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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