Overview

Most people have heard John Jay’s name but they do not know much about him.  If they know anything, they know that he was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and the man who negotiated Jay’s Treaty.

Jay was indeed an author of the Federalist Papers and the negotiator of the treaty which bears his name, but he was much more.  He was a delegate to the first Continental Congress in 1774, principal author of the first New York state constitution, Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, President of the Continental Congress, America’s representative abroad in Madrid and Paris, negotiator of the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War, secretary for foreign affairs during the years just before and after the Constitutional Convention, ardent and effective advocate of the Constitution, first Chief Justice of the United States, and finally governor of New York from 1795 through 1801.

Jay was the trusted friend and colleague of other American leaders:  Washington, Franklin, Adams and Hamilton.  Washington knew that Jay had the “talents, knowledge and integrity which are so necessary” to serve as the nation’s first Chief Justice.  Adams believed that, in the process of developing and adopting the Constitution, Jay was “of more importance than the rest, indeed of almost as much weight as the rest.” 

John Jay: Founding Father tells the story of Jay’s life from his birth in 1745 to his death in 1829.  It deals not just with his work but also with his personal life:  his wife, the lively and intelligent Sarah Livingston Jay, and his friends, such as Robert Livingston, who later in life became his political enemy.  The book, in short, aims to bring to life for a new generation one of the greatest Americans of his generation.