John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is located at 400 Jay Street, Katonah, NY 10536 in Westchester County.
History of Chief Justice John Jay
"Nestled in the rolling Westchester countryside is the gracious home and farm of John Jay (1745-1829), one of America's principal Founding Fathers. Jay co-authored the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, and the Federalist Papers, which aided ratification of the U.S. Constitution. He served as President of the Continental Congress, U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the second governor of New York State.
"During many years of devoted service to the State and the Nation, he looked forward to the day when he would retire with his wife and children to "the house on my farm in Westchester County. The land where John Jay lived his later years was purchased in 1703 by his maternal grandfather, Jacobus Van Cortlandt. By 1800 Jay had acquired, by inheritance and by purchase, 750 acres of property near Bedford, New York. In 1799 he began construction of a comfortable 24-room farmhouse. He moved there in 1801, after his retirement from politics. Tragically, Jay's wife Sarah died only months after moving to their new home. John Jay never remarried and lived as a gentleman farmer until his death in 1829.
"His son William (1789-1858) inherited the house and farm; he later became a leading figure in the struggle to end slavery. William's son John Jay II (1817-1894) inherited the property and upon his death it was given to his son Colonel William Jay (1841-1915). The Colonels' daughter, Eleanor Jay Iselin (1882-1953) was the last of the family to use the property as a full time residence. In 1958 the house and thirty of the original acres were purchased from Eleanor Jay Iselin's heirs by Westchester County and transferred to the State of New York, which opened it to the public in 1964 as John Jay Homestead State Historic Site."
John Jay: First Chief-Justice of the United States
The annexed sketch of his life is from Blake's Biographical Dictionary: "John Jay, LL.D., first chief-justice of the United States under the constitution of 1789, graduated at Kings, (now Columbia College) in 1764 and in 1768 was admitted to the bar. He was appointed to the first American congress in 1774. Being on the committee with Lee and Livingston to draft an address to the people of Great Britain, he was the writer of the eloquent production. In the congress of 1775, he was on various important committees, performing more service perhaps than any other member except Franklin and John Adams."
In May, 1776, he was recalled to assist in forming the government of New York, and in consequence his name is not attached to the Declaration of Independence . . . Though not a member of the convention, which formed the constitution of the United States, he was present at Annapolis and aided by his advice. He also assisted Madison and Hamilton in writing the Federalist. In the convention of New York he contributed to the adoption of the constitution. He was appointed chief justice by Washington, December 26, 1789. In 1794, he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, and succeeded in negotiating the treaty that still goes by his name. Chief-Justice John Jay was governor of the state of New York from 1795 to 1801.
John Jay and his family retired to his farm in Bedford. Upon John Jay's death in 1829, the farm and home were inherited by William Jay, John's second son. William Jay became a prominent leader of abolitionists, and the Homestead became a center in the anti-slavery movement.
This historic site encompasses sixty-two acres, including lovingly-tended formal gardens, magnificent woodland walks, rolling meadows, and a cluster of 19th century farm buildings. An 1820's schoolhouse and a 1830s barn are open for touring. The historic house is open most of the year, and can be seen by a guided tour through twelve beautifully furnished period rooms, restored to an 1820's appearance."
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Things to Do at John Jay Homestead
Educational Programs K-12*
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