Few leaders of the new American nation had more influence than John Jay (1745–1829), or could match his contributions in all three branches of government, at both state and national levels. A leading representative of New York in the Continental Congress, Jay became one of the American commissioners who negotiated peace with Great Britain. He served the new republic as secretary for foreign affairs under the Articles of Confederation, as a contributor to the Federalist papers, as the first chief justice of the United States, as negotiator of the 1794 “Jay Treaty” with Great Britain, and as a two-term governor of the state of New York. In his personal life, Jay embraced a wide range of religious, social, and cultural concerns, including the abolition of slavery.
This volume launches a new annotated seven-volume edition of selected correspondence of John Jay. The work consists of a wide-ranging selection of the most significant and interesting public and private documents and letters, written or received by Jay. Volume 1 covers Jay’s education at King’s College, his early legal career, his growing political awareness, marriage to the witty and articulate Sarah (Sally) Van Brugh Livingston, and his increasing involvement in the Revolutionary cause, as a member of a number of New York's revolutionary committees and Continental Congress. The volume ends in 1779, with his Presidency of Congress and his appointment as minister to Spain.
"The Selected Papers of John Jay is a notable and important contribution to the study of the Early Republic," said Herbert Sloan, Professor of History at Barnard College. "I am delighted that Columbia has been able to support and will continue to support this project."
Begun in 2004, the edition is designed to revise and complete work begun in the 1950s by the eminent Columbia University professor Richard B. Morris, who supplemented the major collection of original Jay Papers at Columbia with copies of Jay documents secured from archives throughout the world, and with his staff published two volumes covering the era of the American Revolution. The new project is administered by the Rare Books & Manuscript Library of Columbia University and was made possible by the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The project will also serve as a gateway to the Papers of John Jay website, which was launched in 2003. This website provides access to images of more than 20,000 pages of Jay and Jay-related documents, and is available to the public at: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?AVE8231
To celebrate the release of Volume 1, the Libraries will host a public program on March 25, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.. John Kaminski, Director of The Center for the Study of the American Constitution at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will speak on “Premier John Jay: The Most Important Man in America” at Butler Library, Room 523, 535 West 114th Street on the Morningside campus. A reception will immediately follow the lecture. The event is co-sponsored by The Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History.