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John Jay a Founding Father from New York

Updated on January 3, 2017
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Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Jack has worked at IBM for over 28 years.

Introduction

This is my first attempt at writing a historical piece. I would like to educate some students on the importance of some of our historical figures and how they played a roll in shaping our past. I am hoping this will be the first of many essays. The first one is to illuminate one of our less promenent Founding Fathers, John Jay of New York.

- Jan. 2017

Background

I read a book recently about how to write a history book. It gave me some insight as to what to do and not to do. I also draw from my own experiences.

For me, in 100 years from now, if someone wants to write a story about me, I would hope they rely heavily on my writings and my spoken words rather than on what others may say about me in debates or in conversations. That is because, I know from experiece that others may often misinterpret or misrepresent what I said. That is a natural human flaw, to imprint our own bias on some words others say. For example, if I say I am a conservative, right away, the person I am speaking with conjures up some image of what a conservative is not knowing what I mean or what I actually say.

To avoid this pitfall, I intend to write a historically accurate piece based mostly on what that person actually said in their writings and speeches. This is the only fair way we can assess what that person did and not be distorted by interpretations or comments of his colleagues. I was not there personally to witness these events. The next best thing to being a first hand witness is to read the words of that person.

John Jay, a Founding Father from the State of NY

You might have learned from your history class that John Jay was the first Supreme Court Justice of the US. Here are some other positions he held.

  • 6th President of the Continental Congress 1778-1789
  • 2nd Governor of NY 1795-1801
  • Secretary of Foreign Affairs 1784-1789
  • Chief Justice of the US 1789-1795

He was a member of the Federalist Party and an Episcopalian. His home was in Bedford, NY

Our Founding Fathers

Federalist Papers

One of his key contribution to the founding of our nation is his participation in the Federalist papers . The founding of our nation and the drafting of the Constitution was not without conflicts. As part of the debate, a group of individuals wrote a series of papers to outline the pro and cons of the various articles of the Constitution. They also debated the role of the Federal government as opposed to local government by the States.

Some Quotes of John Jay on Religion

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty – as well as privilege and interest – of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

– John Jay

The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.

– John Jay

He also expressed a belief that the moral precepts of Christianity were necessary for good government, saying, "No human society has ever been able to maintain both order and freedom, both cohesiveness and liberty apart from the moral precepts of the Christian Religion. Should our Republic ever forget this fundamental precept of governance, we will then, be surely doomed."

John Jay on Slavery

John 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. He had made a practice of buying slaves and freeing them as adults, after he judged their labors had been a reasonable return on their price.

The Legacy of John Jay

Today, there are a few items that remind us of John Jay and his accomplishments. There is a John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NY named in his honor. His home was preserved as a historic landmark in Katonah NY.

Summary

John Jay was one of our founding fathers. He is not as well known as Washington or Jefferson or Hamilton or Franklin, never the less, he had a great impact on our Constitution and the formation of our government.

He is one of my heroes and being a New Yorker makes me that much more proud. His many talents as laywer and governor and Chief Justice was instrumental in our early success.

© 2017 Jack Lee

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