1745 - 1829 (83 years)
Has 43 ancestors and 41 descendants in this family tree.
||John Jay |
||12 Dec 1745
||New York, NY, USA
||17 May 1829
||This person is also John Jay at Wikipedia |
||7 Apr 2007 |
- Constitution Society
In 1755 he was sent to a boarding school at New Rochelle, New York, kept by Pastor Stoupe, of the French Huguenot church. He was graduated at Kings (Columbia) College, New York, New York, in 1764; studied law in the office of Benjamin Kissam, and in 1768 was admitted to the bar.
Upon the receipt of the news that the Boston port-bill had passed, Jay became conspicuous as a member of the New York committee of fifty-one to correspond with the other colonies. As a member of the first Continental Congress he is credited with being the author of the address prepared by the committee of three appointed by that Congress in September 1774, to the "People of Great Britain," which Jefferson declared to be "a production certainly of the finest pen in America." He was also a member of the second Continental Congress which convened in Philadelphia, 10 May 1775, and he drafted the "Address to the people of Canada and of Ireland." As a member of the congress he was appointed a member of the secret committee, 29 November 1775, "to correspond with friends in Great Britain, Ireland and other parts of the world." While attending this congress, his presence was requested by the New York convention, which met in New York, New York, 14 May 1776; adjourned to White Plains, 9 July 1776, and on Jay's motion that convention unanimously approved of the Declaration of Independence, received from congress on the eve of the adjournment of the convention. The convention, re-assembled at Harlem, was driven successively to Fishkill, Kingston, and finally to Poughkeepsie, and Jay was in daily attendance. On 1 August 1776, he was made chairman of a committee of thirteen to prepare a plan for instituting and framing a form of government, which was ratified, 26 August 1776, but did not receive the action of the committee until the following spring. It was discussed and adopted, 20 April 1777, only a single negative vote being cast, and it was proclaimed by the secretary in front of the court-house at Esopus, N.Y., without being submitted to the people, on account of the disturbed condition of the country. The committee provided a general election, organized a judicial system, and gave to the "Council of Safety" the supreme power to carry on the government in the interim. Jay was appointed Chief Justice, with Robert R. Livingston as Chancellor. On the withdrawal of Vermont from the jurisdiction of New York, the presence of Jay was demanded in the Continental Congress. He was elected by the Legislature in October and commissioned by the Governor, 18 November 1778, to hold the office till 3 March 1779, and no longer. He took his seat, 7 December 1778, and three days later he was elected President of Congress, which position made him Chief Executive of the Confederated States. On 28 September 1779, he was elected by Congress Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. On his arrival, in 1780, he received no official recognition, as the government of Spain was not disposed to recognize American independence. While in Spain he was added to the commission to negotiate a treaty of peace with Great Britain, and was summoned to Paris to co-operate with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Henry Laurens. The position of the commissioners was complicated, as Congress, urged by Luzerne, the French Minister at Philadelphia, had modified the instructions originally given to the commissioners, and had instructed them "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 their negotiations for peace and truce, without their knowledge and concurrence, and ultimately to govern yourselves by their advice and opinion," and on 6 August 1782, matters were further complicated by the presentation of a commission to Jay and Franklin by Richard Oswald, who had already held conversations with Franklin by authority of Lord Shelburne. That commission authorized him to treat with the colonies concerning peace and this developed a difference of opinion between the commissioners. Franklin had hoped to secure the end, while Jay was disinclined to treat unless the new government was recognized. The British cabinet was unfavorable to Jay's view and negotiations were suspended. On hearing of the departure for England of a secret emissary from Vergennes under an assumed name, and after gaining knowledge of the rights to be denied, Jay, without the knowledge of Franklin, prepared a list of considerations for the British ministers, setting forth:
1. That as Britain could not conquer the United States, it was for her interest to conciliate them;
2. That the United States would not treat, except on an equal footing;
3. That it was the interest of France, but not of England, to postpone the acknowledgment of independence to a general peace;
4. That a hope of dividing the fisheries with France would be futile, as America would not make peace without them;
5. That any attempt to deprive the United States of the navigation of the Mississippi or of that river as a boundary would irritate America; and,
6. That such an attempt, if successful, would sow the seeds of war in the very treaty of peace; and he dispatched Benjamin Vaughan to England to counteract Rayneval's adverse influence.
Vaughan presented the considerations, and a new commission was drafted authorizing Oswald to treat with the "United States" of America. Vaughan returned with the commission, 27 September 1782, and it was presented to Oswald, 5 October 1782, and this practically closed the treaty. On his return to New York in July 1784, Jay found that he had been chosen by Congress Secretary of Foreign Affairs, which post he held till the establishment of the Federal government in 1789, when President Washington offered him his choice of the Federal offices in his gift. He accepted that of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and took office in the spring of 1790. From 1784 to 1790 he was regent of the University of the State of New York. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of New York against George Clinton in 1792. He was sent from Paris as special envoy to Great Britain and signed the treaty of peace known as "Jay's Treaty," 19 November 1794, which was denounced most bitterly by the Jefferson party. During his absence in Great Britain in the spring of 1795, he was elected Governor of New York, his opponent being Robert Yates, who was supported by the Clinton party. Washington desired that he should remain in London, and offered him the position of Minister Resident in place of Pinckney, which offer he declined. He was notified of his election on his arrival in New York, where he was received with demonstrations of enthusiasm, and he resigned his seat as Chief Justice in the summer of 1795, and assumed the executive office. He was re-elected in April, 1798, and at the close of his second term he refused to accept re-nomination. He also declined the chief-justiceship of the Supreme Court, to which he had been appointed by President Washington and confirmed by the senate, having decided to retire from public life. The closing quarter of a century of his life was spent at his country seat in Bedford, Westchester county, N.Y. His last office was that of President of the American Bible Society. He received the degree of LL.D. from Columbia and from Harvard in 1790; from Brown in 1794, and from the University of Edinburgh in 1792. His name, with thirty-six others, made up the list of "Class M, Rulers and Statesmen." eligible for a place in the Hall of Fame, New York university, and received, in October, 1900, twenty-five votes, standing fifteenth in the class, fifty-one votes being necessary to secure a place. He died 17 May 1829 in Bedford, New York.
The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans: Volume VI. 58.
His wife and several of his children died before him