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Jay, John (1745-1829) to Sarah Jay

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04011 Author/Creator: Jay, John (1745-1829) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: April 9, 1794 Pagination: 2 p. : address : docket ; 22.7 x 18.8 cm + 1 engraving ; b&w ; 27 x 19.9 + 1 engraving ; b&w ; 27.5 x 18.9 cm

Summary of Content: Refers to his wife Sarah as Sally. Comments to his wife that he dined with President Washington. Relates there is a suspenseful atmosphere in the capital over a possible war with Britain. He says peace will probably prevail, but that war should be prepared for. Fears that the anger over British seizures at sea and their continued presence in the Northwest will lead to intemperate actions on the part of the government. Continues the letter on 10 April 1794. Mentions that he is glad boards were sent to his brother's house at Rye, New York and says he will have to attend to personal business at his estate in Bedford, New York soon. Complains of his rhumatism. Written shortly before his selection as envoy to Britain. His work there on the Jay Treaty helped avoid the war he feared in this letter. One full length engraving of John Jay and one bust engraving of Mrs. John Jay included as collateral.

Background Information: For a decade, Britain refused to evacuate forts in the Old Northwest as promised in the treaty ending the Revolution. Control of those forts impeded white settlement in the Great ...Lakes region. Frontier settlers believed that British officials at those posts sold firearms to Native Americans, paid money for American scalps, and incited uprisings against white settlers. War appeared imminent when British warships stopped 300 American ships carrying food to France and France's overseas possessions and seized their cargoes, and forced sailors suspected of desertion from British ships into the British navy. In this letter, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay (1745-1829), conveys a sense of how immediate the danger of war seemed.See More

Full Transcript: The question of war or peace seems to be as much in suspense here [in Philadelphia] as in New York when I left you. I am rather inclined to think ...that peace will continue, but should not be surprized if war should take place. In the present State of Things it will be best to be ready for the Latter Event in every Respect....
The aspect of the Times is such, that prudential arrangement calculated on the Prospect of War shd not be neglected nor too long postponed. Peace or war appears to me a Question which cannot now be resolved.... There is much Irritation and agitation in this town and in Congress. G. Britain has acted unwisely and unjustly, & there is some Danger of our acting intemperately.
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People: Jay, John, 1745-1829
Jay, Sarah Livingston, d. 1802

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: American StatesmenPresidentPoliticsGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsImpressmentNavyMaritimePeaceNorthwest TerritoryCanadaBuilding ConstructionHealth and MedicalJay's TreatyBoundary or Property Dispute

Sub Era: The Early Republic

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