Person of Interest: John Jay

John Jay (1745 -1829) was an American patriot, Founding Father, legislator, and diplomat. He served as a member and President of the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War. From a wealthy New York family with Huguenot and Dutch roots, Jay was a conservative lawyer who supported a strong centralized federal government. Jay along Alexander Hamilton  Constitution.

In the new US Government, Washington initially offered Jay the position of Secretary of State which he rejected, then the position of Chief Justice of the United States. The Court’s business through its first three years primarily involved the establishment of rules and procedure; reading of commissions and admission of attorneys to the bar; and the Justices’ duties in “riding circuit,” or presiding over cases in the circuit courts of the various federal judicial districts. It’s primary finding during the Jay courts was the principle of judicial review.

After his retirement from the Supreme Court, Jay served as Governor of the State of New York and the leader of the Federalist Party. Jay like many wealthy New Yorkers was a slave owner. He became an ardent opponent of slavery—the founder of the New York Manumission Society—who sought the emancipation of slaves from the earliest days of the under the Continental Congress through his term as Governor of New York. In 1827 all slaves in New York were freed. Jay turned down offers to run for an additional term as governor and re-nomination to the Supreme Court and retired from public life in 1801.

Tomorrow, Another Person of Interest      Rita Bay

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