John Jay

Media Items
Personal Information
Sunday, December 12, 1745
Sunday, May 17, 1829
Childhood Location 
New York
Childhood Surroundings 
New York
Chief Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Saturday, September 26, 1789
Sworn In 
Monday, October 19, 1789
Left Office 
Monday, June 29, 1795
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
5 years, 8 months, 10 days
New York
John Jay
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Casimir Gregory Stapko (after Gilbert Stuart))

John Jay was born to a prominent New York family. He was tutored at home and attended King's College, graduating at nineteen. He was admitted to the bar four years later.

Jay was New York's representative at the First and Second Continental Congress. In 1788, Jay was elected president of that body. He was sent on diplomatic missions and he helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris in 1783, ending the war with Great Britain.

Jay was a strong advocate for a strengthened national government. Though he did not attend the Constitutional Convention, he did contribute five essays to a series of newspaper articles (later called "The Federalist Papers") in support of ratification.

Jay declined Washington's offer to serve as secretary of state. Washington returned with an offer as the first chief justice, which Jay accepted. Jay continued diplomatic missions while on the Court. He negotiated a treaty with England in 1794 to ease growing hostilites between the two countries.

Upon his return from the treaty negotiations, Jay discovered that he had been elected governor of New York. He immediately resigned his position as chief justice. He served two three-year terms as governor.

In 1800, President John Adams nominated Jay for a second appointment as chief justice. The nomination was quickly confirmed by the Senate, but Jay refused citing his poor health and because he concluded that the Court lacked "the energy, weight, and dignity which are essential to its affording due support to the national government."

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John Jay. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
John Jay, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"John Jay," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,