A native son of the state, John Jay was born in New York City on December 12, 1745(1)—the beginning of a life most extraordinary. First Chief Justice of the United States, New York’s first Chief Justice,second governor of New York, ardent Federalist (and coauthor of the Federalist papers), diplomat, abolitionist(2) Jay served as the vital exemplar of a shaping force in the evolution of the country, its laws, and its politics. Yet it is Jay’s stewardship, at the young age of thirty, of New York’s 1777 constitution, that is perhaps his most enduring legacy(3); working without the benefit of a guiding federal document (and, indeed, shaping the model for one), he brought into being the basic framework of New York, which while imperfect in many respects would guide the evolution of New York in the years to come.
1: George Pellew, John Jay 1 (1898).
2: See, e.g., Peter J. Galie, Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York 48 (1996).
3: See, e.g., John T. Buckley, The Governor – From Figurehead To Prime Minister: A Historical Study Of the New York State Constitution and the Shift Of Basic Power to the Chief Executive, 68 Alb. L. Rev 865, 868 (2005) (establishing Jay’s centrality to the authorship of the constitution). But see Galie, supra note 2, at 38 (suggesting that some scholarship indicates that Jay and his ‘co-authors’ may have had more of a grammatical/structural/presentation role in drafting the document).