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John Jay
(1745 - 1829)


John Jay was an American founding father, the First Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. Like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, he was a proponent of a strong federalist government. 

Portrait of John Jay.
Jay, John. 11" x 15". 1997. Collection of Christopher N. Luhn. Ballston Spa NY.

Early Career and Role in the American Revolution

Jay was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1768.  In 1777, the New York Provincial Congress elected Jay Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, where he served for two years.

Jay served as a New York Delegate to the first and second Continental Congresses. Although he initially favored reconciliation with the English Parliament, he later came to support the American Revolution. During the war, he served as Ambassador to Spain. Along with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and a number of others, he negotiated the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolution and grant the American colonies independence.

After the War

John Jay served as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Articles of Confederation, which served as the foundation for the country's early government. When Congress created the Department of State under the new US Constitution, President George Washington asked Jay to serve as Secretary of State, but he declined.

The same day that the Judiciary Act of 1789, which created the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was signed into law, Washington nominated Jay to the position. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 1789 and was sworn into office on October 19, 1789. 

Jay was actually re-nominated and re-confirmed for the Supreme Court seat he had vacated, but he declined to accept the position.

In 1795, Jay was elected the second governor of New York and resigned his Supreme Court seat to assume the post. Jay was actually re-nominated and re-confirmed for the Supreme Court seat he had vacated, but he declined to accept the position.

While governor of New York, Jay ran for President in the 1796 election, but received only five electoral votes.  He ran again in 1800, but only received one electoral vote. In 1801, Jay retired to his farm in Westchester County where he lived and farmed until his death in 1829.

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Theodore Roosevelt

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