Biography: John Jay was born in New York City on 12 December 1745 and died on 17 May 1829. After graduating from King's College in 1764 he was admitted to the bar in 1768 The American Revolution gave rise to the public life of John Jay. He was sent as a delegate of his colony to the first and to the second Continental Congress. As a member of the provincial congress he helped to ratify the Declaration of Independence. He served until 1779 as chief justice of New York and was also a colonel in the state militia. In 1782 Franklin asked Jay to assume his post as joint commissioner for negotiating a peace with Great Britain.
After the war Jay returned to New York July 24 1784 to serve as secretary of foreign affairs. After the adoption of the Constitution of 1787 he joined with Hamilton and Madison in the writing of the Federalist papers. He was then appointed the first chief justice of the Supreme Court. In 1795 he was elected governor of New York State. In 1800 Jay retired from public life, declining to become a candidate for reelection and refusing to be considered for renomination as chief justice of the United States. Jay felt that the Supreme Court lacked "the energy weight and dignity which are essential to its affording due support to the national Government". Greatly upset by the early death of his wife, Jay retired to his farm at Bedford Westchester County N. Y. where he died on 17 May 1829.
Summary: Copies in part. Originals of Jay's letter book as Secretary of State are in the National Archives, Washington, D.C. Originals of the letters from John Armstrong are in Archives de France. Letters, manuscripts, documents, and letterbooks of Jay and of many members of his family. The letters touch on every aspect of American life and government of the period, and contain correspondence from such prominent individuals as John Adams, George Clinton, James Duane, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Rufus King, John Paul Jones, Marquis de Lafayette, Robert B. Livingston, William Livingston, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, Edmund Randolph, Philip Schuyler, and George Washington. There are approximately 500 letters from Jay, primarily drafts of correspondence to the persons listed above, as well as his correspondence as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 1784-1789. The manuscripts and documents include many reports, commissions, and diplomas, as well as a draft copy of The Federalist Number 5 and Jay's oath of office as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; also included are manumission documents, and a group of documents from Trinity Church, where his father was a vestryman from 1715 to 1785. The collection includes copies of Jay's letter book as Secretary of State, 10 Oct. 1788-25 Dec. 1792, and of four letters from John Armstrong, 19 June-27 Dec. 1810; and a copy of the pair of silverplated candlesticks from the Treaty of Paris, 3 Sept. 1783, reproduced by the Smithsonian Institution.
Finding Aids: Contents list, 6 pages.
Restrictions on Access: Use of John Jay's outgoing correspondence restricted to permission of the Librarian for Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Restrictions on Use: Permission to quote or publish must be obtained in writing from the Director of The Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Provenance: Various sources, 1948-1984
Processing History: Processed by various staff members
Microfilm Information: See microfilm list for material on microfilm
Physical Loaction: Vault
RLIN ID: NYCR
I. Cataloged Correspondence Box 1 A