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and extensive happiness to this and future generations. Vice, ignorance, and want of vigilance, will be the only enemies able to destroy it. Against these provide, and, of these, be for ever jealous. Every member of the State ought diligently to read and study the constitution of his country, and teach the rising generation to be free. By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated, and be the better prepared to defend and assert them.
“This, gentlemen, is the first court held under the authority of our constitution, and I hope its proceedings will be such, as to merit the approbation of the friends, and avoid giving cause of censure to the enemies of the present establishment."
As a judge of the Supreme Court, Mr. Jay was prevented by the Constitution of the State, from occupying any other office, except that of delegate to Congress on a special occasion. A special occasion was afforded when the dispute originated between the people of Vermont and the Legislature of New York; and he was elected on the 10th of November, 1778. In December following, he took his seat in Congress, and, on the resignation of Mr. Laurens, three days after, was elected in his place as President of that body. Here he remained until the twenty-seventh of September, 1779, when he was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. On the twentieth of October he sailed, in company with M. Gerard, the French minister, on board the American frigate Confederacy. A few days out, the frigate was dismasted in a terrific storm, and with difficulty reached Martinico about the middle of December. From this place he sailed ten days after his arrival, and landed at Cadiz on the twenty-eighth of January, 1780.
Mr. Jay lost no time in going to Madrid. On his arrival at that place he discovered that the Spanish government were not inclined to enter into negotiations with him; and that although that government was at war with our common enemy, she was not disposed even to acknowledge our independence, unconditionally.* While in this situation, he learned that Congress had resolved upon a singular expedient for raising funds, (on the presumption of the success of his mission,) by drawing on him for the payment of large sums at six months' sight. These bills soon were presented; and Mr. Jay accepted them; becoming personally responsible for a greater portion of them.t
Mr. Adams was appointed, in 1779, as sole minister plenipotentiary for peace, and at the same time to make a treaty of commerce with Great Britain. In 1781, Mr. Jay, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Laurens, and Mr. Jefferson, were associated with Mr. Adams, by Congress, in the commission for peace, and Mr. Adams' commission to negotiate a treaty of commerce was annulled. Early in the summer of 1782, having been informed of his appointment as commissioner, Mr. Jay left Madrid and arrived at Paris. Dr. Franklin was the only member of the commission at Paris on his arrival. Mr. Adams still remained at Amsterdam, Mr. Jefferson in America, and Mr. Laurens was in England, worn down with ill-health, debating whether he had not better return to the United States rather than proceed to Paris. Mr. Jay and Dr. Franklin, therefore, undertook the “skirmishing" business of the negotiation.
In July, Mr. Richard Oswald was empowered by the King of England “to treat, consult of, and conclude, with any commissioner or commissioners named, or to be named by the thirteen colonies or plantations in North America, and any body or bodies, corporate or politic, or any assembly or assemblies, or description of men, or any person or persons whatsoever, a peace or truce with the said colonies or plantations, or any part thereof." On the seventh of August, this commission was communicated to Mr. Jay and Dr. Franklin; the former thought that the expression of the commission did not acknowledge the independence of the United States, and insisted that it would be an acquiescence in that idea, if they should treat under the denomination of colonies. “I told the minister," he says, “that we neither could nor would treat with any nation in the world on any other than an equal footing." | This difficulty being obviated by the reception of a new commission, from England, describing the constituents of Mr. Jay
* Life of John Jay, vol. 1, page 106, et seq.
Letter to Gouverneur Morris, October 18th, 1782. Jay's Writings.
and Dr. Franklin, as the Thirteen United States of America; the negotiation commenced, and, on the thirtieth of November, 1782, the provisional articles agreed upon were signed by Oswald on the one part and the four American commissioners on the other, Mr. Adams and Mr. Laurens having arrived at Paris pending the negotiation. The value of Mr. Jay's services in this important transaction cannot be overestimated.
On the sixteenth of May, 1784, Mr. Jay left Paris, and on the twenty-fourth of July, arrived at New York. “At length,” he said in a letter to a friend, “I am arrived in the land of my nativity; and I bless God that it is also the land of light, liberty, and plenty. My emotions cannot be described."* His fellow-citizens received him on his return with expressions of admiration and esteem. The corporation of New York presented to him an address accompanied with the freedom of the city, “as a public testimony of the respectful sentiments we entertain towards you, and as a pledge of our affection, and of our sincere wishes for your happiness."
On the meeting of the State Legislature in the fall, they appointed Mr. Jay a delegate to Congress, and on the sixth of December he took his seat in that assembly, which was convened at Trenton. A short time after, he accepted the position as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, to which place he had been appointed previous to his return to America. The prominent feature of this portion of his course was the renewal of negotiations with Spain, and the formation of the federal constitution. After the convention at Philadelphia had submitted the constitution to the people, a strong and violent opposition manifested itself. In this state of the public mind, Mr. Jay, associated with Hamilton and Madison, vindicated the proposed plan of government, in the essays entitled The Federalist, “equally admirable for the depth of its wisdom, the comprehensiveness of its views, the sagacity of its reflections, and the fearlessness, patriotism, candor, simplicity and elegance with which its truths are uttered and recommended." + In these papers, he discussed the dangers to be apprehended from foreign influence and power, and the authority of the Senate in making treaties.
In June, the convention of the State of New York, authorized to adopt or reject the federal constitution, met at Poughkeepsie. Of this convention Mr. Jay was a member, and the services he rendered were signal and important. The new Congress assembled on the fourth of March, 1789, and a few days after, Washington was elected President of the United States. After the passage of the Judiciary Bill, Mr. Jay was offered, by the President, a choice of the offices under the government. Expressing a preference for the Chief Justiceship, he was nominated, and on the twenty-sixth of September, 1789, was confirmed by the Senate. “In nominating you for the important station which you now fill," wrote President Washington, “I not only acted in conformity to my best judgment, but I trust I did a grateful thing to the good citizens of the United States; and I have a full confidence, that the love which you bear to our country, and a desire to promote the general happiness, will not suffer you to hesitate a moment to bring into action the talents, knowledge and integrity which are so necessary to be exercised at the head of that department, which must be considered as the keystone of our political fabric." I Mr. Jay's decisions, while he remained on the bench, evince a power of analysis, great logical acquirements, and a ready apprehension of principles. $
The next important service rendered by Mr. Jay, was the negotiation of the treaty with Great Britain, in 1794. He was appointed commissioner, and sailed from New York in May, and on the fifteenth of June arrived at London. Lord Grenville, a son of the celebrated George Grenville, was the negotiator on the part of Great Britain. The negotiation progressed favorably, as will be seen by the following, written by Mr. Jay to.Washington, early in August: “Our prospects become more and more promising as we advance in the business. ... A treaty of commerce is on the carpet .... The King observed to me the other day, Well, sir, I imagine you begin to see that your mission will probably be successful.'—'I am happy, may it please
• Life of John Jay, vol. 1, page 183. + Kent's Commentaries. The particular numbers of the Federalist, written by Mr. Jay, are given at page 126, ante. * Washington to Jay, enclosing the latter's commission, 6th October, 1789. Washington's Writings, vol. 10, page 86. Flander's Chief Justices, page 885.
your Majesty, to find that you entertain that idea.'—'Well, but don't you perceive that it is like to be so?'— There are some recent circumstances (the answer to my representation, &c.) which induce me to flatter myself that it will be so.' He nodded with a smile, signifying that it was to those circumstances that he alluded. The conversation then turned to indifferent topics."* The treaty was concluded on the nineteenth of November, 1794, and Mr. Jay returned to New York in the latter part of May of the next year. He was received by his fellow-citizens with demonstrations of gratitude and joy, and was attended to his dwelling by a large concourse, "amid the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon."
To many, Jay's treaty was objectionable : by those it was opposed with uncommon bitterness. † But it enlisted the ablest defenders : Hamilton, in its support, under the signature of Camillus, “extorted the admiration of his foes ;" and Fisher Ames urged the passage of laws to give it effect, in a powerful speech, which drew forth tears, and made an impression that
Mr. Jay was elected governor of New York two days before he arrived from England, and continued in office during six years. In the fall of the year 1800, he was solicited to consent to be a candidate for re-election, but declined, preferring to pass the remainder of his days in the retirement of his home. “The period is now arrived,” he wrote, “at which I have for many years intended to retire from the cares of public life, and for which I have been for more than two years preparing; not perceiving, after mature consideration, that any duties require me to postpone it, I shall retire accordingly. But I retain and cherish the warmest affection for my country, as well as the esteem which I entertain for many, and the good will which I bear to all my fellow-citizens." S
On the nineteenth of December, he was nominated by President Adams to the Chief Justiceship of the United States, but his determination to retire from public life prevented his acceptance of that post. In the month of May following, he resigned the office of governor, "and passed the remainder of his days at the family estate at Westchester. He took no part in political affairs, and was not publicly heard of, except in two or three instances, when he answered inquiries concerning facts within his knowledge."| In the night of the fourteenth of May, 1829, he was attacked with palsy, which, on the seventeenth, terminated his honorable and distinguished life. “History will assign to John Jay an elevated rank among the great," says Mr. Sullivan; “not only so, it will place him equally high among the pure and the virtuous. Throughout his useful life, he was governed by the dictates of an enlightened Christian conscience. He thought and acted under the conviction that there is an accountability far more serious than any which men can have to their fellow-men. The bravest soldiers and the worthiest statesmen have ever been those who believed in such accountability."
* Jay to Washington, August 5th, 1794. Life and Writings of Jay, vol. 2, pp. 220–221. + See page 108, ante.
See Ames' speech at page 104, ante.
& Jay to Richard Hatfield, chairman of Federal meeting, &c., 8th November, 1800. Life and Writings of John Jay, Fol 1, page 419.
| Sullivan's Public Men of the Revolution, page 91,
ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF GREAT BRITAIN.
Congress, on the eleventh day of October, as our fellow-subjects in Britain, and that no 1774, appointed Mr. Lee, Mr. Livingston and power on earth has a right to take our property Mr. Jay a committee to prepare a memorial to
from us without our consent.
That we claim all the benefits secured to the the people of British America, and an address
subject by the English constitution, and parto the people of Great Britain. It was agreed ticularly that inestimable one of trial by jury. in the committee that Mr. Lee should prepare That we hold it essential to English liberty the former, and that Mr. Jay should prepare
that no man be condemned unheard, or punish
ed for supposed offences, without having an opthe latter. On the eighteenth, Mr. Jay report
portunity of making his defence. ed a draught of the address, which was dis That we think the legislature of Great Britain cussed and amended on the day following, and is not authorized by the constitution to estab. on the twenty-first was approved by Congress.*
crece * | lish a religion fraught with sanguinary and im
pious tenets; or to erect an arbitrary form of FRIENDS AND FELLOW-SUBJECTS: When a na-1 government in any quarter of the globe. These tion led to greatness by the hand of liberty, rights we, as well as you, deem sacred; and and possessed of all the glory that heroism, yet, sacred as they are, they have, with many munificence, and humanity can bestow, de others, been repeatedly and flagrantly violated. scends to the ungrateful task of forging chains Are not the proprietors of the soil of Great for her friends and children, and instead of Britain lords of their own property? Can it giving support to freedom, turns advocate for be taken from them without their consent? slavery and oppression, there is reason to sus- Will they yield it to the arbitrary disposal of pect she has either ceased to be virtuous or any man or number of men whatever You been extremely negligent in the appointment know they will not. of her rulers.
Why, then, are the proprietors of the soil of In almost every age, in repeated conflicts in America less lords of their property than you long and bloody wars, as well civil as foreign, are of yours? or why should they submit it to against many and powerful nations, against the the disposal of your Parliament, or any other open assaults of enemies, and the more danger- parliament or council in the world, not of their ous treachery of friends, have the inhabitants election? Can the intervention of the sea that of your island, your great and glorious ances- divides us cause disparity in rights, or can any tors, maintained their independence and trans- reason be given why English subjects who live mitted the rights of men and the blessings of three thousand miles from the Royal Palace, liberty to you, their posterity.
should enjoy less liberty than those who are Be not surprised, therefore, that we who are three hundred miles distant from it? descended from the same common ancestors, Reason looks with indignation on such disthat we whose forefathers participated in all tinctions, and freemen can never perceive their the rights, the liberties, and the constitution propriety. And yet, however chimerical and you so justly boast of, and who have carefully unjust such discriminations are, the Parliament conveyed the same fair inheritance to us, guar- assert that they have a right to bind us, in all anteed by the plighted faith of government, cases, without exception, whether we consent and the most solemn compacts with British or not; that they may take and use our propsovereigns, should refuse to surrender them to erty when and in what manner they please; men who found their claims on no principles of that we are pensioners on their bounty for all reason, and who prosecute them with a design that we possess, and can hold it no longer than that, by having our lives and property in their they vouchsafe to permit. Such declarations power, they may, with the greatest facility, en- we consider as heresies in English politics, and slave you.
which can no more operate to deprive us of our The cause of America is now the object of property than the interdicts of the Pope can universal attention; it has at length become divest kings of sceptres which the laws of the very serious. This unhappy country has not land and the voice of the people have placed in only been oppressed, but abused and misrepre- their hands. sented; and the duty we owe to ourselves and At the conclusion of the late war-a war posterity, to your interest, and the general wel. rendered glorious by the abilities and integrity fare of the British empire, leads us to address of a minister to whose efforts the British emyou on this very important subject.
pire owes its safety and its fame; at the concluKnoro, then, That we consider ourselves, and sion of this war, which was succeeded by an do insist, that we are and ought to be as free inglorious peace, formed under the auspices of
a minister of principles, and of a family, un• Journals of Congress, 1774. Ed. 1828. Vol. 1, pp. 18-31. friendly to the Protestant cause, and inimical Bee ante, p. 43; also Jay's letter, in tho Life of R. H. Loe. to liberty-we say at this period, and under Vol. 1, pp. 270-272
| the influence of that man, a plan for enslaving
your fellow-subjects in America was concerted, | America, and the inestimable right of trial by and has ever since been pertinaciously carrying jury taken away, in cases that touch both life into execution.
and property. It was ordained that whenever Prior to this era you were content with draw- offences should be committed in the colonies ing from us the wealth produced by our com- against particular acts, imposing various duties merce: you restrained your trade in every way and restrictions upon trade, the prosecutor that could conduce to your emolument. You might bring his action for the penalties in the exercised unbounded sovereignty over the sea. Courts of Admiralty, by which means the subYou named the ports and nations to which ject lost the advantage of being tried by an alone our merchandise should be carried, and honest, uninfluenced jury of the vicinage, and with whom alone we should trade; and though was subjected to the sad necessity of being some of these restrictions were grievous, we judged by a single man, a creature of the nevertheless did not complain. We looked up crown, and according to the course of a law to you as to our parent state, to which we were which exempts the prosecutor from the trouble bound by the strongest ties, and were happy in of proving his accusation, and obliges the debeing instrumental to your prosperity and your fendant either to evince his innocence or to grandeur.
| suffer. To give this new judicatory the greater We call upon you, yourselves, to witness our importance, and as if with design to protect loyalty and attachment to the common interest false accusers, it is further provided, that the of the whole empire. Did we not, in the last judge's certificate of there having been probawar, add all the strength of this vast continent ble causes of seizure and prosecution, shall proto the force which repelled our common ene- tect the prosecutor from actions at common my? Did we not leave our native shores and law for recovery of damages. meet disease and death to promote the success. By the course of our law, offences committed of British arms in foreign climates? Did you in such of the British dominions in which not thank us for our zeal, and even reimburse courts are established, and justice duly and us large sums of money, which you confessed regularly administered, shall be there tried by we had advanced beyond our proportion, and a jury of the vicinage. There the offenders far beyond our abilities? You did.
and the witnesses are known, and the degree To what causes, then, are we to attribute the of credibility to be given to their testimony can sudden change of treatment, and that system of be ascertained. slavery, which was prepared for us at the re- In all these colonies justice is regularly and storation of peace ?
impartially administered; and yet, by the conBefore we had recovered from the distresses struction of some, and the direction of other which ever attend war, an attempt was made acts of Parliament, offenders are to be taken by to drain this country of all its money, by the force, together with all such persons as may be oppressive stamp act. Paint, glass, and other pointed out as witnesses, and carried to Engcommodities, which you would not permit us land, there to be tried in a distant land, by a to purchase of other nations, were taxed; nay, jury of strangers, and subject to all the disadalthough no wine is made in any country, sub- vantages that result from the want of friends, ject to the British state, you prohibited our want of witnesses, and want of money. procuring it of foreigners without paying a tax, When the design of raising a revenue from imposed by your Parliament, on all we im- the duties imposed on the importation of tea ported. These, and many other impositions, into America, had in great measure been renwere laid upon us, most unjustly and unconsti- dered abortive by our ceasing to import that tutionally, for the express purpose of raising a commodity, a scheme was concerted by the revenue. In order to silence complaint, it was ministry with the East India Company, and an indeed provided that this revenue should be act passed, enabling and encouraging them to expended in America for its protection and de- transport and vend it in the colonies. Aware fence. These exactions, however, can receive of the danger of giving success to this insidious no justification from a pretended necessity of manœuvre, and of permitting & precedent of protecting and defending us. They are lavishly taxation thus to be established among us, vásquandered on court favorites and ministerial rious methods were adopted to elude the stroke. dependants, generally avowed enemies to The people of Boston, then ruled by a governor America, and employing themselves by partial whom, as well as his predecessor, Sir Francis representations to traduce and embroil the colo- Bernard, all America considers as her enemy, nies. For the necessary support of government were exceedingly embarrassed. The ships here, we ever were and ever shall be ready to which had arrived with the tea were, by his provide. And whenever the exigencies of the management, prevented from returning. The state may require it, we shall, as we have here- duties would have been paid; the cargoes tofore done, cheerfully contribute our full pro- landed aud exposed to sale; a governor's influportion of men and money. To enforce this ence would have procured and protected many unconstitutional and unjust scheme of taxation, purchasers. While the town was suspended every fence that the wisdom of our British an- by deliberations on this important subject the cestors had carefully erected against arbitrary tea was destroyed. Even supposing a trespass power, has been violently thrown down in I was thereby committed, and the proprietors of