Born in New York on the 23rd of December 1745. John Jay was a very important figure in the government of the United States as he was majorly involved in the Treaty of Paris and the American Revolution. He was a man who preferred to rationalize important decisions than jump into any decision blindly. Join me in discovering this historical figure.
John Jay Facts
1. John Jay grew up as a privileged child.
John Jay’s grandfather fled from France to America to seek a better life for himself. At that point in time, the French were prosecuting Protestants, and had many rules and obligations Augustus wasn’t keen on obeying. Being a merchant, he succeeded in America, married and had kids. Jay’s father was a merchant as well, and was able to support the family and Jay through his private education. John Jay had two sibling who were blinded by a sickness and two others who were mentally disabled. This put stress on Jay as he was the sole provider of the family after the death of his father. That meant he had to cater to every family member’s financial, medical and emotional need.
2. Being a lawyer benefited John Jay greatly as he could use his skills for his negotiations.
An interesting fact about John Jay is that he graduated from Columbia University [then known as King’s College] with the highest honors. Studying Law is what is believed to be the reason Jay got increasingly interested in politics, and what made him a great negotiator. After using his degree for a short period of time, he abandoned his practice when issues between America and Britain became more serious. He was elected to be the representative of New York in the discussions at the Continental Congress on how best to deal with the prominent British forces in the country. Surprisingly, Jay wanted to avoid any major conflict with the British. He thought that getting independence from them would not benefit the country, however, his loyalty to the colonists and their rights changed his mind.
3. By witnessing the suffrage of the American people, Jay aimed to end the cause of this problem, the rivalry with the British.
To try putting a stop to the American Revolution, Jay spent years in Spain to push for an alliance and finance to help the American Revolution. Therefore, along with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, John Jay negotiated a peace treaty with Britain, which became known as the Treaty of Paris. Here, they successfully gained independence for the country, save for British controlled areas like Canada and the French controlled Florida. The treaty indeed had ended the revolution.
4. John Jay made contributions that have shaped the government of the United States today.
John Jay believed that the way the country was running was flawed. He, Alexander Hamilton, and James Maddison believed that America would be much stronger if its government was run as a federal government, which meant all the states of a country would be controlled by one government but with each state having the independence to deal with their internal affairs. They published many works and studies to prove this, which are a core concept in the American government today, an interesting fact about John Jay.
5. Once again, John Jay comes to the rescue of the country by using his great negotiating techniques.
In 1789, the President, George Washington, promoted Jay to the Supreme Court’s first Chief Justice. Once again, troubles started to rise with the British as they had blocked America’s exports and continued to occupy areas that they had agreed to give up. As the Chief of Justice, Jay was sent by Washington to smooth over their troublesome bond. This becomes known as the Treat of Jay, and although accepted by the British, this agreement was not loved by the Americans, as they believed it gave Britain what it wanted. Another war was about to break out between the two powers, but was effectively stopped by Jay’s treaty.
6. John Jay helped America through many tough critiques.
His many negotiations with the British saved many lives but, he was becoming steadily unpopular with the American citizens as they showed their dislike for him by burning his statue, an interesting fact about John Jay. The Republicans felt as though the Treaty had sided with Britain and pushed the former French allies away. It was a good sign that Jay didn’t take this to heart because as a leader, he should do what is best for the people and not be swayed by popular opinion.
7. The last act Jay set before he died was the Freedom of the Slaves.
In a time when slaves were still legal in 1795, John Jay used his new power as the Governor of New York to stop the use of slaves in New York, this was called the “Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery”. Interestingly, this may have been a hypocritical move as Jay continued to “own” slaves till 1798, a year before he released the new law. He continued to fight against slavery and believed that the concept shouldn’t be introduced to states that didn’t already have it before.
8. Outside of political boundaries, John Jay enjoyed his time with his family.
John Jay married the daughter of William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey, Sarah Livingston, very well-known by her striking good looks. They married in 1774, when she was seventeen, and he twenty-eight, and later birthed five children together. Unfortunately, Sara passed away in 1802, and devastated by her loss, Jay never remarried and chose to turn to God, an interesting John Jay fact. He also wanted to contribute to his religion, and so he became President of the American Bible Society.
John Jay passed away on May the 17th, 1829, in his home in Bedford, New York. He lies in the Jay Cemetery in Rye, New York. Without John Jay, it would be difficult to predict what would have happened to America, as wars and rivalries, if not controlled, can get out of hand. It was with the logic that John Jay followed that many lives were saved from the unnecessary bloodshed.
I hope that this article on John Jay facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!