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250px-John Jay (Gilbert Stuart portrait)

Chief Justice John Jay

John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) was an American statesman, Patriot, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first Chief Justice of the United States (1789–95). Jay was born into a wealthy family of merchants and government officials in New York City. He became a lawyer and joined the New York Committee of Correspondence and organized opposition to British rule. He joined a conservative political faction that, fearing mob rule, sought to protect property rights and maintain the rule of law while resisting British violations of human rights. Jay served as the President of the Continental Congress (1778-79). During and after the American Revolution, Jay was a Minister (Ambassador) to Spain and France, helping to fashion United States foreign policy. His major diplomatic achievement was to negotiate favorable trade terms with Great Britain in the Treaty of London of 1794. Jay, a proponent of strong, centralized government, worked to ratify the new Constitution in New York in 1788 by anonymously writing a few of the Federalist Papers, along with the main authors Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. As a leader of the new Federalist Party, Jay was the Governor of New York State (1795-1801); and he became the state's leading opponent of slavery. His first two attempts to end slavery failed in 1777 and in 1785, but his third attempt succeeded in 1799. The 1799 Act, a gradual emancipation act, that he signed into law eventually brought about the emancipation of all slaves in New York before his death in 1829.

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