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gravity of manhood, with the zeal qualifications of persons applying and energy of youth. After ha. for military commissions; and with ving acted a few months as a Franklin, Jefferson, Deane, and member of the general committee Hooper, composed the committee of safety in the city of New York, to prepare the instructions for the Mr. Jay was elected, in 1774, by provisional government, to whose the citizens of N. York, Westches. care the public affairs were to be ter, Albany, and Duchess counties, committed, upon the adjournment as one of their delegates, and took of congress. He was also, with his seat in the first American con. Franklin, Harrison, Johnson, and gress. At the opening thereof, Sept. Dickenson, on the committee of 5th, the high estimation in which secret correspondence with the he was held, even in this illustrious friends of the colonies in foreign body, was evinced, by his being countries. This important com. placed on a committee with Mr. mittee was appointed the 29th No. Lee and Mr. Livingston, to draft vember, 1775, and was the origin an address to the people of Great of the future department of foreign Britain ; and the eloquent produc affairs. He was on various other tion they reported was written by committees; and it may be safely Mr. Jay himself. In the spring of asserted that, while in congress, 1775, he was chosen a member of no members, except Franklin and the provincial convention of New. John Adams, were appointed to York, and by that body was chosen, more numerous and important du. the second of April, a delegate to
ties. From his gifted mind pro. the continental congress, which ceeded many of those celebra. was to assemble the 10th of ted state papers, whose
elo. May, 1775. Mr. Jay hastened to quence commanded the admiration take his seat in congress, and was of Europe, whilst, by the evidence immediately appointed chairman which they furnished of the wig. of a committee to prepare an ad. dom and talent that guided the dress to the people of Canada. He councils of the United States, they was shortly after chosen, June 3d, contributed to their ultimate suc. with Franklin, Dickenson, Johnson cess, as much as the most signal and Rutledge, to draft a petition to triumphs of their arms. the king. Within a fortnight after Whilst in this congress, Mr. Jay this, he was again appointed, with was appointed, by the provincial the same colleagues, except Dic. convention of New.York, colonel kenson, whose place was supplied of the second regiment of the city by Mr. Livingston, to prepare a militia ; but before he was released declaration for General Washing- from the more arduous and press. ton, upon assuming the command of ing duties imposed upon him, the the
army in the name of congress. city itself 'had fallen into the hands On the 12th of July, 1775, he is of the enemy. one of a committee to provide for In the month of May, 1776, he the protection of the trade of the was recalled from congress by the colonies, and was re-appointed, on provincial convention, to aid in the same committee, in the ad. forming the government for the journed congress, which met the province, which, in pursuance of a ensuing September. He was also recommendation of the general on the committee to examine the congress, it had determined to adopt.
To the urgent demands for Mr. high treason to oppose the AmeriJay's presence in his own province, can cause. it is owing that his name does not On the 23d of the same month, appear among the signers to the a few days before the battle of declaration of independence. Trenton, he prepared an address
Immediately upon his return, he from the convention to the people was put in requisition. On the of the state of New York, exhort. 13th of June, he was placed on the ing them to act with vigour and committee to take up disaffected courage in that critical emergency. persons; and, on the 21st of the Whilst performing these duties, same month, appointed chairman and amidst these distracting exi. of the committee of safety. The gencies, he was engaged in pre9th of July he reported resolutions paring a constitution for the goapproving of the declaration of in vernment of the state, and, on the dependence.
12th of March, 1777, he reported Shortly after this, New York be. to the convention the draft of that came the principal theatre of ac. instrument. Under this constitution. A numerous party of Tories tion, the government of the state existed in the state, and its central was administered for nearly half a position, together with other con- century, during which, the com. siderations, rendered it the object munity rapidly advanced in pros. of the enemy's attack.
perity and happiness. Many of its After a disastrous defeat, Gene. original and distinctive provisions ral Washington was obliged to were adopted in the constitutions evacuate the city, and finally to of other members of the Union ; retreat to the Highlands. The lower and the changes which have been part of the state was relinquished subsequently made in that instru. to the undisputed possession of the ment have not, in the opinion of British army, whose winter quar. many intelligent judges, improved ters were extended through New. the chances of the community for Jersey to the Delaware.
an able and enlightened adminis. The American army was obliged tration of the government. Upon to seek refuge behind the Dela. the organization of the state go. ware, and the provincial congress vernment, May 3d, 1777, Mr. Jay of New York retired to Pough. was appointed chief justice, which keepsie, protected from the enemy office he held until August 1811, more by the difficulties of the High. 1779, when he resigned, finding lands, than by the American forces. himself unable to perform its duties,
In this trying conjuncture, when in consequence of the more impe. the hopes of America seemed at rious duties devolved upon him as the lowest ebb, Mr. Jay never wa. president of congress. vered, but assumed a tone corres. Ilis moral courage, and the de. ponding to the emergency. The cision and determination with which 11th of December, 1776, he was in his judicial capacity, he carried appointed chairman of the com the laws into effect against the do. mittee to detect and suppress con.
mestic enemies of the state, imspiracies against the country, and parted confidence to his fellow proposed that it should be deemed citizens, and materially tended to
strengthen the Whigg in this divided in view, in this mission, were to member of the contederacy. obtain from Spain an acknowledg.
The 10th of November, 1778, ment of our independence, to form he was again chosen a delegate to a treaty of alliance, and to procure the continental congress, and took pecuniary aid. his seat on the 7th of the next On the two first points, the Span. month. Three days afterwards, ish minister had determined, before he was chosen president of con. acceding to the secret convention gress, on the resignation of Mr. with France, preparatory to the Laurens. While in that station, war with England, against the he prepared, pursuant to a resolu. wishes of the United States; but still tion of congress, passed September with the design of ascertaining the 8th, 1779, an address to their con. views of the United States, in relation stituents, on the state of the public to their western boundary, and pro. finances, in which he exhorted the bably in the hope of obtaining some people, in the most glowing terms, admissions concerning it, and even to enable congress to keep its faith, the relinquishment of territorial and to carry through the contest claims, he entered upon the nego. so gloriously begun.
tiation, but made no proposition, On the 27th of the same month nor statement of the claims of he was appointed minister pleni. Spain, and by all the arts of diplopotentiary to the court of Spain, macy, avoided coming to any de. and resigned the chair of congress, finite conclusion.
Among other with the thanks of that body for the obstacles which he threw in the manner in which he had discharged way, to the formation of a treaty, the duties of his office. He left were his objections to the claims the United States in the American of the United States to the navi. frigate Confederacy, accompanied gation of the Mississippi, from the by Mr. Gerard, the French minis. point where it leaves the territory ter. In consequence of the loss of of the United States to the sea. her bowsprit and all her masts, in Mr. Jay entertained some hopes of a gale of wind off the banks of New. bringing Spain to an equitable ar. foundland, the frigate was com. rangement on this head, but con. pelled to steer for Martinique, gress had, on the 15th of July, where she arrived, in a very dis. 1781, passed a resolution, per. abled state, on the 19th of Decem. mitting him to yield the navigation ber, 1779. The French authori. of this river, although with closed ties here despatched them, in the doors. Mr. Jay soon discovered French frigate Aurora, to Spain, from the conduct of Count Florida and they arrived at Cadiz, January Blanca, the Spanish minister, that 22d, 1780. Upon the invitation of he was acquainted with its passage. the Spanish minister, who had been Believing it useless, therefore, to informed of his arrival by Mr. Car- keep back the proposition, he made michael, the secretary of legation, the offer, but limited it to the pre. Mr. Jay was invited to Madrid, sent time, apprizing the Spanish where he arrived the 4th of April, minister, that if a treaty should not and entered upon the business in. be concluded with Spain, before a trusted to him.
general peace took place, the mo. The objects which congress had tives to that relinquishment would
end, and that the govrenment of stract principle of colonial depenthe United Statey would not con dence. The preamble of the secret sider itself bound to inake convention, between France and similar proposition. Although this Spain, mude shortly before the de. linitation to the offer had not been claration of war, by the latter dictated by congress, its policy power, sets forth that France was was so clear, that a resolution was desirous that Spain should acknow. passed Apri: 30th, 1782, approving ledge the independence of this ihis limitation to the proposition, country, but that Spain, though wiland declaring that after the peace, ling that that object should be efall motive for the sacrifice would fected, and resolved to unite in the be taken away.
As the influence war with France, still from motives of France was then generally sup- of her own, had declined making posed to be very powerful at the such acknowledgment. This preamcourt of Madrid, Mi. Jay deemed ble, if sincere, would prove that the it extraordinary, that the latter influence of France was fairly exertshould refuse to acknowledge our ed with Spain, to induce her to acindependence, at a time when it knowledge our independence, and had already been acknowledged that the refusal of that power, proby the French government.
In ceeded from latent dislike the spring of 1782, Mr. Jay com. to the existence of
an inde. municated to congress his suspi. pendent power, on this side of the cions, that the government of Atlantic. To a similar policy, may France had interfered to prevent be attributed the defeat of Mr. the accomplishment of this part of Jay's application for pecuniary aid. the object of his mission.
At an early period of the official amination into the official corres. intercourse between Mr. Jay, and pondence of the French govern. the Spanish minister, he was aument, has excited some doubt whe. thorized by that minister to accept ther these suspicions, although na. certain bills of exchange, drawn tural, were well founded, and the upon him by order of congress, conduct of Spain, on that point, may under the pressure of necessity, perhaps be accounted for, to the and in the expectation of obtaining entire exculpation of our earliest a subsidy or loan from Spain. ally. The policy of Spain, towards He was indeed told, that it was in. the New World, has always been convenient to advance the money narrow, short-sighted, and exclu. at that time, but that, before the be. sive, and, reeming her acknow. ginning of the next year, the king ledgement of our independence, an would be able to advance from object of great importance to the £25,000 to £40,000, and in the United States, she was willing to mean time, the holders of the bills compel them to purchase that ac. should be satisfied, by the enknowledgement, by territorial ces. gagement of the Spanish govern. sions, or rather by relinquishing ter. ment to pay them. Relying upon ritorial claims. By this course, she this assurance, Mr. Jay accepted would gratify her absurd vanity, such bills, drawn upon him, by increase her colonial possessions, order of Congress, as were present. augment their security, and partly ed. Before, however, all the bills justify her departure from the ab. authorized to be drawn on Mr.
Jay, amounting to £100,000, had England, and was authorized to been negotiated, and, indeed, be. continue the negotiation with fore any of them became due, the Spain ; Count de Aranda, the disinclination of the Spanish go. Spanish ambassador at the French vernment to comply with its pro. court, being empowered to conduct mises was so clearly manifested, it, on the part of his own country. that, at the request of Mr. Jay, con The Count de Aranda first sought gress resolved to sell no more of to obtain our views, concerning the the bills so authorized. The diffi. boundary line of the United States. culty now was, to provide for those Mr. Jay replied, that the boundary bills already accepted. After much between the United States, and the solicitation, Mr. Jay obtained from Spanish dominions, was the Spanish minister $150,000, drawn from the head of the Mis. which had been specifically pro. sissippi, through the middle thereof, mised, but could not procure any to the thirty-first degree of north assistance with regard to other ac. latitude, and from thence to the cepted bills, amounting to about boundary line between Florida $100,000. This pitiful sum, the and Georgia. The count objected Spanish minister refused to advance to this boundary, and contended on the credit of the United States, that the western country had never although the bills had been ac. been claimed by the United States, cepted on the strength of his as and if it did not belong entirely to surances. Every device and arti. Spain, it belonged to the indepenfice was resorted to on his part to dent nations of Indians who occu. avoid a direct refusal, in the ex. pied it. Mr. Jay desired the count pectation, that Mr. Jay would be to trace on a map, the boundary enabled to redeem the bills, through claimed by Spain, which he did. the assistance of Dr. Franklin or This line ran from the confines of Mr. Adams. At length, Mr. Jay, Georgia, to the confluence of the disgusted with his insincerity and Kanhawa river with the Ohio, then meanness, determined to permit around the western shores of Lake the bills to be protested, assigning Erie, and Huron, and thence the true reason in the body of the around Lake Michigan to Lake protest. Fortunately a few days Superior. On this subject, Mr. afterwards, he was enabled, through Jay consulted with Dr. Franklin, Dr. Franklin, to take up the pro who was not joined with him in tested bills, and to save the credit this negotiation, but who agreed of the United States in Europe, with him, that the Mississippi ought
Throughout this trying business, to be insisted on as a boundary, Mr. Jay discovered equal good and Mr. Jay informed Count de sense, prudence, firmness, and sa. Aranda, that he had no authority gacity, and effectually disappointed to cede any territory east of it. the Spanish government, who At this interview with the Spanish sought to extort some concessions minister, Mr. Jay exhibited his from the country, as an equivalent commission, and as usual delivered for relief from pecuniary distress.
Count de Aranda, Early in the summer of 1782, he however, did not produce his. To was appointed one of the commis. have done so, would have been a sioners to negotiate a peace with tacit acknowledgement of our in.
a copy of it.