The Selected Papers of John Jay, a project sponsored by Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library and funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), is producing a multivolume scholarly edition of Jay’s papers to be published by Columbia University Press. The edition is designed to revise and complete work begun in the late 1950s by Richard B. Morris, an eminent Jay scholar and Columbia University professor, who supplemented the major collection of original Jay Papers at Columbia with copies of Jay documents secured from archives throughout the world.
The seven-volume Selected Papers of John Jay will be the first modern edition of John Jay’s life and papers and will promote his overdue recognition as a Founding Father. The edition will also complement the online database The Papers of John Jay.
Two letterpress volumes of selected papers, John Jay: The Making of a Revolutionary: Unpublished papers, 1745-1780 and John Jay: The Winning of the Peace: Unpublished papers, 1780-1784, edited by Richard B. Morris, have appeared previously. Morris, who had first projected the series in 1959, was unable to bring the final volumes to press before his death in 1989, but had completed preliminary work on them.
John Jay, a New Yorker, who left the Supreme Court to negotiate the Treaty that bears his name in 1794, served two terms as governor of New York. Although he retired from public life to his farm in Bedford, New York in 1801, Jay remained in service to the republic as a senior advisor to the remaining Federalists. He was also an active Episcopalian and founder of that denomination, and an active participant in the anti-slavery movement. By making available a fully annotated letterpress edition of Jay's writings - including his lively correspondence with his wife, sons and political heirs - the completed series of Jay's unpublished papers will encourage new assessments of the career and accomplishments of this least well-known of the Founding Fathers.
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