And There Arose a Generation That Knew Not John Jay
“Now there arose a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” (Exodus 1:8)
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)
It is difficult for a work of God to continue through multiple generations. One can check out churches that were once vibrant for the work of Jesus Christ but over time the enthusiasm diminished or simply stopped. Leaders have come and gone from our country. We are not the nation of Israel or Judah. However, God has had His hand providentially over our nation. Other nations will admit that there has been something different about our nation’s history. Many of our Founding Fathers like Samuel Adams called our nation the Second Israel.
Dear reader, please look at the drawing by Trumbull of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and also the drawing of the signers of the Constitution by Howard Chandler Christy. Study the faces and names. Fifty four of the fifty six signers of the Declaration of Independence had a Christian worldview. Thirty six of the thirty nine signers of the Constitution had a Christian worldview. Those numbers are based on reading the 25 volumes of Letters of the Delegates to Congress 1774 to 1789 and 34 volumes of Journals of Continental Congress as well as other primary sources and biographies. The particulars can be found in two books: 1776 FAITH: The Christian Worldview of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and 1787 FAITH: The Christian Worldview of the Signers of the Constitution. As you look at those Founders, the overwhelming majority had a Christian worldview. Yet all we hear from public schools and universities since the 1960s is “all the Founders were Deists and Atheists and there is no place for God in the public arena.”
Look at those pictures again. Since the 1960s we have focused on Jefferson and Franklin. Do you see anyone in those pictures besides Jefferson and Franklin? Out of the 95 signers of both documents, at least 90 had a Christian worldview. What do you think of a sports score of 90 to 5? It is called a laugher or a slaughter or a rout. How is it that the small score wins since the 1960s?
Since the 1960s our nation has been slavish to Jefferson (actually since 1800). There are more people in the room than Jefferson. He was not even at the Constitutional Convention.
Check out II Kings 22 in a Bible. Verse ten talks about how King Josiah has the Temple in Jerusalem cleaned and restored when he was young. It is shocking to hear that the Book of the Law had been lost for years. How does such a thing happen? If there is a God and He has given His word to a certain people it behooves them to keep great care of it. There is a God and the people who came before Josiah did not keep great care of it. That nation had been careless with their relationship with God. Just as that generation lost the Book of the Law, we have lost the Christian heritage of our country. People like myself who read these primary sources are called idiots, fools, incompetent and other such names. We are told to just read the experts since the 1960s. They of course have their PhDs and they got those degrees from guardians of secularism.
Now let us finally turn to the neglected John Jay. He was not at the signing of either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Why is that? Where was John Jay? He was in New York City. Jay was the Chairman of the Committee to Detect Conspiracies. Royal Governor Tryon and New York City Mayor Matthews were in a plot to kidnap and kill George Washington. Thomas Hickey was hanged for his part because he was one of Washington’s inner guards. The obvious threat of British attack on New York was imminent- there were at least 100 British ships in the New York City area around the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. For Franklin, the dressing down he received at the Privy Council was the turning point. For many Patriots, the events at Lexington and Concord turned them. The events around New York settled the issue for John Jay.
Also during that time (of the signing of the Declaration) Jay went to Salisbury, Connecticut to get cannons for Fort Montgomery. He travelled 280 miles in 4 days. At first he was not granted the request but visited Governor Trumbull and got permission for the cannons.
As far as the Constitution goes, why wasn’t Jay there? He was busy dealing with international relations as Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 1784 until March 1790. Not only did he have to start relations with all the European nations, he dealt with Asian and African nations also. China, India, Barbary States and parts of the Spanish Empire were places with whom the United States had to deal. Jay established the foundation for the State Department and the Supreme Court but gets little credit for either. He also wrote the Constitution for the State of New York in 1777 and helped establish the Supreme Court in the State of New York. He was quite a foundation guy.
One factor for the lack of knowledge about John Jay is because of the shift from New York City as the capital of the nation ( 1789) to Philadelphia (1790 to 1800) and then to Washngton D. C. (since 1800). Little consideration is given to the significance of New York City as being the original capital.
Another factor is the pro-Jefferson interpretation of history. As the leader of what became the Democrat party, Jefferson has been lionized. As a Federalist, there is no existing Federalist excitement. Hold on, there is some Federalist excitement with the rediscovery of Alexander Hamilton, due to the book by Ron Chernow and the paly by Lin Manuel (and also a shout out will be given to the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society with Rand Cholet). In the play “Hamilton” Jay is only mentioned briefly. Such treatment for such a good friend of Hamilton! Of all the people in the American colonies, who should Hamilton get as sponsors but Elias Boudinot and William Livingston. Elias Boudinot was President of Continental Congress in Annapolis when Jay was in Paris with the Peace negotiations. (Boudinot also served as the first President of the American Bible Society and Jay was the second President). Hamilton boarded with the William Livingston family while John Jay was courting William’s daughter Sarah/Sally. Hamilton and Jay were practically family members. Odds are very good that Hamilton attended John and Sally Jay’s wedding on April 28, 1774 (the same week of New York’s Tea Party).
A third factor is the reticence to mention the three letter word (starts with a G and ends with a d) in government and education circles. Jay was a consistent strong Christian and he left a strong record. Do you remember being taught that John Jay was President of the American Bible Society in his retirement? This author can remember reading in a reputable encyclopedia that Jay was offered the position but never took it. Further research led to the fact that he indeed served as the President but only in an honorary aspect. Still he did serve as President in 1822, 1823, 1824 and 1825. You can check out his addresses as President in my book 1787 FAITH.
There is something riveting about John Jay that the nation needs. He was guided by Christian principles. He stayed faithful to his Lord and to his wife. He stayed faithful to the cause of the new nation and gave excellent leadership to the state government of New York, Continental Congress, the treaty negotiations for the Treaty of Paris, the State Department and the Supreme Court. Back at the beginning of the nation the Supreme Court met in circuits and the justices had to travel in New England, the Middle States and the South. As the second governor of New York he outlawed slavery. He was a personal friend of William Wilberforce (who led the abolition of slavery movement in the British Empire). Jay is a strong example of a Founding Father that opposed slavery. His son William Jay was a strong abolitionist and Frederick Douglass gave the eulogy at his funeral in 1859.
Tied in with New York City, the house where John Jay lived on New Street and Broadway has been destroyed and replaced with skyscrapers. As you go out of Federal Hall, you are looking straight at New Street. His house is now gone. His houses in Rye and Katonah are out of sight for most New Yorkers and tourists.
Come with me on a tour of Fraunces Tavern. Surely they would have something remembering John Jay’s work as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. There is currently nothing there about John Jay. In fairness to those who run the tavern, there was a bomb from a Puerto Rican terrorist group that did a lot of damage in the 1970s. Maybe there will be a focus on John Jay at Fraunces Tavern in the future, we shall see.
With the interest in Alexander Hamilton, here’s hoping that America will keep digging and rediscover John Jay. His integrity needs to be heralded and followed in all three levels of government: executive, judicial and legislative. We need to follow God as he did in the public square with integrity. His son William (the abolitionist) closed his biography about his father with this from Genesis 5:24: “And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
Some possible days to remember John Jay would be
His birthday- December 12, 1745
His death- May 17, 1829
Signing of Treaty of Paris November 30, 1782 and October 1783
Ratification of Treaty of Paris January 20, 1784
Participation in Inauguration April 30, 1789
Marriage with Sally Livingston April 28, 1774
Signing of the Jay Treaty November 19, 1794
Jay’s Christmas Address December 23, 1776
John Jay’s Return to US April 1784
Jay’s Return after Jay Treaty
Elected as Pres. Cont Congress Dec. 10, 1778
Left for Spain Sept. 1779
NY Constitution adopted 1777
Thomas Hickey hanged incident June 28, 1776
Dinner with Hamilton, Madison Oct. 22, 1788
Dedication of Supreme Court
Start of Secretary Foreign Affairs 1784
Adams, JQ Adams & Jay- House of Lords
Jay met King George 1794
Jays in Storm on Atlantic
Jays just missed British fleet Jan. 1780
Jays on Travel in Spain 1780
Jays losing Susan in Spain 1780
Jay visited William Wilberforce 1794
Jay with Franklin’s Estate
Jay with Spain Treaty
Jay at Aranjuez Spain
Something that is not contingent so much on specific dates but is a general item is that Jay had two sons: one born in 1776 and one born in 1789. John and Sally Jay had one son for the Declaration of Independence and one for the Constitution.