John Jay was born in New York City in 1745. After attending King's College (Columbia College), he became a lawyer. He was a delegate from New York to the First and Second Continental Congresses, where he espoused conciliation until the British proved they would not reconcile. After the Declaration of Independence, he became an ardent Patriot, and is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the United States.
He was chosen President of the Continental Congress and served as a diplomat to Spain. By clicking on the image at the right, you can see the introduction to the collection of letters Jay wrote while in Spain.
From 1784-89, Jay served as the second Secretary of Foreign Affairs (which later became the Secretary of State). He joined with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in attacking the Articles of Confederation through the Federalist Papers. In 1789, Washington nominated Jay to be the first Chief Justice of the United States, which position he held until 1795. In 1794, he brokered the Jay Treaty to avoid war with Britain. This Treaty postponed war with Britain for a decade, resolved the issues of the Revolution, and expanded trade.
Jay was elected Governor of New York from 1795 to 1800, then declined an offer to be on the Supreme Court again and governor again. He retired to the life of a gentleman farmer and died on his farm in New York in 1829.