|Birth Day:||December 12, 1745|
|Death Date:||May 17, 1829 (age 83)|
|Birth Place:||New York City, United States|
Founding father who was the second Governor of New York from 1795 to 1801. John Jay also served as the the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
As per our current Database, John Jay died on May 17, 1829 (age 83).
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John Jay primarily home schooled until attending King's College in 1760.
Jay was born on December 23, 1745 (following the Gregorian calendar, December 12 following the Julian calendar), in New York City; three months later the family moved to Rye, New York. Peter Jay had retired from business following a smallpox epidemic; two of his children contracted the disease and suffered blindness.
Jay spent his childhood in Rye. He was educated there by his mother until he was eight years old, when he was sent to New Rochelle to study under Anglican priest Pierre Stoupe. In 1756, after three years, he would return to homeschooling in Rye under the tutelage of his mother and George Murray.
In 1760, 14-year-old Jay entered King's College (later renamed Columbia College) in New York City. There he made many influential friends, including his closest, Robert Livingston, the son of a prominent New York aristocrat and Supreme Court justice. Jay took the same political stand as his father, a staunch Whig. Upon graduating in 1764 he became a law clerk for Benjamin Kissam (1728–1782), a prominent lawyer, politician, and sought-after instructor in the law. In addition to Jay, Kissam's students included Lindley Murray.
From the age of three months old until he attended Kings College in 1760, Jay was raised in Rye, on a farm acquired by his father Peter in 1745 that overlooked Long Island Sound. After negotiating the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War, Jay returned to his childhood home to celebrate with his family and friends in July 1784. Jay inherited this property upon the death of his older brother Peter in 1813 after Jay had already established himself at Katonah. He conveyed the Rye property to his eldest son, Peter Augustus Jay, in 1822.
In 1768, after reading law and being admitted to the bar of New York, Jay, with the money from the government, established a legal practice and worked there until he created his own law office in 1771. He was a member of the New York Committee of Correspondence in 1774 and became its secretary, which was his first public role in the revolution.
Jay 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, Jay 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. Jay evolved into first a moderate, and then an ardent Patriot, because he had decided that all the colonies' efforts at reconciliation with Britain were fruitless and that the struggle for independence, which became the Revolutionary War, was inevitable.
On April 28, 1774, Jay married Sarah Van Brugh Livingston, eldest daughter of the New Jersey Governor William Livingston and his wife. At the time of the marriage, Sarah was seventeen years old and John was twenty-eight. Together they had six children: Peter Augustus, Susan, Maria, Ann, William and Sarah Louisa. She accompanied Jay to Spain and later was with him in Paris, where they and their children resided with Benjamin Franklin at Passy. Jay's brother-in-law Henry Brock Livingston was lost at sea through the disappearance of the Continental Navy ship Saratoga during the Revolutionary War. While in Paris, as a diplomat to France, Jay's father died. This event forced extra responsibility onto Jay. His brother and sister Peter and Anna, both blinded by smallpox in childhood, became his responsibility. His brother Augustus suffered from mental disabilities that required Jay to provide not only financial but emotional support. His brother Fredrick was in constant financial trouble, causing Jay additional stress. Meanwhile, his brother James was in direct opposition in the political arena, joining the loyalist faction of the New York State Senate at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, which made him an embarrassment to Jay's family.
In 1774 Jay drafted the 'Address to the People of Great Britain', which compared American chattel slavery to British tyranny. Such comparisons between American slavery and British policy had been made regularly by American Patriots starting with James Otis, but took little account of the far harsher reality of chattel slavery. Jay was the founder and president of the New York Manumission Society in 1785, which organized boycotts against newspapers and merchants involved in the slave trade, and provided legal counsel to free blacks.
In 1774, upon the conclusion of the Continental Congress, Jay elected to return to New York. There he served on New York City's Committee of Sixty, where he attempted to enforce a non-importation agreement passed by the First Continental Congress. Jay was elected to the third New York Provincial Congress, where he drafted the Constitution of New York, 1777; his duties as a New York Congressman prevented him from voting on or signing the Declaration of Independence. Jay served for several months on the New York Committee to Detect and Defeat Conspiracies, which monitored and combated Loyalist activity. New York's Provincial Congress elected Jay the Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court of Judicature on May 8, 1777, which he served on for two years.
On September 27, 1779, Jay was appointed Minister to Spain. His mission was 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, 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 U.S. government. He departed Spain on May 20, 1782.
On June 23, 1782, Jay reached Paris, where negotiations to end the American Revolutionary War would take place. Benjamin Franklin was the most experienced diplomat of the group, and thus Jay wished to lodge near him, in order to learn from him. The United States agreed to negotiate with Britain separately, then with France. 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. 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. The treaty granted the United States independence, but left many border regions in dispute, and many of its provisions were not enforced. John Adams credited Jay with having the central role in the negotiations noting he was "of more importance than any of the rest of us."
Jay's peacemaking skills were further applauded by New York Mayor James Duane on October 4, 1784. At that time, Jay was summoned from his family seat in Rye to receive "the Freedom" of New York City as a tribute to his successful negotiations.
In September 1789, Jay declined George Washington's offer of the position of Secretary of State (which was technically a new position but would have continued Jay's service as Secretary of Foreign Affairs). Washington responded by offering him the new title, which Washington stated "must be regarded as the keystone of our political fabric," as Chief Justice of the United States, which Jay accepted. Washington officially nominated Jay on September 24, 1789, the same day he signed the Judiciary Act of 1789 (which created the position of Chief Justice) into law. Jay was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate on September 26, 1789; Washington signed and sealed Jay's commission the same day. Jay swore his oath of office on October 19, 1789. Washington also nominated John Rutledge, William Cushing, Robert Harrison, James Wilson, and John Blair Jr. as Associate Judges. Harrison declined the appointment, however, and Washington appointed James Iredell to fill the final seat on the Court. Jay would later serve with Thomas Johnson, who took Rutledge's seat, and William Paterson, who took Johnson's seat. While Chief Justice, Jay was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1790. Jay served as Circuit Justice for the Eastern Circuit from the Spring of 1790, until the Spring of 1792. He served as Circuit Justice for the Middle Circuit from the Spring of 1793, until the Spring of 1794.
In spite of being a founder of the New York Manumission Society, Jay is recorded as owning five slaves in the 1790 and 1800 U.S censuses, and one slave in the 1810 census. Rather than advocating immediate emancipation, he continued to purchase enslaved people and to manumit them once he considered their work to "have afforded a reasonable retribution.” Abolitionism following the American Revolution contained some Quaker and Methodist principles of Christian brotherly love, but was also influenced by concerns about the growth of the black population within the United States and the 'degradation' of blacks under slavery.
Jay used his circuit riding to spread word throughout the states of Washington's commitment to neutrality and published reports of French minister Edmond-Charles Genet's campaign to win American support for France. However, Jay also established an early precedent for the Court's independence in 1790, when Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton wrote to Jay requesting the Court's endorsement of legislation that would assume the debts of the states. Jay replied that the Court's business was restricted to ruling on the constitutionality of cases being tried before it and refused to allow it to take a position for or against the legislation.
In 1792, Jay was the Federalist candidate for governor of New York, but he 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 plurality. 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, the Otsego County Sheriff's term had expired, so that legally, at the time of the election, the office of Sheriff was vacant and the votes could not be brought to the State capital. Clinton partisans in the State legislature, the State courts, and Federal offices were determined not to accept any argument that this would, in practice, violate the constitutional right to vote of the voters in these counties. Consequently, these votes were disqualified.
In the close 1792 election, Jay's antislavery work was thought to hurt his election chances in upstate New York Dutch areas, where slavery was still practiced. In 1794, in the process of negotiating the Jay Treaty with the British, Jay angered many Southern slave-owners when he dropped their demands for compensation for slaves who had been freed and transported by the British to other areas after the Revolution.
Relations with Britain verged on war in 1794. British exports dominated the U.S. market, and American exports were blocked by British trade restrictions and tariffs. Britain still occupied northern forts that it had agreed to abandon in the Treaty of Paris. Britain's impressment of American sailors and seizure of naval and military supplies bound to French ports on neutral American ships also created conflict. 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.
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. In March 1795, the resulting treaty, known as the Jay Treaty, was brought to Philadelphia. 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 ended Britain's control of their northwestern forts and granted the U.S. "most favored nation" status. The U.S. agreed to restricted commercial access to the British West Indies.
While in Britain, Jay was elected in May 1795, as the second governor of New York (succeeding George Clinton) as a Federalist. He resigned from the Supreme Court service on June 29, 1795, and served six years as governor until 1801.
While governor, Jay ran in the 1796 presidential election, winning five electoral votes, and in the 1800 election, winning one vote.
As an adult, Jay inherited land from his grandparents and built Bedford House, located near Katonah, New York where he moved in 1801 with his wife Sarah to pursue retirement. This property passed down to their younger son William Jay and his descendants. It was acquired by New York State in 1958 and named "The John Jay Homestead." Today this 62 acre park is preserved as the John Jay Homestead State Historic Site.
In 1801, Jay declined both the Federalist renomination for governor and a Senate-confirmed nomination to resume his former office as Chief Justice of the United States and retired to the life of a farmer in Westchester County, New York. Soon after his retirement, his wife died. Jay remained in good health, continued to farm and, with one notable exception, stayed out of politics. In 1819, he wrote a letter condemning Missouri's bid for admission to the union as a slave state, saying that slavery "ought not to be introduced nor permitted in any of the new states."
On the night of May 14, 1829, Jay was stricken with palsy, probably caused by a stroke. He lived for three days, dying in Bedford, New York, on May 17. Jay had chosen to be buried in Rye, where he lived as a boy. In 1807, he had transferred the remains of his wife Sarah Livingston and those of his colonial ancestors from the family vault in the Bowery in Manhattan to Rye, establishing a private cemetery. Today, the Jay Cemetery is an integral part of the Boston Post Road Historic District, adjacent to the historic Jay Estate. The Cemetery is maintained by the Jay descendants and closed to the public. It is the oldest active cemetery associated with a figure from the American Revolution.
Midway through Jay's retirement in 1814, both he and his son Peter Augustus Jay were elected members of the American Antiquarian Society.
In Jay's hometown of Rye, New York, the Rye Post Office issued a special cancellation stamp on September 5, 1936. To further commemorate Jay, a group led by Congresswoman Caroline Love Goodwin O'Day commissioned painter Guy Pene du Bois to create a mural for the post office's lobby, with federal funding from the Works Progress Administration. Titled John Jay at His Home, the mural was completed in 1938.
On December 12, 1958, the United States Postal Service released a 15¢ Liberty Issue postage stamp honoring Jay.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice, formerly known as the College of Police Science at City University of New York, was renamed for Jay in 1964.
Jay was portrayed by Tim Moyer in the 1984 TV miniseries George Washington. In its 1986 sequel miniseries, George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation, he was portrayed by Nicholas Kepros.
What remains of the original 400-acre (1.6 km) property is a 23-acre (93,000 m) parcel called the Jay Estate. In the center rises the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House, built by Peter Augustus Jay over the footprint of his father's ancestral home, "The Locusts"; pieces of the original 18th century farmhouse were incorporated into the 19th century structure. Stewardship of the site and several of its buildings for educational use was entrusted in 1990 by the New York State Board of Regents to the Jay Heritage Center. In 2013, the non-profit Jay Heritage Center was also awarded stewardship and management of the site's landscape which includes a meadow and gardens.
Currently, John Jay is 275 years, 7 months and 16 days old. John Jay will celebrate 276th birthday on a Sunday 12th of December 2021.
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