American Philosophical Society
Member History

Results:  1 ItemModify Search | New Search
Page: 1Reset Page
Resident (1)
1Name:  John Jay
 Year Elected:  1780
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  12/12/1745
 Death Date:  5/17/1829
John Jay (12 December 1745–17 May 1829) was a lawyer, politician, and a member of the American Philosophical Society, elected in 1780. Born in New York to affluent parents, John Jay was tutored privately before earning a B.A. at King’s College in 1764. He studied law in a local office before opening his own practice in 1768. Given his affluence and connections, he wanted little to do with radical revolutionary politics, however he opposed absolute British control of America. In 1774 he served in the First Continental Congress and New York’s Committee of Correspondence. He continued into the Second Continental Congress, and joined New York’s revolutionary convention, writing part of the constitution adopted by New York state in 1777. Jay was chief justice of New York before becoming the President of the Continental Congress, before it elected him minister to Madrid. The Spanish were dismissive of American independence, yet Jay was able to negotiate a loan. Upon the imminent defeat of the British in 1782, he joined Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in negotiating a peace treaty in Paris. Returning to Congress two years later, he found he had been elected Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He utilized his negotiation skills to prevent America’s newfound independence from worsening diplomatic ties. At this time, he also began taking up the federalist cause: he contributed to The Federalist (1787) alongside Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and he strongly advocated for the cause at New York’s ratifying convention the following year. In 1789, President George Washington appointed Jay as First Chief Justice. Jay advised the president, presided over high-profile trials, drafted President Washington’s proclamation of American neutrality regarding the current war between Britain and France in 1793, and went to London to negotiate a treaty with the British. Despite substantive popular disdain for the so-called Jay Treaty (1794), he won New York’s gubernatorial election before he had even returned (1795). Notably, Jay was a strong opponent to slavery: he freed any enslaved people whom he inherited, he helped found the New York Manumission Society, and signed into law a bill that called for gradual emancipation in New York. He left public life not long after, spent decades in peaceful retirement, then died from a ‘palsy’. (DNB)
Election Year
1780 (1)