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John Jay: American Revolutionary Patriot

Continental Congress

John Jay was an American Revolutionary Patriot, statesman and lawyer from New York. He served on the First and Second Continental Congress and was appointed to become minister plenipotentiary in Spain in 1779. He helped in the negotiation of The Treaty of Paris, which was helped in the ending of the American Revolution. While on a visit in London, he had an artist with the name of Gilbert Stuart do his portrait. He wanted two versions done, one for a political ally named William Bingham and one for himself. Gilbert only did the heads while another artist, named John Trumbull finished the portraits. In 1793, Gilbert did another portrait of Jay when he was elected as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Jay served until 1795, when he was elected the Governor of New York.

John Jay was only thirty two years old when he was elected President of the Continental Congress. He was an intelligent and very able lawyer from a prosperous merchant family. Jay was appointed Minister of the Spanish Court in 1779 and was given the cause to get support for the American cause and the recognition that America wanted their freedom. There were many reasons for him to succeed. Spain had a long standing grudge against Great Britain, so there was thought that they would agree to help in the cause. Spain finally agreed to secretly join the effort with France in April of 1779. The only thing that was different was that Spain did not give the declaration for war against Great Britain solely for the Americans, they had their own agenda. Jay spent two years that were very frustrating to him, trying to get Spain to help in their cause. He was not able to get back home, so effectively he was on the good will of the Spanish people, especially from the principle Spanish minister, the Conde de Floridablanca. Floridablanca was worried about the claims of the Americans on the lands west of the Appalachia and also on the colonies that Spain had claim on. Jay was not successful in Spain, but in later years he was able to become Peace Commissioner in Paris. He was able to bring peace with Great Britain and the Americas by negotiating peace that ended the War.

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John Jay would decline to become Minister of Great Britain but would take the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs that was offered to him. He would be responsible for the relations with other countries for the new nation of America. As his term as Governor of New York, he was very popular, and he fought for many political reforms for the people. He also helped in improving the economy of the state. In 1801, he retired from public life, even though President John Adams tried to get him to come back, he refused to, using his wife’s illness as an excuse. John Jay passed away on May 17, 1829, after surviving his wife.