John Jay Is Born

John Jay, one of the nation's founding fathers, was born on December 12, 1745, to a prominent and wealthy family in New York City.

He attended King's College, later renamed Columbia University, and then practiced law with Robert R. Livingston. Having established a reputation 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 from Great Britain.

Jay held numerous posts of public importance throughout the American Revolution, including president of the Continental Congress and minister plenipotentiary to Spain. Along with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jay also helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War and recognized American independence. In 1784, Jay was named secretary of foreign affairs, the nation's highest ranking diplomatic post at the time.

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 American 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.

[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 inforce them at home or abroad…—In short, they may consult, and deliberate, and recommend, and make requisitions, and they who please may regard them.”

— John Jay, Address to the People of the State of New-York, on the Subject of the Federal Constitution, 1788.