts at reconciliation with Britain were fruitless and that the struggle for independence which became the American Revolution was inevitable.[10]

During the American Revolution

Having established a reputation as a "reasonable moderate" in New York, Jay was elected to serve as delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses which debated whether the colonies should declare independence. He attempted to reconcile the colonies with Britain, up until the Declaration of Independence. Jay's views became more radical as events unfolded; he became an ardent separatist and attempted to move New York towards that cause.

The Treaty of Paris, Jay stands farthest to the left

In 1774, at the close of the Continental Congress, Jay returned to New York.[11] There he served on New York City's Committee of Sixty,[12] where he attempted to enforce a non-importation agreement passed by the First Continental Congress.[11] Jay was elected to the third New York Provincial Congress, where he drafted the Constitution of New York, 1777;[13] his duties as a New York Congressman prevented him from voting on or signing the Declaration of Independence.[11][14] Jay served on the committee to detect and defeat conspiracies, which monitored British Actions.[15] New York's Provincial Congress elected Jay the Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court on May 8, 1777,[11][16] which he served on for two years.[11]

Jay served as President of the Continental Congress from December 10, 1778, to September 28, 1779. The Continental Congress turned to John Jay, an adversary of the previous president Henry Laurens,[14] only three days after Jay became a delegate and elected him President of the Continental Congress. Eight states voted for Jay and four for Laurens.[17]

As a diplomat

On September 27, 1779, Jay resigned his office as President of the Continental Congress and was appointed Minister to Spain. In Spain, he was assigned to get financial aid, commercial treaties and recognition of American independence. The royal court of Spain refused to officially receive Jay as the Minister of the United States,[18] as it refused to recognize American Independence until 1783, fearing that such recognition could spark revolution in their own colonies. Jay, however, convinced Spain to loan $170,000 to the US government.[19] He departed Spain on May 20, 1782.[18]

On June 23, 1782, Jay reached Paris, where negotiations to end the American Revolutionary War would take place.[20] Benjamin Franklin was the most experienced diplomat of the group, and thus Jay wished to lodge near him, in order to learn from him.[21] The United States agreed to negotiate with Britain separately, then with France.[22][23] In July 1782, the Earl of Shelburne offered the Americans independence, but Jay rejected the offer on the grounds that it did not recognize American independence during the negotiations; Jay's dissent halted negotiations until the fall.[22] The final treaty dictated that the United States would have Newfoundland fishing rights, Britain would acknowledge the United States as independent and would withdraw its troops in exchange for the United States ending the seizure of Loyalist property and honoring private debts.[22][24] The treaty granted the United States independence, but left many border regions in dispute, and many of its provisions were not enforced.[22]

Secretary of Foreign Affairs

Jay served as the second Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 1784–1789, when in September, Congress passed a law giving certain additional domestic responsibilities to the new Department and changing its name to the Department of State. Jay served as acting Secretary of State until March 22, 1790. Jay sought to establish a strong and durable American foreign policy: to seek the recognition of the young independent nation by powerful and established foreign European powers; to establish a stable American currency and credit supported at first by financial loans from European banks; to pay back America's creditors and to quickly pay off the country's heavy War-debt; to secure the infant nation's territorial boundaries under the most-advantageous terms possible and against possible incursions by the Indians, Spanish, the French and the English; to solve regional difficulties among the colonies themselves; to secure Newfoundland fishing rights; to establish a robust maritime trade for American goods with new economic trading partners; to protect American trading vessels against piracy; to preserve America's reputation at home and abroad; and to hold the country together politically under the fledgling Articles of Confederation.[25]

Jay believed his responsibility was not matched by a commensurate level of authority, so he joined Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in advocating for a stronger government than the one dictated by the Articles of Confederation.[5][26] He argued in his Address to the People of the State of New-York, on the Subject of the Federal Constitution that the Articles of Confederation were too weak and ineffective a form of government. He contended that:

The Congress under the Articles of Confederation] may make war, but are not empowered to raise men or money to carry it on—they may make peace, but without power to see the terms of it observed—they may form alliances, but without ability to comply with the stipulations on their part—they may enter into treaties of commerce, but without power to [e]nforce them at home or abroad...—In short, they may consult, and deliberate, and recommend, and make requisitions, and they who please may regard them.[27]

Federalist Papers 1788

Jay did not attend the Constitutional Convention but joined Hamilton and Madison in aggressively arguing in favor of the creation of a new and more powerful, centralized but balanced system of government. Writing under the shared pseudonym of "Publius,"[28] they articulated this vision in the Federalist Papers, a series of eighty-five articles written to persuade the citizenry to ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States.[29] Jay wrote the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixty-fourth articles. All except the sixty-fourth concerned the "[d]angers from [f]oreign [f]orce and [i]nfluence".[30]

The Jay Court

[T]he people are the sovereign of this country, and consequently that fellow citizens and joint sovereigns cannot be degraded by appearing with each other in their own courts to have their controversies determined. The people have reason to prize and rejoice in such valuable privileges, and they ought not to forget that nothing but the free course of constitutional law and government can ensure the continuance and enjoyment of them. For the reasons before given, I am clearly of opinion that a State is suable by citizens of another State.

John Jay in the Court Opinion of Chisholm v. Georgia[31]

In 1789, Jay was offered the new position of Secretary of State by George Washington; he declined. Washington nominated Jay as the first Chief Justice of the United States.[26] Washington also nominated John Blair, William Cushing, James Wilson, James Iredell and John Rutledge as Associate Judges;[32] Jay would later serve with Thomas Johnson,[33] who took Rutledge's seat,[34] and William Paterson, who took Johnson's seat.[34] The court had little business through its first three years and its first decision was West v. Barnes (1791) strictly interpreting statutory procedural requirements.[32]

In Chisholm v. Georgia, the Jay Court had to answer the question: "Was the state of Georgia subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the federal government?"[35] In a 4-1 ruling (Iredell dissented), the Jay Court ruled in favor of two South Carolinan Loyalists who had had their land seized by Georgia. This ruling sparked debate, as it implied that old debts must be paid to Loyalists.[32] The ruling was overturned by the Senate when the Eleventh Amendment was ratified, as it ruled that the judiciary could not rule on cases where a state was being sued by a citizen of another state or foreign country.[5][32] The case was brought again to the Supreme Court in Georgia v. Brailsford, and the Court reversed its decision.[36][37] However, Jay's original Chisholm decision established that states were subject to judicial review.[35][38]

In Hayburn's Case, the Jay Court ruled that courts could not comply with a federal statute that required the courts to decide whether individual petitioning American Revolution veterans qualified for pensions. The Jay Court ruled that determining whether petitioners qualified was an "act ... not of a judicial nature".[39] and that because the statute allowed the legislature and the executive branch to revise the court's ruling, the statute violated the separation of powers as dictated by the United States Constitution.[39][40][41]

Jury nullification

In 1794 in Georgia v. Brailsford (1794), Supreme Court Justice John Jay upheld jury instructions stating "you [jurors] have ...a right to take upon yourselves to ...determine the law as well as the fact in controversy." Jay noted for the jury the "good old rule, that on questions of fact, it is the province of the jury, on questions of law, it is the province of the court to decide," but this amounted to no more than a presumption that the judges were correct about the law. Ultimately, "both objects [the law and the facts] are lawfully within your power of decision."[42][43]

1792 campaign for Governor of New York

In 1792, Jay was the Federalist candidate for governor of New York, but was defeated by Democratic-Republican George Clinton. Jay received more votes than George Clinton, but on technicalities the votes of Otsego, Tioga and Clinton counties were disqualified and therefore not counted, giving George Clinton a slight majority.[44] The state constitution said that the cast votes shall be delivered to the secretary of state "by the sheriff or his deputy," but, for example, Otsego County Sheriff Smith's term had expired, so at the time of the election, the sheriff's office had been legally vacant, and the votes could not be brought to the state capital by anybody legally authorized. Clinton partisans in the state legislature, in state courts and federal offices were adamant not to accept any argument that this would in practice subtract the constitutional right to vote from the voters in these counties, and these votes were disqualified.[45]

Jay Treaty

Relations with Britain verged on war in 1794. British exports dominated the U.S. market, while American exports were blocked by British trade restrictions and tariffs. Britain still occupied northern forts that it had agreed to surrender in the Treaty of Paris. Britain’s impressment of American sailors and seizure of naval and military supplies bound to enemy ports on neutral ships also created conflict.[46] Madison proposed a trade war, "A direct system of commercial hostility with Great Britain," assuming that Britain was so weakened by its war with France that it would agree to American terms and not declare war.[47] Washington rejected that policy and sent Jay as a special envoy to Great Britain to negotiate a new treaty; Jay remained Chief Justice. Washington had Alexander Hamilton write instructions for Jay that were to guide him in the negotiations.[48] In March 1795, the resulting treaty, known as the Jay Treaty, was brought to Philadelphia.[48] When Hamilton, in an attempt to maintain good relations, informed Britain that the United States would not join the Danish and Swedish governments to defend their neutral status, Jay lost most of his leverage. The treaty eliminated Britain's control of northwestern posts[49] and granted the United States "most favored nation" status,[46] and the U.S. agreed to restricted commercial access to the British West Indies.[46] Washington signed the treaty, and the Senate approved it on a 20-10 vote.[46][49]

The treaty did not resolve American grievances about neutral shipping rights and impressment,[50] and the Republicans denounced it, but Jay, as Chief Justice, decided not to take part in the debates.[51] The failure to get compensation for slaves taken by the British during the Revolution "was a major reason for the bitter Southern opposition".[52] Jefferson and Madison, fearing a commercial alliance with aristocratic Britain might undercut republicanism, led the opposition. Jay complained he could travel from Boston to Philadelphia solely by the light of his burning effigies. However, led by Hamilton's newly created Federalist party and support from Washington, strongly backed Jay and thus won the battle of public opinion.[53] Washington put his prestige on the line behind the treaty and Hamilton and the Federalists mobilized public opinion. The Senate ratified the treaty by a 20-10 vote (just enough to meet the 2/3 requirement.) Graffiti appeared near Jay's house after the treaty's ratification, reading, "Damn John Jay. Damn everyone that won't damn John Jay. Damn everyone that won't put up the lights in the windows and sit up all nights damning John Jay."[54]

In 1812, relations between Britain and the U.S. faltered. The desire of a group of members in the House of Representatives, known as the War Hawks, to acquire land from Canada and the British impressment of American ships led, in part, to the War of 1812.[55]

Governor of New York

Certificate of Election of John Jay as Governor of New York (June 6, 1795)

While in Britain, Jay was elected in May, 1795, as the second governor of New York State (following George Clinton) as a Federalist. He resigned from the Supreme Court and served six years as governor until 1801.

As Governor, he received a proposal from Hamilton to gerrymander New York for the Presidential election of that year; he marked the letter "Proposing a measure for party purposes which it would not become me to adopt," and filed it without replying.[56] President John Adams then renominated him to the Supreme Court; the Senate quickly confirmed him, but he declined, citing his own poor health[26] and the court's lack of "the energy, weight and dignity which are essential to its affording due support to the national government."[57]

While governor, Jay ran in the 1796 presidential election, winning five electoral votes, and in the 1800 election, winning one vote.

Jay declined the Federalist renomination for governor in 1801 and retired to the life of a farmer in Westchester County, New York. Soon after his retirement, his wife died.[58] Jay remained in good health, continued to farm and stayed out of politics.[59]


On the night of May 14, 1829, Jay was stricken with palsy, probably due to a stroke. He lived for three more days, dying on May 17.[60] He chose to be buried in a private cemetery which he had defined on his family's Rye property in 1807, returning to the place where he grew up as a boy. He is buried in a private family cemetery at Boston Post Road in Rye, New York. It is located behind the building which serves as Headquarters of the American Methodist Church. It is on Boston Post Road, southwest of the Rye, New York railroad station. The burial grounds are currently under the care of Dr. John Jay DuBois of Rye.[61]  [62]

This original family estate of the Jays, first established in 1745 when Jay was 3 months old, is a National Historic Landmark site overlooking Long Island Sound. The Jay estate in Rye passed into John Jay's possession in 1815 and he conveyed it to his eldest son, Peter Augustus Jay, in 1822. The property remained in the Jay family through 1904. Today the cemetery is still privately held and used by Jay's descendants. What remains of the original 400 acre Jay estate is a 23 acre parcel called the Jay Property and the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House built by Peter Augustus Jay over the footprint of his father's original home "The Locusts." Stewardship of the site and restoration of several of its buildings for educational use was entrusted by the New York State Board of Regents to the Jay Heritage Center.[63]

Personal views

As an abolitionist

Jay was a leader against slavery after 1777, when he drafted a state law to abolish slavery; it failed as did a second attempt in 1785.[64] Jay was the founder and president of the New York Manumission Society, in 1785, which organized boycotts against newspapers and merchants in the slave trade and provided legal counsel for free blacks claimed as slaves.[65] The Society helped enact the gradual emancipation of slaves in New York in 1799, which Jay signed into law as governor.

Jay was pushing at an open door; every member of the New York legislature (but one) had voted for some form of emancipation in 1785; they had differed on what rights to give the free blacks afterwards. Aaron Burr both supported this bill and introduced an amendment calling for immediate abolition.[66] The 1799 bill settled the matter by guaranteeing no rights at all. The 1799 "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery" provided that, from July 4 of that year, all children born to slave parents would be free (subject only to apprenticeship) and that slave exports would be prohibited. These same children would be required to serve the mother’s owner until age twenty-eight for males and age twenty-five for females. The law thus defined a type of indentured servant while slating them for eventual freedom.[67] All slaves were emancipated by July 4, 1827; the process may perhaps have been the largest emancipation in North America before 1861,[68] except for the British Army's recruitment of runaway slaves during the American Revolution.[69]

In the close 1792 election, Jay's antislavery work hurt his election chances in upstate New York Dutch areas, where slavery was still practiced.[70] In 1794, in the process of negotiating the Jay Treaty with the British, Jay angered Southern slave-owners when he dropped their demands for compensation for slaves who had been captured and carried away during the Revolution.[50] He made a practice of buying slaves and then freeing them when they were adults and he judged their labors had been a reasonable return on their price; he owned eight in 1798, the year before the emancipation act was passed.[71]


Jay was Anglican, a denomination renamed the Protestant Episcopal Church in America after the American Revolution. Since 1785 Jay had been a warden of Trinity Church, New York. As Congress's Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he supported the proposal after the Revolution that the Archbishop of Canterbury approve the ordination of bishops for the Episcopal Church in the United States.[71] He argued unsuccessfully in the provincial convention for a prohibition against Catholics holding office.[72]

In a letter addressed to Pennsylvania House of Representatives member John Murray, dated October 12, 1816, Jay wrote, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."[73]


Several geographical locations have adopted John Jay's name, including: Jay, Maine; Jay, New York; Jay, Vermont; Jay County, Indiana and Jay Street in Brooklyn. In 1964, the City University of New York's College of Police Science was officially renamed the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The colonial Fort Jay on Governors Island is also named for him. Mount John Jay, also known as Boundary Peak 18, a summit on the border between Alaska and British Columbia, Canada, is also named for him.[74][75]

There are also high schools named after Jay located in Cross River, New York; Hopewell Junction, New York and San Antonio, Texas. The Best Western Hotel chain named several of their colonial motif hotels the John Jay Inn.

Exceptional undergraduates at Columbia University are designated John Jay Scholars, and one of that university's undergraduate dormitories is known as John Jay Hall. The John Jay Center on the campus of Robert Morris University and the John Jay Institute for Faith, Society & Law are also named for him. Jay's house, located near Katonah, New York, is preserved as a National Historic Landmark and as the John Jay Homestead State Historic Site.[76]


  1. ^ "John Jay 1789-1795". 
  2. ^ Pellew p.1
  3. ^ "John Jay". The John Jay Institute for Faith, Society and Law. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  4. ^ Pellew, George: "American Statesman John Jay", page 1. Houghton Mifflin, 1890
  5. ^ a b c d e f "A Brief Biography of John Jay". The Papers of John Jay. Columbia University. 2002. 
  6. ^ Pellew p.6
  7. ^ Stahr, page 9
  8. ^ Barnard edu retrieved August 31, 2008
  9. ^ "John Jay". Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  10. ^ Klein (2000)
  11. ^ a b c d e "Jay and New York". The Papers of John Jay. Columbia University. 2002. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  12. ^ Stahr, page 443
  13. ^ "The First Constitution, 1777.". The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York. New York State Unified Court System. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  14. ^ a b "John Jay". NNDB. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  15. ^ James Newcomb (2007-12-13). "Remembering John Jay, One of Our Founding Fathers". The John Birch Society. 
  16. ^ "Portrait Gallery". The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York. New York State Unified Court System. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  17. ^ Stanley Louis Klos. "John Jay". Evisium Inc.. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  18. ^ a b United States Department of State: Chiefs of Mission to Spain
  19. ^ "John Jay". Independence Hall Association. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  20. ^ Pellew p.166
  21. ^ Pellew p.170
  22. ^ a b c d "Treaty of Paris, 1783". U.S. Department of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  23. ^ Stanley L. Klos. "Treaty of Paris". Evisum Inc.. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  24. ^ "The Paris Peace Treaty of 1783". The University of Oklahoma College of Law. 
  25. ^ Whitelock p.181
  26. ^ a b c "John Jay". Find Law. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  27. ^ "Extract from an Address to the people of the state of New-York, on the subject of the federal Constitution.". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  28. ^ WSU retrieved August 31, 2008
  29. ^ "The Federalist Papers". Primary Document in American History. The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  30. ^ "Federalist Papers Authored by John Jay". Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  31. ^ "CHISHOLM V. GEORGIA, 2 U. S. 419 (1793) (Court Opinion)". Justia & Oyez. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  32. ^ a b c d "The Jay Court ... 1789-1793". The Supreme Court Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  33. ^ "Thomas Johnson". Law Library - American Law and Legal Information. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  34. ^ a b "Appointees Chart". The Supreme Court Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  35. ^ a b "Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. 419 (1793)". The Oyez Project. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  36. ^ "Georgia v. Brailsford, Powell & Hopton, 3 U.S. 3 Dall. 1 1 (1794)". Oyez & Justia. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  37. ^ "John Jay (1745 - 1829)". The Free Library. Farlex. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  38. ^ Johnson (2000)
  39. ^ a b "HAYBURN'S CASE, 2 U. S. 409 (1792)". Justia and Oyez. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  40. ^ Robert J Pushaw Jr. [Georgetown Law Journal "Why the Supreme Court never gets any "Dear John" letters: Advisory opinions in historical perspective"]. Georgetown Law Journal. Bnet. Georgetown Law Journal. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  41. ^ "HAYBURN'S CASE". Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  42. ^ We the Jury by Jefferey B Abramson pp.75-76
  43. ^ Mann, Neighbors and Strangers, pp. 75,71
  44. ^ Jenkins, John (1846). History of Political Parties in the State of New-York. Alden & Markham.,M1. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  45. ^ Dr. James Sullivan (1927). "The History of New York State". Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  46. ^ a b c d "John Jay’s Treaty, 1794–95". U.S. Department of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  47. ^ Elkins and McKitrick p 405
  48. ^ a b Kafer p.87
  49. ^ a b "Jay's Treaty". Archiving Early America. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  50. ^ a b Baird, James. "The Jay Treaty". Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  51. ^ Estes (2002)
  52. ^ quoting Don Fehrenbacher, The Slaveholding Republic (2002) p. 93; Frederick A. Ogg, "Jay's Treaty and the Slavery Interests of the United States." Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1901 (1902) 1:275-86 in JSTOR.
  53. ^ Todd Estes, "Shaping the Politics of Public Opinion: Federalists and the Jay Treaty Debate". Journal of the Early Republic (2000) 20(3): 393-422. ISSN 0275-1275; online at JSTOR
  54. ^ Walter A. McDougall, Walter A. (1997). Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776. Houghton Mifflin Books. pp. 29. ISBN 9780395901328. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  55. ^ "WARS - War of 1812". 
  56. ^ Monaghan, pp.419-21; Adair, Douglass; Marvin Harvey (April 1955). "Was Alexander Hamilton a Christian Statesman?". The William and Mary Quarterly 12 (3rd Ser., Vol. 12, No. 2, Alexander Hamilton: 1755-1804): 308–329. doi:10.2307/1920511. 
  57. ^ Laboratory of Justice, The Supreme Court's 200 Year Struggle to Integrate Science and the Law, by David L. Faigman, First edition, 2004, p. 34; Smith, Republic of Letters, 15, 501
  58. ^ Whitelock p.327
  59. ^ Whitelock p.329
  60. ^ Whitelock p.335
  61. ^ Christensen, George A. (1983) Here Lies the Supreme Court: Gravesites of the Justices, Yearbook Supreme Court Historical Society at Internet Archive.
  62. ^ Christensen, George A., "Here Lies the Supreme Court: Revisited", Journal of Supreme Court History, Volume 33 Issue 1, Pages 17 - 41 (19 Feb 2008), University of Alabama.
  63. ^ "News and Events: Pace Law School, New York Law School, located in New York 20 miles north of NY City. Environmental Law.". Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  64. ^ John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay, Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay (2005) pp 297-99; online at [1]
  65. ^ Roger G. Kennedy, Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson: A Study in Character (2000) p. 92
  66. ^ "Timeline of Events Leading up to the Duel". The Duel. PBS. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  67. ^ Edgar J. McManus, History of Negro Slavery in New York
  68. ^ Jake Sudderth (2002). "John Jay and Slavery". Columbia University. 
  69. ^ Gordon S. Wood, American Revolution, p. 114
  70. ^ Herbert S. Parmet and Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr (1967) p. 76
  71. ^ a b Crippen II, Alan R. (2005). "John Jay: An American Wilberforce?". Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  72. ^ Kaminski, John P. (March 2002). "Religion and the Founding Fathers". Annotation: the Newsletter of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission 30:1. ISSN 0160-8460. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  73. ^ Jay, William (1833). The Life of John Jay: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers. J. & J. Harper. pp. 376. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  74. ^ "John Jay, Mount". BC Geographical Names Information System. 
  75. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Mount John Jay
  76. ^ "Friends of John Jay Homestead". Retrieved 2008-08-24. 

See also


  • Bemis, Samuel F. (1923). Jay's Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy. New York, New York: The Macmillan Company. 
  • Brecher, Frank W. Securing American Independence: John Jay and the French Alliance. Praeger, 2003. 327 pp.
  • Casto, William R. The Supreme Court in the Early Republic: The Chief Justiceships of John Jay and Oliver Ellsworth. U. of South Carolina Press, 1995. 267 pp.
  • Combs, Jerald. A. The Jay Treaty: Political Background of Founding Fathers (1970) (ISBN 0-520-01573-8); concludes the Federalists "followed the proper policy" because the treaty preserved peace with Britain
  • Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800. (1994), detailed political history
  • Estes, Todd. "John Jay, the Concept of Deference, and the Transformation of Early American Political Culture." Historian (2002) 65(2): 293-317. ISSN 0018-2370 Fulltext in Swetswise, Ingenta and Ebsco
  • Ferguson, Robert A. "The Forgotten Publius: John Jay and the Aesthetics of Ratification." Early American Literature (1999) 34(3): 223-240. ISSN 0012-8163 Fulltext: in Swetswise and Ebsco
  • Johnson, Herbert A. "John Jay and the Supreme Court." New York History 2000 81(1): 59-90. ISSN 0146-437X
  • Kaminski, John P. "Honor and Interest: John Jay's Diplomacy During the Confederation." New York History (2002) 83(3): 293-327. ISSN 0146-437X
  • Kaminski, John P. "Shall We Have a King? John Jay and the Politics of Union." New York History (2000) 81(1): 31-58. ISSN 0146-437X
  • Kefer, Peter (2004). Charles Brockden Brown's Revolution and the Birth of American Gothic. 
  • Klein, Milton M. "John Jay and the Revolution." New York History (2000) 81(1): 19-30. ISSN 0146-437X
  • Littlefield, Daniel C. "John Jay, the Revolutionary Generation, and Slavery" New York History 2000 81(1): 91-132. ISSN 0146-437X
  • Michael, William Henry History of the Department of State of the United States (1901) United States Dept
  • Monaghan, Frank. John Jay: Defender of Liberty 1972. on abolitionism
  • Morris, Richard B. The Peacemakers: The Great Powers and American Independence 1965.
  • Morris, Richard B. Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries 1973. chapter on Jay
  • Morris, Richard B. Witness at the Creation; Hamilton, Madison, Jay and the Constitution 1985.
  • Morris, Richard B. ed. John Jay: The Winning of the Peace 1980. 9780060130480
  • Pellew, George John Jay 1890. Houghton Mifflin Company
  • Perkins, Bradford. The First Rapprochement; England and the United States: 1795-1805 Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1955.
  • Stahr, Walter (March 1, 2005). John Jay: Founding Father. New York & London: Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 482. ISBN 9781852854447. 
  • Whitelock, William (1887). The Life and Times of John Jay. Statesman. pp. 482. 

Primary sources

  • Landa M. Freeman, Louise V. North, and Janet M. Wedge, eds. Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay: Correspondence by or to the First Chief Justice of the United States and His Wife (2005)
  • Morris, Richard B. ed. John Jay: The Making of a Revolutionary; Unpublished Papers, 1745-1780 1975.

Further reading

External links

Wikisource-logo.svg   John Jay's Federalist Papers on
Legal offices
New office Chief Justice of the United States
September 26, 1789 – June 29, 1795
Succeeded by
John Rutledge
Political offices
Preceded by
George Clinton
Governor of New York
July 1, 1795 – July 1, 1801
Succeeded by
George Clinton
Preceded by
Robert Livingston
United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs
May 7, 1784 – March 4, 1789
Succeeded by
Thomas Jefferson
as United States Secretary of State
Preceded by
Henry Laurens
President of the Continental Congress
December 10, 1778 – September 28, 1779
Succeeded by
Samuel Huntington
Diplomatic posts
New ministerial post United States Minister to Spain
September 29, 1779 – May 20, 1782
Succeeded by
William Carmichael


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

John Jay (1745-12-121829-05-17) was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat and jurist.


  • Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
  • The people who own the country ought to govern it.[2]2


  • No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.
  • Only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JOHN JAY (1745-1829), American statesman, the descendant of a Huguenot family, and son of Peter Jay, a successful New York merchant, was born in New York City on the 12th of December 1745. On graduating at King's College (now Columbia University) in 1764, Jay entered the office of Benjamin Kissam, an eminent New York lawyer. In 1768 he was admitted to the bar, and rapidly acquired a lucrative practice. In 1774 he married Sarah, youngest daughter of William Livingston, and was thus brought into close relations with one of the most influential families in New York. Like many other able young lawyers, Jay took an active part in the proceedings that resulted in the independence of the United States, identifying himself with the conservative element in the Whig or patriot party. He was sent as a delegate from New York City to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia in September 1774, and though almost the youngest member, was entrusted with drawing up the address to the people of Great Britain. Of the second congress, also, which met at Philadelphia on the 10th of May 1775, Jay was a member; and on its behalf he prepared an address to the people of Canada and an address to the people of Jamaica and Ireland. In April 1776, while still retaining his seat in the Continental Congress, Jay was chosen as a member of the third provincial congress of New York; and his consequent absence from Philadelphia deprived him of the honour of affixing his signature to the Declaration of Independence. As a member of the fourth provincial congress he drafted a resolution by which the delegates of New York in the Continental Congress were authorized to sign the Declaration of Independence. In 1777 he was chairman of the committee of the convention which drafted the first New York state constitution After acting for some time as one of the council of safety (which administered the state government until the new constitution came into effect), he was made chief justice of New York state, in September 1777. A clause in the state constitution prohibited any justice of the Supreme Court from holding any other post save that of delegate to Congress on a "special occasion," but in November 1778 the legislature pronounced the secession of what is now the state of Vermont from the jurisdiction of New Hampshire and New York to be such an occasion, and sent Jay to Congress charged with the duty of securing a settlement of the territorial claims of his state. He took his seat in congress on the 7th of December, and on the 10th was chosen president in succession to Henry Laurens.

On the 27th of September 1779 Jay was appointed minister plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty between Spain and the United States. He was instructed to endeavour to bring Spain into the treaty already existing between France and the United States by a guarantee that Spain should have the Floridas in case of a successful issue of the war against Great Britain, reserving, however, to the United States the free navigation of the Mississippi. He was also to solicit a subsidy in consideration of the guarantee, and a loan of five million dollars. His task was one of extreme difficulty. Although Spain had joined France in the war against Great Britain, she feared to imperil her own colonial interests by directly encouraging and aiding the former British colonies in their revolt against their mother country, and she had refused to recognize the United States as an independent power. Jay landed at Cadiz on the 22nd of January 1780, but was told that he could not be received in a formally diplomatic character. In May the king's minister, Count de Florida Blanca, intimated to him that the one obstacle to a treaty was the question of the free navigation of the Mississippi, and for months following this interview the policy of the court was clearly one of delay. In February 1781 Congress instructed Jay that he might make concessions regarding the navigation of the Mississippi, if necessary; but further delays were interposed, the news of the surrender of Yorktown arrived, and Jay decided that any sacrifice to obtain a treaty was no longer advisable. His efforts to procure a loan were not -much more successful, and he was seriously embarrassed by the action of Congress in drawing bills upon him for large sums. Although by importuning the Spanish minister, and by pledging his personal responsibility, Jay was able to meet some of the bills, he was at last forced to protest others; and the credit of the United States was saved only by a timely subsidy from France.

In 1781 Jay was commissioned to act with Franklin, John Adams, Jefferson and Henry Laurens in negotiating a peace with Great Britain. He arrived in Paris on the 23rd of June 1782, and jointly with Franklin had proceeded far with the negotiations when Adams arrived late in October. The instructions of the American negotiators were as follows: "You are to make the most candid and confidential communications upon all subjects to the ministers of our generous ally, the king of France; to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or truce without their knowledge and concurrence; and ultimately to govern yourselves by their advice and opinion, endeavouring in your whole conduct to make them sensible how much we rely on his majesty's influence for effectual support in every thing that may be necessary to the present security, or future prosperity, of the United States of America." Jay, however, in a letter written to the president of Congress from Spain, had expressed in strong terms his disapproval of such dependence upon France, and, on arriving in Paris, he demanded that Great Britain should treat with his country on an equal footing by first recognizing its independence, although the French minister, Count de Vergennes, contended that an acknowledgment of independence as an effect of the treaty was as much as could reasonably be expected. Finally, owing largely to Jay, who suspected the good faith of France, the American negotiators decided to treat independently with Great Britain. The provisional articles, which were so favourable to the United States as to be a great surprise to the courts of France and Spain, were signed on the 30th of November 1782, and were adopted with no important change as the final treaty on the 3rd of September 1783.

On the 24th of July 1784 Jay landed in New York, where he was presented with the freedom of the city and elected a delegate to Congress. On the 7th of May Congress had already chosen him to be secretary for foreign affairs, and in December Jay resigned his seat in Congress and accepted the secretaryship. He continued to act in this capacity until 1790, when Jefferson became secretary of state under the new constitution. In the question of this constitution Jay had taken a keen interest, and as an advocate of its ratification he wrote over the name "Publius," five (Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 64) of the famous series of papers known collectively as the Federalist (see Hamilton, Alexander). He published anonymously (though without succeeding in concealing the authorship) An Address to the People of New York, in vindication of the constitution; and in the state convention at Poughkeepsie he ably seconded Hamilton in securing its ratification by New York. In making his first appointments to federal offices President Washington asked Jay to take his choice; Jay chose that of chief justice of the Supreme Court, and held this position from September 1789 to June 1795. The most famous case that came before him was that of Chisolm v. Georgia, in which the question was, Can a state be sued by a citizen of another state ? Georgia argued that it could not be so sued, on the ground that it was a sovereign state, but Jay decided against Georgia, on the ground that sovereignty in America resided with the people. This decision led to the adoption of the eleventh amendment to the federal constitution, which provides that no suit may be brought in the federal courts against any state by a citizen of another state or by a citizen or subject of any foreign state. In 1792 Jay consented to stand for the governorship of New York State, but a partisan returningboard found the returns of three counties technically defective, and though Jay had received an actual majority of votes, his opponent, George Clinton, was declared elected.

Ever since the War of Independence there had been friction between Great Britain and the United States. To the grievances of the United States, consisting principally of Great Britain's refusal to withdraw its troops from the forts on the northwestern frontier, as was required by the peace treaty of 1783, her refusal to make compensation for negroes carried away by the British army at the close of the War of Independence, her restrictions on American commerce, and her refusal to enter into any commercial treaty with the United States, were added, after war broke out between France and Great Britain in 1793, the anti-neutral naval policy according to which British naval vessels were authorized to search American merchantmen and impress American seamen, provisions were treated as contraband of war, and American vessels were seized for no other reason than that they had on board goods which were the property of the enemy or were bound for a port which though not actually blockaded was declared to be blockaded. The anti-British feeling in the House of Representatives became so strong that on the 7th of April 1794 a resolution was introduced to prohibit commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain until the north-western posts should be evacuated and Great Britain's anti-neutral naval policy should be abandoned. Thereupon Washington, fearing that war might result, appointed Jay minister extraordinary to Great Britain to negotiate a new treaty, and the Senate confirmed the appointment by a vote of 18 to 8, although the non-intercourse resolution which came from the house a few days later was defeated in the senate only by the casting vote of Vice-President John Adams. Jay landed a Falmouth in June 1794, signed a treaty with Lord Grenville on the 19th of November, and disembarked again at New York on the 28th of May 1795. The treaty, known in history as Jay's Treaty, provided that the north-western posts should be evacuated by the 1st of June 1796, that commissioners should be appointed to settle the north-east and the north-west boundaries, and that the British claims for British debts as well as the American claims for compensation for illegal seizures should be referred to commissioners. More than one-half of the clauses in the treaty related to commerce, and although they contained rather small concessions to the United States, they were about as much as could reasonably have been expected in the circumstances. One clause, the operation of which was limited to two years from the close of the existing war, provided that American vessels not exceeding 70 tons burden might trade with the West Indies, but should carry only American products there and take away to American ports only West Indian products; moreover, the United States was to export in American vessels no molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa or cotton to any part of the world. Jay consented to this prohibition under the impression that the articles named were peculiarly the products of the West Indies, not being aware that cotton was rapidly becoming an important export from the southern states. The operation of the other commercial clauses was limited to twelve years. By them the United States was granted limited privileges of trade with the British East Indies; some provisions were made for reciprocal freedom of trade between the United States and the British dominions in Europe; some articles were specified under the head of "contraband of war"; it was agreed that whenever provisions were seized as contraband they should be paid for, and that in cases of the capture of a vessel carrying contraband goods such goods only and not the whole cargo should be seized; it was also agreed that no vessel should be seized merely because it was bound for a blockaded port, unless it attempted to enter the port after receiving notice of the blockade. The treaty was laid before the Senate on the 8th of June 1795, and, with the exception of the clause relating to trade with the West Indies, was ratified on the 24th by a vote of 20 to 10. As yet the public was ignorant of its contents, and although the Senate had enjoined secrecy on its members even after the treaty had been ratified, Senator Mason of Virginia gave out a copy for publication only a few days later. The Republican party, strongly sympathizing with France and strongly disliking Great Britain, had been opposed to Jay's mission, and had denounced Jay as a traitor and guillotined him in effigy when they heard that he was actually negotiating. The publication of the treaty only added to their fury. They filled newspapers with articles denouncing it, wrote virulent pamphlets against it, and burned Jay in effigy. The British flag was insulted. Hamilton was stoned at a public meeting in New York while speaking in defence of the treaty, and Washington was grossly abused for signing it. In the House of Representatives the Republicans endeavoured to prevent the execution of the treaty by refusing the necessary appropriations, and a vote (29th of April, 1795) on a resolution that it ought to be carried into effect stood 49 to 49; but on the next day the opposition was defeated by a vote of 51 to 48. Once in operation, the treaty grew in favour. Two days before landing on his return from the English mission, Jay had been elected governor of New York state; notwithstanding his temporary unpopularity, he was re-elected in April 1798. With the close of this second term of office in 1801, he ended his public career. Although not yet fifty-seven years old, he refused all offers of office and retiring to his estate near Bedford in Westchester county, N.Y., spent the rest of his life in rarely interrupted seclusion. In politics he was throughout inclined toward Conservatism, and after the rise of parties under the federal government he stood with Alexander Hamilton and John Adams as one of the foremost leaders of the Federalist party, as opposed to the Republicans or Democratic-Republicans. From 1821 until 1828 he was president of the American Bible Society. He died on the 17th of May 1829. The purity and integrity of his life are commemorated in a sentence by Daniel Webster: "When the spotless ermine of the judicial robe fell on John Jay, it touched nothing less spotless than itself." See The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay (4 vols., New York, 1890-1893), edited by H. P. Johnston; William Jay, Life of John Jay with Selections from his Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers (2 vols., New York, 1833); William Whitelocke, Life and Times of John Jay (New York, 1887); and George Pellew, John Jay (Boston, 1890), in the "American Statesmen Series." John Jay's son, William Jay (1789-1858), was born in New York City on the 16th of June 1789, graduated from Yale in 1807, and soon afterwards assumed the management of his father's large estate in Westchester county, N.Y. He was actively interested in peace, temperance and anti-slavery movements. He took a prominent part in 1816 in founding the American Bible Society; was a judge of Westchester county from 1818 to 1843, when he was removed from office by the party in power in New York, which hoped, by sacrificing an anti-slavery judge, to gain additional strength in the southern states; joined the American anti-slavery society in 1834, and held several important offices in this organization. In 1840, however, when it began to advocate measures which he deemed too radical, he withdrew his membership, but with his pen he continued his labours on behalf of the slave, urging emancipation in the district of Columbia and the exclusion of slavery from the Territories, though deprecating any attempt to interfere with slavery in the states. He was a member of the American peace society and was its president for several years. His pamphlet, War and Peace: the Evils of the First with a Plan for Securing the Last, advocating international arbitration, was published by the English Peace Society in 1842, and is said to have contributed to the promulgation, by the powers signing the Treaty of Paris in 1856, of a protocol expressing the wish that nations, before resorting to arms, should have recourse to the good offices of a friendly power. Among William Jay's other writings, the most important are The Life of John Jay (2 vols., 1833) and a Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Mexican War (1849). He died at Bedford on the 14th of October 1858.

See Bayard Tuckerman, William Jay and the Constitutional Movement for the Abolition of Slavery (New York, 1893).

William Jay's son, John Jay (1817-1894), also took an active part in the anti-slavery movement. He was a prominent member of the free soil party, and was one of the organizers of the Republican party in New York. He was United States minister to Austria-Hungary in 1869-1875, and was a member, and for a time president, of the New York civil service commission appointed by Governor Cleveland in 1883.

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John Jay
File:John Jay (Gilbert Stuart portrait).jpg

A portrait of John Jay painted by Gilbert Stuart

In office
October 19, 1789 – June 29, 1795
Nominated by George Washington
Preceded by None
Succeeded by John Rutledge

2nd Governor of New York
In office
July 1, 1795 – June 30, 1801
Lieutenant Stephen Van Rensselaer
Preceded by George Clinton
Succeeded by George Clinton

5th President of the Continental Congress
4th President of the Second Continental Congress
In office
December 10, 1778 – September 27, 1779
Preceded by Henry Laurens
Succeeded by Samuel Huntington

Born December 12, 1745(1745-12-12)
New York, New York
Died May 17, 1829 (aged 83)
Westchester County, New York
Spouse Sarah Livingston[1]
Alma mater King's College
Religion Episcopalian

John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Supreme Court Chief Justice, and a Founding Father of the United States. Jay served in the Continental Congress and was elected President of that body. During and after the American Revolution, he was a minister (ambassador) to Spain and France, helping to fashion American foreign policy and to secure favorable peace terms from the British and French. He co-wrote the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

Jay served on the U.S. Supreme Court as the first Chief Justice of the United States from 1789 to 1795. In 1794 he negotiated the Jay Treaty with the British. A leader of the new Federalist party, Jay was governor of New York from 1795 to 1801. He was the leading opponent of slavery and the slave trade in New York. His first attempt to pass emancipation legislation failed in 1777 and failed again in 1785, but he succeeded in 1799, signing the law that eventually emancipated the slaves of New York; the last were freed before his death.


  1. See Livingston family
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