A Biography of The Former United State's Chief Justice John Jay

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About this sample


Words: 1906 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 1906|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Imagine this nation plagued with war; everywhere you walked or looked, there would be guts and limbs sprawled out all around the ground, with numerous skeletons dismembered too much to even resemble a human being. Then, just as you take the first step out of your underground shelter... SNAP! You step on a human skull and it split in half. It sounds utterly atrocious, correct? Luckily, our nation is currently in a phase fairly different from that scene, and we basically have John Jay to thank for that. Because of his numerous negotiations and travels, John Jay managed to save America from numerous calamities that could have happened. John Jay wasn’t an ordinary guy who was born and sent to his deathbed in New York City; he was quite the opposite: an extraordinary but massively overlooked man who contributed fairly heavily in the independence and establishment of the United States.

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John Jay had an “interesting” childhood and family. For example, John had an unordinary family both when he was young and when he was an adult. Jay’s father, Peter, had ten children with his wife Mary Van Cortland, but only seven had lived until adulthood. John was the sixth of these seven siblings. A short period after he was born, his parents moved the family from Manhattan to Rye, New York for a healthier environment for John’s older siblings, two of whom were struck with blindness because of the smallpox epidemic of 1739, and two others of whom were mentally handicapped. Furthermore, he married Sarah Van Brugh Livingston on April 28, 1774. They were 11 years apart, and when they met, John was 29 and Sarah was 18. They had six children. Peter Augustus was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1776; Susan had died only after a few weeks of life in Madrid in 1780; Maria was born in Madrid in 1782; Ann was born in Paris in 1783; William and Sarah were born in New York City in 1789 and 1792 respectively ("Republican Court: Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802)"). In addition, he was educated by private tutors and started attending school at an early age of eight ("Biography - John Jay"). He first attended an exclusive boarding school in New Rochelle, New York. His intelligence had gotten him accepted into King’s College in New York, now known as Columbia University, at only the age of 14. By the time he was 18 years old in 1764, he graduated with the highest honors and continued to study law in a five-year apprenticeship under Benjamin Kissam (Kindig). He was the Alan Zhang of his time, but numerous times smarter. His brain was the size of the Andromeda Galaxy. Lastly, John was a close friend of Alexander Hamilton. Since at least 1775, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton were both friends with each other and both attended King’s College (Woodman).

John Jay was not only an intelligent human being but was also an important Founding Father of whom played a fairly large role in America’s independence from Britain and its establishment. First of all, he had traveled many places to gain support, both political and financial, for the Americans during the revolution; he had also worked hard in America to gain support for different plots the Continental Congress had planned and tried to maintain peace within America after the Revolutionary War had ended. In his time as a Founding Father, he was President of the Continental Congress from December 10, 1778, to September 28, 1779 ("John Jay, First Chief Justice of the United States"). He had traveled overseas to Spain after retiring from the Continental Congress in 1779, as he was appointed Minister of Spain, and sought support for the American colonies. Unfortunately, Spain wanted nothing to do with Jay or the American colonies, so he went to Paris, where the end-of-war negotiations of the American Revolution were taking place, seeking help. While he was there, he signed the Treaty of Paris of 1783 between Britain and the U.S., which helped United States receive its independence from Britain and also handled the new country's foreign affairs for five years ("John Jay Biography"). He had declined posts as a minister to both France and Great Britain, but when he had gone back to America, the Continental Congress would not allow him to retire from public service, and so they had appointed him as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs (now known as “Secretary of State”) ("John Jay" Encyclopedia of World Biography). During this period in 1787, Jay, along with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, wrote the Federalist Papers, which were articles arguing for support of the new Federal Constitution and countering arguments against it (Kindig). He wrote the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and sixty-fourth articles ("The Federalist Papers"). To preserve anonymity, they wrote under the pseudonym “Publius” ("Federalist Papers Authored by John Jay"). Seventy-seven of the essays were published as a series in The Independent Journal, The New York Packet, and The Daily Advertiser between October of 1787 and August 1788. They weren't originally known as the "Federalist Papers," but just "The Federalist." The final 8 were added in after ("The Federalist Papers." The Federalist Papers. Oak Hill Publishing Company). John Jay also authored a pamphlet named, "An Address to the People of New York" ("John Jay Biography"). In 1789, after turning down President George Washington’s offer of the position of Secretary of State, he was offered another position ("John Jay, First Chief Justice of the United States"). He accepted it and became the Chief Justice of the newly established Supreme Court under Article III of the Constitution (Beichman). He was confirmed, unanimously, on September 26, 1789, and remained on the bench until 1795 ("John Jay, First Chief Justice of the United States"). On November 19, 1794, representatives of the United States and Great Britain signed the Jay’s Treaty ("John Jay" John Jay). John Jay had gone and negotiated to end differences from Anglo-Americans because President George Washington was afraid of another war with Britain during the French Revolution of 1793, and numerous events had also happened after the Treaty of Paris of 1783 ("John Jay" Encyclopedia of World Biography). Tensions were still high between the United States and Britain after the American Revolution ended, mainly because of three issues: The American markets were overflowing with British exports like an overheated kettle with water, while American exports were hindered by trade restrictions and tariffs imposed on the Americans by the British; the British occupied northern forts that the British government had agreed to vacate in the Treaty of Paris of 1783; there were continuous Native American attacks in those areas the British were still at ("John Jay" John Jay). In the late 1700s, the two nations were just a hairline away from warring with each other when Britain captured American sailors and forced them into naval service, and Britain was also seizing naval and military supplies bound to enemy ports on neutral ships ("John Jay" John Jay). However, even though the treaty is named “Jay’s Treaty” and has Jay’s signature on it, it was mainly the work of Alexander Hamilton, whose information leaks and advice helped the British diplomats move more confidently ("John Jay" Encyclopedia of World Biography). The Jay Treaty was like a group project where only one person was doing the work, but the other person took all the credit. Also, when the treaty was signed, the Americans responded quite negatively because of how it was very one-sided, with Britain ultimately being granted more rights. Jay had handed them the right to seize U.S. goods on their way to France as long as they paid for them, and they could also confiscate, without any payment, French goods on American ships ("John Jay" John Jay). However, the Jay’s Treaty very likely prevented a war the Americans were ill-equipped for ("John Jay Biography"). The Americans had riots and public bonfires of the British flag and even made sculptures of Jay for the sole purpose of being destroyed ("Jay Treaty"). Furthermore, John Jay’s contribution to America’s independence will forever impact the founding of our nation. His signing of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 and the Jay’s Treaty founded the United States of America. Also, his position as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1789 to 1795 helped shape the U.S. ("John Jay, First Chief Justice of the United States"). Finally, John Jay had accomplished quite a lot outside of the Continental Congress. He became a member of the New York Committee of Correspondence in 1774, a member of the New York Constitutional Convention in 1777, and a member of New York's Committee of Sixty in 1777 (Kindig). He became the First Chief Justice of the New York Provincial Congress in 1777, where he took a part in drafting the New York State Constitution ("John Jay, First Chief Justice of the United States"). He was the main author of the first constitution of New York and brought about major improvements in the state's criminal justice system. He drafted and negotiated the American boundaries, officially determined in the Treaty of Paris (Hershenson). After he finished working as the state's chief justice and helping to write the state constitution, he returned to the Continental Congress in 1778. Furthermore, when John Jay returned to New York after the Jay Treaty, he found out he had been elected Governor of New York, and he served from 1797 to 1801. It turns out that Alexander Hamilton had secured his spot in the election in an effort to strengthen the Federalist Party in New York (Kindig). He chose to resign from his seat on the Supreme Court to take the office ("John Jay" Encyclopedia of World Biography).

What John Jay has done in the past may not matter to many people right now, but in this current time, we all have our own John Jays. Currently, we are facing countless bombings, terrorists, kidnappings, global warming, unequal rights, etc., and the people that represent us are trying their best to solve these problems. Without this leadership, whether good or bad, we wouldn’t be able to face these calamities because we wouldn’t have a leader. We wouldn’t know what to do, especially in serious situations, and this nation would become engulfed in a shadow of chaos. In addition, one of the John Jays of this century is Malala Yousafzai. Malala has been known to be a huge women’s rights activist. She fights valiantly for women’s rights with her eloquent speeches, even after she was shot, making her known to be a hero in this time, like John Jay was during his time. The way she stands up to ISIS has driven many people to aid to her cause, and could possibly be the key to defeating ISIS.

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John Jay’s actions and their effects on the growth and formation of the United States of America is not one to be forgotten; his actions veered America onto a completely different track, one we wouldn’t have been on if he was never in this world. Because of him, we’re alive, and we’re not living in the ruins of war. Because of him, we have established fair laws for our nation. Because of him, because of John Jay, we are the United States of America, and he undeniably, deserves his large, but widely unknown, place of honor among the Founding Fathers of the United States.

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A Biography of The Former United State’s Chief Justice John Jay. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
“A Biography of The Former United State’s Chief Justice John Jay.” GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019,
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A Biography of The Former United State’s Chief Justice John Jay [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Mar 12 [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from:
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