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John Jay - 5th President of the Continental Congress - 7th President of the United States in Congress Assembled - A Stan Klos Biography

John Jay
5th President
Continental Congress of the United States

December 10, 1778 to September 28, 1779



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John Jay was born in New York City on December12th , 1745 and died in Bedford, Westchester County, New York, on May 17th 1829. He was of Huguenot descent, and was educated in part by Pastor Stoope, of the French church at New Rochelle. He attended Kings College (now Columbia University) in Manhattan graduating in 1766.

Jay studied law with Benjamin Kissam, having Lindley Murray as his fellow student, and in 1766 was admitted to the bar. When news of the passage of the Boston port bill reached New York, on May 16th, 1776, at a meeting of citizens, Jay was appointed a member of a Committee of Correspondence with the other colonies. Their reply to the Boston Committee, attributed to Jay, recommended, as of the utmost moment, "a congress of deputies from the colonies in general."

Jay was a delegate to the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia, September 5, 1774. As one of a committee of three he prepared the "Address to the People of Great Britain," which Thomas Jefferson, while ignorant of the authorship, declared to be "a production certainly of the finest pen in America." Jay was an active member of the committee of observation in New York, on whose recommendation the counties elected a provincial congress, and also of a committee of association of 100 members, invested by the city of New York with general undefined powers. He was a member also of the 2nd congress, which met in Philadelphia, 10 May, 1775, and drafted the "Address to the People of Canada and of Ireland". During that period he carried against a strong opposition a petition to the king, which was signed by the members on 8 July. The rejection of this petition, leaving no alternative but submission or resistance opened the way for a general acquiescence in the Declaration of Independence.

Jay was a member of the secret committee appointed by congress, 29 November, 1775, after a confidential interview with a French officer, "to correspond with the friends of America in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world." While he was attending congress at Philadelphia, Jay's presence was requested by the New York convention, which required his counsel. This convention met at White Plains, 9 July, 1776, and on Jay's motion unanimously approved the Declaration of Independence, which on that day was received from congress. The passage of a part of Lord Howe's fleet up the Hudson induced the appointment by the convention of a secret committee vested with extraordinary powers, of which Jay was made chairman, as also of a further committee for defeating conspiracies in the state against the liberties of America. The resolutions relating to this committee were drawn by him and its minutes, many of which are in his hand, show the energy with which it exercised its powers by arrests, imprisonments, and banishments, and the vigorous system demanded by the critical condition of the American cause. The successes of the British in New York, and the retreat and needs of Washington's army, had induced a feeling of despondency, and Jay was the author of an earnest appeal to his countrymen, which by order of congress was translated into German and widely circulated.

Jay drafted the state constitution adopted by the convention of New York, which met successively at Harlem, Kingsbridge, Philip's Manor, White Plains, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston. He was appointed chief justice of the state, holding his first term at Kingston on 9 September, 1777, and acting also in the council of safety, which directed the military occupation of the state and wielded an absolute sovereignty. He was visited at Fishkill, in the autumn of 1778, by General Washington for a confidential conversation on the invasion of Canada by the French and American forces, which they concurred in disapproving, chiefly on the probability that if conquered it would be retained by France.

Jay was again sent to congress on a special occasion, the withdrawal of Vermont from the jurisdiction of New York, and three days after taking his seat he was, December 1, 1778, elected president of the Continental Congress. The Journals of the Continental Congress summary of Jay's Presidency is as follows:

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In this landmark work on Early Presidential History, Historian Stanley L. Klos unravels the complex birth of the US Presidency while providing captivating biographies on the Four Presidents of the Continental Congress and ten Presidents of the United States before George Washington. The book is filled with actual photographs of Pre-Constitutional letters, resolutions, treaties, and laws enacted by the Confederation Congress and signed by the Presidents of the Confederation Congress as “President of the United States.”

From the United Colonies Birth in 1774 to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the author clearly and concisely maps out the role and duties of the Presidents who led the fledging nation through the Revolutionary War and the formation of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. Accounts include the birth of the Presidency and the United Colonies in Philadelphia’s City Tavern (Yes the first “convening” of the Continental Congress occurred in a tavern), the US Capitol “road show” as it moved from town to town fleeing the British Military Forces, the 1781ratification of the Articles of Confederation in Philadelphia forming the first US Presidency, the entire US Government being held hostage in Independence Hall in 1783 by its own Military, the near collapse of Confederation Government in 1786 due to its failure to govern under the threat of Shay’s Rebellion, the rebirth of the United States under the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 called to revise the Articles of Confederation and finally President Abraham Lincoln’s use of the Articles of Confederation as his central legal argument to “Preserve the Perpetual Union of the United States of America” in 1861.

President Who? Forgotten Founders brings to life the Presidential Personalities from 1774 to 1788 and most importantly sets the historical record straight on Who, Samuel Huntington not George Washington, was the First US President and which State, Virginia not Delaware, was the first to form the Perpetual Union of the United States of America.

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This is a brilliant and most enjoyable book which helps us to rediscover our rich history and heritage. Stan Klos clearly establishes that Virginia -- not Delaware -- became the first State in the Perpetual Union of the United States America ... because it was the first to ratify the Articles of Confederation (1779). You too will want to read his documentation complete with photographs and facsimiles of primary source documents of our lively and enlightening Americana history.

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A well-written and extremely thought provoking piece of historical scholarship. By using extensive primary source materials, Stan Klos effectively proves his point that from 1781 to 1789 ten men served as President of the United States in Congress Assembled. Mr. Klos does not wish to displace George Washington as "Father of Our Country." Rather, Mr. Klos is seeking recognition for Washington's predecessors. A must read for anyone interested in American Presidential history.

-- Greg Priore
Archivist, William R. Oliver Special Collections Room
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

It is a masterpiece in defining presidential history. Stanley Klos clearly presents the historic path of the presidency beginning with the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled Samuel Huntington, to the eleventh President, George Washington. It is a must read for any serious student of American History.

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President of the Norwich Historical Society

… a thought provoking argument for “righting” our history books about the very early years of our democracy. Samuel Huntington, His Excellency the President of the United States in Congress Assembled, indeed!

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James Madison’s Montpelier

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JAY, John, statesman, born in New York city, 12 December, 1745; died in Bedford, Westchester County, New York, 17 May, 1829. He was of Huguenot descent, and was educated in part by Pastor Stoope, of the French church at New Rochelle, and was graduated at Kings (now Columbia), New York, in 1766. He studied law with Benjamin Kissam, having Lindley Murray as his fellow student, and in 1766 was admitted to the bar When news of the passage of the Boston port bill reached New York, on 16 May, 1776, at a meeting of citizens, Jay was appointed a member of a committee of t with the other colonies Their reply to the Boston committee, attributed to Jay, recommended, as of the utmost moment, "a congress of deputies from the colonies in general." Jay was a delegate to the congress, which met in Philadelphia, 5 September As one of a committee of three he prepared the "Address to the People of Great Britain," which Jefferson, while ignorant of the authorship, declared to be "a production certainly of the finest pen in America." Jay was an active member of the committee of observation in New York, on whose recommendation the counties elected a provincial congress, and also of a committee of association of 100 members, invested by the city of New York with general undefined powers. He was a member also of the 2d congress, which met in Philadelphia, 10 May, 1775, and drafted the "Address to the People of Canada and of Ireland"; and he carried against a strong opposition a petition to the king, which was signed by the members on 8 July. The rejection of this petition, leaving no alternative but submission or resistance. opened the way for a general acquiescence in the Declaration of Independence. Jay was a member of the secret committee appointed by congress, 29 November, 1775, after a confidential interview with a French officer, "to correspond with the friends of America in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world." While he was attending congress at Philadelphia, Jay's presence was requested by the New York convention, which required his counsel. This convention met at White Plains, 9 July, 1776, and on Jay's motion unanimously approved the Declaration of Independence, which on that day was received from congress. The passage of a part of Lord Howe's fleet up the Hudson induced the appointment by the convention of a secret committee vested with extraordinary powers, of which Jay was made chairman, as also of a further committee for defeating conspiracies in the state against the liberties of America. The resolutions relating to this committee were drawn by him" and its minutes, many of which are in his hand, show the energy with which it exercised its powers by arrests, imprisonments, and banishments, and the vigorous system demanded by the critical condition of the American cause. The successes of the British in New York, and the retreat and needs of Washington's army, had induced a feeling of despondency, and Jay was the author of an earnest appeal to his countrymen, which by order of congress was translated into German and widely circulated.

Jay drafted the state constitution adopted by the convention of New York, which met successively at Harlem, Kingsbridge, Philip's Manor, White Plains, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston. He was appointed chief justice of the state, holding his first term at Kingston on 9 September, 1777, and acting also in the council of safety, which directed the military occupation of the state and wielded an absolute sovereignty. He was visited at Fishkill, in the autumn of 1778, by General Washington for a confidential conversation on the invasion of Canada by the French and American forces, which they concurred in disapproving, chiefly on the probability that if conquered it would be retained by France. Chief-Justice Jay was again sent to congress on a special occasion, the withdrawal of Vermont from the jurisdiction of New York, and three days after taking his seat he was, 1 December, 1778, elected its president. The next September he wrote his letter, in the name of congress, on currency and finance. On 27 September, 1778, he was appointed .minister to Spain, and later one of the commissioners to negotiate a peace, he sailed with Mrs. Jay, on 20 October, in the American frigate "Confederacy," which, disabled by a storm, put into Martinico, whence they proceeded in the French frigate "Aurora," which brought them to Cadiz, 22 January, 1780. Jay, while received with personal courtesy, found no disposition to recognize American independence, and congress added to the embarrassing position of the minister at a reluctant court by drawing bills upon him for half a million of dollars, on the assumption that he would have obtained a subsidy from Spain before they should have become due. Jay accepted the bills, some of which were afterward protested, the Spanish court advancing money for only a few of them, and the rest were afterward paid with money borrowed by Franklin from France.

While in Spain Jay was added by congress to the peace commissioners, headed by John Adams, and at the request of Franklin, on 23 June, 1782, he went to Paris, where Franklin was alone. The position of the two commissioners was complicated by the fact that congress, under the persistent urgency of Luzerne, the French minister at Philadelphia, had materially modified the instructions originally given to Mr. Adams, and on 15 June, 1781, had instructed its commissioners " to make the most candid and confidential communications upon all subjects to the ministers of our generous ally, the king of France; to undertake nothing in their negotiations for peace and truce without their knowledge and concurrence, and ultimately to govern yourselves by their advice and opinion." Two arguments were used in support of this instruction: First, that the king was explicitly pledged by his minister to support the Uniteil States "in all points relating to their prosperity"; and next, that "nothing" would be yielded by Great Britain which was not extorted by the address of France." An interesting memoir "in the French archives, among the papers under the head of "Angleterre," shows that the interests of France required that the ambition of the American colonies "should be checked and held down to fixed limits through the union of the three nations," England, France, and Spain. Before the arrival of Jay, Franklin had had an informal conversation, first with Grenville, and then with Mr. Oswald, who had been sent by the cabinet of Rockingham. On 6 August Oswald presented to Jay and Franklin a commission prescribing the terms of the enabling act, and authorizing him "to treat with the colonies and with any or either of them, and any part of them, and with any description of men in them, and with any person whatsoever, of and concerning peace," etc. This document led to a new complication in the American commission by developing a material difference of opinion between Jay and Franklin. When the commission was submitted to Vergennes, that minister held that it was sufficient, and advised Fitzherbert to that effect. Franklin believed it "would do." But Jay declined to treat under the description of "colonies" or on any other than an equal footing. Oswald adopted Jay's view, but the British cabinet did not, and Jay's refusal to proceed soon stayed the peace negotiations of the other powers, which Vergennes had arranged should proceed together, each nation negotiating for itself.

During Jay's residence in Spain he had learned much of the aims and methods of the Bourbon policy, and a memoir submitted to him by Rayneval, as his "personal views" against our right to the boundaries, an intercepted letter of Marbois, secretary of legation at Philadelphia, against our claim to the fisheries, and the departure for England with precautions for secrecy of Rayneval himself, the most skilful and trusted agent of Vergennes, convinced him that one object of Rayneval's mission was to prejudice Shelburne against the American claims. As a prudent counter-move to this secret mission, Jay promptly despatched Benjamin Vaughan, an intimate friend and agent of Shelburne, to counteract Rayneval's adverse influence to the American interests. This was done without consultation with Franklin, who did not concur with Jay in regard to Rayneval's journey, and who retained his confidence in the French court and was embarrassed and constrained by his instructions. It appears from "Shelburne's" Life" that Rayneval, in his interview with Shelburne and Grantham, after discussing other questions, proceeded to speak about America; and "here Rayneval played into the hands of the English ministers, expressing a strong opinion against the American claims to the fisheries and the valleys of the Mississippi and the Ohio"; and that Vaughan arrived almost simultaneously, bringing the "considerations" prepared by Jay, which enforced these points: 1. That, as Britain could not conquer the United States, it was for her interest to conciliate them; 2. That the United States would not treat except on an equal footing; 3. That it was the interest of France, but not of England, to postpone the acknowledgment of independence to a general peace; 4. That a hope of dividing the fisheries with France would be futile, as America would not make peace without them; 5. That any attempt to deprive the United States of the navigation of the Mississippi, or of that river as a boundary, would irritate America; 6. That such an attempt, if successful, would sow the seeds of war in the very treaty of peace. The disclosure of the grave difference between the Americans and their allies on the terms of peace, with the opportunity it afforded to England, consistently with the pride, interest, and justice of Great Britain, and with the national jealousy of France, seems to have come to the cabinet with the force of a revelation, and its effect upon their policy was instantaneous and complete. A new commission in the form drafted by Jay, authorizing Oswald to treat with " the United States" el America, was at once ordered, and Lord Shelburne wrote to Oswald that they had said and done "everything which had been desired," and that they had put the greatest confidence ever placed in man in the American commissioners. Vaughan returned "joyfully" with the new commission on 27 September, and on 5 October Jay handed to Oswald the plan of a treaty including the clauses relating to independence, the boundaries, and the fisheries, and Oswald, in enclosing it to his government, wrote: "I look upon the treaty as now closed." The great success of the English at Gibraltar, however, which determined the ministry to resist the demands of France and Spain, induced them to attempt some modification of the concessions to the Americans, even when they had been made by Oswald with the approval of the cabinet. Strachey and Fitzherbert were therefore ordered to assist Oswald, and on 25 October John Adams arrived from Holland, where he had negotiated a treaty. He expressed to Franklin his entire approval of Jay's views and action, and Franklin, at their next meeting with Oswald, said to Jay: "I am of your opinion, and will go on with these gentlemen without consulting the court"; and Jay, in writing to Livingston, spoke of their perfect unanimity, and specially acknowledged Mr. Adams's services on the eastern boundaries and Franklin's on the subject of the Tories. The provisional articles, signed 30 November, 1782, to take effect on a peace between France and England, were communicated to Vergennes, who wrote to Rayneval in England that the concessions of the English exceeded all that he had believed possible, and Rayneval replied: "The treaty seems to me like a dream." A new loan from France to America marked the continuance of their good understanding, mid Hamilton wrote to Jay that the terms of the treaty exceeded the anticipations of the most sanguine.

The violation of the instructions of congress displeased a part of that body. Mr. Madison, who had voted for the instruction, wrote: "In this business Jay has taken the lead, and proceeded to a length of which you can form little idea. Adams has followed with cordiality. Franklin has been dragged into it." Mr. Sparks, in his "Life of Franklin," contended that the violation of their instructions by the American commissioners, in concluding and signing their treaty without the concurrence of the French government, was "unjustifiable." By some error still unexplained, He represented the correspondence of Vergennes in the French archives as disproving the suspicions, which it authoritatively confirms. A map of North America, given in the "Life of Shelburne," showing "the boundaries of the United States, O Canada, and the Spanish possessions, according to the proposals of the court of France," shows that obedience by the American commissioners to the instruction to govern themselves by the opinion of Vergennes, would have shut out the United States from the Mississippi and the Gulf, and would have deprived them of nearly the whole of the states of Alabama and Mississippi, the greater part of Kentucky and Tennessee, the whole of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota, and the navigation of the Mississippi.

The definitive treaty, a simple embodiment of the provisional articles, for nothing more could be procured from the cabinet of Fox and North, was signed 3 September, 1783, and Jay returned to New York in July, 1784, having" been elected by congress secretary for foreign affairs, then the most important post in the country, which he held until the establishment of the Federal government in 1789. In that work he had taken a deep interest, as is shown by his correspondence with Washington and Jefferson, and on the formation of the National constitution he joined Hamilton and Madison in contributing to the "Federalist," and published an address to the inhabitants of New York in favor of the constitution. He was an active member of the New York convention, which, after a long struggle, adopted the constitution "in full confidence" that certain amendments would be adopted, and Jay was appointed to write the circular letter that secured the unanimous assent of the convention. On the organization of the Federal government, President Washington asked Jay to accept whatever place he might prefer, and Jay took the office of chief justice of the supreme court, when he resigned the post of president of the Abolition society. In 1792 he consented to be a candidate for the governorship of New York, but the canvassers declined on technical grounds to count certain votes given for Jay, which would have made a majority in his favor, and Governor Clinton was declared elected. In 1794 Jay was nominated by Washington as a special envoy to Great Britain, with which our relations were then strained, and he concluded with Lord Grenville on 19 November, 1794, the convention known in American history as "Jay's treaty," which was assailed with furious denunciations by the Democratic party, whose tactics severely tested the firmness of Washington's character and the strength of his administration. The treaty and its ratification against an unexampled opposition avoided a war with Great Britain. An English opinion of the treaty, which in America was denounced as a complete surrender to England, was expressed by Lord Sheffield where on the occurrence of the rupture with America, he wrote, "We have now a complete opportunity of getting rid of that most impolitic treaty of 1794, when Lord Grenville was so perfectly duped by Jay." Five days before his return from England, Jay was elected governor of New York, an office to which he was re-elected in April, 1798. On the close of his second term, in 1801, Jay declined a return to the chief justiceship of the supreme court, to which he was reappointed by President Adams, and passed the remainder of his life on his estate its Westchester county, New York, a property which had descended to Mr. Jay through his mother, Mary Van Cortlandt. It is situated some forty-five miles north of New York city about midway between the Hudson river and Long Island sound. The Bedford house, as the mansion is called, is placed on an eminence overlooking the whole beautiful rolling region between the two great bodies of water. It is now the summer residence of his grandson, John Jay. See illustration on page 410. The last office that he filled was the presidency of the American Bible society. Daniel Webster said of him "When the spotless ermine of the judicial robe fell on John Jay, it touched nothing less spotless than itself." The life of John Jay has been written by his son, trod also by Henry B. Renwick (New York, 1841). See "The Life and Times of John Jay," by William Whitlock (New York, 1887). He married on 28 April, 1774, Sarah Vail Brugh Livingston, eldest daughter of Governor William Livingston. She accompanied her husband to Spain, and later was with him in Paris, where she was a great favorite in society, and they resided with Benjamin Franklin at Passy. John Adams's daughter says of her at this time" "Every person who knew her here bestows many encomiums on Mrs. Jay. Madame de Lafayette said she was well acquainted with her, and very fond of her, adding that Mrs. Jay and she thought alike, that pleasure might be found abroad, but happiness only at home in the society of one's family anal friends. "During the week of Washington's inauguration he dined with the Jays, and a few days later Mrs. Washington was entertained at Liberty hall by Governor Livingston, Mrs. Livingston, and Mrs. Jay During the following season hospitalities were frequently exchanged between the president and the Jays. The portrait of Mrs. Jay is from an original portrait painted by Robert E. Pine, and now in the possession of her grandson, John Jay.--John Jay's elder brother, Sir James, physician, born in New York city, 27 October, 1732, died in Springfield, New Jersey, 20 October, 1815. He studied medicine, and, while visiting England in 1762 on business of his own, was employed to solicit contributions for King's (now Columbia) college. At this time (25 March, 1763) he was knighted and became involved in a suit in chancery arising out of the collections made for the college, but he returned to New York prior to the Revolution. Later he was instrumental in the passage of the New York act of attainder, and during the British occupation of the city was confined in the New York prison, but was at once released on the arrival of Sir Guy Carle-ton in 1782. He published two pamphlets (London, 1771 and 1774) relative to the collections made for the colleges in America and also "Reflections and Observations on the Gout" (London, 1772).--John Jay's eldest son, Peter Augustus, lawyer, born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, 24 January, 1776; died in New York city, 20 February, 1843, was graduated at Columbia in 1794, and became his father's private secretary, and in that capacity accompanied him when he was sent as minister to England in 1794. On his return he studied law and achieved a high rank at the New York bar. In 1816 he was a member of the assembly, being active in pro-rooting legislation for the building of the Erie canal, and with his brother William supported the bill recommending the abolition of slavery in New York state. He held the office of recorder of New York city in 1819-'21, and was a member of the New York constitutional convention in 1821. John Jay was a trustee of Columbia in 1812-'17, and again in 1823-'43, being chairman in 1832. In 1840-'3 he was president of the New York historical society, and he was connected with several literary and charitable societies. He received the degree of LL. D. from Harvard in 1831, and from Columbia in 1835. His great learning and strength of intellect, his masterly reasoning, his wisdom and his pre-eminent moral excellence, combined with his thorough refinement and dignity as a man, made him a very marked and remarkable jurist and member of society. Mr. Jay was one of the members of the Kent club, composed of prominent members of the bar, and was active in the social affairs of New York city.--John Jay's second son, William, jurist, born in New York city, 16 June, 1789; died in Bedford, New York, 14 October, 1858, studied the classics at Albany with the Reverend Thomas Ellison, of Oxford, England. Among his classmates was James Fenimore Cooper, with whom he formed a life-long friendship, and who inscribed to Jay "Lionel Lincoln" and some of his "Letters from Europe." Jay was graduated at Yale in 1808, and studied law with John B. Henry of Albany, but was compelled to relinquish the profession by weakness of the eyes. He retired to Isis father's home at Bedford, and in 1812 married Augusta, daughter of John McVickar, a lady "in whose character were blended all the Christian graces and virtues." In 1815 he published a "Memoir on the Subject of a General Bible Society for the United States," and in 1810 assisted Elias Boudinot and others in forming the American Bible society, of which he was for years an active and practical promoter, and its principal champion against the vigorous attacks of the high-churchmen led by Bishop Hobart. The interest in the controversy extended to England, and Jay's numerous letters and pamphlets on the subject have been commended as models of that sort of warfare. In 1818 Jay was appointed to the bench of Westchester county by Governor De Witt Clinton. His office as first judge was vacated by the adoption of the new constitution in 1821, but he was subsequently reappointed, without regard to politics, until he was superseded in 1843 by Governor Bouck at the demand of a pro-slavery faction. In 1826, Jay, who in 1819, during the Missouri controversy, had written strongly against the extension of slavery, demanding that congress should "stand between the living and the dead, and stay the plague," was instrumental in calling the attention of the New York legislature and of congress to the necessity of reforming the slave-laws of the District of Columbia. A free colored man, Gilbert Horton, of Somers, Westchester County, who had gone to Washington, was there arrested as a runaway and advertised by the sheriff to be sold as a fugitive slave, to pay his jail fees, unless previously claimed by his master. Jay called a public meeting, which demanded the interposition of Governor DeWitt Clinton. This was promptly given, Horton was released, and a petition circulated for the abolition of slavery in the District. The New York assembly, by a vote of fifty-seven to thirty-nine, instructed their representatives in congress to vote for the measure. Pennsylvania passed a similar bill, and upon the memorial presented by General Aaron Ward, the house of representatives, after a prolonged debate, referred the subject to a special committee. In 1828-'9 the debate was renewed in congress, and resolutions and petitions multiplied, from Maine to Tennessee.

Among Jay's writings at this time were essays on the Sabbath as a civil and divine institution, temperance, Sunday schools, missionary and educational efforts, and an essay on duelling, to which, in 1830, while the authorship was unknown, a medal was awarded by the Anti-duelling association of Savannah, by a committee of which Judge James M. Wayne and Governor Richard W. Habersham were members. In 1833 he published the "Life and Writings of John Jay." Its careful sketch of the peace negotiations of 1782, and its exposition of the hostility of France to the American claims was questioned by Dr. Sparks, but their accuracy was certified by Lord St. Helens (Mr. Fitzherbert), and has since been confirmed by the Vergennes correspondence and the " Life of Shelburne." In October, 1832, President Jackson appointed Judge Jay a commissioner to adjust all unsettled matters with the western Indians; but the appointment, which was unsolicited, was declined. Judge Jay contributed a paper on the anti-slavery movement to the first number of the "Emancipator," published in New York, 1 May, 1833. in October of the same year the New York city anti-slavery society was fondled, and in December an Anti-slavery convention met at Philadelphia to form the American anti-slavery society. Each of these bodies, at Judge Jay's suggestion, disclaimed the right of congress to interfere with slavery in the states, while claiming for congress power to suppress the domestic slave-trade and to abolish slavery in the territories under its exclusive jurisdiction. The significance of the principles and action of these societies is illustrated by the interesting historic facts: first, that nullification in South Carolina in 1832, when a medal was struck inscribed "John C. Calhoun, First President of the Southern Confederacy," was the precursor of the secession of 1861, showing that the pro-slavery policy during the interval was a part. of the secession scheme; and next, that the antislavery movement, organized in 1833 on strictly constitutional grounds, culminated in the Republican party, by which slavery was abolished and the republic preserved. The same year, 1833, was noted for the persecution and trial in Connecticut of Prudence Crandall (q. v.), and for the decision of Judge Daggett that colored persons could not be citizens. Judge Jay's review of that decision and his able enforcement of the opposite doctrine were approvingly quoted by Chancellor Kent in his "Commentaries." The years 1834 and 1835 were memorable for the attempt to arrest, by threats and violence, the expression of anti-slavery sentiments. Judge Jay, in a charge to the grand jury, called their attention to the prevailing spirit of lawless violence, and charged them that any law that might be passed to abridge in the slightest degree the freedom of speech or the press, to shield any one subject from discussion, would be null and void. He prepared also. for the American anti-slavery society, an address to the public, restating their views and principles, which was widely published throughout America and Europe. In 1834 Judge Jay published his "Inquiry into the Character and Tendency of the American Colonization and American Anti-Slavery Societies," which was read "by scholars and statesmen and exerted a powerful influence!", "The work," wrote Professor E. Wright, Jr., "sells faster than it can be printed," and it was presently reprinted in London. In December, 1835, President Jackson, in his message, assailed the character and designs of the anti-slavery movement, accusing the Abolitionists of circulating through the mails "inflammatory appeals addressed to the passions of the slaves, and calculated to stimulate them to insurrection and all the horrors of civil war," and the president suggested to congress a law forbidding the circulation through the mails of incendiary documents. On 28 December the executive committee addressed to the president what Henry Wilson called "an elaborate and dignified protest from the polished and pungent pen of Judge Jay," denying his accusations, and offering to submit their publications to the inspection of congress.

Judge Jay's next work, "A View of the Action of the Federal Government in Behalf of Slavery" (1837), made a deep impression, and had a rapid sale. This was followed in 1839 by a startling presentation of facts on "The Condition of the Free People of Color in the United States," in 1840 by an address to the friends of constitutional liberty on the violation by the house of representatives of the right of petition, and a review from his pen of the ease of the "Amistad" negroes (see CINQUE) was read by John Quincy Adams in congress as a part of his speech on the subject. In 1842 Judge Jay reviewed the argument by Mr. Webster on the slaves of the "Creole." The two subjects to which Judge Jay's efforts were chiefly devoted were those of war and slavery. His writings on the first, both before and after he became president of the American peace society, had no little influence at home and abroad. In his volume entitled "War and Peace; the Evils of the First, with a Plan for securing the Last" (New York, 1848), he suggested stipulation by treaty referring international disputes to arbitration, as a plan based upon obvious principles of national policy, and adapted to the existing state of civilized society. The suggestion met with the warm approval of Joseph Sturge, the English philanthropist, who visited Judge Jay at Bedford while the work was still in manuscript, and it was embodied by Mr. Sturge in a volume published by him on his return to England. The plan was heartily approved by Mr. Cobden, who wrote to Judge Jay: "If your government is prepared to insert an arbitration clause in the pending treaties, I am persuaded it will be accepted by our government." The main feature of the plan, arbitration, after approval by successive peace congresses in Europe (at Brussels in 1848, at Paris in 1849, at London in 1851) was virtually recommended by Protocol No. 23, of the Congress of Paris, held in 1856 after the Crimean war, which protocol was unanimously adopted by the plenipotentiaries of France, Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey. These governments declared their wish that the states between which any serious misunderstanding might arise should, before appealing to arms, have recourse, as far as circumstances might allow, to the good offices of a friendly power. The honor of its introduction in the congress belongs to Lord Clarendon, whose services had been solicited by Joseph Sturge and Henry Richard, and it was supported by all of his colleagues in the congress. It was subsequently referred to by Lord Derby as worthy of immortal honor. Lord Malmsbury pronounced it an act "important to civilization and to the security of the peace of Europe," and it was somewhat later approved by all the other powers to whom it was referred, more than forty in number. Among Judge Jay's other writings "on this subject are his letter on the "Kossuth Excitement" (1852); an address before the American peace society at Boston (1845), and a petition from the society to the United States senate in behalf of stipulated arbitration (1853). Perhaps under this head should be included his historic and searching " Causes and Consequences of the Mexican War" (Boston, 1849). In 1846 Judge Jay republished, with an elaborate preface, the concluding chapter of Bishop Wilber-force's "History of the Church in America," which had been announced by two American publishers who relinquished the design when it was found to contain a reproof of the American church for its course on slavery. This was followed by a letter on the same subject to Bishop Ires, of North Carolina. "The Calvary Pastoral, a Tract for the Times," rebuked the attempt to convert the Episcopal church into a popish church without a pope. In 1849 appeared "An Address to the Non-Slave-holders of the South, on the Social and Political Evils of Slavery." This was in part embodied in an address to the people of California, which was effectively circulated on the Pacific coast in English and Spanish. In 1850 Judge Jay addressed a letter to William Nelson, on Clay's compromise measures; and this was followed by a review of Mr. Webster's declaration that slavery was excluded from California and New Mexico by the law of physical geography. Subsequent letters and addresses included one to Samuel A. Elliott, in reply to his apology for the fugitive-slave bill, an address to the anti-slavery Christians of the United States, and in 1853 several letters and reviews of the conduct of the American tract society in the interest of slavery. The same year a volume of Judge Jay's miscellaneous writings on slavery was published in Boston. In 1854 he had the satisfaction of seeing the Republican party founded on the anti-slavery principles that he had early advocated. Of his anti-slaverylabors Horace Greeley said: "As to Chief-Justice Jay, the father, may be attributed, more than to any other man, the abolition of negro bondage in thins state [New York], so to Judge William Jay, the son, the future will give the credit of having been one of the earliest advocates of the modern anti-slavery movements, which at this moment influence so radically the religion and the philanthropy of the country, and of having guided by his writings, in a large measure, the direction which a cause so important and so conservative of the best and most precious rights of the people should take." He left in manuscript a commentary on the Bible.--Peter Augustus's son, John Clarkson, physician, born in New York city, 11 September, 1808, was graduated at Columbia in 1827, and at the College of physicians and surgeons in 1831. In addition to his practice of medicine he made a specialty of conchology, and acquired the most complete and valuable collection of shells in the United States. This and his costly library on this branch of science were purchased by Catherine Wolfe and presented, in memory of her father, to the American museum of natural history, where it is known as the Jay collection In 1832 he became a member of the Lyceum of natural history (now New York academy of sciences), and was its treasurer in 1836-'43. He took an active part in the efforts that were made during that time to obtain subscriptions for the new building, and bore the principal burden in planning and superintending its construction. He was one of the founders of the New York yacht-club, and for some time its secretary. From 1859 till 1880 he was a trustee of Columbia college. The shells collected by the expedition of Commander Matthew C. Perry to Japan were submitted to him for examination, and he wrote the article on that subject in the government reports. Dr. Jay was the author of "Catalogue of Recent Shells" (New York, 1835); "Description of New and Rare Shells" (1836); and later editions of his catalogue, in which he enumerates about 11,000 well-marked varieties, and at least 7,000 well-established species.--William's son, John, diplomatist, born in New York city, 23 June, 1817, was graduated at Dr. William A. Muhlenberg's institute in 1832, and at Columbia in 1836 After his admission to the bar in 1839 he became well known by his active opposition to slavery and his advocacy of St. Philip's colored church, which was admitted to the Protestant Episcopal convention after a nine years' contest. He was secretary of the Irish relief committee of 1847, and was counsel for many fugitive slaves, including George Kirk, two Brazilian slaves that were landed in New York, Henry Long, and the Lemmons. (See--CHESTER ALAN.) In 1854 he organized the meetings at the Broadway tabernacle, that resulted in the state convention at Saratoga on 10 August, and in the dissolution of the Whig and the formation of the Republican party at Syracuse, 27 September, 1855. During the civil war he acted with the Union league club, of which he was president in 1866, and again in 1877. In 1868, as state commissioner for the Antietam cemetery, he reported to Governor Reuben E. Penton on the chartered right of the Confederate dead of that campaign to burial, a right questioned by Governor John W. Geary, of Pennsylvania, and Hon. John Covode. In 1869 he was sent as minister to Austria, where his diplomatic work included a naturalization treaty, the establishment of a convention on trademarks, and the supervision of the United States commission to the world's fair of 1873. He resigned and returned to the United States in 1875, and has since resided in New York city. In 1877 he was appointed by Sec Sherman chairman of the Jay commission to investigate the system of the New York custom house, and in 1883 was appointed by Governor Cleveland as the Republican member of the State civil service commission, of which he is still (1887) president. Mr. Jay was active in the early history of the American geographical and statistical society, and was long manager and corresponding secretary of the New York historical society. He was also the first president of the Huguenot society, organized in 1855 in New York. In connection with his political career, Mr. Jay has delivered numerous addresses on questions connected with slavery, and also bearing on its relation to the Episcopal church, of which he is a leader among the laity. His speeches and pamphlets, which have been widely circulated, include "America Free, or America Slave" (1856); "The Church and the Rebellion" (1863); "On the Passage of the Constitutional Amendment abolishing Slavery" (1864); "Rome in America" (1868); "The American Foreign Service" (1877); "The Sunday school a Safeguard to the Republic"; "The Fisheries Question"; "The Public School a Portal to the Civil Service."

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

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