White House Dream Team: John Jay

Drawing of John Jay John Jay

John Jay grew up in New York City and became a lawyer. His ability to compromise and negotiate with others led him to help draft the constitution for the State of New York. Like many of America's founding fathers, John dreamed of a fair government system. When tension grew between Great Britain and the American colonists, he first opposed war, but later drafted a compromise document called, Address to the People of Great Britain.

During the Revolutionary War, John sent cannons to George Washington's troops in New York. He also organized a council to search for spies and traitors. He later traveled to Paris and worked with Benjamin Franklin to negotiate peace with Great Britain. His cooperative skills resulted in the Treaty of Paris, which officially concluded the Revolutionary War.

After the war, John grew frustrated with the weakness of the new government established by the Articles of Confederation. He wrote five essays with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to argue for a new government structure. Their writings, called the Federalist Papers, led to the state of New York joining the Union and ratifying the U.S. Constitution.

John's work caught the attention of President George Washington, who named him the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. John created many of the procedures used by the Supreme Court. President Washington later sent John to Great Britain to help avoid another war. The agreement, called the Jay Treaty, settled the dispute and promoted commercial prosperity. At the time, the treaty was a national controversy, and John lost an opportunity to be considered for the Presidency. He later became Governor of New York. John's cooperation and abilities left a lasting legacy on the formation of the government of the United States.

Brain Challenge:

  1. Where did John grow up?
  2. What was John's profession?
  3. Whom did John work with to write the Federalist Papers?
  4. John was the first person to hold what important office?
  5. What are the names of the two treaties associated with John?
Share your answers with a parent, teacher or other adult.

Want to learn more?
Visit your school or public library to learn more about these fascinating Americans.

Dec. 12, 1745 in New York City

May 17, 1829 in Bedford, New York

To establish a fair government system

King's College, 1764 (today known as Columbia University)

Legacy Founding father of the United States, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

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