Biography of John Jay
Celebrated Americans

JOHN JAY, first chief justice of the United States, was born in New York, December 12, 1745. He took up the study of law, graduated from King's College (Columbia College), and was admitted tc the bar in 1768. He was chosen a member of the committee of New York citizens to protest against the enforcement by the British government of the Boston Port Bill, was elected to the Continental congress which met in 1774, and was author of the addresses to the people of Great Britian and of Canada adopted by that and the succeeding congress. He was chosen to the provincial assembly of his own state, and resigned from the Continental congress to serve in that body, wrote most of its public papers, including the constitution of the new state, and was then made chief justice. He was again chosen as a member of the Continental congress in 1778, and became president of that body. He was sent to Spain as minister in 1780, and his services there resulted in substantial and moral aid for the struggling colonists. jay, Franklin, and Adams negotiated the treaty of peace with Great Britain in 1782, and Jay was appointed secretary of foreign affairs in 1784, and held the position until the adoption of the Federal constitution. During this time he had contributed strong articles to the ''Federalist" in favor of the adoption of the constitution, and was largely instrumental in securing the ratification of that instrument by his state. He was appointed by Washington as first chief justice of the United States in 1789. In this high capacity the great interstate and international questions that arose for immediate settlement came before him for treatment.

In 1794, at a time when the people in gratitude for the aid that France had extended to us, were clamoring for the privilege of going to the aid of that nation in her struggle with Great Britain and her own oppressors, John Jay was sent to England as special envoy to negotiate a treaty with that power. The instrument known as ''Jay's Treaty" was the result, and while in many of its features it favored our nation, yet the neutrality clause in it so angered the masses that it was denounced throughout the entire country, and John jay was burned in effigy in the city of New York. The treaty was finally ratified by Washington, and approved, in August, 1795. Having been elected governor of his state for three consecutive terms, he then retired from active life, declining an appointment as chief justice of the supreme court, made by John Adams and confirmed by the senate. He died in New York in 1829.

A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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