Biography of John Jay - History

Biography of John Jay - History


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Jay, John (1745-1829) Diplomat, President of the Continental Congress: Jay was admitted to the bar in 1768, and served as clerk of the New York-New Jersey Boundary Commission the next year. As revolutionary sentiments spread across the colonies, Jay took a somewhat conservative view, emphasizing caution and promoting compromise with Great Britain. As a member of the Continental Congress and the New York Provincial Congress, he opposed the Declaration of Independence until after it was officially issued. Having accepted the revolution, he applied himself to the Provincial Congress, particularly the Committee for the Detecting of Conspiracies and the committee assigned to draft a constitution for New York. At the Constitutional Convention, Jay helped draft the final version of the 1777 Constitution, and was elected the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York State. Jay was president of the Continental Congress during one of its most difficult periods, with diplomatic crises, land disputes, and military difficulties. After serving as Minister to Spain, he took his family with him as he joined the American Peace Commission in Paris. In 1782, Jay became Peace Commissioner, joining Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in negotiating with the British. Once a treaty was ratified, he returned home, and was appointed Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He remained in that position until the new Constitution-created federal government appointed him the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Serving as both Chief Justice and minister to Britain, Jay negotiated the controversial Jay Treaty of 1794. The following year, he resigned his position as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and became Governor of New York. After a second term in office, he retired to his country estate in Bedford New York.


John Jay

biography
John Jay was born in New York City and educated at King’s Collegelater graduating in 1764. He became a lawyer in 1768 and soon became one of the most respected lawyers in the colonies. Jay represented the point of view of the American merchants in protesting the British restrictions on the commercial activities of colonies. He was thus elected to the Continental Congress in 1774 and again the next year. Jay drafted the first constitution of the state of New York, and was appointed the chief justice of New York in 1777.

When the American Revolution began, Jay was made a member of the New York Committee of Correspondence, the Continental Congress, and the New York Provincial Congress. He was president of the Continental Congress until that body sent him to Spain to obtain a loan and an endorsement of American independence, which was a failure.

In Paris, Jay was one of the commissioners who negotiated the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain in 1782, ending the American Revolution. In 1784, after the peace was signed, he returned home to find that Congress had named him secretary of foreign affairs. In Collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison about the weakness of the Confederation, he became a strong proponent of a stronger national government. He collaborated with them to write a series of articles called the Federalist Papers, which urged the ratification of the Constitution.

When a new government was formed under the Constitution, Jay became the first chief justice of the United States, as appointed by President George Washington. In 1794, when war with Great Britain threatened over unsettled controversies in the Treaty of Paris, he was sent to London to settle many problems remaining from the Revolution. An agreement, known as Jay's Treaty, was drawn up, providing that the British would withdraw from areas they still held in the Northwest Territory and that the United States would pay debts contracted by its citizens before the Revolution. It also established joint commissions to settle disputed parts of the boundary between the United States and Canada. Thomas Jefferson and others assailed Jay for having failed to secure Britain's promise to stop interfering with United States ships at sea.


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John Jay: Founding Father

A necessary corrective for the neglect which this founder of the United States has suffered. Not without flaws, the greatest of which is the constant imposition of Stahl’s opinions disguised as those of his sources, this is nonetheless good history, good biography, and a good read.

“Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an op “A few years more will put us all in the dust and it will then be of more importance to me to have governed myself than to have governed the state.” JJ

A necessary corrective for the neglect which this founder of the United States has suffered. Not without flaws, the greatest of which is the constant imposition of Stahl’s opinions disguised as those of his sources, this is nonetheless good history, good biography, and a good read.

“Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon, and choosing the forms of government under which they should live.” JJ

Because he was a hard worker but not a self-promoter, Jay has faded from the enormous recognition and popularity he enjoyed during his lifetime.

It was “very inconsistent as well as unjust and perhaps impious” for men to “pray and fight for their own freedom” and yet to “keep others in slavery.” But “the wise and the good never form the majority of any large society, and it seldom happens that their measures are uniformly adopted.” JJ

Jay helped to form in early 1785 the New York Manumission Society. Yet he owned slaves.

“If the means of defense are in our power and we do not make use of them, what excuse shall we make to our children and our Creator?” JJ

Quibbles: Stahl faithfully lists one footnote at the close of each paragraph, with no indication which of the facts, opinions, and reflections contained are his own. “… marching east from Oswego, along the line of the Mohawk River, about a hundred miles east of Albany.” No, Oswego is 100 miles west of Albany. “William Hickey, was handed over to the army, tried, convicted, and hanged on questionable evidence.” On the contrary, the evidence against Thomas Hickey was irrefutable, perhaps the reason he not the others were hanged in front of the army and citizens.

“Perhaps the best brief summary of Jay’s life and temper was by his son, Peter Augustus [Jay], who placed these words on his father’s tombstone:”
In memory of John Jay, eminent among those who asserted the liberty and established the independence of his country, which he long served in the most important offices, legislative, executive, judicial and diplomatic, and distinguished in them all by his ability, firmness, patriotism, and integrity. He was in his life and death an example of the virtues, the faith and the hopes of a Christian. . more

Jay is often considered a footnote in history for the passing amateur scholar, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His life is not often chronicled this biography doesn&apost unearth any juicy anecdotes or stories. But as a negotiator, diplomat, and judge, we would hope for those temperaments in a person who accomplished what John Jay did.

Just as Washington&aposs and Adams&aposs fingerprints are all over the executive and legislative branches, Jay&aposs are all over the judicial system in the Un Jay is often considered a footnote in history for the passing amateur scholar, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His life is not often chronicled this biography doesn't unearth any juicy anecdotes or stories. But as a negotiator, diplomat, and judge, we would hope for those temperaments in a person who accomplished what John Jay did.

Just as Washington's and Adams's fingerprints are all over the executive and legislative branches, Jay's are all over the judicial system in the United States. His Chief Justiceship set a number of precedents that still dominate the court. His influence led to the groundbreaking inclusion of the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution. He was a powerful governor of New York. His negotiation of the Treaty of Paris set geographical precedents still in place today.

Stahr focuses on the legal aspects of John Jay's life. But both author and subject were lawyers, and it is for his groundbreaking legal work that we continue to remember Jay. . more

Summary: A full-length biography of this lesser-known founder, drawing on new material tracing his numerous contributions to the beginnings of the United States.

If you gathered the founders of the United States for a photograph, he would probably be standing in the back, and we might wonder, who is he? "He" is John Jay. He played critical roles in numerous deliberations, participated in critical negotiations, and held important offices. But he was never president, or a military hero. What John J Summary: A full-length biography of this lesser-known founder, drawing on new material tracing his numerous contributions to the beginnings of the United States.

If you gathered the founders of the United States for a photograph, he would probably be standing in the back, and we might wonder, who is he? "He" is John Jay. He played critical roles in numerous deliberations, participated in critical negotiations, and held important offices. But he was never president, or a military hero. What John Jay was, was the consummate public servant.

Walter Stahr recounts the life of Jay from his beginnings as the son of a New York merchant, raised in a religious home on a farm in nearby Rye, in a faith from which he never departed. Graduating from King's College in 1764 with honors, he becomes a law clerk to pursue a career in law. After completing his clerkship, during a time of unrest as tensions over the Stamp Act developed, he and Robert Livingston team up to form a law firm in 1768. Some of his earliest work involved working on a commission to resolve boundary questions between New York and New Jersey, foreshadowing the work that would engage him throughout his life.

As resistance turns into revolution and eventually results in independence and American victory, Jay played a key role and Stahr narrates the specifics of each of the roles he played. He played the principal role in writing the constitution of New York state, a model for early state constitutions. He played a critical role in the negotiations in the Paris Peace Treaty, setting boundaries, particularly in what would become Minnesota, that defined the country's northern borders. Under the Articles of Confederation, he served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the infant country, helping establish her relations with the world. He was one of the framers of the Constitution, and worked hard behind the scenes for its ratification. He averted a renewed outbreak of war with Great Britain in 1794 that would have been disastrous for the infant country, negotiating what became justly known as the Jay Treaty. He served as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, establishing the precedent of judicial review of legislation, and refusing to decide abstract questions. He concluded his career of public service as governor of New York, presiding over the move of the seat of government to Albany.

Stahr portrays a man of rectitude and hard work whose service over a thirty year period played a critical role in creating a country. His lawyerly skill with finding the right words to establish good agreements and his even-handedness allowed him to turn conflicts into compromises and agreements. In retirement, he worked with his son in founding the American Bible Society. Throughout his life, and in his declining years, his trust in the providence of God sustained him.

This account goes into significant depth in the episodes of Jays life, tracing the back and forth and frustrations of negotiations, including two relatively futile years in Spain. What I would propose is that Stahr's book offers us a portrait of America's first public servant, who excelled by negotiating good agreements, establishing good legal documents, understanding the details and structure of good government, and by shaping good political and judicial institutions. Such figures may not be political rock stars, but they are essential to good government in every era. It may do us well to pay attention to people like Jay. . more

This is a fine biography of one of this country&aposs Founders--John Jay. I have read biographies of many of the Founder--from Sam Adams to John Adams to James Madison to George Washington to Thomas Jefferson and so on. But I had never run across a portrayal of John Jay. When you think about it, this is rather strange. Look at his record: member of the Continental Congress and later its President, a key figure in peace negotiations on the continent, Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Congress unde This is a fine biography of one of this country's Founders--John Jay. I have read biographies of many of the Founder--from Sam Adams to John Adams to James Madison to George Washington to Thomas Jefferson and so on. But I had never run across a portrayal of John Jay. When you think about it, this is rather strange. Look at his record: member of the Continental Congress and later its President, a key figure in peace negotiations on the continent, Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, he worked with others to have the Constitution ratified in New York (even though the odds seemed long)--including being on of the triumvirate who wrote the Federalist Papers (although his contributions were fewer in number than those of Madison and Alexander Hamilton), he served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as Governor of New York, and as a diplomat to develop a treaty of peace with the British Empire, and so on. . . .. Whew!

One of the strengths of this volume is a pretty straightforward depiction of Jay. He is not treated as superhuman but as a talented political figure who strove to realize his vision of the United States. He was able to accomplish much, being able to work with others well (there were quite a few cantankerous founders).

This is a work well worth reading to gain insight into one of the major Founders of the United States. . more

"All parties have their demagogues, and demagogues will never be patriots."

Previously, I viewed John Jay as an accomplice to the better known early American leaders who framed the Constitution, crafted the Treaty of Paris, and wrote the Federalist Papers. Since reading this biography, I recognize and agree with Stahr, that Jay certainly deserves his recognition of being a Founding Father.

Jay, like many in his day, were pretty complicated characters, and at times seemed like a walking contradicti "All parties have their demagogues, and demagogues will never be patriots."

Previously, I viewed John Jay as an accomplice to the better known early American leaders who framed the Constitution, crafted the Treaty of Paris, and wrote the Federalist Papers. Since reading this biography, I recognize and agree with Stahr, that Jay certainly deserves his recognition of being a Founding Father.

Jay, like many in his day, were pretty complicated characters, and at times seemed like a walking contradiction. He held out longer than most others with trying to stay loyal to Britain, writing letters to multiple people professing opposing views on the topic. He was also opposed to slavery, but still owned slaves after supporting the founding of the US abolitionist movement. And he wanted to have good relations with Native Americans, but was guilty of allowing settlers take advantage of Native Americans in Western New York, while he was governor.

For all his flaws though, Jay was essential in establishing our nation through his Legislative, Judicial, Executive, and diplomatic public service. As far as I am aware, he is one of the only individuals to have served in all 3 branches on a Federal level, as well as at the state level (New York). He put country above his party and was diligent in maintaining the checks and balances of our government (likely because of his experience in all 3 branches).

Stahr does a good job researching his subject, as well as avoiding the usual flaw of biographers with their primary role being apologist first, and a researcher as secondary. That being said, there are more than a few chapters that could've used a more thorough editing process. For example, as important as the Jay Treaty was, going into it line by line became a little tiresome.

I would recommend this book to those who are interested in broadening their understanding of America's Founding Fathers, as Jay was certainly important. That being said, if you have not already read the works of Chernow, McCollough, Ellis, etc., I would recommend those prior to this. . more

I ran into John Jay based on a previous book. Many of us may remember the name from a US History class we took years ago. It turns out, books about him are quite rare.

I liked the book because it amplified my understanding of several areas of early US History, that are traditionally glossed over or ignored completely in traditional history classes. Also, it was interesting to see the personal confidence and trust many of the traditional heroes of the revolution and early years of the republic had I ran into John Jay based on a previous book. Many of us may remember the name from a US History class we took years ago. It turns out, books about him are quite rare.

I liked the book because it amplified my understanding of several areas of early US History, that are traditionally glossed over or ignored completely in traditional history classes. Also, it was interesting to see the personal confidence and trust many of the traditional heroes of the revolution and early years of the republic had in him.

The book at time had a little difficulty with chronology, but this seemed more related to public and personal narratives, that were occurring at the same time. A good read for us armchair historians. . more

Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Schuyler, Greene, Hamilton, and Hancock are just a few names that will surface in nearly any book about the American Revolution. And why shouldn’t they? These men each played a distinct role to help lay the foundation for the blessings of liberty that we currently enjoy. However, there is one name that will often appear on a list of influential fathers but will rarely be elaborated on: John Jay. Most know the role that he played as the first Chief Justice Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Schuyler, Greene, Hamilton, and Hancock are just a few names that will surface in nearly any book about the American Revolution. And why shouldn’t they? These men each played a distinct role to help lay the foundation for the blessings of liberty that we currently enjoy. However, there is one name that will often appear on a list of influential fathers but will rarely be elaborated on: John Jay. Most know the role that he played as the first Chief Justice of the United States but we often forget the important role that he played nearly every step of the great American Revolution. His wisdom, gravity, piety, and kind disposition won him respect among his peers and ultimately among the nation that he served. For 75 years there has hardly been a solid work on John Jay until now. In Walter Stahr’s “John Jay” he carefully and respectfully tries to impart to the reader a fresh vision of one of the great minds that helped put this country on a solid track toward independence and prosperity. Stahr’s work is relatively new but it was long overdue, and I think it will serve as a force of scholarship in the field of early American history. Here are some of the reasons why I think this work would be an excellent addition to anyone who is serious about investigating the founding fathers and their influence.

It is easy to gloss over Jay and not because he is not important or essential but because his life is not marked by anything unusual. Jefferson for example is a colorful man with many shades of contradiction while Washington seems to be a riddle to the reader. John Adams was pugnacious as well as controversial while Franklin is known for political acumen and flirtatious trysts with women half his age. Jay is something of a straight arrow that lives a very ordinary life yet, Jay left a huge footprint on the political landscape of the American Revolution. Born to a tradesman in New York City Jay showed a quick, nimble mind from an early age. He entered King’s College at the age of 14 and finished his studies at the age of 18. By the time he was 22 years old he had finished his masters and was on his way to becoming one of New York’s up and coming lawyers. He may have lived a distinguished life were it not for his path colliding with the American Revolution and this was what transformed Jay among others from an ordinary citizen of the British Empire into a pioneering founder of the nation. Jay did all that was in his power to avoid any break between the colonies and their “mother country” but when it came time to call independence Jay was there and stood behind the decision whole-heartedly. Jay was among many things a patriot of his native homeland and while he was soft towards the British he knew when to stand up against them.

Over his long career Jay served the nation in a variety of capacities including: as delegate to the Second Continental Congress, Drafter of his State Constitution, Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Peace Commissioner to France and Spain, Peace Commissioner to Great Britain, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Contributor to the famous “Federalist Papers,” Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Governor of New York. Because he wore so many hats Jay had his hand in influencing the many government leaders he came in contact with. He was a temperate man who tended to be cautious about everything and everyone, and his policies were typically “middle of the road.” His pragmatic and realistic nature endeared him to most people in Congress, and he was the kind of man who was able to get things done because of it. He was a real family man who practiced his faith very devoutly. In our time, there is always question about the founding fathers in regards to their faith and the general consensus is that most were not solid believers in organized religion or the authority of the Bible. It so happens that Jay was one of our founders that happened to be very strong in the way he practiced his faith and was an adamant believer in the power of the Bible. He not only practiced his faith in theory but practiced it in real-life through active civic engagement, devotion to family as well as friends, and piety in his ecclesiastical relationships.

Stahr is a great writer and he writes in an easy and accessible manner that will appeal to a broad audience. He has a solid bibliography and it is clear that he has done his homework. In terms of the subject matter itself it would appear that he tends to be even-handed for the most part. Stahr exhibits a clear admiration for his subject matter this is not necessarily a negative attribute. Caring for one’s subject matter allows an individual to write in a very passionate and meaningful way. However, the downside is that he is sometimes too soft on Jay. Like anyone Jay had his share of conflicts and I am sure that he was often at least a small part of the problem. When Stahr speaks about these conflicts it seems that he rarely implicates Jay as part of the problem and tends to place more of the responsibility on the other parties. I certainly expect that he would paint his subject in the best possible light, yet at times I felt that I did not really gain a solid sense on the Jay’s shortcomings. I do not expect Jay to be painted as devilish or evil, but I do think that a great feature of biography is learning our subject's failures. Jay was not a man of great ardor which allowed him to reach across aisles that others were not always able to do so. However, I am not saying that Stahr that was not objective but rather that I felt this was an area that was not developed properly. I still think that that book was excellent and well worth the long investment involved in reading it.

Of course, it goes without saying that Jay's most important role was serving as the First Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and his appointment to said position reflects well on the ability of George Washington to spot the right man for the right job. Jay was so cautious and moderate in many positions that he was right man to set necessary precedent for that role albeit, it would be John Marshall who would accomplish the most in setting precedent for the job of Chief Justice. However, where he is often neglected is in regards to his work in negotiating a peace settlement with the British. He tended to be pragmatic but when it came time to sit down and hash out a peace agreement Jay did not mind doing everything he could to make sure that America got the most out of the deal. He drove a hard bargain but he was the right man for the job. He was the missing piece of the puzzle when one considers that he was the middle point between Adams and Franklin. His even nature made his more palatable to the English than Adams, yet his rigid and formal nature was easier on british tastes than Dr. Frankin. He was very active in writing, editing, and submitting both the first and second drafts of the treaty that secured independence. After the war it was essential to promote a more filial relationship with the British Empire and Dr. Stahr argues that it was Jay's treaty that paved the way for future relations with the British. He was an excellent ambassador who not only exhibited poise, candor, and good humor but who made sure that he did all within his power to get as much as possible for his native country.

What am I walking away with as I completed my journey with Jay? I think that Dr. Bernstein was correct when he said that the founding fathers did not have a cohesive vision for what they hoped America would look like. As I read this book, I realized that Jay’s vision of America with a robust and powerful central authority is in many ways still at play. I don’t imagine that the nationalists of the time ever thought we would be wiretapped in our own homes yet the kind of government they envisioned was broad, brooding, and strong. The reality is that as I get to know these men I come to find that they each had competing views of America’s future and the America we have inherited is in part the one they gave us. That is not a popular view but it seems to be so. Take for example: Dr. Ferling discusses how Madison and Hamilton were concerned about the growing sense of egalitarianism and the democratization of the American public before the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Nevertheless, this was exactly the sort of society that Jefferson and Patrick Henry were hoping to see. My point is that Jay was a strong nationalist and while I respect his amazing talents and contributions I recognize that his support for a strident, far-reaching government would be something that I could never support today. That being said, I have a great deal of respect for Justice Jay and without him we might not have some of the blessings of liberty we enjoy today.

I give this book: 1 star = Research. 1 star = writing. 1 star = bibliography. 1 star = readability. The final star I reserve due to the previously mentioned critique and because there were spots where the book hit some boring lulls. . more


Jay & the Americans

Though they had a bunch of hits across the 1960s, Jay & the Americans were a throwback to a previous era with their doo wop-influenced vocals, neatly groomed, short-haired appearance, and mix of pop/rock with operatic schmaltz. Built around the neck-bulging upper-register vocals of David Blatt (aka Jay Black), their biggest hits -- "She Cried," "Cara Mia" (which you could just imagine Carmine Ragusa singing on Laverne & Shirley), "Come a Little Bit Closer," and "Let's Lock the Door (And Throw Away the Key)" -- came off as sort of hit parade versions of West Side Story. The group also relied on outside songwriters for their material, drifting into MOR covers of oldies by the end of the '60s, and were generally a sort of textbook of unhipness during a time when self-contained rock bands were becoming the norm.

In a sense, Jay & the Americans were the original "oldies" act -- organized at the transition of the 1950s into the 1960s, the group sounded like a throwback to that earlier decade, at a time when harmony vocal groups -- at least those without some guitar wattage accompanying them -- were already becoming old hat. Yet, somehow, they competed with the likes of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, and the Four Seasons, among homegrown rivals, and remained a major presence on radio even during the British Invasion, and lasted long enough to meet up -- like a glider catching a brisk, sustaining wind -- with the oldies boom at the tail end of the decade. They seemed out of place for most of the 1960s with their short hair, neat clothes, and dedication to schmaltzy pop, but by the end of the decade were perfectly positioned for the so-called rock & roll revival.

The group actually coalesced out of the Mystics, a Brooklyn-based harmony vocal group (best remembered for "Hushabye"), which had taken on John Traynor (aka Jay Traynor) as lead singer at the very end of the 1950s. Traynor chanced to cross paths with Sandy Yaguda (aka Sandy Deane) and Kenny Rosenberg (aka Kenny Vance), who were part of a vocal trio working behind a female singer on a Clay Cole-sponsored tour at the time. Traynor got together with Vance and another friend, Howie Kerschenbaum (aka Howie Kane), after leaving the Mystics in 1960, and they started singing together, with Sandy Deane joining to make it a quartet. It was on the strength of their demo of an old Five Keys number, "Wisdom of a Fool," that they were signed by producers/songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to a contract -- Leiber & Stoller gave the group a name, the Americans, and got them a recording contract with United Artists, the newest in a wave of record labels spawned by movie companies, and eager to grab a piece of the rock & roll action of the period.

A recording of the Bernstein-Sondheim song "Tonight" from West Side Story -- a United Artists film release, in which the parent company had an interest in the publishing as well as in publicizing the movie -- came out both better and different from the way it was expected, featuring Traynor out in front as lead singer rather than an ensemble vocal at its center. Leiber & Stoller decided that the group would be better off with a lead singer's name in front and, after some attempts to turn the name into a joke, settled on Traynor's lifelong nickname "Jay" as the front name -- hence, Jay & the Americans were born. Released in the summer of 1961, "Tonight" performed well in New York City -- where the group was based, in the borough of Queens (later made famous by Archie Bunker and Kevin James' sitcom The King of Queens) -- and a few other cities and regions, but never charted nationally. Its sales were limited to around 40,000 copies, and were overshadowed by those of a rival instrumental recording by the piano duo of Ferrante & Teicher (also on United Artists), who scored much bigger. It was once they broke away from tie-ins with current movies and chose some fresh, unique material that the group's fortunes took off, with their second release, "She Cried." Originally a B-side, this was the record that broke the group nationally -- six months after the single was released with "Dawning" as its A-side (and did absolutely nothing), a DJ in San Francisco flipped it over and began playing "She Cried," which started working its way east, hitting number one successively in a dozen major cities from the West Coast to the East Coast over the next few weeks and months, and number five nationally.

The group lost momentum after this unexpected break, however, when a trio of attempted follow-ups, including their version of a Ben E. King song, "Yes," spread between a pair of singles, failed to perform nearly as well. Their future hit a seeming crisis point, however, when Traynor angrily left the quartet after a fight with Sandy Deane. Suddenly, the group was without a lead singer -- while Traynor went off to a professional liaison with Phil Spector that didn't take, and a few solo sides that never sold, the Americans found a replacement in one David Blatt, who'd sung lead with a group called the Empires and, after some coaxing, came aboard as "Jay" Black. A "new" Jay & the Americans was spawned that year, expanded to a quintet with the addition of Blatt's longtime friend, guitarist Marty Kupersmith (aka Marty Sanders) -- with his addition, incidentally, the Americans, with whatever "Jay" was fronting them, were starting to look a lot like the Coasters and the Drifters, both vocal groups associated with Leiber & Stoller who kept their own respective guitar players on tap. The resemblance wouldn't end there, where the Drifters were concerned.

The new group's first two singles disappeared without a trace in early 1963, but in July of that year, they roared back up the charts with a single called "Only in America" -- Leiber & Stoller had intended it for the Drifters, but with the civil rights movement raising everyone's consciousness, and the streets of urban and southern America getting too hot to handle, it was impossible for a Black vocal group to release so seemingly optimistic an ode to the U.S.A., even if it was laced with irony the risk that the irony would be missed was too great. But in the hands of Jay & the Americans, who didn't seem topical or serious, it just worked, and got the group back onto the radio and to number 25 on the charts. Alas, their next record, "Come Dance with Me," didn't do nearly as well in the fall of 1963. But in the summer of 1964 -- right in the middle of the British Invasion, with American acts dropping from the charts like flies in the winter time -- they were back in the Top Ten with "Come a Little Bit Closer." The product of what seemed like an unfinished session, the Wes Farrell-authored record, produced by Artie Ripp, was released without Black's knowledge and roared to number three, their biggest hit since "She Cried." They followed it up with "Let's Lock the Door (And Throw Away the Key)," an adenoidal romantic anthem (also authored by Farrell) that peaked at number 11. They tried for a chart hat trick with Farrell's "Think of the Good Times," but it fell short.

And then came "Cara Mia" -- if Roy Orbison hit a defining moment with "Only the Lonely," and Del Shannon had his with "Runaway," then Jay Black's was "Cara Mia." And he had to fight to get it released -- one of those odd pop/rock songs displaying an operatic intensity (like "Only the Lonely" or "Runaway"), it just wasn't what the group seemed to be about, completely different from their recent hits. It was finally released after a performance on The Tonight Show yielded thousands of cards and letters requesting it -- as a B-side, which was flipped over. The resulting number four hit in mid-1965 maintained the group's stubbornly high profile, amid the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, et al. The follow-up single, "Some Enchanted Evening," reached number 13 in the fall of 1965. The hits slackened off somewhat in 1966 and 1967, as "Sunday and Me," released late in 1965, peaked at number 18. They still had an audience, however, especially in New York City, where a lot of kids loved the fact that the girl who ran their national fan club had her mailing address -- her house in Whitestone, Queens, no less (those were such innocent times) -- listed on their albums, and that it was right there in the city.

They wouldn't chart another hit that high for three years -- their version of Roy Orbison's "Crying" reached number 25, but nothing else made the Top 50 -- but there was still plenty of work, doing commercials and touring. There were also some interesting LPs: Jay and the Americans (1965), Sunday and Me (1966), Livin' Above Your Head (1966), and Try Some of This (1967). The group's sound did somewhat cross over folk-rock and sunshine pop -- "(He's) Raining in My Sunshine" from Try Some of This even displayed some elements of psychedelia. "Livin' Above Your Head," authored by Sanders, Vance, and Black, was a much bigger European hit for the Walker Brothers, considerably better than the group's own single, which peaked at number 76. They also crossed paths with a pair of young musicians from the New York area, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who became regular session players and increasingly prominent in the group's work. By that time, the quintet was also using more than one producer on many of their records, including Leiber & Stoller, Gerry Granahan, Jeff Barry, and Arnold Goland, and just as many arrangers -- needless to say, consistency wasn't a hallmark of their sound during this period, and their chart positions suffered for it, especially as they tried to sound up to date à la 1966-1967.

Jay & the Americans returned to the charts late in 1968 and the first half of 1969, when they adopted a new strategy. Instead of trying to assimilate psychedelia and other contemporary sounds, they turned back to the songs that they'd known in the 1950s and early 1960s. The resulting album, Sands of Time, was accompanied by "This Magic Moment," a number six hit (selling twice as many copies as the Drifters' original single). Two more singles, "Hushabye" (harking back to the Mystics, Jay Traynor's group) and "When You Dance," lit up the airwaves. By that time, American popular culture had splintered into competing and often seemingly opposing camps -- psychedelic music (especially in England) was generating offshoots like art rock and progressive rock, while artists associated with acid rock were delving more deeply into such forms as blues and jazz, and somewhere in the midst of all of it arena rock was starting to coalesce. Meanwhile, some listeners, either those in their thirties who'd never quite gotten used to musicians using (and endorsing) drugs, or the resulting music, or younger ones who just didn't know what to make of all the noise -- and the fighting in the streets, and the open political warfare on the airwaves -- were turning backward to a simpler time and its music.

Jay & the Americans found that audience, and never lost it. Sands of Time was a confirmed hit as an LP, and was followed up with Wax Museum, which wasn't as well executed but yielded a hit in the form of the Phil Spector co-authored "Walkin' in the Rain." The group was back on track, but for some reason, at this point, United Artists Records tightened up on their recording budgets and became careless with the group's recordings and the way they were treating the members. By the early '70s, the quintet had parted company with UA, after ten years of success. By then, each member had a good idea of what he wanted to do, and mostly it didn't involve Jay & the Americans as they'd been known.

In the split, Jay Black kept the group name -- which, after a court settlement with Jay Traynor carved out a way for each to make a living through their status as one of the group's "Jays" -- and kept recording into the 1970s and beyond. Marty Sanders began writing songs (and enjoyed a recent hit, in collaboration with Joan Jett, on "Bad Reputation" from the movie Shrek) in addition to playing and recording, and Sandy Deane became a producer, while Kenny Vance became a recording artist in his own right. In the 1980s, an archival live album of concert recordings from the tail end of their history, augmented with some Jay Black solo sides and outtakes of both lineups, delighted fans and won the group some new admirers. In 1990, Come a Little Bit Closer: The Best of Jay & the Americans from EMI (successor company to United Artists) solidified their chart legacy in a coherent fashion. And BGO's reissues of their LPs on CD in the 21st century have resulted in there being more Jay & the Americans material in print at once than at virtually any time in history. John Traynor, the original "Jay," died of liver cancer in Tampa, Florida in January 2014 he was 70 years old.


The papers of John Jay

The Papers of John Jay is an image database and indexing tool comprising some 13,000 documents (more than 30,000 page images) scanned chiefly from photocopies of original documents. Most of the source material was assembled by Columbia University's John Jay publication project staff during the 1960s and 1970s under the direction of the late Professor Richard B. Morris. These photocopies were originally intended to be used as source texts for documents to be included in a planned four-volume letterpress series entitled The Selected Unpublished Papers of John Jay, of which only two volumes were published.

In 2005, the new, seven-volume letterpress and online edition of The Selected Papers of John Jay was launched under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth M. Nuxoll and is being published by the University of Virginia Press as part of its Rotunda American Founding Era Collection. The new Selected Papers project not only uses the online Jay material available on this website as source texts, but also provides links from document transcriptions in the letterpress and digital editions to the scanned page images posted here. More information on the Selected Papers project…

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Early Life

John Jay was born on December 12, 1745, in New York City, New York, British America. He was born to Peter Jay and Mary Van Cortlandt. He was brought up alongside nine siblings. Jay came from a wealthy family as his family was comprised of merchants who were successful in New York.

John&rsquos father was a wealthy trader of wheat and timber and other commodities. He was homeschooled by his mother until he was eight. He later attended New Rochelle where he studies under Anglican Priest Pierre Stoupe. He stayed in New Rochelle for three years before returning home where his mother continued to homeschool him.

In 1760, John Jay joined King&rsquos College. As a student, his interest in politics grew, and he became a committed and staunch Whig. In 1764, he graduated with Highest Honors from King&rsquos College.


Consider the following.

  • Conduct a debate over the Jay Treaty, with members of the class taking sides with either the Federalists or the Democratic-Republicans.
  • What policy did the British carry out against Americans on the high seas, and how did U.S. citizens feel about it?
  • In 1793, President George Washington declared a policy of neutrality, saying that the United States would not take sides with the British or the French in their European war. Consider why Washington later wanted the Jay Treaty approved. List the possible reasons. Do you think Washington's behavior indicated he was flexible and trying to promote the common good or simply weak and giving in to heavy Federalist pressure?

His Britannic Majesty: The king of England.

Garrisons: Troops stationed at forts.

Treaty of peace: The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution and granted the United States independence from Britain.

At their discretion: Whenever they desire.

Precincts or jurisdiction: Areas of legal authority.

Unmolested: Undisturbed.

Pass and repass: Travel back and forth.

Inland navigation: On lakes and rivers.

The two parties: Britain and the United States.

Lake of the Woods: A lake located in southeastern Manitoba, southwestern Ontario, and northern Minnesota.

Regulate the boundary line: Decide on a boundary line between Canada and the United States.

Bona fide contracted: Agreed to in good faith without deception.

The peace: The 1783 Treaty of Paris.

Lawful impediments: Legal obstacles created by laws passed.

Creditors: People to whom money is owed.

Compensation: Repayment.

Under colour of authority or commissions from his Majesty: By the British navy or ships authorized by Britain.

East Indies: Malay islands and Southeast Asian countries.

Tonnage duty: Fee per each ton of cargo.

Stipulation: Agreement.

Dominions: Territories.

Molestation: Harassment.

Resort: Frequently travel.

Contraband of war: Prohibited war supplies.

Impediment: Hindrance.

Men of war: British navy.

Privateers: Privately owned ships given authority by the military to fight or harass the enemy.

Forbear: Refrain from.

Satisfaction and reparation: Compensation and payment.

Reprisal: Retaliation.


Founding Fathers

America's Founding Fathers — including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe and Benjamin Franklin — together with several other key players of their time, structured the democratic government of the United States and left a legacy that has shaped the world.


Watch the video: Jon Jay 2017 Highlights


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