The John Jay Papers Project seeks paper proposals for a conference entitled “In Service to the New Nation: The Life and Legacy of John Jay,” to be held on September 24-25, 2020, at Columbia University. Dr. Joanne Freeman, Professor of American History at Yale University, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. The conference coincides with a major exhibition of Jay documents and artifacts at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) and with the completion of The Selected Papers of John Jay, a documentary edition of Jay’s writings that appears as a seven-volume series published in print and digital formats. The current edition of the John Jay Papers Project commenced in the 1990s and built on the extensive collection of John Jay materials that RBML began amassing several decades earlier. The conference is sponsored by Columbia University’s Office of the Provost.
That is the question we hear a lot at the beginning of the new academic year as students explore Butler Library and end up here, in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, aka “The Pink Palace.”
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections. The range of collections in the RBML spans more than 4,000 years and includes rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; posters; art; comics & cartoons, and oral histories.
Forming the core of the collections: 500,000 printed books, 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, archives and records, and 10,000 (and counting) oral histories.
Robb Haberman, Associate Editor of The Selected Papers of John Jay, recently shared findings from his research with The Gotham Center for New York City History:
Recently returned from his mission in London to assume the role of New York’s chief executive, Jay perceived that revolutionary France posed an even greater danger to the United States than had monarchial Britain and he sensed that the political turmoil and warfare unleashed in Europe would envelop other Atlantic nations and therefore emphasized the necessity of military preparedness. “Imbecility invites insult and aggression,” he counseled the state legislature in his inaugural address, “and the experience of ages proves that they are the most secure against war who are the best prepared to meet it.
Read the full post, “Defending New York After the Revolution: the Governorship of John Jay.”
We’re celebrating the release of volume five of The Selected Papers of John Jay: 1788-1794 (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2017).
Jay Papers editor Robb Haberman says, “It opens with the ratification of the Constitution, and covers Jay’s role in the forming of the new government as acting Secretary of State prior to Jefferson’s taking office and as first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”
Also explored are his gubernatorial campaign of 1792, the Genet Affair, and the events leading to the negotiation of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain.
In our six degrees of separation game, speaking of George Washington and President’s Day, pop over to the Papers of George Washington Newsletter to Robb’s article on the friendship between Jay and Washington. It’s a bromance “forged in war” and a lot more apt for the day than buying a mattress.