first american republic
This website is designed to be an introduction to, supplement to, and companion to the book 'THE FIRST AMERICAN REPUBLIC: 1774-1789
(The First Fourteen American Presidents Before Washington)'

Chapter 5: President JOHN JAY of New York 

Reluctant Revolutionary

first american republic When the Continental Congress first met on the morning of Monday, September 5, 1774, one of the least known delegates was an attorney from New York by the name of John Jay. At the age of 28, he was the second youngest member of the assembly and a total neophyte when it came to revolutionary politics. He had been selected by his colony because of his sharp legal mind and his conservative, pro-business connections. John's assignment was to temper his more fiery colleagues and undermine another financially disastrous boycott of British goods. Over the next two months, however, John gradually embraced the moderate wing of the Patriot cause as he learned first hand the details of Parliament's flagrant violation of colonial rights across the continent.

From that first Congress, John's reputation for selfless devotion to duty expanded exponentially. Over the next quarter century he held positions of leadership in all three branches of government at both the state and national levels, a record never again matched by any other American. Two days before his thirty-third birthday John became the youngest President in United States history and, at the end of his distinguished career, he was twice elected Governor of New York. He also served with distinction in both the Continental Congress and the New York Assembly. The Judiciary, however, was always John's first love. He became New York State's first Chief Justice and, a decade later, the first Chief Justice of the United States. His greatest contribution, however, was as a diplomat. John labored for months as the primary author of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War. Back in America he served as Secretary for Foreign Affairs during the final years of the Continental Congress.