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Patriot' s lady; the life of 
Sarah Liidngston Jay, N.Y, 

92 JA21h 

Hobart, Lois $3^50 

Patriot's lady; the life of 
Sarah liiangston Jay N*Y*j 
Ponk & Wagnalls Go. [I960] 


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The Life of Sarah Livingston fay 

Other booJcs by the same author 

Strangers Among Us 

Katie and her Camera 

A Palette for Ingrid 

Laurie, Physical Therapist 

Elaine Forrest, Visiting Nurse 

For my mother 

Liberty Hall 


The Life of Sarah Livingston Jay 



Copyright 1960 by Lois Hobart 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 60-7805 

Printed in the United States of America 

by H.Wolff, New York 


My acquaintance with Sarah Livingston Jay has had some 
enlightening side effects. It has deepened my interest in 
those crucial days of the Revolution and the early republic, 
and it has convinced me of the long-neglected but vital sig- 
nificance of the role played by her husband, John Jay, in our 
country's history. 

The gracious Sally would be displeased if I failed to note 
another by-product of my research into her life and times. 
That is the response not only of friends but of total strangers 
to my need for cooperation in research since, obviously, resi- 
dence in Mexico is not the ideal site for access to the neces- 
sary materials, I really cannot say enough of my gratitude to 
those friends and acquaintances who have taken time from 
their own work and leisure to send books, microfilmed let- 
ters and documents or duplicates, visual material and photo- 
graphs, and even tape recordings of material. In this short 
acknowledgment there is not space enough to mention all 
of them, but a few I must name and thank individually. 

Among my friends, Maya Habergritz of New York City 
has been the most zealous of researchers, poring over in- 
numerable books, magazines, and newspapers and sending 

me pages of notes. My agent and friend, Evelyn Singer, has 
held my hand in correspondence with endless patience and 
has guided research in New York with very nice results. My 
thanks to Fred Kuper and Irve Tunick for their interest 
and for sending me books. Louise Stefanic has continued 
through correspondence embellished with notes and 
sketches and helpful photographs an acquaintance begun 
in San Miguel. 

It is the work of librarians to help researchers, but I want 
particularly to thank Sra. Zurbaran of the Biblioteca Frank- 
lin, who not only helped me with the books in her library 
but conveyed a great many from the Library of Congress; 
Mr. Baragwanath of the Museum of the City of New York; 
Mr. Kenneth Lohf of Butler Library at Columbia Univer- 
sity; and Mrs. Hendrickson of the Katonah Library in West- 
chester County. They have all done more than a librarian's 
share in helping me. Even our new little Biblioteca Publica 
de San Miguel de Allende has supplied material. 

Columbia University Libraries have kindly lent me micro- 
filmed copies of their unpublished letters of Sarah Liv- 
ingston Jay, which have been invaluable to me. They have 
also given me permission to quote from them. 

What has been most revealing to me is the kindness of 
strangers who have taken an interest in this biography and 
passed on suggestions for other sources, some of them writ- 
ers and scholars, some housewives, some librarians. Frank 
Monaghan, the author of John Jay, Defender of Liberty, 
among other books, has been extremely generous in counsel- 
ing me and sending material, and his books have been an 
invaluable source of information. Dr. Margaret Hay Ed- 
wards altruistically spent hours looking for material for 
someone she knew only through letters and has proved a 
friend as well. Mrs. Jane Mason of Washington, D. C., and 

Mrs. Virginia Zelazo of Kew Gardens, New York, have also 
been very kind and resourceful in sending research. 

My editor, Rita Forenbach, has been as understanding 
and cooperative and open to suggestions unrelated to text as 
one could possibly wish, and her enthusiasm has been a 
great spur to my work. And in the matter of spurs my hus- 
band is an adept; he and my son Tony have suffered through 
a long obsession with the Jays and have been a sounding 
board throughout. And my thanks again to all the unnamed 
persons who have helped me. 

Son Miguel de Allende L. H. 

Guanajuato, Mexico 

Part I 




Summer, 1773 

New Jersey 


Summer, 1773 

New Jersey 

APRIL 28 33 


New Jersey 



New York City, Philadelphia, New York City 

New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia 

Part II 




Aboard The Confederacy, Martinque, Spain 




Paris, Passy 


Paris, Chaillot 

Part III 




New Jersey, New York City 


New York City 

12 NO. 8 BROADWAY 169 

New York City 


New York City 

Part IV 



New York City, Bedford 


1 79 1 * 

New York City 


New York City 


New York City, Bedford 


1 794' 1 795 
New York City 



New York City, Albany 


T I 



Chapter 1 

Liberty Hall 

Summer, 1773 

New Jersey 

"Look, Kitty, visitors!" Sally cried. With the picnic basket 
over her arm she had rounded the clump of trees by the 
road a little ahead of her sister, and was the first to sight the 
horse tethered in front of Liberty Hall. "One visitor any- 
how,* 7 she amended, quickening her pace. 

"Mr. Boudinot perhaps," Kitty guessed. "Or Alexander 
Hamilton come to stay with us a while. That would be fun." 

"Too bad Master Hamilton isn't in his twenties," Sally 
laughed, "or I think you would not long remain unmarried." 

"Quite right," said Kitty, unabashed. "If I were your age, 
I should certainly set my cap for him. You can take my 
word for it, he will make his way in the world." 

"I'd have to set my cap adroitly. Even now Master Ham- 
ilton is a little too popular with the ladies for my taste. But 
that is neither Mr. Boudinot nor Alexander," Sally said as 
they drew closer. 

Her sister slanted a skeptical glance at her. "What makes 
you say that? You must have seen someone going in." 

"No, but I think it's Mr. Jay's black mare." 

"Nonsense! How could you recognize the mare at such 
a distance why from here you can't even be sure it's a 
black horse." 

"Can't you tell that she's bigger than Mr. Hamilton's 
little stallion? And see how quietly she stands and how 
proudly she arches her neck." 

"Aren't you the sly minx, Sally! I never suspected you 
knew so much about horses." 

"It's not the horses I know so much as the men who ride 
them," Sally said dryly. "Mr. Jay takes good care of his 
horse, and she's perfectly schooled. Did you ever see her 

* Liberty Hall * 

lathered up or nervous even after the long ride from New 
York? Mr. Hamilton's horse is a little beauty, but he dances 
all the time, churns around to see what's going on, jerks at 
his bit, whether he's mounted or tethered. And Mr. Ham- 
ilton dashes up at a gallop instead of walking him to cool 
him off, and then leaves everything to the groom. Look 

The girls were close enough now to walk up and touch 
the mare, who poked her head inquisitively at the basket 
on Sally's arm. Sally stroked the mare's head and neck and 
fondled the velvety muzzle. 

"Isn't she a darling? You can't get this close to the little 
stallion. He's too skittish. Notice how dry she is." 

"Maybe Alexander has a new horse or perhaps it's a dif- 
ferent visitor entirely," Kitty teased. "Then wouldn't you 
feel foolish after all your fine deductions?" 

"No. I'm sure it's Mr. Jay's," Sally said with certainty. 

The Livingston family daredevil glinted in Kitty's eyes. 
"Since you're so sure, I'll make you a wager. If it is not 
Mr. Jay, you must curtsy and kiss our guest! If it is Mr. Jay, 
I'll kiss him!" 

Sally's face flooded with pink at such impudence. "Cath- 
erine Livingston what a shocking thing to think of! What 
would Father say? Besides, it might be someone perfectly 
ugly and horrid." 

"Then that's the penalty," retorted Kitty with undimin- 
ished relish, amused at her sister's blush. "Father loves a 
good joke. He won't mind after he hears why. Don't be a 
prude, Sarah." 

"Pm not a prude," Sally cried indignantly and tossed her 
dark hair like a inane. "You wait and see if I'm not right!" 
With skirts flying and Kitty right behind her, she ran up to 
the steps and flung open the door. Head high, she ad- 


vanced to the door of the parlor just as the door opened 
and a young man appeared. 

"Oh, Master Hamilton!" She faltered in dismay, and the 
slight young man with sandy hair and merry blue eyes 
stopped smiling his welcome to exclaim, "Miss Sally, what's 

Kitty swept him a ceremonial curtsy and said sweetly, 
"We are charmed to see you, Mr. Hamilton." Her sidelong 
look at Sally dared her sister to proceed. 

Too flustered to curtsy, Sally gathered her wits and said 
boldly, "Welcome to Liberty Hall, Master Hamilton. Noth- 
ing is wrong. Only, I thought you were someone else." She 
hesitated a moment, then without further ado, determined 
not to shirk the wager, she put her arms around his neck 
he was not very much taller than she was and stepped 
back with a glare for her sister. 

"What a welcome indeed!" Young Hamilton was laugh- 
ing, but from the parlor behind him came a roar, and Wil- 
liam Livingston towered at the open door, his long-nosed 
face clearly visible above the boy's head. 

"What is going on here? Sarah, must I instruct you to go 
to your room to ponder good manners?" 

Even Kitty flinched a little. "Father, it's my fault, not 
Sally's. We made a wager that if our visitor were Mr. Jay 
I would kiss him and if it were someone else she would 
kiss him because she was so sure it was Mr. Jay's mare in 
front. And it was Alexander's horse after all, so" 

"But it was Mr. Jay's mare after all, Miss Kitty." 

Both girls gasped at sight of the other tall man who ap- 
peared next to their father, but Kitty caught what Sally 
missed, a glint of humor that belied the grave mien of the 
man in the brown riding coat. 

"It's your fault, Mr. Jay," Sally burst out, "because you 

* Liberty Hall * 

weren't in sight when we came in and now Kitty has to 
kiss you, so there!" 

"I forbid Kitty to do any such thing/' Mr. Livingston 
clasped his hands behind his back and gave forth an im- 
pressive courtroom harrumph. He had not discarded all 
such habits from his New York life when he retired from 
the bar to build a new home near Elizabeth Town across 
the Hudson River. 

"Bear in mind the youth of the culprits, Mr. Livingston," 
John Jay intervened gently, more to ease Sally's discomfiture 
than because he was deceived by his host's severity. 

Mr. Livingston harruinphed again. "Well. The situation 
evidently demands exploration. Possibly, Mr. Jay, you will 
consent to act as prosecutor if young Master Hamilton will 
undertake his first case in defense of the young ladies, so 
that we can examine the facts in the case. It is appropriate, 
I believe, for me to serve as judge." 

"Certainly, sir/' A ghost of a smile appeared on Mr. 
Jay's face. "May I add, however, that the role of prosecutor 
has never been more reluctantly undertaken?" 

Mr. Livingston coughed and seated himself at a desk by 
the window with such judicial ceremony that the parlor 
seemed to change into a courtroom. "The remark, I fear, 
indicates more gallantry than awareness of legal proprie- 

"Mr. Hamilton is honored to serve for the young ladies," 
said Mr. Hamilton with as courtly a bow as had ever been 
witnessed in the society of Elizabeth Town. "Mr. Hamil- 
ton will never have fairer cause to defend nor fairer 
clients. May I first request a conference with my clients if 
the court so please?" 

"The court so directs," assented Mr. Livingston. 

Once more composed, Kitty entered instantly into the 


game, but Sally was still dazzled and beguiled with confu- 
sion, not quite certain of the shift in mood and not quite 
prepared to believe her good luck in so light a chastise- 
ment. Flirtatious Kitty, older and more adept at reading 
beneath the surface expression, saw the stern faces as 
masks and assumed a mask of her own. After a short ses- 
sion in the hall for a conference with Alexander, they re- 

Alexander advanced to Mr. Livingston and bowed with 
crisp elegance. 'Tour Honor, may I put my first defendant 
on the stand? Thank you. Miss Sarah, will you be so good 
as to -" He placed a Queen Anne chair near the fireplace 
and indicated that she should sit down. 

Shyly and still not quite sure she wasn't being ridiculed, 
Sally took her place. 

"Please tell the court your name, your age, and where you 

A smile tugged at the upturned corners of Sally's mouth, 
but she smoothed it out and answered with prim dignity. 
"My name is Sarah van Brugh Livingston. I am seventeen 
practically/' she added hastily at the lift of her father's 
heavy eyebrows. "That is, I will be seventeen on my next 
birthday and that is next month. I live at Liberty Hall in 
New Jersey. In fact we have just moved here really/' 

"Very good. Tell me, are you in the habit of making 
wagers, Miss Sarah?" Alexander was enjoying his role, a 
foretaste of what he might some day become. 

"Oh, no, sir. But my sister loves to Oh!" She stopped 
abruptly and shot an apologetic look at Kitty. The idea of 
gambling was not approved in a proper Presbyterian house- 
hold like the Livingstons', however their father might wink 
at his daughter's slight rakishness. 

"Hmm. Suppose you tell the court what you had been 


* Liberty Hall * 

doing during the afternoon and how the subject of horses 
and visitors arose/' 

"Yes, sir. It's very simple. Kitty that is, my sister and 
I had been picnicking in the orchard, and as we came back 
along the road we saw a horse in front of the house and 
when Kitty wondered who our guest was, I said it was Mr. 
Jay. That's all/ 7 

"I take it you have seen the horse often?" 

"Yes. We're great friends. Mr. Jay has had her ever since 
he began visiting us a few years ago in New York City. It's 
the mare his father gave him so that he could ride up to 
visit his family in Rye after he entered law practice," she 
added, eager to make a good impression by rounding out 
the account. Then she caught Mr. Jay's amused eye and 
turned rosy again. 

"Were you close enough to recognize the horse from the 
road? That would seem to be quite a distance for accurate 
identification of color, conformation, and so on. How did 
you identify the mare? Why were you so sure it was not 
my horse, for example?" 

Foreseeing a delicate situation, Sally squirmed in her 
chair. "She's a big black horse, unusually handsome . . ." 

"Yes, but at such a distance might you not have mis- 
taken her for another horse like my stallion? I believe he is 
considered very handsome too." 

"He is," Sally agreed, "but you can tell a lot by be- 
havior, and the two horses are altogether different in man- 
ner, and you don't have to be close to see that." She halted, 
teetering between the desire to clarify and the wish not to 
offend their guest. But when he waited she finally pro- 
ceeded, "You see, Mr. Jay's mare is uncommonly well 
schooled. She is quiet and friendly and always willing, and 
she stands patiently and . . /' Sally's voice trailed off. 


Finally catching the negative implications of Sally's 
comments, all three men broke into laughter, though Alex- 
ander's was discernibly less hearty than the others'. He re- 
sumed the interrogation. 

'Tour point is well taken, Miss Sarah/' he said gra- 
ciously, and then wove a net to ensnare her. "Still, your sis- 
ter evidently did not agree with your conclusions and there- 
fore suggested this wager so that when I came out to greet 
you, you were forced to pay the penalty. Is that correct?" 

Mistress of herself once more, Sally responded sweetly. 
"Hardly a penalty, Master Hamilton, with a gallant like 
you though it might have been if another guest were in- 
volved." She avoided looking at Mr. Jay, but his laugh 
rang out most heartily with the others, while the tribute to 
Alexander's gallantry plainly revived his self-esteem. 

"Thank you, Miss Sarah. May we now have Miss Cath- 
erine Livingston on the stand?" 

Demurely Kitty took Sarah's place and identified her- 

"Was the former witness's account substantially correct? 
Good. Perhaps, Miss Catherine, you have something to 
add about the wager?" 

"Yes, sir. I cannot deny that I'm a bit of a gambler by 
nature, but, in addition, I was a mite provoked because my 
sister is sometimes so annoyingly sure of herself that I 
thought it might teach her a lesson." Then with disarming 
candor Kitty added, "Instead, I'm afraid it taught me a 
lesson that Sally usually has good reason for her judg- 

The sound of approaching hoofbeats and carriage wheels 
broke in upon the courtroom scene, and Sally ran to the 


* Liberty Hall * 

"It's Mama back from town with Susan, and she's 
brought Brockholst and Judith back from their visit too. 
Do you suppose she knows we have visitors?" 

"She must have stopped at Boxwood Hall and heard 
from Mr. Boudinot," Kitty said over her shoulder. "Well, I 
guess this ends our trial, doesn't it, Papa? And are we 

"I respectfully submit that we might dismiss the case, 
sir," John Jay suggested, "and may I add my personal con- 
gratulations to Master Hamilton for his skill in represent- 
ing his clients? I hope we shall some day welcome his tal- 
ents to the bar." 

Alexander bowed his appreciation while Mr. Livingston 
resumed his judicial mien. "When the prosecutor himself 
recommends dismissal, I am inclined to accept, though of 
course this is highly irregular procedure. Ah, my dear!" 

He turned toward the door and advanced to greet his 
wife and children. "You must be tired after your journey." 
He helped her off with her shawl. "Are you prepared for a 
pleasant surprise? Mr. Jay has come to stay the night, and 
Master Hamilton has accepted our invitation to spend 
some time with us before he enters King's College." 

"My dear Mr. Jay dear Alexander," said Mrs. Living- 
ston with her warm smile. "I'm so glad to see you both. It 
has been too long since your last visit, Mr. Jay. Your cases 
must keep you well occupied." 

After the exchange of greetings her face grew grave, and 
she turned back to her husband. "Have you heard the news 
from Boston, William?" 

"About the turning back of the ships with tea? Mr. Jay 
brought the news. I'm proud that on some issue most of 
the colonies are standing together. And I'll wager that rascal 



Sam Adams in Boston will whip up his mobs to a frenzy 
about it. If Sam Adams had his way, we'd be in the thick 
of a revolution tomorrow/' 

"A revolution over a silly old tax on tea and things?" 
piped up fourteen-year-old Judith with disbelief. "Why, tea 
doesn't even taste good. Fd rather have hot chocolate or 
cider. Anyhow, Mama says it's cheaper here than in Eng- 
land, so why bother about the tax?" 

"You don't understand because you're still a child," 
Sally told her from the lofty advantage of two years' senior- 
ity and longer exposure to the lively political and philo- 
sophical discussions that sprang up among her father's 
friends. "If you kept your ears open, you'd know that we 
object because we are taxed without representation. It's 
not fair." 

"Do you think there might really be a revolution against 
Britain, Mr. Livingston?" asked Alexander, his blue eyes 
sparkling. "I'd enlist tomorrow, college or no college." 

"I can picture you fitted out in a splendid uniform, 
charging at the head of your troops into a regiment of red- 
coats/' Kitty teased him. "I'm sure you'd have the finest 
troops on parade and the best in the field too," she added 
kindly to mollify him. 

"And you'd be commissioned a general in two years," 
chimed in Sally with her irresistible chuckle. "Only you're 
much too young for that." Perversely she called attention 
to his youth, knowing what a severe limitation it seemed 
to him in his hurry to learn all things and perform great 
feats on the battlefield, in the courts, or wherever life 
might take him. 

"I'll guarantee to come out at least a major," Alexander 
boasted. "Perhaps a colonel." 

"Revolution is no matter for laughter, nor for ambition," 


* Liberty Hall * 

Mr. Livingston rebuked them sharply. "Young people 
know little of the problems and suffering brought on by 

"But Fve heard no one even mention revolution/ 7 Susan 
protested. "Though some people have talked of commer- 
cial reprisals." 

"You must remember, Susan, that New York is mostly 
Tory. You'd be less likely to hear revolutionary talk there 
than in, say, Massachusetts. But no sensible man courts so 
drastic a measure as revolution when in all likelihood the 
British government will realize its folly and find some rea- 
sonable solution. After all, this is 1773, and we're a civi- 
lized people not eager to precipitate a war. Except for Sam 
Adams and his crew, I've heard of no one who seriously 
considers revolt. Isn't that a fair statement, John?" 

"Yes, sir. My forebears are French and Dutch, not Eng- 
lish, but I must acknowledge that the colonies are depend- 
ent in many ways upon England for commerce, for de- 
fense, as well as for most of our traditions. What I resent is 
England's policy of keeping us dependent instead of en- 
couraging us to our utmost in production in agriculture 
and industry." 

The talk went on through dinner, and afterward Mrs. 
Livingston and Susan sat in the parlor by the fireplace 
while Mr. Livingston and Mr. Jay smoked their long pipes 
and spoke of lawsuits and the Moot Club, to which they 
both belonged, and the additions Mr. Livingston planned 
for his new house, and of livestock and landscaping. At the 
harpsichord Judith earnestly tinkled out a minuet so that 
Kitty could teach Alexander the latest New York dance, 
and Alexander could return the favor with a version from 
the West Indian Islands of his birth. 

Sally sat on a three-legged milk stool near her father, an 


accustomed perch, with her hands clasping her new striped 
pink and white muslin dress around her knees. The firelight 
glinted on flecks of chestnut in her dark hair. Alternately 
she watched the dancers and listened to the talk between 
the men. From time to time her mercurial father rose to 
pace the floor and emphasize his remarks with quick ges- 
tures, but Mr. Jay scarcely moved from his original position. 

Strange, Sally mused, how much deference her father ac- 
corded this much younger man. She studied him, seeking 
the reason. Mr. Jay dressed quietly, but was neither drab 
nor inconspicuous; the tailoring and quality of his clothes 
were too fine to escape a discerning eye. His features were 
agreeable to the point of being handsome, though his hair, 
lightly powdered and tied in the back, was beginning to 
recede a little from his high forehead. But handsomeness 
was not the quality that remained in a viewer's mind. Even 
in repose, as now, his features commanded a second, study- 
ing look. Perhaps it was the steady intelligence of his deep- 
set dark eyes, the hawk-like nose, the firmness of mouth 
and chin. Without any ostentation or effort there was an 
aura of character, and that was the impression that lin- 

Irresistibly there came to mind the lines from Polonius's 
speech to Laertes which Sally had been reading that 
morning with Kitty: 

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, 
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel . . . 

. . . Beware 

Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, 

Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee . . . 

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; 

Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment . , , 

* Liberty Hall * 

At the time she had thought only how apt a description 
it was of her father, but now she realized that the words 
were equally applicable to Mr. Jay. Mild he seemed, but 
she thought he could be not only a loyal friend but a stern 
enemy, and he was not a man to jump to conclusions. He 
would listen and learn and balance and deliberately come 
to a decision. 

Abruptly she recalled her outburst to him of that after- 
noon and reddened with shame. Deliberation was certainly 
not one of her own virtues. Her impressions were swift, and 
she had been scolded often enough for acting too much on 
impulse and for being too ready with her tongue. Sally 
turned to watch the dancers, who were laughing together as 
one of them made a misstep. How pretty Kitty always 
looked, how charmingly dressed, and how gracefully the 
folds of her green sacque dress floated in the dance! 

Watching Alexander's eager, quick movements, so full of 
grace, Sally could not help smiling. No wonder everyone suc- 
cumbed to his charm. He was vivacious and delightful, full 
of fun and wit, engaging in his love of elegance and dress- 
he always wore the most beautifully laced and sewn white 
shirts, frilled at throat and sleeve. No one could miss the 
brilliance of that searching young mind, and Sally sus- 
pected that her brother Brockholst was jealous. Heretofore 
he had been the young shining light of the local gentry, 
and when Alexander was present, Brockholst was second. 
That must be why he had sulked at dinner and excused 
himself afterward, saying he had a headache. Alexander 
had not even noticed. 

Why, she wondered, with Alexander present, a lad near 
her own age, so brilliant and charming, should she pass 
her time speculating about Mr. Jay? Perhaps the rumors 
about his courtship of the DeLancey sisters, which Kitty 


had whispered to her at dinner, intrigued her. How could 
anyone who had known Kitty be interested in those De- 
Lancey girls? Kitty was ever so much prettier and wittier, 
she thought loyally. And it was odd that on his visits Mr. 
Jay seldom talked much with anyone except her father. 

On sudden impulse, Sally jumped up and took Mr. fay's 
hand, something she would never have dreamed of doing if 
she had stopped to think about it. 

"Won't you come and dance, Mr. Jay?" she entreated. 
"Kitty taught me one of the new dances and I'd love to try 
it out with you/' 

Before Mr. Jay could reply, her father snorted impa- 
tiently. "We're having a talk, Sally. You must not inter- 
rupt" Then his face softened, and he looked at them with 
indulgence. "All right. I'm turning into an old fogey. You 
young people go ahead and enjoy yourselves. Do, John, join 
your partner/' 

"With your permission, sir." John did not look as though 
he quite relished the enjoyment awaiting him, and Sally 
had a disheartening sense of having been unpardonably 

Yet she would not give up and called out gaily, "Look, 
Kitty, who's going to dance with me!" It was then she no- 
ticed the dull flush of red creeping over Mr. Jay's face. In 
a flash she realized that the sedate and serene Mr. Jay was 
shy! Perhaps he didn't even know how to dance and was 
mortified at her invitation. It seemed crucially important to 
her to make him have a good time. 

Tentatively she said, "Since you're so busy in town, 
you may not have had time to learn this dance. Would you 
like me to show you the steps first? It's very simple, you'll 

In the candlelight of the chandelier his glance met hers. 


* Liberty Hall * 

In his eyes was a mixture of surprise and appreciation and 
understanding and a warmth that she would never have 
thought of associating with him. 

"It would be my pleasure. Miss Sarah/' he said, looking 
down at her with his grave, sweet smile. 

The Third Grace 

Summer, 1773 

New Jersey 

On the next Saturday afternoon Brockholst and Judith 
challenged Sally to a race back to Liberty Hall from their 
walk, but for once Sally declined and chose to return at a 
more sedate pace. Lately she had grown more conscious of 
her betwixt-and-between status as ebullient youngster and 
young lady. It irked her that Kitty, always accorded the 
respect due to a young lady, could join in their romps with- 
out risk to her status, and yet she, in joining, automatically 
reverted to a sort of elder child. It was totally unfair, she 
thought, and she tossed her head in resentment. 

The thud of trotting hoofs sounded behind her on the 
dirt road, and she turned to see Mr. Jay riding up on his 
mare. He greeted her with grave courtesy and after a brief 
hesitation, which did not escape her sensitive notice, dis- 
mounted to walk by her side the rest of the way up the 
lane. She read into that pause the usual uncertainty- 
should she be saluted as child or woman? and thought 
with exasperation that if she had been Kitty, there would 
have been none of this hesitation. This somehow placed 
her on the defensive: it was now incumbent upon her to 
prove her rights, and this froze her into an unnatural re- 

She replied primly to her companion's remarks about the 
fine summer weather, asked primly about his journey, and 
then fell into what she considered a dignified silence. He re- 
lapsed into silence too, but as if he scarcely noticed hers 
and had forgotten her presence. His abstracted manner 
hinted to her that only consideration for her had caused 
him to dismount for her company. She made shamefaced 
overtures by admiring his new saddle, but he responded in- 


* The Third Grace * 

differently. Perplexed by such uncharacteristic inattention 
very unlike him she wondered whether he were disturbed 
about something and gently began to probe for the source 
of his unease. Something was certainly troubling him. 

Had he any particularly interesting cases at suit? No? 
Then were his parents in good health? Excellent, thank 
you. Perhaps there was news of interest from New York? 

"No," he answered shortly. Then he changed his mind. 
Yes, there was news. The younger Miss DeLancey had an- 
nounced her engagement. 

"Oh, to one of the British officers?" This was a windfall. 
For once she would be able to deliver a morsel of gossip to 
her older sisters instead of receiving it. "My father says 
nearly everyone in the DeLancey circle is a Tory" While 
she went on chattering merrily, the memory dawned on 
her of Kitty's report of Mr. Jay's fancy for the DeLancey 
girls, and she stopped herself in mid-sentence. His head 
was lowered to watch the ground, and she caught an al- 
most imperceptible grimace of pain, as if in the throes of 
some anguished recollection he'd again forgotten her. This 
was no time to tease him. Her reserve melted, and she 
shyly touched the sleeve of his brown riding coat. 

With more candor and concern than tact she exclaimed, 
"Mr. Jay, please forgive me. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have 
babbled on like that. I just realized that you must have 
been fond of her. What terribly upsetting news for you!" 

His head jerked up. "Upsetting, yes, to say the least. 
Why couldn't she have told me herself and spared me the 
humiliation of learning it from others? She might have let 
me know earlier that she was attached to someone else!" 
His voice was acid with bitterness. 

Sally regarded him with renewed surprise. Here was 
fresh insight into the austere and formidable Mr. Jay. Here 



was a vision of emotion held in check, screened from ob- 
servers but liable to explosion, and still more unexpected 
a vision of a man more versed in the court of law than 
in the court of romance, singularly innocent, a man bewil- 
dered and unhappy and needful of sympathy and solace. 

Suddenly she was aware that this time her youth gave her 
an advantage. With her sisters he would have been con- 
trolled and on guard; there would have been no such out- 
burst with an adult. 

She envied Kitty's wisdom and experience with men. "I 
don't know Miss DeLancey's fiance/' Sally said awk- 
wardly, "but 111 wager that one day she will regret her deci- 
sion/' She was so firm and matter of fact in her opinion 
that even in his distress John Jay could not help smiling. 

He looked down at her, and she found that his gaze was 
extraordinarily penetrating and charged with kindness, as 
if he understood that she was trying to play a woman's role 
in her effort to commiserate with him and salve his 
wounded ego. 

"You are most flattering, Miss Sarah. It is a consolation 
to think that you have such faith in me." 

"It's not just me/' she said amiably. "If Father thinks 
so highly of you, I know there is good reason for it." 

He laughed then and put an arm around her shoulder 
for a sudden squeeze, as one does to an endearing child, 
and she responded to the gesture with a startled, glowing 
smile. It was gratifying to feel that she had been able to 
find the right thing to say under awkward circumstances, 
even though her sisters might have phrased it more grace- 

Something was different about that week-end, although 
not on the surface. Mr. Jay spent the greater part of his 


* The Third Grace * 

time in talk with William Livingston and occasionally with 
Mrs. Livingston and her older daughters, but when the 
men walked out as usual to stroll over the acres of growing 
crops, orchards, and flowers, Sally trailed along with them. 
She remembered for a change to shield her face from the 
sun with a large-brimmed hat borrowed from Kitty. Freck- 
les were so undignified and childlike, she thought, and 
sprinkled so unpleasantly over the bridge of her pretty 
straight nose, the long Livingston nose in feminine form. 

She loved to roam the countryside and listened with ab- 
sorption to talk about trees and crops, ideas for grafting, 
comparisons of fruits and flowers in native and European 
varieties. To Kitty and even to Susan trees might be a mat- 
ter merely for shade and landscaping, but to Sally trees 
were entities worthy of love and attention for themselves, 
just as horses were to her personalities rather than a mere 
means of transport. Once or twice Mr. Jay turned back to 
take her hand as she followed them up a rocky slope or 
crossed the little creek on steppingstones, and it made her 
feel quite adult. Always before she had been the little tom- 
boy, independent and cherishing her independence. 

Several times it had been on the tip of Sally's tongue to 
confide to her sisters the morsel about Miss DeLancey's en- 
gagement, and she had phrased in her mind the best way 
to make them laugh over Mr. Jay's discomfiture and hu- 
miliation. Yet, each time she had hesitated and turned 
away, wondering why. The image of Mr. Jay lost in silence 
and abstraction was too strong. She couldn't mortify him, 
and she had an idea that even the gentlest gibes and teas- 
ing allusions that her sisters might make would be too 
much for him just now. Susan and Kitty would have 
scoffed at the notion of having to safeguard the "impregna- 



ble" Mr. Jay's pride and self-esteem, but Sally had 
glimpsed the underlying sensitivity and vulnerability and 
had determined to protect him. 

He had not required her to keep silent and, out of pride, 
would not, but she fancied that once or twice he looked at 
her speculatively, wondered, and guessed that she had said 
nothing, and she thought that he was pleased. 

There was whist that evening. Mrs. Livingston knitted 
by the fireplace while the men set up a table for play, and 
Susan and Kitty joined them to make a foursome. Plain- 
tively wondering whether she would ever be more than a 
spectator, Sally perched on the arm of her father's chair to 
watch the game. 

Mr. Livingston dealt the cards deftly and rapidly, as he 
did everything, assembled his hand and promptly reflected 
in his face his pleasure at finding a good hand. Kitty as- 
sumed a gambler's impassive face but played more tempes- 
tuously, with a flourish and a shrug for any sally of hers 
that failed. The more conservative Susan played quietly 
and well, but had a smile for the unexpected ventures of 
others. Mr. Livingston kept up a flow of quips during the 
game, to which Kitty and Susan replied with teasing. 

From her vantage point back from the light of the can- 
delabra on the table, Sally watched Mr. Jay and thought it 
strange that after knowing him for several years, at least 
three or four, she should only now become aware that she 
really knew very little about him. He wore no mask, and 
his face was sensitive rather than indecipherable; yet he 
was a man self-contained, who revealed little of himself. 
Only recently had she recognized this self-containment as 

Outwardly he did not appear shy. He conversed fluently 
and seemed at ease, especially with men, but Sally had be- 


* The Third Grace * 

gun to notice tiny traces of uncertainty. If she had not 
seen him at court speaking for a client and thereby known 
him to be as keen and close in argument as the intelligent, 
deep-set, dark eyes promised, she might have thought his 
shyness the product of uncertain abilities. But without 
question the abilities were there. 

He played his cards well, almost conservatively, but he 
was capable of occasional bold strokes that surprised his 
opponents and gratified his partner. He would gather and 
arrange his cards swiftly, study them with brief care but giv- 
ing out no hint of the contents, cast an appraising glance 
at each player as if to evoke their hands from their faces, 
and select his card. He rarely changed his mind about the 
choice, but when he did it was with decision and no 
prolonged weighing and balancing. At that moment he 
trumped a trick with a four of clubs that Kitty had forgot- 
ten. He smiled a little at her wail and almost inadvertently 
glanced at Sally to find her eyes fixed on him from the shad- 

Livingston impatiently tapped his cards on the table 
after a moment. "Your move, John." 

"Of course, sir/' John looked back at his cards. "Your 
pardon. I wasn't thinking." Indeed, his mind had strayed, 
for he led his queen into an ace of hearts and lost the trick. 

"It's a rare time when you are not thinking, John," Kitty 
said pertly, capturing the trick with a triumphant click of 
the cards on the table. "Unless you take this one you're 

He smiled and took the last trick with a jack. 

"What an exasperating opponent you are, Mr, Jay!" ex- 
claimed Susan, with one skillful stroke complimenting 
their guest and rebuking her sister for forwardness in ad- 
dress. "You have such a way of lulling our suspicions at the 


very moment when you're poised for a capture! 7 ' She 
pushed back her chair and rose. "I am rather tired this eve- 
ning. Please excuse me/' 

Mr. Jay rose, too, while Kitty pettishly threw down the 
cards she had gathered for shuffling. "Such early hours!" 
she complained as Susan left the room. "Sometimes I wish 
we were back in New York where we could have more 
parties and company and social life. Papa, why do you love 
to rusticate like this?" 

William Livingston smiled at his daughter and quoted, 
while filling his pipe, from a poem he had written after 
graduating from Yale: 

Mine be the pleasures of a rural life, 

From noise remote, and ignorant of strife; 

Far from the painted belle, and white-glov'd beau, 

The lust-form'd masquerade, and midnight flow . . , 

"Say the rest, Papa," Sally urged when he paused, 
"about the lovely wife and all that." 

He sent a mischievous glance at his wife, who bent her 
head with affected industry over her knitting, and went on: 

With her I'd spend the pleasurable day, 

While fleeting minutes gaily danc'd away; 

With her I'd walk, delighted, o'er the green, 

Thro' ev'iy blooming mead, and rural scene; 

Or near cool streams, on banks damask'd with flow'rs . . . 

"That's quite enough," interrupted Mrs. Livingston, 
who always blushed at the succeeding lines about "im- 
paradis'd within my eager arms," as her children well 
knew. "Off to bed with you, Sarah. Catherine, it would do 
you no harm to get more sleep." 


* The Third Grace * 

"Poof, Mama! You forget Fm not still a child/' said 
Kitty. But Sarah rose obediently to kiss her mother and fa- 
ther good night and then moved toward the door. 

"Allow me/ 7 Mr. Jay sprang up and opened the door 
for her to pass. 

Surprised and pleased at the attention, Sally stood still a 
moment, savoring the courtesy and hoping Kitty had no- 
ticed. Then she acknowledged it with a mere dip of her 
head instead of dropping a curtsy and sailed through the 
door with a consciously graceful lift of her skirts. In the 
hall she hesitated and turned with exactly the coquettish 
tilt of her pretty face that she had so often admired in 
Kitty and gave him her thanks. 

At this performance a smile appeared in Mr. Jay's eyes. 
Instead of returning to the parlor, he excused himself to 
his hostess, closed the door, and inquired whether Miss 
Sarah would care to take a stroll for a few minutes before 

Thrilled at this crowning tribute, Sarah accepted with 
alacrity and quite visibly swelled with pride. He opened 
the outer door for her and they stepped out and down the 
short flight of stairs onto a moon-swept lawn. It seemed 
natural to drift toward the rustic bench where Kitty's call- 
ers often attended her. Not that Sally could by any means 
visualize this tall somber man in the role of suitor, but she 
could for once envision herself as a lady, and it was a novel 
and delicious experience. 

She seated herself on the bench, arranged her skirts self- 
consciously, and wished she had a fan to maneuver deli- 
cately with the language of coquetry. Mr. Jay bowed and 
sat beside her. The shadow of a smile which lurked in his 
eyes disturbed her despite her elation. Even while she re- 
marked on the beauty of the moon and the surroundings, 



she fretted about it and wondered what it might betoken. 

In the short silence that followed, she looked at her com- 
panion out of the corner of her eye and detected the trace 
of a frown. Anxiously she adjusted the white fichu around 
her neck and wished it were silk instead of muslin. She 
wondered whether Susan could see them from her bedroom 
window and if she was impressed. Sally wished she could 
think of something to say, but her tongue had deserted her. 

Why did he say nothing? Should he not go on to say 
something pretty as a compliment or . . . ? Abashed, she 
recalled Miss DeLancey -whom she privately considered 
a bit of a stick and sent him a sudden stricken look. How 
could she have forgotten his misfortune, his tragedy, again 
so soon? It somehow refused to stay in her mind except as 
a bit of gossip. 

Mr. Jay spoke at last. "I wanted to thank you for saying 
nothing of what I told you today. It was generous of you to 
keep silence. Maybe you suspected that I regretted speak- 
ing of it ... Of course, Miss DeLancey had no obliga- 
tion to me, and Fm sorry that I forgot myself/' 

"It was nothing, Mr. Jay. I just felt you'd rather it were 
not mentioned, at least right now/' 

"Until I have a chance to recover," he said, mocking 
himself. He changed the subject without preamble. "Did 
you know that people call you and your older sisters the 
'Three Graces'?" 

The question took her entirely by surprise and she 
caught her breath. Her sisters were generally admired for 
their wit and beauty, but the thought of being included 
with them as a trio, even as a junior member, was enough 
to set her pulse racing, and she could not help turning her 
shining eyes, blue-black in the moonlight, full upon Mr, 


* The Third Grace * 

"Are you teasing me or is that truly so?" she demanded 
breathlessly. It was so promising a remark that it overrode 
some f erminine instinct that warned her to caution. 

"It is true, as my eyes certainly tell me this minute." Yet 
his smile had sadness in it as well as indulgence. "It must 
be exciting to feel that you are at last a young lady but I 
hope you will permit me to say something to you in all 

"Oh, please do, Mr. Jay," she said eagerly. She forgot 
her underlying wariness and waited for some fresh and de- 
lightful revelation, her eyes touched with small moons 
of expectation. This was better than she could have 
dreamed. It was as romantic as one of Kitty's encounters 
she was sure. 

He seemed to muse aloud. "Beauty and wit are indisputa- 
ble assets, and I trust you will not construe what I have to 
say as in any way critical of your charming sisters," His 
dark eyes withdrew from the Jersey landscape and fixed on 
hers in a gaze that puzzled her. "But something alarms me. 
Don't you think that perhaps you are trying to grow up 
too fast, trying to model yourself too much on your sisters? 
Without doubt they are excellent models, but you must 
not forget that if you too are to become an individual, you 
must follow your own star." 

He gave her a kind and serious smile and added, "Per- 
haps it was because you were so womanly today in your 
sympathy that tonight I noticed that you were verging on 
a coquettishness that is not really yours but something ac- 
quired from studying others. I think you are by nature ex- 
uberant and lively and questing but not coy. You are di- 
rect and forthright, and this is one of your charms . . ." 

No amount of wariness could have prepared Sally for 
such a scene a sermon in the moonlight! She turned away 



so that he would not see the tears welling in her eyes, and 
he went on, innocent of her distress. 

"Everything you think and feel is mirrored in your eyes, 
and I should hate to see you transformed into just an- 
other pretty and flirtatious young belle. I believe you have 
greater potentials. When I see how perceptive and kind you 
can be, it distresses me to think that you might deviate 
from the individual you are into the common pattern of 
girls ..." 

Sally hardly knew why she cried, unless it were the con- 
trast between the vision that had formed in her mind of a 
romantic scene and the reality of what was happening. 
What was that reality? It shimmered and changed like a 
fire opal, like the moon glimpsed through her tears. What 
a pedantic, righteous, hateful sobersides Mr. Jay was! How 
smug! How conceited! She was even glad about his mis- 
fortune! How could she have bothered herself with feeling 
sorry for such an odious man? 

"Was that why you invited me to stroll? 7 ' she demanded 
fiercely, turning around to him suddenly, with the tears 
still rolling down her cheeks. "I'm such a simpleton, such a 
disgusting person that you feel sorry for me?" Even in the 
turmoil of bewildered emotion, she realized that she was 
unjust, and the humiliation of it plunged her into an abyss 
of anguish for herself. She wailed, "But you're right, you're 
right! I'm horrid and pretentious, and I try to copy Kitty 
and -and Oh, why does everything go wrong when it 
started out so beautifully? Is life always like that?" 

Mr. Jay was as startled at her show of emotion as she 
had been at his monologue. It was inconceivable to him 
that when he had tried so hard to be gentle and considerate 
and adroit, the girl could act like this. Why, the child must 


* The Third Grace * 

have expected something quite, quite different ... It 
dumbfounded him that something he had supposed could 
be quietly discussed had turned into a torrent of tears and 
accusations and upbraidings and other thoroughly femi- 
nine and distressing reactions that he could not cope with. 

There was only one gentlemanly thing to do and that 
was to let Sally sob out her wretchedness and perplexities 
in his arms. He smoothed her dark hair so fine and soft to 
the touch and said ineloquently but charitably, "There, 
there, don't cry. You'll soon feel better." 

He repeated it several times and miraculously she soon 
did. And so did he. After her crying died away, her head 
continued to rest against the crook of his arm, and pres- 
ently she felt singularly relaxed and comfortable and not 
disposed to move away. To his surprise he found the situa- 
tion thoroughly pleasant, which was odd in view of his ex- 
treme discomfort only minutes before. 

After a while she turned her head to look up at him and 
murmured, "You know, this is very cozy. I don't know 
why I was so silly and nasty when you were only trying to 
help me/' 

He found himself smiling at her innocence. "Don't give 
it a thought. Matters are now well in hand." 

She continued to gaze up at him gravely. "Actually 
you're not a bit pompous or hateful. And you have the 
sweetest smile of anyone I know." She shook her head. 
"You just don't know much about women." 

At that he laughed outright and said severely, "Young 
lady, you are staying up too late. And I shall tell your fa- 
ther about your impudence to your elders. Come. It's time 
you went inside." 

When he had brought her indoors, he said good night 

3 1 


and watched her mount the stairs. Near the top she leaned 
over the wooden balustrade and whispered, "Good night, 
John Jay/' 

The Mr. Jay of her childhood had vanished, and another 
man had taken his place. 


Chapter 3 

April 28 

New Jersey 

A fortnight had passed since Mr. Jay's last visit, and Sally 
was restless, querulous, and unable to concentrate on her 
studies or reading or needlework. Not even to Kitty had 
she confided a word about her conversation with Mr. Jay, 
and she was puzzled to know why. 

Had she been too bold, too frank with him? Was it pos- 
sible for a man like him to have a serious interest in a girl 
ten or eleven years his junior? Had he simply been kind to 
her? The short scene revolved in her memory and always 
brought a blush to her rosy cheeks and set her to fresh self- 
scrutiny. By now, she told herself fretfully, he must have 
forgotten the whole affair. It could not have mattered very 
much to him or he would have come sooner on another 

On a rainy afternoon in the middle of the week, while 
she was chatting with her mother and sisters, she heard 
John's voice outside as he gave the groom instructions 
about his horse. Firmly she resisted the impulse to run to 
the window to wave to him. Even when he entered the hall 
to give his outer coat and hat and riding crop to the serv- 
ant, she remained stubbornly in her place on the settee. 

When he came into the parlor, he bowed to her mother 
and sisters, inquired after Mr. Livingston, who had ridden 
into Elizabeth Town, and said good day to Brockholst 
Sally, in a seizure of shyness, remained silent and busy with 
her embroidery. Suddenly she was conscious of John's ap- 
proach. He stood by the settee, admiring her handiwork, 
and asked if he might sit down. 

From the corner of her eye she saw her sisters watching 
with amused surprise, and her fingers began to tremble on 


* April 28 * 

the embroidery frame. She gathered her skirts and moved 
aside to make way, accidentally pricking herself with the- 
needle in her haste. She could not imagine why she should 
feel so disconcerted, but she did not trust herself to speak 
lest her voice tremble. 

There was a short silence before her mother tactfully 
gathered up the reins of conversation. Then Mr. Jay said 
softly to Sally, "I had to ride up to Albany to see about a 
case last week, and all the long way back I found myself 
thinking of you, Miss Sarah, and wondering how you were" 
he paused a moment "and whether you had decided 
that I was pompous and hateful or tolerable." 

Sally drew a long breath and raised her eyes to find him 
smiling at her. "Tolerable, Mr. Jay? What a feeble word!" 
she said reproachfully and saw the tenderness in his dark 
eyes. He had not forgotten; it could have been no trivial 
episode for him either. The wall of reserve and skepticism 
she had erected with so much effort crumbled forthwith. 
Her smile appeared, deepened into dimples, and grew into 
full-blown laughter for no reason she could tell except that 
she was extravagantly happy that he had come and knew 
now that he felt the same happiness. 

So for Sally began a new and marvelous phase of her 
young life. Even Kitty and Brockholst ceased to tease her, 
as though in recognition of the delicacies of her strange and 
fragile emotions. At first there was contentment in the sim- 
ple fact of John's companionship. Despite his work, he 
managed to make the long ride to Liberty Hall on most 
week-ends, and they took long walks and rides into the 
countryside. There was much to explore of the chasm that 
still lay between girl and adult and of the mysterious 
reservoirs of individuality in each of them. 



When Jolin was absent, Sally pumped her father end- 
lessly to tell her about the Jay family at Rye and about 
John's Hugueaot ancestors who had been routed from 
France by persecution and massacres, scattering to England 
and Holland and at last to the English colonies in the new 
world to set up a mercantile dynasty. John's father, Peter 
Jay ? had been educated in England and, after a visit in 
France, had joined the family ventures in trade and ship- 
building and had later married Mary Van Cortlandt, 
daughter of another merchant family. He was a civic- 
minded man who had helped set out Bowling Green "for 
the recreation and delight" of New Yorkers, He was an 
elder of Trinity Church and a commissioner of defense of 
New York. Just after John was born, Peter Jay had moved 
his wife and eight children to Rye for the sake of two of the 
children who had been blinded by smallpox. 

From John himself Sally heard much more. She ex- 
claimed indignantly over the meager bed and board sup- 
plied by the Reverend Stouppe when John was sent to his 
school at New Rochelle. But it was Mrs. Stouppe who had 
been so penurious, John defended his mentor, grateful for 
the teaching of French and mathematics the Reverend 
was only absent-minded. But many a time John had 
walked in the woods to fill his boots and pockets with nuts 
to supplement his diet, and he could well remember stuff- 
ing the cracked glass in the window by his bed with bits of 
wood in winter to keep out the snow. 

Then George Murray had tutored him at home, where 
he was deeply influenced by the devoutness of his mother 
and father, by their strong and sensible intelligence, and by 
his mothers cultivated and imaginative mind. There were 
always daily prayers for the whole household and on win- 
ter evenings readings from religious books or Isaac Bicker- 

* April 28 * 

staff or The Spectator. John learned Greek and Latin and 
read through the literary classicsand sometimes deco- 
rated his copy of Virgil's Aeneid with caricatures of his tu- 
tor. Sally giggled at this because she loved to sketch and 
amused herself with drawing and cutting profiles in minia- 

At fourteen John had entered King's College and lodged 
for two years at the house of a painter on Broadway. Later 
he had moved into rooms at the college. The routine in 
those days was rigorous. Breakfast of bread and butter and 
tea or coffee followed chapel at six, then classes until 
twelve, a walk, dinner at one inexorably the same, week 
after week, beginning with Sunday roast beef and pudding, 
leg of mutton on Monday, roast veal on Tuesday, corned 
beef and mutton chops on Wednesday, and so through the 
cycle study in the afternoon, prayers at six before sup- 
per of bread and cheese and the remains of dinner. Eve- 
nings were a student's own for recreation. 

The curriculum included Latin, Greek, and rhetoric, and 
John's reading ranged from Suetonius, Seneca, Aristotle, 
and Locke's Essay on Human Understanding to books on 
navigation and surveying. Finding that Plutarch's Lives 
had been a favorite of his, Sally read it and adopted it as 
one of hers. 

She sympathized with John for his youthful embarrass- 
ment at mispronouncing the letter I and admired his early 
determination in studying rhetoric to improve his English 
compositions and in practicing daily before a mirror to 
perfect his speech. 

When he came to the fiasco of his brief suspension 
from college, instead of feeling sorry for him, as he had ex- 
pected, Sally laughed until she was in tears. It had begun 
with a riot at supper when the president of the college sur- 



prised the students in the act of breaking up the dinner 
table. Unable to identify the culprit who instigated the 
riot, he had demanded of each student in turn: "Did you 
break the table?" and "Do you know who did?" Each had 
answered no until Jay, to the second question, had replied, 
"Yes, sir." 

The president heaved a sigh of relief, but when he com- 
manded the boy to name the culprit, John had refused with 
a firm "I do not choose to tell you, sir," and could not be 
budged from his stand. 

The suspension had not seemed funny to John at the 
time, but now, looking at it through Sally's irreverent eyes, 
he too could laugh. 

On his pardon John had returned to graduate with his 
class on May 22, 1764. Considering that there had been 
only two students in his class, the ceremonies had been a 
real occasion, attended by General Gage and his retinue 
and an audience of judges, clergymen, gentlemen of the 
city, and college officials. According to the report the fol- 
lowing week in the New York Mercury, the rites had con- 
sisted of prayers, an address by President Myles Cooper, 
an oration by each of the students "a spirited and sensi- 
ble English dissertation on the 'Happiness and Advan- 
tages arising from a State of Peace/ by Mr. John Jay" 
and in conclusion a debate between Jay and the other stu- 
dent, "masterly discussed." 

Daughter of a lawyer and influential politician, Sally 
was prepared with some understanding of the legal world, 
its terminology, its principles and problems. She could 
readily imagine the tedium of some aspects of John's ap- 
prenticeship as a law clerk, when he had entered the office 
of Benjamin Kissam the month after his graduation she 
was only eight then and he was nearly nineteen. Endlessly 


* April 28 * 

and patiently he had copied documents and briefs, but 
within two years he had become responsible for much of 
the routine legal business of the office and had even man- 
aged it in Kissam's absence. 

He spent much time studying in the law library of his 
uncle, Judge Chambers. He received his degree of Master 
of Arts in 1767, and in the next year his law license. He 
formed a partnership with his friend Robert R. Livingston, 
a distant cousin of Sally's father. It was immediately suc- 
cessful, since both young men were gifted lawyers and well 

John was quite conscious of the contrast between the 
two partners, as he wrote his friend: ". . . It appeared to 
me that you have more vivacity. Bashfulness and pride 
rendered me more staid. Both equally ambitious but pursu- 
ing it in different roads. You flexible, I pertinaceous. Both 
equally sensible of indignities, you less prone to sudden re- 
sentments. Both possessed of warm passions, but you of 
more self-possession. You formed for a citizen of the 
world, I for a College or a Village. You fond of large ac- 
quaintance, I careless of all but a few. You could forbid 
your countenance to tell tales, mine was a babbler. You 
understood men and women early, I knew them not. You 
had talents and inclination for intrigue, I had neither. 
Your mind (and body) received pleasure from a variety of 
objects, mine from few. You were naturally easy of access, 
and in advances, I in neither . . ." Oddly enough it was 
Jay who became the citizen of the world and Robert who 
remained enviously at home, though in distinguished of- 

Knowing his weaknesses, John tried to overcome his re- 
serve and timidity and deliberately expanded his social ac- 
tivities. At a Debating Club he met close friends every 



Thursday evening at six. The Social Club assembled Satur- 
day evenings at the tavern of Sam Fraunces or in the sum- 
mer clubhouse at Kip's Bay across the East River. There 
were dancing assemblies and semi-weekly turtle feasts on 
the East River, at which John conceived a fancy for the 
DeLancey sisters. He learned whist and backgammon and 
became a connoisseur of Madeira wines. And through the 
Moot Club, formed in 1770, he met the first president, 
William Livingston, Sally's father. 

In a vague way John was familiar with Sally's short his- 
tory from his past three years' acquaintance with her fam- 
ily, but the details to be filled in were infinite and the over- 
tones always fascinating. It seemed extraordinary to both 
of them that the barrier between childhood and adulthood 
had dwindled so suddenly and so naturally that they won- 
dered that it had ever been there. 

The autumn of 1773 whirled by in a kaleidoscope of 
color, more vivid and golden and red than Sally had ever 
seen. Alexander Hamilton brought his special gaiety and 
scintillating humor during frequent visits. He was ever the 
center of parties, the instigator of entertainments. There 
were popcorn parties and taffy pulls, amateur theatricals 
at which Kitty and Alexander outshone everyone and Sally 
was initiated into actingand charades and dances. There 
were the Sunday trips to the Presbyterian Church in Eliza- 
beth Town, for which everyone dressed his finest. There 
was a ball in town and parties at Boxwood Hall and at the 
Boudinot mansion, where Alexander was also a frequent 
guest. Later, when the snows came, there were skating 
parties and sleigh rides. 

One day John stood in the parlor of Liberty Hall before 
William Livingston, looking painfully eager and awkward. 

* April 28 * 

He had many times privately rehearsed this scene and be- 
lieved he had perfected the role of a suitor formally asking 
the hand of his beloved, but the dialogue was going slightly 

William frowned portentously, with his hands clasped 
behind him in a thoughtful pose. "But, John, my boy, 
Sarah has just turned seventeen and I am not at all sure 
she is yet ready for marriage. She has led a very sheltered 
life with few responsibilities beyond her lessons and nee- 
dlework. She knows nothing of supervising servants or a 
house I take it you intend to have a suitable staff of serv- 
ants, by the way?' 7 

"Oh, yes, sir/' John brightened at the prospect of show- 
ing his forethought. "Indeed I have been looking for serv- 
ants and for a proper house already." 

"You were very sure of my answer and of Sarah's then?" 
William said with a fearsome scowl. "I daresay you have 
everything settled already?" 

"No, sir, not at all. That is, I mean I believe Miss Sarah 
would not be averse to I believe she reciprocates my love 
but we but Fve not discussed exactly with her." He 
had turned quite red in his confusion. "I mean only in a 
general way so to speak . , ." 

"Humph. And what about your own prospects?" 

John stumbled over this. His progress was so well 
known to William that he had not expected much interro- 
gation on this score, but he rallied. "I expect a modest 
success in the law, sir, and there is a chance that I might 
be appointed a judge in one of the minor courts. In the 
past year I have handled well over one hundred cases at 
fees ranging from twenty-eight shillings to over thirty-three 
pounds. The suits included ejectments, trespass, assault 
and battery, slander, and debts on bonds and bills . . ." 


William lifted his eyebrows in appraisal. "Good experi- 
ence, to be sure." 

John relaxed only to be rocked back on his heels when 
William resumed the examination. 

"I have heard that Mr. Kissam, in whose office you 
studied, once complained after opposing you in a case that 
he had brought up a bird to peck out his own eyes/' 

"Oh, not so, sir/' John said quickly. "Not to peck out 
but to open his eyes. There was a" 

"I see, I see. Yes, yes/' William remained impassive, 
"You have no political ambitions?" 

"None. Politics are distasteful to me. I know some of 
my faults, sir, and one is that I do not care to expose my- 
self I have no facility for mixing with many people. I 
prefer a small group of close friends and leisure to spend 
with them and and my family . . ." he ended hopefully. 
"Just as you indicated in your own poem." 

William coughed. "Yes. Very well. You think you can 
support Sal my daughter well?" 

"I believe so." He stirred restlessly. He had not expected 
such an inquisition in view of William's evident fondness 
for him, and he had misgivings that his host sheltered some 
secret antagonism. "But I love Sally Miss Sarah sir, and 
I'm sure she would like to marry me" 

"Ah, but I understand you had previously entertained an 
interest in one of the DeLancey girls or was it both?" 

John blushed and fumbled for words. "It's true I pro- 
posed to each one they are attractive girls and I had es- 
corted them at times to various but they were always sur- 
rounded by British officers and it was difficult to come 
to know them well. I'm afraid my idea of them did not cor- 
respond too closely with the reality." 


* April 28 * 

"But you think you know the real Sarah? I wish I did/' 
said William mildly. 

"I believe so, sir. She is very direct. She hides nothing 
and is no coquette. She is honest and very sensitive and 77 
He broke off with sudden consciousness of the father's 
longer and deeper knowledge of his daughter. He continued 
lamely, "And, as you know, she is very lovely and spirited 
and intelligent and kind." 

"Ah, true, true. A father sometimes fails to appreciate 
his children's maturing . . ." He eyed John very seriously. 
"I do believe you complement each other well. Sally has 
high spirits which often require curbing. You have a dig- 
nity which she could profit from, and the interchange 
would be good for you both. And you are stimulating to 
each other. You seem to like the same friends, which is 
good, and have similar tastes and yet you approach them 
differently, which adds flavor. She can bring an element of 
gaiety into your life . . " He seemed to waver between as- 
sent and dissent but suddenly plunged back into a nega- 
tive position. "Ah, but she is so young, John. I do not be- 
lieve you understand your own potentialities. If you were 
less satisfied with a law career and a good reputation in 
your own colony, you could go far. And if you did, it would 
be hard for Sarah at her age to match your progress. Sup 
pose we wait a year and see what happens." 

John was divided between gratification at the words about 
himself and dismay at the postponement of his hopes and 
plans. "No, sir," he said resolutely. "I do not agree that we 
should wait a year. I have every confidence in Sally and am 
sure she would meet whatever station and experience 
might be in store for her. I love her and need her now, and 
I am tired of living in a boarding house. I want a family and 



have delayed marriage long enough. I think we should be 
married within two months or so." 

Now it was Livingston's turn to be on the defensive. 
"But her mother will insist that she have time for gathering 
what she needs in the way of linens and clothing and silver 
and pewter and to learn more about housekeeping. Say 
six months, anyhow provided that Sarah is willing." Even 
six months seemed a terribly short time to prepare to relin- 
quish a daughter who became more precious with every 

"Six months!" John was still appalled at so long a wait 
"Let's say at least in early spring/' 

"Well, well! We shall see. Youth is so impetuous. Sup- 
pose that we call Sarah and have a little . . ." William 
went to the door as he spoke and opened it to gaze straight 
across the hall into Sarah's face peering out between the 
stairway posts. "Sally, whatever are you doing there?" 

She stood up, unabashed. "Waiting." 

"What for?" John asked in astonishment. "I mean, how 
did you know?" 

Sally laughed outright at his discomfiture. "When you 
galloped up to the house and didn't even wait for the 
groom to walk your horse? And then brushed by me with 
only a good morning? And rushed right in to see Papa? Do 
you think I couldn't guess what you were about? Well? 
What did Papa say after all that commotion?" 

"Papa said yes, with reservations," her father said, with 
a smile and shrug of near helplessness. Then he pointed a 
solemn finger at her. "Provided you accept and provided 
you wait six months in order to prepare as your mother 
would wish . . ." 

"As your mother would wish . . ." Mrs. Livingston 
leaned over the balustrade above to repeat her husband's 


* April 28 * 

words with a laugh. "You mean six months to give you 
time to adjust to the idea." She came down the stairs and 
put out her arms to enfold her tall and embarrassed son-in- 
law-to-be. "I'm so happy for you both, my dears/' 

"But six months!" Sally wailed, disconsolate at such an 
eternity. "Why not this winter? It won't take long to buy 
the linens and things." 

"You want to be a good wife, don't you?" said William 
sternly. "Then you'll need time to prepare. You know 
nothing about the costs of running a household or what to 
look for in leasing a house or" 

"But I do, Papa! We'd like a house with a nice large 
drawing room on the first floor and a nice kitchen and cel- 
lar beneath, and a dining room, too, on the first floor and 
at least two bedrooms and a maid's room on the floor 
above, and if there is room, we might have John's office in 
the house. And of course a piazza in back of the house with 
a vegetable garden and flowers and a coachhouse. And I've 
been keeping track of Mania's expenses here all month and 
I know exactly how much we shall have to pay for chicken 
and eggs and bacon" 

"Enough, enough!" Her father threw up his hands. "We 
shall see what your mother says. So, you've been studying 
your part already . . . What a devious little wench you 
are, Sally." 

Neither John nor Sally had paid much heed to the inter- 
laced warnings of political dissension. Political ferment 
was the province of the Sons of Liberty, formed to oppose 
the Stamp Act, and of a few orators like James Otis, Pa- 
trick Henry, and Samuel Adams. Besides, these omens had 
appeared and faded time and again during the last decade. 

Shortly before Christmas that year the fires of Revolu- 



tion were stoked. The Livingston girls and Brockholst had 
bundled up with blankets and footwarmers for a sleigh 
ride. But shortly after they had started out, the night had 
turned too cold and when snow had begun drifting down 
again, they turned back to Liberty Hall, bells jingling on 
the horses' necks. They drew up in front of the house and 
dashed inside to warm themselves before the fire, and there 
stood John Jay, his hands clasped for warmth under his 
coattails, earnestly talking with his host. Sally was a little 
hurt that he greeted her almost without attention. 

William looked less earnest. In fact he was chuckling. "A 
Boston Tea Party indeed/' He went into a fit of laughter 
but he soon sobered. "Doubtless there will be retaliation 
by Parliament. I wonder what form it will take." He paced 
up and down the room. "They might close the port of Bos- 
ton to all trade, and then what? If Boston went through a 
siege and the other colonies supported her and lent aid, 
that would be a defiance that might lead to a cataclysm. 
Tell them about it, John/' 

John explained in his concise way. Though some colo- 
nies had refused to let ships bearing tea symbol of the de- 
tested and since repealed Townshend Acts land and dis- 
charge their cargoes, the Boston authorities insisted that 
the ships could not be cleared for sailing unless they first 
landed their cargoes. So the Boston Sons of Liberty, led by 
that firebrand Sam Adams, had disguised themselves as In- 
dians, boarded the ships on the night of December 16, and 
dumped the tea, valued at 15,000 pounds sterling, into 
the harbor. Among the "Indians" were a Boston silver- 
smith named Paul Revere, elegant young John Hancock, 
and a gentleman named Joseph Warren who was soon to 
be killed at Bunker Hill. 

Sally and Kitty clapped their hands and chortled over the 

* April 28 * 

story as a great joke, but Susan received the news more so- 
berly. "It's more than a joke. It sounds as if the people who 
worry about mob rule have good reason to fear it. You can 
hardly blame the government for being alarmed and want- 
ing to stamp out such rebellions. For all we know, Parlia- 
ment now might strike back at all the colonies." 

"Oh, if s just one more incident/ 7 Kitty exclaimed impa- 
tiently. "It won't amount to much. Come, let's have a 
game of whist. Sally, it's time you learned or however will 
you entertain when you are mistress of a house some- 
day?" She directed a mischievous glance at John. 

Sally looked down, blushing, and wondered if in truth 
she would ever be mistress of her own house or if it were 
just a dream. Would she ever be able to manage a house- 
hold as quietly and unobtrusively and capably as her 
mother did? It was difficult to imagine her mother as a 
bride, uncertain and untested, confronted with a change of 

John still had his mind on the news. "I wish events 
would compose themselves as neatly as you would like 
them to, Miss Kitty," he said with a sigh, "but I fear the 
hotheads will push us toward disaster." 

But disaster was a long time coming, and there was still 
leisure to enjoy life and make plans. In the first four 
months of the next year John contrived to handle thirty- 
eight cases, a heady number even for a successful young 
lawyer only twenty-eight years old. Then on April 28, 1774, 
Sarah van Brugh Livingston and John Jay were married 
before an assemblage of family and friends at Liberty Hall. 
After the reception, they stepped into the waiting carriage 
with every confidence that destiny itself would be as docile. 
They would settle down in a house in New York and rear 



a family. John would pursue a distinguished career at the 
bar. They would entertain their families and friends. They 
would make frequent excursions to visit the beloved house- 
holds at Rye and Elizabeth Town. Their future was very- 
clear indeed in their design of things. 

On that April day there was no intimation that in six 
months John would become one of the most talked of and 
influential men in all the colonies. Perhaps it was ominous 
that on the following Wednesday, in early May, there oc- 
curred "a smart snowstorm, and the weather colder than 
ever was known by the oldest men living here, at this sea- 
son of the year/' 

The time of trial was to come. 

CKafrter 4 

"Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and 
Our Sacred Honor" 

New Yorlc City, Philadelphia, New Yorfc City 

One morning in late August Sally awoke at a cry beneath 
her bedroom window: "Here's white sand; choice white 
sand; here's your lily-white sa-a-and . . ." It reminded her 
that the basement was badly tracked with mud and needed 
to be spread again with a layer of sand. Sleepy as she was 
and new to housewifery, she dressed hastily in order to 
rouse the maid. Then she heard the soft patter of the girl's 
feet on the stairs, on her way to call the vendor, and Sally 
smiled at her fortunate choice of servants. 

It was an important day, but not one that she welcomed. 
John was leaving again, this time not for Albany or an- 
other city in the state to see a client but for an indetermi- 
nate stay in Philadelphia in a very different cause. 

The stage was being prepared for one of the great events 
in history. The setting was Carpenter's Hall in Philadel- 
phia. The occasion was the First Continental Congress. 
Representatives of all the colonies would meet there to de- 
termine what united stand they might take against the in- 
creasing tyranny of King George III and his ministers. 

If Britain should subdue the smoldering rebellion in the 
colonies, there was a good chance that any delegate to such 
a congress might be headed for the gallows instead of for 
glory. A man's very presence there testified to his courage 
and integrity and to his eminence in his own colony. No 
faint hearts would apply. 

Even the right of the members to represent their colo- 
nies was questionable, and the problems that faced so du- 
bious an assembly were great. The Continental Congress 
had to live up to its name and justify its claims to speak for 
the colonies as a whole. It had to ascertain and express the 


* "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" * 

desires of the colonies. And it had to compel Great Britain 
to heed those desires. No later congress enrolled men of 
such a high caliber. 

When Sally had first seen the announcement of the 
Committee of Correspondence that, along with Philip Liv- 
ingston, James Duane, John Alsop, and Isaac Low, John 
had been selected as a delegate, her pride had been mixed 
with dismay. It meant that her husband was a man re- 
spected by the conservatives, by men of property and of 
the professions among whom John had grown up, and by 
the liberals as well, as an ally of the numerous and liberal- 
minded Livingston clan. At twenty-eight John would be 
almost the youngest of the delegates. She had great faith 
that he would make his mark in the Congress, but she did 
not welcome the separation. 

When he had breakfasted well and packed his saddle- 
bags and made sure the groom had fastened them securely, 
he tested the saddle girth and then turned to Sally. Good- 
bys were difficult for both of them; it seemed most unfair 
that a young married couple should be able to spend so lit- 
tle time together. Used to a houseful of brothers and sis- 
ters, Sally found her home frighteningly empty in John's 
absences and felt forlorn. 

"Good-by, Mr. Delegate Jay/' she said with determined 
cheer. She would concentrate on the honor and opportu- 
nities involved in order to blanket her fears of the danger 
he ran. 

"Good-by, Mrs. Jay/' John said, smiling because the title 
was still a novel pleasure for her. 'Til carry your regards to 
your family when I join your father at Liberty Hall. Not 
many young ladies in the country have a father, husband, 
and cousin all named as delegates. May I say that you are 
proud of us?" 


Clinging to his arm, she laid her head on his shoulder 
and forced away the thought that husband, father, and 
cousin might soon have a price on their heads. "You may. 
But how ironic that a year ago you had absolutely no inter- 
est in politics and now you're in the thick of things!" 

He nodded. "The times demand it, Sally. I can't turn my 
back and pretend the crisis isn't there, especially if there is 
a chance that my voice might help determine a wise course 
for the country/' 

She gave him her little secret smile of indulgence. She 
read him well now and did not feel it disloyal to recognize 
that he had a fair share of vanity and self-esteem; those 
qualities were part of his strength and helped him to main- 
tain the exacting standards and ideals to which she had 
been bred. For all his traces of shyness, she had little doubt 
that he would speak up and be heard attentively. Besides, 
there was a leavening of inner humility; he would seek the 
truth, as it seemed to him, and speak it at any cost, and he 
was fair-minded above all else. 

He kissed her and swung into the saddle. "I'll write 
often and send you what news I can." She stood at his side 
for a moment to squeeze his hand. Then he rode off, 
barely missing a piglet that wandered out from the gutter. 

Looking after him until he turned the corner out of sight, 
she had an impulse to call for a horse and ride with him 
part way but that would only postpone the parting again, 
and there were chores to be done. The garden needed tend- 
ing. There were fruits to preserve and she wasn't sure the 
cook was accomplished at this. There was wood to be 
fetched and laid in, marketing to be done. This she enjoyed. 
She knew good produce and would settle for nothing less 
than the best; she found pleasure in making the rounds of 
the stalls with the maid carrying a basket that was soon 

& "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" ^ 

filled with vegetables and meat and fowl. And, if the prices 
were not too high, Sally would splurge on such luxuries as 
oranges, bananas, or pineapples. 

She sighed and turned back to the house, already impa- 
tient to receive John's letters, her best company in his ab- 

Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia had an excellent li- 
brary, was a good room, "had a long entry where gentle- 
men might walk," and was a choice "highly agreeable to 
the mechanics and citizens in general/' 

"Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with 
me: fight against them that fight against me . . ." 

The Reverend Mr. Duche opened Congress on Wednes- 
day, the seventh day of September, with a prayer and a 
reading of the thirty-fifth Psalm. He had an audience of 
men of such character, skill, and ability as have rarely met 
to determine the course of history. Before him sat, among 
others, the Adams cousins from Massachusetts, the orators 
Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, John Dickinson of 
Philadelphia, Peyton Randolph and Benjamin Harrison 
of Virginia, Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina, and 
Colonel George Washington from Mount Vernon in Vir- 

From the first day John was busy, not only with the 
day's work from nine to three, but afterward in the eve- 
nings when he conferred with fellow delegates or prepared 
material for the next day. With the other members he 
shared in the lavish dinners offered by the local aristocracy 
dinners that included turtle, jellies, sweetmeats, sillabubs, 
floating islands, raisins, peaches, almonds, pears, and Ma- 
deira, claret, and Burgundy wines. 

Sarah would have been interested in the private apprais- 



als of her husband if she could have seen them. John Adams 
recorded that he was known as a hard student and a good 
speaker. Jay's old friend, Vardill, misled by Jay's conservative 
stand for a reconciliation with Great Britain, analyzed him 
for a secret report to the British ministry with the idea that 
Jay could be won over to the Loyalists: "He is obstinate, in- 
defatigable, and dogmatical, but by his courage, zeal and 
abilities as a writer and speaker has much popularity/' Sally 
might have been affronted, but she would not have dodged 
the truth in the last description. 

Factions had quickly formed what John called the 
"family compact," represented by the radical John and 
Samuel Adams of Massachusetts and the Lees and their 
Virginia cohorts; and the conservatives, among whom 
were Dickinson, the "Pennsylvania Farmer/' and the New 
York delegates, including Jay. Peyton Randolph was elected 

That October Jay was appointed to the committee to 
draw up an address to the people of Great Britain to state 
the case of the colonies. Richard Henry Lee, who drafted 
the first address, was among the group determined to force 
the quarrel with Britain to the brink of revolt. Jay had op- 
posed many of Lee's views in debate and thereby won him- 
self a fervent enemy. 

When Lee read his draft before Congress, it was met 
with a hostile silence and on the next day was severely 
criticized. John stayed up late that night to write his own 
version. After the discussion, Livingston took the floor. 
Well known as a writer, he had great prestige and was lis- 
tened to with respect when he read an address which he 
said was written by a friend of his. Even so, many mem- 
bers did not understand that it was Jay's draft rather than 
Livingston's. It was a tremendous success, and after the 


* "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" * 

confusion of authorship was cleared up, Jay was acclaimed. 
Jefferson wrote that it was "a production certainly of the 
finest pen in America/ 7 

In it Jay stated the rights of the colonists and described 
the growth of tyranny. He appealed to British justice to 
right the wrongs and had added: "But if you are deter- 
mined that your ministers shall wantonly sport with the 
rights of mankind ... we must then tell you, that we will 
never submit to be hewers of wood or drawers of water for 
any ministry or nation in the world/' He closed with the 
hope that there would follow a restoration of "that har- 
mony, friendship, and fraternal affection, between all the 
inhabitants of his majesty's kingdoms and territories, so ar- 
dently wished for by every true and honest American/' 

A dinner at the City Tavern marked the adjournment of 
the Congress. Sam Adams was there in an elegant claret- 
colored suit donated by the mechanics of Massachusetts, 
and Colonel Washington was resplendent in his blue 
and gold-braided uniform. John Adams blossomed out in a 
blue-and-canary-colored suit and even danced a minuet. 
Negro servants deftly set out such delicacies as Philadel- 
phia oysters baked in their shells and filled the wine 

John was exhilarated by the admiration of such a com- 
pany and by having been of service to his country. He re- 
turned to New York and his bride; he was aglow with 
praise and facing a gradual shift in the direction of his sym- 
pathies. It came hard. It meant the alienation of many of 
the friends of his youth, who remained true to the Tory 
sympathies of their class and regarded anyone who de- 
parted from them as a traitor and a rebel. John was em- 
bedded in the tradition of conservatism and shared the dis- 



trust of mob rule, but close examination of the state of the 
colonies and their relationship with Britain permitted, 
even demanded, a new perspective that embraced the 
whole country rather than a segment of society. 

His association with the Livingstons and their Whig cir- 
cle contributed markedly to the revision of his ideas on 
politics. His sense of justice triumphed over his feeling for 
his class of mercantile aristocracy. If friends would not re- 
spect his views, he must regretfully ignore these people 
and cleave to his own beliefs. 

Sally did her embroidering and listened to him as he 
painfully thrashed out the problem. 

"I want to do everything possible to arrange a reconcilia- 
tion with Britain/' he told her, thinking aloud, "but I 
would not favor it at the cost of the pride and self-respect 
of the colonies. There are men in Congress who would 
make every compromise, but with that I disagree." 

"I hear your friend Mr. Laight thinks your head has 
been turned by your sudden elevation to fame." Sally could 
ply more than one kind of needle. She knew how deeply 
the elevation had pleased him, but knew also that for him 
it would never suffice as a reason for an about-face in his 
beliefs and ideas. 

"I suspected as much. Another friend lost, I suppose." 
John sighed. He neither made nor lost friends easily. "He 
doesn't understand how I can seem to approve of the Lib- 
erty Boys and even act as chairman of their meetings when 
I once so strongly disagreed with their ideas and methods. I 
still disapprove of some, but it seems to me that someone 
has to be there to moderate their extreme ideas and actions." 

"It amazes him that you could support the Continental 
Association to bind the colonies to a joint industrial attack 
on Britain's commercial interests," she remarked. "I can 


* "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" * 

see why he feels that it's a betrayal of your class. It's di- 
rectly contrary to their interests/' 

"But it's for the interest of the country as a whole, and 
that's what he doesn't understand/' John retorted. "He 
heard that I'd spoken of this at the Dancing Assembly." 
John was an officer of the Assembly, a far cry from his du- 
ties at the Congress. "I was explaining to someone that it 
seemed important to me to avoid dissension. And of 
course if we subscribe to it, we must use ways of enforcing 
it, even by commercial boycott and social ostracism of 
those who refuse to join." 

"That sounds extreme even to me," Sally confessed. 
"But they also threaten to confiscate property of dissenters, 
don't they?" 

John threw himself down, with his long legs stretched 
out, and stared into the fire. "You know how I detest 
the idea of persecution, Sally. My own ancestors suffered 
enough from that in France before they fled. But I think 
we have a better chance of maintaining unity if at the out- 
set we adopt stern measures. It might prevent more dras- 
tic measures later . . ." 

Sally's needle paused in its darting course, and she 
looked over at her husband in astonishment. "More dras- 
tic? What more drastic measures could? You mean im- 

"That, yes. And other things. There have already been 
some cases of tarring and feathering of Tories, I'm sorry to 
say. It's savagery and one of the reasons most of us dis- 
trust mob rule. But we must make a choice and then do 
our best to behave honorably and curb such outbreaks." 

Sally was thoughtful as she resumed her needlework. 
"Did you hear that one of the clergymen said the other 
day that when it came to a choice between one tyrant three 



thousand miles away and three thousand tyrants a mile 
away, he preferred the one who was distant?" 

John rose and went to the fireplace. "Yes, I heard, but I 
think it shows more wit than reason. That distant tyrant 
can appoint others to govern here, and they have more 
power and legal rights to be feared than the actions of an 
unorganized mob. Not that I discount those three thou- 
sand tyrants either, but I don't believe it will come to that. 
I have no high regard for savage illiterates, and I think re- 
sponsible men ought to maintain control." 

At midday on Sunday, April 23, 1775, New York was 
shocked when an express rider galloped into town with 
news of the battle of Lexington. Eighteen hundred Brit- 
ish Regulars had marched out on the morning of the nine- 
teenth on a routine expedition to seize some stores of am- 
munition, but the expedition had turned into a rout when 
they were blocked first at Lexington and then at Concord, 
and finally harried all the way back to Boston with a loss of 
seventy-three dead and two hundred missing or wounded. 
About a hundred Americans were killed, wounded, or miss- 
ing, but no one knew how many minutemen had rallied. 
Paul Revere and two other messengers had thoroughly 
alerted the countryside. 

When Lord Chatham had voiced his fears before Parlia- 
ment in January, he had foreseen the tragedy to come: 

Perhaps, even whilst I am now speaking the decisive 
blow is struck, which may involve millions in the con- 
sequences; and, believe me, the very first drop of blood 
that is spilled will not be a wound easily skinned over; 
it will be ... a wound of that rancorous and fester- 


* "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" * 

ing kind, that, in all probability, will mortify the whole 

But in spite of America's friends in Britain and they 
were many, among both commoners and aristocracy 
King George had not withdrawn the troops from Boston, 
and now the entire country was outraged and the eight- 
year war had begun. 

For a week all business stopped in New York, and the 
crowds took over with parades, raiding of the arsenal and 
stores, and menacing of the Loyalists. Sally and John fol- 
lowed every scrap of news reported in the papers and in the 

On a day in early May, while they played battledore 
and shuttlecock at Liberty Hall on a short vacation, Fort 
Ticonderoga fell to Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold in a 
surprise attack. That same night Alexander Hamilton be- 
came the talk of the taverns by stalling off a mob that 
had collected to tar and feather the Tory college presi- 
dent, Dr. Myles Cooper, until he had time to flee to the 
refuge of a British ship. It was also the day that the 
Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. John 
rode to Philadelphia from New Jersey two days later and 
lodged at the City Tavern until he could locate more 
permanent quarters at "Schoolkill." 

John was learning the discretion of masking his inward 
rages and tempering his bent for sarcasm. He met and 
worked with old Dr. Benjamin Franklin, back from long 
residence in England, and with Thomas Jefferson, new 
delegate from Virginia. He nearly had a fight with Rich- 
ard Henry Lee, who was still spreading rumors that not 
Jay but Livingston was the author of the address that 
had made Jay's reputation. 



One fine day the entire Congress was sumptuously en- 
tertained on an aquatic holiday in a fleet of gondolas that 
sailed to Parr's Villa on the river above the city, but 
through all the music and festivities John pined for Sally 
and felt much alone. He was the more concerned because 
she was soon to have their first child. His plea for a leave 
at Christmas was refused, but during the second week of 
January he hurried to Liberty Hall, and their son Peter was 
born there on January twenty-fourth. Sally was ill, and 
John postponed his departure as long as possible. 

It was much more to his taste to sit at her bedside, 
watching their tiny infant and telling Sally about the men 
in Congress, the hostesses who vied to entertain them, and 
the problems and cabals that were forever arising. He 
brought her the newly published pamphlet by Thomas 
Paine, Common Sense. When they finished reading it, 
John tossed it on the bed and said, 'This might prove a 
turning point. Everyone is talking about it, and it's the 
most powerful argument yet for independence. It puts 
into vigorous language what many are coming to feel. Up 
till now many of us have stood firm for reconciliation with 
England, but I do not see how we can resist the growing 
clamor for independence, especially with every new act of 

One of John's responsibilities was to organize a secret 
service. The Tories were so entrenched in New York that 
there was constant danger of betrayal. John met with all 
sorts of men new to him not only farmers, shopkeepers, 
and innkeepers, but peddlers, gypsies, and other itiner- 
ants who had opportunities for gathering information at 
minimum risk of suspicion. 

It was an enlightening experience for John, and he 


* "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" ^ 

learned a vast respect for the resourcefulness and loyalty 
of such men. One in particular impressed him. The man 
was Enoch Crosby, an ignorant and uneducated peddler, 
but he proved cunning, fearless, and intensely loyal. His 
assignment was to enlist for the British army at various 
points and show such zeal for the Tories that they would 
trust him with some of their secrets, and these he relayed 
to John at midnight rendezvous in odd places. More than 
once he was captured, and once only private orders to the 
jailer to permit an escape saved his life and preserved 
his usefulness. 

Another of John's assignments as a member of the Com- 
mittee to Detect Conspiracies was to examine people sus- 
pected of disaffection. It was one of his heaviest and most 
miserable responsibilities because among the suspects were 
often old friends and acquaintances. Riding back to New 
York after one of these sessions of examinations at Connor's 
Tavern in Fishkill, he would brood and at home finally pour 
out his problems to Sally. 

"Today one of the suspects was my old friend Peter 
Van Schaack," he told her. "We became convinced that 
he was a potential danger as an informer, but how could 
I sentence a man whose only offense is that he believes 
still what I believed only a short time ago and is willing to 
act on that belief? His loyalties still lie with the King and 
his representatives and in his view he would be justified 
in lending aid or giving information to the Loyalists. We 
must deal with such problems, but whatever we decide 
seems wrong and unjust/' 

"What did you decide?" 

"We sent him under escort to Bostonat his own ex- 



Sally could not repress a smile at the afterthought, but 
she endorsed the humaneness of the action. "What does 
General Washington think about these cases?" 

John was silent for a few moments. Then he said, "He 
favors harsher treatment. Naturally. So do Adams and Han- 
cock> among others. In a way they're right. We cannot 
afford to take any risks, because a single slip might cost the 
lives of hundreds or thousands of soldiers/' 

"Meantime under common law we still condemn men 
to hang for a minor offense/' Sally said thoughtfully, "so 
I suppose it seems quixotic to them not to mete out ex- 
treme penalties to protect the state. That's understanda- 

"I know, but often one can't trust either the accusers 
or the information, and I refuse to condemn a man on 
hearsay. Sometimes a farmer covets his neighbor's property 
and will twist a harmless event or magnify it to make 
his neighbor appear guilty. Some men we parole and send 
home or order to remain in a three-mile radius of the 
stone church at Fishkill. Another man I ordered to a ship 
of war to be put to such labor as he might be fit for and to 
be paid as much as he earns." 

Sally looked at him, and a smile appeared. It made her 
proud that he could take such an unpopular stand and 
make it effective against the current of surrounding opin- 
ion. "It can't be very easy to persuade the other members 
of the committee to be so lenient." 

"It isn't. But the more I see of courts and life, the more 
I am convinced that extreme penalties are not the answers 
to crime or treason. They are not effective deterrents. I 
think prisons should be places for reforming men, not just 
for punishing them/' 

Sally put aside her knitting and took his hand. "I think, 


* "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" * 

John/' she said softly, "that it takes a great deal of courage 
to hold out for your beliefs like this, especially when there 
is so much madness around us. Only today I saw a man 
tarred and featheredwhat a barbaric sight!" 

"It's just that sort of wretched retaliation that turns 
otherwise friendly or neutral people into enemies and 
makes them fear that if we succeed in breaking away 
from Britain such barbarians might rule America! I'm do- 
ing my utmost to preserve justice for all of us without 
sacrifice to the safety of our campaigns. Such scenes as you 
saw today rob us of any sense of dignity or humanity!" 

In June of that year John's committee forestalled one of 
the plots against Washington. Sergeant Thomas Hickey 7 
one of Washington's own guard, was arrested in Hull's 
Tavern on Broadway for passing counterfeit money and 
thrown in the City Hall jaiL Nothing much would have 
come of it except that a fellow prisoner overheard the 
husky Irishman, a deserter from the British Army, bawling 
out to visitors that he would never again fight for America 
and there were plenty of soldiers who felt the same way- 
seven hundred names, he said, and Governor Tryon had 
a list of them and was paying them. When the Royal 
Navy came, they would rise up and kill the Americans! 

John, Philip Livingston, and Gouverneur Morris came 
to investigate, but Hickey now refused to talk. They ques- 
tioned some of his visitors and tracked down a gunsmith 
named Gilbert Forbes, whose shop was near Hull's Tav- 
ern. In jail, Forbes was visited by a clergyman who urged 
him to confess to escape hanging. Forbes admitted re- 
cruiting men from Washington's guard and paying them 
with money supplied by David Matthews, Mayor of New 

Jay sent word to Washington. At midnight the General 



arrested forty suspects in his own guard, and at one o'clock 
General Nathanael Greene took Mayor Matthews from 
his home in Flatbush to the City Hall jail Tryon, how- 
ever, was safe aboard a warship. 

The next day New York was in an uproar with rumors 
of the plot to assassinate Washington and other key figures 
in army and government on the arrival of the Royal Navy. 
On Wednesday, the twenty-sixth of June, Thomas Hickey 
was court-martialed at the Mercier House in Chatham 
Square, and condemned to hang for treason. On that Fri- 
day, raging and defiant, he was hanged in a field south of 
Bowery Lane, before a crowd of 20,000 people. But the 
General and the campaign were safe for the moment. 

During the following week in the Continental Congress 
came the crucial discussion and debates on the Declaration 
of Independence, but Jay was busy with the Provincial Con- 
gress of New York. It was passed at last, though the signers 
knew it might prove their death warrant in the event of 
failure. Forty-odd men eventually stepped up to sign. 

Dr. Franklin in his turn paused to inspect the docu- 
ment, and John Hancock urged him to get on with sign- 
ing, "We must all hang together." 

Franklin smiled and said genially, "Indeed we must all 
hang together. Otherwise we shall most assuredly hang 

"Prudence is a rascally virtue," announced the brilliant 
young doctor, Benjamin Rush, and flourished the pen. 

Although John was a member of the Congress, he was 
not one of the signers, since the New York delegation ab- 
stained from voting. He was also a delegate to the Pro- 
vincial Congress of New York and member of many com- 
mittees, as well as a colonel in the New York Militia. 

The Declaration was first read publicly on July eighth, 

* "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" * 

Monday noon, after the pealing of the Liberty Bell at 
the State House in Philadelphia. "We hold these truths to 
be self-evident/' Jefferson had written, and gradually his 
words spread throughout the colonies. ". . . That all men 
are created equal . . ." sounded in the largest cities from 
Boston to Charleston and Savannah, in the towns, in the 
rural taverns, and at last in England. John Wilkes, former 
Mayor of London, sent the King a personal message that 
"Your ministers drove the Americans into their present 
state of independency," and the young Prince of Wales 
broke into a meeting of the King's Cabinet to cry, "Hur- 
rah for Wilkes and Liberty!" Lord Chatham praised the 
wisdom and decency of the Congress. 

On Tuesday night in New York almost the whole army, 
then consisting of 15,000 men dressed in every conceivable 
uniform from buckskin breeches and hunting shirts to red 
British army coats left over from the French and Indian 
War, gathered to hear their officers read the Declaration. 
Washington, mounted on his gray horse, was present, all 
too aware of the obstacles in the path of independence- 
lack of supplies, of men, of money to face the encircling 
British Army and Navy. "... we mutually pledge to 
each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." 

The crowd milled around the Commons in lower Man- 
hattan. The Sons of Liberty built a bonfire, tore down 
signs of the Crown, dragged out royal arms and banners 
from churches and public buildings, sang a revolutionary 
song, and at last pulled down from its marble pedestal 
the great leaden, gold-burnished equestrian statue of King 
George. Two soldiers trundled off the head in a wheelbar- 
row; the rest was melted down for bullets. 

John drafted the reply from New York to the Continen- 
tal Congress on receiving the Declaration. 



Resolved, That the reasons assigned by the Conti- 
nental Congress for declaring the United Colonies free 
and independent States are cogent and conclusive; 
and that while we lament the cruel necessity which has 
rendered that measure unavoidable, we approve the 
same, and will, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, 
join with the other colonies in supporting it. 

These were no empty words. Though he held much land 
in New York and in Westchester County, he favored the 
burning of all Manhattan and lower Westchester as a des- 
perate measure to thwart the British advance. Jay was com- 
mitted to the Revolution. 



"The First Office on the Continent" 

New YorJc, New Jersey, Philadelphia 

New York City had become a Tory refuge. Fire and the 
British occupation had driven out the rebels, and Sally 
went to Liberty Hall to stay with her family. Even that 
had its dangers, since her father had been elected governor 
of New Jersey. He had resigned his commission in the 
militia, but there was still a price on his head, and several 
times he narrowly escaped capture. 

That year John, along with such distinguished men as 
Robert R. Livingston, his former partner, Gouverneur 
Morris, and John Sloss Hobart, was appointed to a com- 
mittee to report on a new form of government for the 
state. Early in 1777 they began working in earnest on a 
draft for a state constitution. John was much distracted by 
the illness of his mother that spring, but he contributed 
the major share of the work. 

It was the first constitution, he told Sally, which pro- 
vided for the popular election of a governor and the first to 
establish a fair balance among the executive, legislative, 
and judicial branches of the government. Also it pro- 
vided election by ballot rather than by voice. 

During the discussion of the proposals, he had intended 
to present an amendment for the abolition of slavery and 
one for the encouragement of literature. But during the 
discussion he was called home by the death of his mother, 
and the amendments were omitted. In his absence he was 
considered as a candidate for governor, which he declined. 
Clinton was elected, and Jay was made the first chief justice 
of the state. 

Sally was delighted at this and amused at the irony of 
it. "Remember when we were married you told Papa you 


* "The First Office on the Continent" * 

hoped some day to be appointed a minor judge? And 
here you hold the highest legal office in the state/' 

In spite of some defects, the constitution as passed was 
the best yet drawn, and in some respects it was a model 
for the federal constitution of the next decade. Most of 
the best qualities of the draft were the product of Jay's 
knowledge and perspicacity. He foresaw the corruption and 
inefficiency that would follow the clauses dealing with the 
appointment of clerks by the courts, and he disapproved 
the too lax provisions for licensing attorneys. 

When Liberty Hall became too dangerous for occupa- 
tion, Sally moved with her family to Persipiney and spent 
part of the time with Jay's parents, who had evacuated their 
house at Rye and taken a house at Fishkill, the new head- 
quarters for the state government where John necessarily 
spent much time. She also visited friends in Troy and 

While she was a guest of Dr. Van Wyck and his family 
at Fishkill she had a bad scare. One day her host burst 
into her room, crying, "Bad news, Mrs. Jay. The regulars, 
madam, are landed at Poughkeepsie. My own and other 
wagons are pressed to go down instantly to move the 
stores/' He thought Sally should leave at once; for Bur- 
goyne's men might occupy the town at any time. But Sarah 
refused to panic. She was determined to follow John's ex- 
ample of coolness and remember his maxim: "Prepare for 
the worst and hope for the best." She remained where she 
was and the crisis passed. 

Since she and John were so often separated because of 
John's varied duties, she wrote frequently to keep him in- 
formed about her health and about their little boy Peter. 
He was on her lap playing with her pen. He had learned 
some new words. He had been fractious and she wished 


John were home to deal with him because the child doted so 
on his father. She laughed over him for pretending that a 
paper he held in his little fist was a letter from his father 
which he would read to her. 

In 1778 Washington was pleading for supplies, shelters, 
clothing, and pay for his starving army at Valley Forge, 
now reduced to a few thousand men. His army at no time 
included more than 22,000, and the number was con- 
stantly dwindling because of desertion and low morale and 
the need for men to be on their farms. Gouverneur Morris 
wrote sadly about the skeleton of an army, out of health, 
out of spirits. Continental currency was in a pitiful state. 
Washington himself had to contend with conspiracies to 
replace him. The Americans had fared badly in battle ex- 
cept for Washington's brilliant assault on Trenton and 
Princeton two years earlier. There was treason and ineffi- 
ciency among the officers and lack of support from Con- 

But England was alarmed at the spread of the war to 
European nations and the assault upon her from all sides. 
When she sent emissaries to negotiate peace on terms 
barring independence, her offers were turned down. One 
shining lift to morale was the treaty of alliance with France 
and the treaty of commerce which followed, in which 
France recognized the independence of the colonies and 
agreed to become an ally. The enthusiast Beaumarchais, 
maker of watches and of such comedies as the Barber of 
Seville, interceded insistently at court and finally was em- 
powered to arrange a loan of one million livres and to send 
arms, blankets, tents, shoes, spades, shovels, and other sup- 

Late in 1778 Sally picked up a newspaper at Persipiney 
and discovered that her young husband had been elected 


* "The First Office 012 the Continent" * 

President of the Continental Congress. It hurt a little that 
he had given no intimation of the possibility of such an 
event, but she consoled herself with the knowledge that 
it was not like him to anticipate such things and that un- 
doubtedly he had written her as soon as he possibly could 
and the post was late. She was even more pleased to know 
that he was a popular choice. 

She was too generous to withhold her congratulations 
until the arrival of a letter from him, but she was anxious 
to know whether she might expect him in March. "How 
long am I still to remain in a state of widowhood?" she 
asked him plaintively. "I am convinced that had you con- 
sulted me as some men have their wives about their pub- 
lic measures, I should not have been Roman Matron 
enough to have given you so entirely to the public." 
Still she was proud that he felt secure enough in her con- 
fidence to accept the post without misgivings that she 
would distress him with protests. 

Before her letter was sent, his arrived. He told her that 
his greatest gratification from the honor was that it was an 
additional recommendation to her esteem. For this she 
scolded him a little in a long postscript. "And do you 
really imagine that my esteem for you can be heightened 
by any public testimony of your merit? No, no, my dear, 
my sentiments of esteem have long since been confirmed 
nor indeed has the public acknowledgment of your merit 
been wanting to convince me that the respect I felt for 
you was founded on your virtue/ 7 

With the inducement of an opportunity to hear from 
John more often, she had returned with her father to Lib- 
erty Hall. He returned one day from town to find her as 
usual at the writing table. 

"What, going to scribble again, my dear?" he queried 

7 1 


her. "Was I in your place, I would not give myself any 
concern about such a naughty husband who is too lazy to 
write his little wife/' 

Sally gave him a withering look before she caught the 
twinkle in his eye. She jumped up and demanded the 
letter from John that she guessed he was secreting, read it 
eagerly, and again sent her thoughts tumbling in reply. 

As a result of John's letter she and Kitty were enchanted 
with the prospect of each other's company on a journey to 
Philadelphia, pleased that Papa had consented to Kitty's 
departure, though truthfully Sally could think of no re- 
quest from John which Papa would not be happy to honor. 
Perhaps by February Mr. Jay could find suitable quarters 
for them, and Jacob could come with the wagon for their 
baggage. Her son's company had been a great consolation 
in John's absence, but even so her spirits had drooped. 

When no quarters had been found in crowded Phila- 
delphia by February, she was depressed again, and she 
sadly quoted Mason to express her mood: 

With what a tedious and retarding weight, 
Does expectation load the wing of time . . . 

Finding her one day in such a mood, her father sat down 
with her for a serious talk, in the same parlor where five 
years ago John had asked for her hand. 

"Do you remember that day five years ago when you 
and John wished to get married? I protested then that you 
were too young, that the marriage should be postponed 
until you were more mature. I pointed out to John then 
that he could rise high, higher than he knew or had ambi- 
tion for, and that it would be hard for so young and inex- 
perienced a wife to keep pace with him." 

7 2 

* "The First Office on the Continent" * 

"I remember/' Sally fortified herself for the lecture to 

"John had great faith in you and believed that you could 
keep pace. None of us foresaw then that the rift would 
widen to such an extent that war could%e the only out- 
comenor that John would soon become the highest offi- 
cer of the land at thirty-three. Now are you going to fail 
John or become a burden to him with your complaints?" 

"Of course not, Papa/' Sally said, shocked into meek- 
ness. "I want nothing more than to help, now of all times 
when he has such tremendous burdens. But what can I do 
when we're always apart?" 

"My dear Sally," her father began and took her hand. 
"A man must have confidence that his wife believes he 
can make the right decisions whether she is at his side or 
not, even when they are hard decisions. And knowing how 
deeply John loves you, I know how difficult was the deci- 
sion to accept this office. He is a man of domestic temper. 
He wants nothing beyond being with his family and doing 
his work. But he has an ironclad conscience which makes 
him respond to what he considers his duty, whatever the 
consequences. I'm sure he believes you were brought up to 
approve of this and to share in his work as much as you 
can. The country needs such a man. I don't have to tell 
you, do I, how many rascals there are, even in Congress 
now, who love the glory and shirk the work? John is a 
rarity. You must not lessen his stature or discourage him 
with private matters." 

"But, Papa, what can I do here?" Sally was on the 
verge of tears and knew better than to plead her youth as 
an excuse. 

"Sarah, my dear, you are twenty-two. That is very young 
for a woman to face or share such heavy responsibilities. 



But for five years you have been maturing and learning 
and accepting difficult situations, even when you were 
weak and ill. You can help John enormously simply by be- 
ing a wise woman and accepting whatever comes with 
good grace. You can help him in other ways. In Phila- 
delphia you will have to be a gracious hostess to the most 
influential people, Americans and foreigners alike, and a 
gracious first lady to everyone. You will have to use great 
discretion, for you will hear important discussions, however 
inadvertently, and yet you must never repeat affairs of 
state to anyone. You can never tell when the most trusted 
persons might betray such a secret, whether by accident 
or design." 

Sally's curved young face was so innocently grave and 
concerned that her father's heart went out to her, but he 
knew better than to imagine that he could ward off the 
coming burdens. He could only warn and counsel and arm 
her with knowledge. The understanding would have to 
spring from her. 

'Til try, Papa," Sally said humbly. "I can at least help 
by keeping every unnecessary care from him. I know he 
has too much on his shoulders already." 

"But always remember this," her father said gently, 
"the support your mother has given me, the best support 
of all, is knowing that she loves and respects me and has 
faith in me. It has made every difficult event and decision 
easier because I Icnow she will concur and this although 
she is well aware of my faults." 

"That I know I can do," Sally said with certainty. 
"There is no one I could possibly love or honor more than 

Her next letter to John was more cheerful, spontane- 
ously so because she had taken her father's lecture to 


* "The First Office on the Continent" * 

heart. Kit wanted to know, she wrote, whether she would 
be spending March and April agreeably in the high society 
of the metropolis of Philadelphia, then the largest city on 
the continent, with a population of some 30,000, or waste 
them in dull obscurity at Persipiney. They were invited to 
a celebration of the French alliance at the headquarters of 
General Knox, that amiable and shrewd Boston book- 
seller turned military man. Since Brockholst, who had served 
in several campaigns after graduating from Princeton, 
would be present and Kitty had already missed several 
dances, Sally was anxious to have her go. There would 
be splendid fireworks and a ball, and it should be gay with 
young officers and belles. Sally's own health had been 
good, though little Peter had had two severe bouts of ill- 
ness but was now recovered. She amused herself and 
passed the time pleasantly by telling him stories and teach- 
ing him to spell. 

By March John succeeded in renting a house from Mrs. 
Gurney and sent for Sally, Peter, and Kitty. Sally settled 
down for the all too brief months of domesticity and into 
her role as principal hostess of the land. It was not easy to 
entertain with elegance and economy when food stocks 
were depleted and the Continental dollar was constantly 
falling in value, but Sally did her best to make a home in 
her temporary quarters. 

She made many friends in Philadelphia and was espe- 
cially fond of Mary Morris, wife of Robert Morris, the 
financier of the Revolution for Congress. She knew the 
Wildings and the Shippens and pretty, witty Rebecca 
Franks. But Sally had need of all her resources when John 
came home depressed over the feuds and petty debates in 
Congress and the problems of currency and finance. 

A Spanish agent, Don Juan de Mirales, arrived in town 



but was so ineffectual that it was the French minister, 
Gerard, who acted informally for him. In France Ver- 
gennes was trying to enlist Spain in the war and behind 
the scenes sought to bring Spain and America together. 
Gerard spent many an evening with the Jays, expounding 
the benefits of an alliance with Spain, which might be won 
by sufficient concessions from America on such salient 
points as Florida and exclusive navigation rights to the 
Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi. Jay began, with some 
skepticism, to consider the possibility of help from Spain 
and acknowledgment of American independence, which 
would provide an enormous lift in morale. 

In August the Chevalier de la Luzerne succeeded Ge- 
rard, whose health was poor, and brought news that Spain 
had entered the war against Britain. The time seemed ripe 
to send an emissary to Spain, and John was chosen to be 
Minister Plenipotentiary. He resigned both his chief jus- 
ticeship in New York and the presidency of the Congress, 
but only after discussing the mission with Sally. 

"It means leaving on very short notice, Sally. There 
will be no time to see your family for farewells. Worst of 
all, we cannot take little Peter because the voyage is too 
risky. Do you want to go with me?" 

Sally's face turned white. It was impossible now to en- 
vision a life devoid of that sturdy four-year-old, but she 
could not bring herself to a decision that would risk his 
health or his life on a strenuous and uncertain journey to 
Spain, especially during all the hazards of wartime. 

The alternative of staying at home and sending John 
alone was unthinkable. Remembering her father's advice 
about accepting with grace whatever came, she clenched 
her hands and said with a firmness she wished she felt, 
"Peter can stay with Mama, and Susan shall teach him." 

* "The First Office on the Continent" * 

Susan would be in Sally's place, listening to his first 
halting reading, rehearsing him in arithmetic, teaching 
him to write, watching the ever-fascinating development of 
the child. Never mind, there would be more time with 
Peter when he was older, though the lapse would hurt and 
she dreaded the effect on him of what he could only 
consider a desertion. 

"Soon he will be able to read and writeand for all we 
know we might be back in a year's time. That's not really 
so long," she said as cheerfully as she could manage. 

"John Adams left his wife at home when he went to 
Europe/ 7 John said, tormenting himself with his dilemma. 
"I have no right to ask you to come with me." 

"Abigail Adams is older and has more children to take 
care of, but 111 warrant it was not her choice," cried Sally, 
outraged at the idea of so prolonged a separation. "I want 
to be with you you dare not leave me here!" 

"But you don't know what it will be like in Spain/' 
John protested. "You'll know no one, have no friends . . /' 

"111 make new ones!" 

"I must follow the court as it travels from one site to 
another, and you'll be alone much of the time in a foreign 
country . . " 

"But I'll be closer to you than the space of an ocean. 
And we can write at least!" 

"It's a different language and it will be hard to run a 
household . . ." 

"It would be harder for you alone, and 111 learn Span- 

"Our letters may be read and intercepted. We may be 
surrounded with spies. There are different customs . . ." 

"Whatever you say, I'm coming!" Sally flung herself 
into his arms, and John let out a groan of relief. 



"Oh, Sally, Sally! I had to be sure you wanted to come. 
I need you so you can't know how I've dreaded the 
thought of leaving you here and going alone/' 

One more duty that he wished to discharge before leav- 
ing Congress was on Jay's mind. Without naming the man, 
he described the services Enoch Crosby had performed at 
the risk of his life and asked Congress for an appropriation 
for the agent. A sum was voted and Jay was appointed to 
present it to the man. Jay sent for him and met him in the 
woods at midnight. After complimenting the peddler on 
his fidelity, courage, and achievements, John explained 
that since he was leaving Congress now, they would no 
longer work together and he wished to take this oppor- 
tunity to offer the money that Congress felt was appropri- 
ate for Crosby's services. 

To his astonishment the peddler declined. "The country 
has need of all its means," he said. "As for myself I can 
work or gain a livelihood in various ways." He thanked 
Jay, wished him well on his voyage to Spain, and departed. 
It was only much later, when America was in a better posi- 
tion to bestow the money, that Crosby finally accepted a 
reward. The man's zeal and selflessness lingered long in 
Jay's mind. 

On October seventeenth came the order to sail in three 
days' time. 



"Without Connections, Without Friends . . ." 

Aboard The Confederacy, Martinique, Spain 

Sally was busy reading farewell notes and letters. From 
General Washington came a lock of his hair at her request 
and the fervent wish that "Prosperous gales an unruffled 
sea and everything pleasing and desirable, may smooth 
the path she is about to walk in." 

It would be the hardest path she had yet walked. 

On October twentieth the frigate, The Confederacy, 
under the command of Captain Seth Harding, set sail for 
Spain from Chester with valuable diplomatic cargo aboard. 
The French minister Gerard was on board with two friends, 
the Chevalier Roche and Captain Remuy of Marseilles; 
also aboard were a Major Scull and a Mr. Williamson. 
With the Jays were Peter Jay Munro, John's young nephew, 
Sally's young brother Brockholst, who was to act as private 
secretary, and William Carmichael, appointed by Congress 
as secretary of the legation. It did not occur to Sally that 
any of these might be the hidden enemy of whom her 
father had once warned her. 

Gerard had been their frequent guest. Brockholst, her 
brother, at twenty-two was already a veteran who had 
served as aide to his uncle, General Schuyler. Jay had ap- 
pointed Brockholst to this mission mainly to give him use- 
ful experience for the law career to which he aspired. 

William Carmichael, a former member of Congress, had 
once served as secretary to Benjamin Franklin in France; 
he had fallen under some suspicion when there had been 
leaks of information, but had merely been dismissed. 
Earlier that year Arthur Lee had told Samuel Adams that 
Carmichael was a dangerous and wicked man. "Subtle, in- 
sinuating, false, persevering, and ambitious, he will assume 


* "Without Connections, Without Friends ..." * 

any character and perpetrate any villainy to accomplish his 
purpose." He had already violated orders in respect to a 
dictionary code by delivering it to the wrong party. Much 
too late, Silas Deane, too, commented to Jay on his vil- 
lainy. But to the Jays themselves Carmichael had always 
behaved in a most friendly manner, and they were not sus- 
picious of any ulterior motives or ambitions. 

The omens seemed good and the company excellent,, 
but all the excitement of departure could not erase the sor- 
row of leaving the Jay and the Livingston families espe- 
cially their four-year-old son. Sally tried not to think of 
little Peter, bewildered at all the sudden preparations and 
the departure of his parents, but she could not tear herself 
away from the last sight of the dwindling shores and all 
- that she had known. She had even been unable to answer 
the farewell letters from her parents for fear of breaking 

John found Sally on deck and put an arm around her 
shoulders. "Peter will be safer at Liberty Hall with your 
family than he could possibly be with us," he said with 
gentle comprehension of her mood. "We know the voyage 
will be long and difficult and we know nothing of condi- 
tions in Spain." 

Sally leaned her head against his shoulder and exhaled a 
deep sorrowing sigh. "I know he will be happy there and a 
joy to Mama and Papa. Susan will look after his lessons 
and hell soon forget us Oh, John, will he forget us alto- 
gether? Fll miss him so desperately. He used to come 
into my room with a piece of paper in his hand, scowling 
at it with all his might and trying to decipher the marks 
he'd made that he said was a letter from you. He would 
pretend to read it aloud and even use some of your own 
language. Then he'd scribble some more marks on another 



scrap of paper and labor over a picture of the house and 
ask me to post it to you/' 

John stood quietly. "I know it was selfish of me to ask 
you to come with me but we have had so little time to- 
gether in these five years that the thought of two or three 
years of separation was intolerable . . /' 

Forgetting the sailors at work around them, forgetting 
everything but John's sober face, Sally threw her arms 
around his neck and kissed him. "Dearest John, there was 
never any question. I had to be with you, much as I shall 
miss Peter and the family/' She smiled at him. "What- 
ever we have to face, it will be together. And how fascinat- 
ing it will be to see a different world and different people, 
to find out what Spain is like/' 

"I wish I could feel more optimism about the success of 
my mission/' John said gloomily. "We need recognition 
from Spain and we desperately need loans. If I can arrange 
either, I shall feel content. I shall hope, but I refuse to de- 
ceive myself with expectation. Some of the Congressmen 
are overburdened with optimism." 

Sally felt a surge of love and admiration. "I wonder how 
many men would resign a position of such honor to under- 
take a mission with so little hope of success, knowing that 
failure would lower their reputations? No one else I can 
think of but General Washington." Then she added, "Or 
perhaps John Adams/' The thought of that intelligent but 
pompous and opinionated little man as a substitute for her 
tall, distinguished-looking husband made her chuckle. 

Surprised, John said simply, "If it was felt that I was 
best suited for this work, then of course I would resign an 
office that many other men could fill." 

Sally smiled up at him. He was so naive in his high 
opinion of his abilities and although he never asked for 

* "Without Connections, Without Friends ..." * 

recognition of them by others, he was hurt if they were 
deprecated. At the same time he was able to pursue any 
course he considered correct, no matter what other people 
believed. It was this sharp sense of duty and service to his 
country that had endeared him to General Washington. In 
integrity and purpose they were peers. 

She took John's arm and they walked back toward the 
company on deck. "Some day, my sweet, we'll build a 
house on your farm at Bedford and retire to the country 
and let other men who are more ambitious take over the 

"If the government doesn't have a little more power, 
there won't be any government then," John said. "Some- 
thing must be done to strengthen it when the war is over." 
As president of the Congress, he had become conscious 
that the office had much prestige but little power, and that 
Congress itself was limited. It could request; it could not 
command or enforce. The colonies were temporarily united 
to a workable degree though even now a Massachusetts 
man would refuse to serve as an officer in a Virginia com- 
pany, and vice versa but once the war ceased, so would 
some of the causes of the bonds between the states, and 
jealousies and contentions would weaken what structure 
of government remained. 

Peter Munro came running to Sally, eager to point out a 
school of porpoises cavorting by the side of the ship. She 
left John smiling at them both because she was as exuber- 
ant as the boy about the sight. 

On the sixth day out they lost sight of land and were 
launched into the open seas in a brisk gale. All came down 
with seasickness, but Sally, Peter, and Brockholst soon re- 
covered. John lost some weight he could ill spare and was 
wretched through a good deal of the voyage. 



At four o'clock one November morning Sally awoke in 
alarm with a crash sounding in her ears. Brockholst calmed 
her with the assurance that only half an hour before he 
had been on deck and all was well. But in that short time 
the ship's bowsprit, foremast, mainmast, and mizzenmasts 
had fallen and injured two men. Then in the rough sea and 
high southeast wind that prevailed, the rudder was dam- 
aged. In repairing the damage, the crew found that the 
extra cloth for sails was rotted and scant and there was a 
shortage of cordage, which they were using to make the 
rudder function. An injured sailor had to have his arm 
amputated, but he died within a few days. 

When the ship was once more navigable, another crisis 
arose. Captain Harding was under orders to Jay, but Jay, 
being no mariner, thought it best to defer to the captain's 
advice to head for Martinique for repairs, rather than risk 
further misfortunes by proceeding to Cadiz as had been 
planned. This infuriated Gerard, who wanted either to 
strike out for Cadiz at all costs or to transfer to another 
ship at a nearer port. Worse still, Carmichael not only 
agreed with Gerard but directly opposed Jay. 

The once friendly Gerard turned hostile and even inti- 
mated that Jay had some dastardly motives for stopping at 
Martinique. Reminding himself of how much depended 
on good relations between France and America, Jay mas- 
tered his fury and pretended not to understand the in- 

Relations had to be patched up somehow and Jay took 
the most gracious way. Earlier M. G6rard had told him that 
Mme. Gerard's birthday was on December seventh and he 
hoped the Jays would attend them at his home, believing 
they would have reached France by that date. 

Since they were still at sea and far from Europe on 


* "Without Connections, Without Friends ..." * 

December seventh, Jay arranged a surprise and invited all 
the officers of the ship and the gentlemen who were pas- 
sengers to breakfast and to spend the day with the Jays and 
Gerard in honor of Mme. Gerard's birthday. 

Early in the morning, they were roused from bed by a 
small band of musicians and by the firing of cannon. M. 
Gerard inquired the reason for such a celebration and was 
agreeably surprised to receive congratulations on behalf of 
his wife. Sally attended a very genteel breakfast with the 
gentlemen and afterward wrote a long letter to her mother. 

The vessel rolled so intolerably, she complained good- 
humoredly, that she began to be of the carpenter's opinion 
that the ship would hardly lie still again were she put upon 
the stocks. On deck an awning had been spread for the re- 
ception and, to the strains of soft music, the gentlemen 
amused themselves with chess, cards, and drafts until late 

Since it was the day for crossing the equator, the sailors 
had their own entertainment, sanctioned by tradition. It 
was their privilege to shave and duck every person who was 
crossing it for the first time. Those who paid a fine were 

Young Peter watched, vastly diverted, until his turn 
came. A sailor cried, "But the young gentleman must not 
be neglected. He's paid no fine." In spite of protests to 
spare his fine new coat, Peter was seized, gently but firmly 
daubed with tar, and released. Even Sally could not fore- 
bear smiling at his predicament. "I should not have minded 
but for my new coat being spoiled," wailed Peter, man- 
fully trying to restrain his tears. 

Then it was time for an elegant dinner. At every toast 
there was a discharge of cannon, and then came coffee, tea, 
and cakes, and the evening ended with dancing. 



On December twelfth they sighted a land bird and knew 
they were nearing Martinique. Then came another quar- 
rel. Gerard wanted to sail to the northern side of the 
island. Instead of deferring to his superior, who again left 
the decision to the discretion of the captain, Carmichael 
sided with the French minister and once more made mat- 
ters worse. Gerard withdrew into an icy politeness. Not 
only that, but when they landed at Martinique, the secre- 
tary committed the unpardonable diplomatic faux pas of 
babbling the whole story to the town of St. Pierre. Jay was 
tempted to send him back and request a different secre- 
tary, but decided instead to give Carmichael another 

Nevertheless the visit to Martinique was a pleasurable 
interlude in their journey. William Bingham, the agent for 
Congress on the island, played host to the Jays and they 
were lavishly entertained by the planters. With Peter Sally 
visited sugar mills and was shown the countryside while 
John wrote his reports and watched the refitting of The 

The fruits on Martinique were delicious, Sally wrote 
home, and Papa would covet them. It was a charming 
island, without squalor, but what a far cry this tropical 
Christinas was from the parties at Liberty Hall, set in a 
winter landscape, surrounded by family and friends. Sally 
pined for her own "dear little varlet," and urged her mother 
to guard well his tender mind: ". . . you know that honor 
and firmness are the parents of many virtueshow many 
inconveniences and even vices are young people frequently 
led into through a false shame! Teach him therefore be- 
times to say no as well as yes." 

She had warm praises too for her husband's coolness in 
their recent catastrophe at sea. "Your whole family love 

* "Without Connections, Without Friends ..." * 

Mr. Jay but you are not acquainted with half his worth 
... It is the property of a diamond (Fve been told) to 
appear most brilliant in the dark, and surely a good man 
shines to greater advantage in the gloomy hour of ad- 
versity/' She added teasingly, ". . . if what I hear of 
crabs, fresh fish and oysters be true, 111 make Papa's mouth 
water and make him wish to forego the pleasure of pruning 
trees, speechifying assemblies, and what not for the greater 
pleasure of messing with us . . ." Peter Munro had be- 
haved so engagingly that she felt like a mother to him and 
indeed had been supposed his mother. Mama's miniature 
profile and Kitty's picture were great consolations to her. 

Her good friend, Mrs. Janet Montgomery, was then 
writing to Mrs. Mercy Warren, the brilliant sister of 
James Otis, that Sally was "one of the most worthy 
women I know, has a great fund of knowledge and makes 
use of most charming language; added to this she is very 
handsome, which will secure her a welcome with the un- 
thinking, whilst her understanding will gain her the 
hearts of the most worthy. Her manners will do honor to 
our countrywomen." Congress could hardly have picked a 
more charming ambassadress. 

When Admiral Le Motte Piquet courteously offered pas- 
sage on a French frigate to Toulon to sail on December 
twenty-eight, John gratefully accepted the offer instead of 
waiting longer for the repairs. Part of his own salary he 
left with the American officers so that they need not be 
indebted to the French officers. 

Aboard the frigate Aurora matters went better, and the 
trip was uneventful except that they narrowly missed cap- 
ture by an English frigate. They managed to outsail her. 
Peter behaved well and exchanged English and French 
lessons with the French officers aboard. 


Almost exactly three months after leaving America, they 
landed at Cadiz in the south of Spain. It was January, 
1780, and they decided to make the journey to Madrid 
overland to avoid risk of capture by British ships in the 
Mediterranean. Since Jay was now without funds or in- 
structions from America, Chevalier Roche and M. Penet 
kindly loaned him money for the trip. 

Count O'Reilly, Governor of Andalusia, gave the Jays a 
most cordial welcome. While he entertained them and 
briefed John on the personnel at court, Carmichael was 
sent ahead with a message for the Spanish minister. It was 
March before they heard that Jay was to deal with Florida 
Blanca, who later placed a tangle of obstacles before any 
formal recognition of Jay's office. 

Shortly afterward the Jays set out for Madrid. The first 
stage of travel was the most elegant, in a barge manned by 
twenty oarsman. The barge was ornamented with crimson 
damask, handsomely fringed; there were cushioned benches 
and soft music. This carried them to Port St. Mary where 
they were f ted at the house of the Count. The next morn- 
ing they continued their journey. 

They had been liberally warned, by Sally's seafaring 
brother William, among others, of the fearsome fleas, 
mountains, squalor, and discomforts that attended travel on 
the Iberian Peninsula, but even so they were astonished. 
That the objects of wood mounted on wheels were termed 
coaches Sally could scarcely credit, but in truth the drivers 
and mules were perfectly matched in wretchedness. 

They carried with them beds, hams, beverages, and all 
sorts of staples, and Sally even discovered that she had to 
send for a broom to clean the rooms at the inns of filthy 
beds, lice, fleas, and garbage before they could set down 
their own Catalonian beds. These were ingeniously fabri- 


* "Without Connections, Without Friends . . /' * 

cated trunks that contained bed, mattress, baggage, and 
mosquito nets. Their own servants (Abbe had come with 
them from home) prepared, cooked, and served their own 
provisions. At night the mules were stabled in the next 
room, and their garlands of bells serenaded the Jays 
through the long night. 

At one inn food was available, but at an exorbitant 
price. Although there were only eight in the party, the 
Jays were charged for fourteen beds. John protested that 
they had only occupied eight beds. It was not his fault, 
said the landlord, that they did not choose to make use of 
all fourteen; they were at his service. It was an old Spanish 
custom, and the landlord was secure in the knowledge that 
any local court would view the traveler's rights as second to 

The scenery was spectacular and the countryside near 
Cordova enchanting, with luxuriant meadows and grazing 
cattle and frisking goats on the mountains. So charmed 
were they on approaching the city that they begged the 
coachman to pause, despite his protests that they would 
arrive in darkness. Sarah would have liked to linger in 
Cordova. They were most agreeably welcomed by another 
group of Irish gentlemen and in sight-seeing she was awed 
by the great cathedral with its countless marble pillars 
and strange striped arches. But John was bound on busi- 
ness before pleasure. 

They traveled north into La Mancha, the site of Don 
Quixote's exploits, which was disappointingly bare of great 
trees. It was not reassuring to see the roads lined with 
rough crosses which marked the graves of travelers as- 
saulted by highwaymen. As they neared Madrid, they 
passed through a strange and eerie landscape strewn with 
-gigantic boulders. 

9 1 


At last in April they arrived in Madrid. Knowing little of 
the language beyond buenas noches, muchas gracias, por 
favor, and buenos dias, the Jays were handicapped in find- 
ing and establishing a home. They settled in a house in the 
Calle de San Mateo near St. Barbary, a residence of great 
rooms, whitewashed walls, high ceilings, and a patio. It 
was cool during the hot Madrid summer, but cold and 
damp the rest of the year. 

Sally busied herself with writing letters, seeing the 
sights of the capital, and running the household as best she 
could with the little knowledge she had of the Spanish 
language. She visited the Puerta del Sol, the great square in 
the center of the city; Buen Retiro, a park with zoologi- 
cal gardens; the Prado, more imposing than any building 
in America; and even the bullfights that horrified and fas- 
cinated most visitors. She went to the Escorial not far 
from Madrid, where the sun cast a weird checkered light 
over the distant plains. It was not the most elegant or ma- 
jestic building, but the immense thickness of walls kept 
out the cold blasts from the plateau and the great double 
panes of glass let in the warmth of the sun, which made 
the apartments wonderfully comfortable. 

The food, with its liberal use of oils and garlic, saffron 
and chickpeas, beans and sausages, was strange and not 
too acceptable to the Jays' colonial palates. Some of the 
soups were delicious and so were the fish pies and the 
paellas and the olla podrida, a stew with innumerable in- 
gredients of a variety of meats, fowl, spices, and vegetables. 

Sally was going to have a second child, and she felt less 
energetic as summer wore on. Remembering her prolonged 
illness at the time their son was born, John urged her to 
rest and remain quiet. Sally assured him she found the cli- 
mate most favorable for her condition. 


* "Without Connections, Without Friends . . " * 

Soon after their arrival, John received a message from 
Congress that made it imperative that he come to some 
understanding with Florida Blanca, who had already de- 
manded a most exact accounting from him of the civil and 
military state and resources of the colonies and such aid as 
they could offer Spain "in case thereafter this Crown 
should become the ally of America." 

He had labored over this reply for three weeks and po- 
litely observed that to answer the demands fully would 
require a history of the present condition of the American 
states. But now he found that in desperation for lack of 
funds, Congress had already drawn upon what Jay called 
"the bank of hope" to the extent of 100,000 pounds ster- 
ling, payable in six months. Five of the months had passed 
before Jay was notified and there was no hint yet that he 
would even have an interview on the subject. 

From the beginning the mission was doomed to failure, 
as Jay had suspected. Spain was not only indifferent to 
America but considered its independence an intolerably 
bad example for her own possessions and feared that con- 
flicting interests over Florida, the Mississippi, and the 
Southwest might make America and Spain enemies in 
the future. Only tremendous concessions, more than the 
colonies would make, could conceivably have persuaded 
Spain to any degree of temporary friendship of an active 
character. Florida Blanca even declared privately to Mont- 
morin, the French ambassador and a new friend of the 
Jays, that it was to the interest of Spain to encourage a 
state of continued conflict and attrition between England 
and America. 

In the interview that was finally arranged, it became evi- 
dent that Spain would not pay the drafts, but there was a 
faint possibility that by the end of the year about 25,000 



to 40,000 of the amount might be honored. Moreover, the 
king could not consider a treaty unless the difficult prob- 
lem o the navigation of the Mississippi were overcome. 
The only outcome was a later promise to pay the bills in 
two years if the Americans would provide the king with 

The ludicrousness of the proposal was irritating. Obvi- 
ously the merchants would not wait two years for payment 
and would expect in addition an extra percentage for dam- 
ages; in addition Congress had no money for building fri- 
gates or anything else. Then the news of the loss of 
Charlestown to the British made matters worse. The court 
was frosted over with new reserve. 

It was at this time that Sally gave birth to a perfectly 
formed little daughter who had a softened resemblance to 
her father and absent brother. They named her for Kitty 
and Nancy as godmothers and enjoyed a small private isle 
of happiness in a sea of diplomatic gloom. 

Hardly was Sally back on her feet when the child fell ill 
of fever. They were not alarmed until the next day when 
the baby had a fit. The convulsions increased daily, and 
the baby could not even close her eyes. Her parents 
watched helplessly. Four days later, at four o'clock in the 
morning, wearied with pain and lack of sleep, the baby 

The tiny coffin containing their infant daughter was car- 
ried to the Flemish Chapel in Madrid and from then on, 
Sarah's exuberant spirits and tolerance of trials and dis- 
comforts diminished. Grief-stricken, she wrote the sad 
news to the baby's grandparents: "Had I wrote to my dear 
Mama a fortnight ago when my whole heart overflowed 
with joy and gratitude for the birth of a lovely daughter, I 
am sure every line must have conveyed [my happiness] . 


* "Without Connections, Without Friends ..." * 

Behold us in a country whose customs, language and re- 
ligion are the very reverse of our own, without connection, 
without friends . . . Reason, though it moderates the 
flow cannot entirely restrain our grief, nor do I think it 
should be wished ... if my heart continues in proper 
subjection to the Divine Will, then will she not have sick- 
ened nor died in vain . . " 

Other matters also disturbed Sally. Brockholst was giv- 
ing signs of unrest and violence and was succumbing to the 
malevolent influence of Carmichael. More and more dis- 
trustful of CarmichaeFs motives and honesty, John began 
to entrust more state papers to Brockholst for executing 
and copying. It was disheartening to Sally, devoted as she 
was to her family, to find her own brother increasingly 
curt and thoughtless. Perhaps he was jealous of Jay and felt 
entitled to more notice himself for having fought in the 
army while John carried on engagements in Congress and 
in diplomacy. Sally addressed him respectfully as Colonel 
instead of Brockholst, but it failed to mollify him. John 
scolded her sometimes for being too critical of her brother 
and too impatient with him. Sally privately thought John 
too patient and unsuspicious of him. She became aware 
that from time to time Carmichael dropped information 
which he could only have pried from her brother. 

She wrote to her mother that she was entirely recovered, 
but very distracted. John was then at St. Ildefonsa with 
the court, and she missed him. A servant knocked at the 
door and she laid down her pen. He had ridden all night 
from John to deliver to her a packet of letters from 
America. She read them eagerly, a little solaced to hear 
that friends and children were in perfect health. 

"I never fully comprehended the affection of parents for 
their children till I became a mother," she resumed, "how 



closely they were twisted with the fibre of the heart until a 
late painful separation/' Apologetically she explained that 
before leaving America she had been incapable of answer- 
ing her parents 7 affectionate farewell letters because she 
was afraid of wounding them with her unhappiness. 

"I was wrong/ 7 she confessed. "No affliction wounds so 
deeply as neglect . . . my mistake was an error of the 
head, not the heart, for I would rather die than that Papa 
and Mama should think me capable of ingratitude to them 
. . ." She sent congratulations on the marriage of her 
younger sister Judith and wished that Judy's fortune in 
marriage might resemble her own. From the depths of 
grief, her marriage seemed more than ever the greatest of 

She spoke of the fidelity of Abbe her like could not be 
found, at least in Spain; she was so useful. To Kitty she 
wrote of how dearly she valued her letters and sent warm- 
est regards to her friends, even those who "have not time to 
throw away in writing to me . . ." Please present her best 
wishes to General and Mrs. Washington. There were let- 
ters to Susan and to her brother John. She was bitterly dis- 
tressed to hear that rumors were circulating that she and 
her husband had been rude and withdrawn to the Span- 
iards. On the contrary they had been scrupulous to use 
every courtesy and she had even risen from her sick bed 
to return calls. But it was the lot of people in public life 
to be at the mercy of criticism and scandalmongering. 

Often after that sad year Sally had the impulse to urge 
John to give up his futile mission and return to their be- 
loved country, but she resisted it, knowing his compelling 
sense of duty. One evening he came back from a confer- 
ence with Florida Blanca, and she knew at once that as 
usual it had been a frustrating meeting. In his own good 

* "Without Connections, Without Friends ..." * 

time John would tell her. She ordered coffee and a light 
supper to be brought to him. He tasted the soup and the 
paella both excellent, as she knewand pushed them 
away, his mind on the interview. Finally he drank the cof- 
fee and filled his pipe and began smoking in short furious 
puffs. Sally sketched away at the drawing of an engaging 
little boot-black she had seen in the Puerta del Sol. 

"It's happened again/ 7 John said abruptly. "Florida 
Blanca knew of my instructions from Congress before I 
did." Sarah looked up. 

"About the cession of our claims to a free port and navi- 
gation of the Mississippi below the thirty-first degree lati- 
tude?" She knew how deeply this had troubled him. At 
the beginning when there had been some prospect of gain- 
ing real and rapid assistance from Spain, he would, though 
reluctantly, have ceded the navigation, except for a free 
port, to Spain; drastic concessions might have been in or- 
der. But now with all the obvious delays and excuses, it 
was apparent that Spain would never wholeheartedly sup- 
port America in any form, and he had written to Congress 
that in his opinion "the cession of this navigation will . . . 
render a future war with Spain unavoidable, and I shall 
look upon my subscribing to the one as fixing the certainty 
of the other." 

Sally went over to sit on the arm of John's chair. For a 
moment she said nothing, only gently stroked his hair. He 
took her hand and held it against his cheek. 

"The instructions might have been used as a trump card 
to inveigle something useful from Spain, but now that 
Florida Blanca already knows we're prepared to cede the 
Mississippi navigation rights, the situation is hopeless." 

After a while Sally said tentatively, "John, I've often 
thought before of asking if we shouldn't return to America, 



but IVe held back while there seemed the least chance of 
accomplishing something. Don't you think now that it's 
really impossible and that we'd be justified in going home?" 

He pressed her hand thoughtfully and smiled dreamily. 
"Liberty Hall must look beautiful now if there haven't 
been new depredations from troops or neighbors." 

"It would be marvelous to see little Peter again/' she 
said wistfully. She was hopeful now that John might con- 

"Dear little fellow. Do you think he goes into Susan's 
room to read made-up letters as he used to with you?" 

"He's probably running in this minute to say, 'Aunt 
Susan, Mama says she and Papa are coming home now, 
right away fast, and they can't wait to see me.' " She had 
started out with a laugh, but all at once there were tears 
in her eyes. 

"Oh, Sally, my dearest!" John put his arms around her. 
"It's been so hard for you and you've been so uncom- 
plaining. I'm tempted to resign this business and take the 
first ship home. Wouldn't it be marvelous to see our 
friends again and to know at first hand what's going on 
at home, to be with our family, to work again with people 
we can trust . . /' 

Sally could hardly credit her luck. Why hadn't she asked 
before? He wanted to return fully as much as she did. Her 
sigh of relief and happiness filled the room, and she rested 
contentedly in John's arms, dreaming of her first glimpse 
of Peter and her family and Liberty Hall. 

And then her dreams were shattered. 

"No, I'm afraid I can't," John said heavily. 

"John!" Sally sat up, "But why not? You agree that if s 
useless to stay. What is to be gained by it?" 

Slowly he got up from his chair and went over to the 

* "Without Connections, Without Friends ..." * 

huge fireplace to knock the ashes out of his pipe. He put 
the pipe in his pocket, and she recognized this as a gesture 
of decision, 

"No. I have no right to put my own feelings and affairs 
first, if the slightest chance remains that I can do some 
good here/' He turned his worried face to her. "But I shall 
reserve passage for you on the next ship for home, Sally. 
It's not fair to keep you here especially after what has 
happened/' It was still painful to allude to the death of 
their daughter. 

Sally sat still. "No," she said quietly. "I shan't go home 
until you are ready too. Ill not leave you alone with all 
these burdens. You must have someone to talk to whom 
you can trust, even if I am no more than a sounding board, 
someone to share the problems with/' It would have been 
all too easy to take passage home alone, looking forward to 
seeing home and family and friends, but she knew that 
it would have turned into an empty joy at the recollection 
of John alone in Spain with momentous problems and de- 
cisions. "But why, John? What made you change your 
mind? You were all ready to say yes and eager to go your- 
self, I know. What happened? What did you think of?" 

He gave her a sheepish, half-embarrassed glance and 
looked down at the tiled floor. "I suppose it was the ped- 

"The peddler?" For a moment she was at a loss and 
then she remembered one of his last requests to Congress. 
"Oh the spy! But what has he to do with our return?" 
And then in a flash she found the link. "Oh. I see." John 
had remembered that midnight interview and, recalling 
the man's courage and fidelity in the face of death, must 
have said to himself that if such a man could so exert 
himself, surely John Jay could be as selfless and undemand- 



ing. "You mean you could do no less than he did only 
asking to continue what services he could offer." 

John looked still more flustered, but nodded his head. 
He looked to her with a plea for understanding and found 
it. "Whatever my place is and however personally distress- 
ing, the least I can do is remain on duty until it calls me 

Once again she felt that strange mixture of dismay at 
John's sense of duty which went to such lengths that he 
would sacrifice his own happiness and hers, and pride in 
his self-esteem which was such that it would be intolerable 
for him to be less manful than a peddler, however much he 
respected the man. 

"Whatever you have to do, I want to help you," Sally 
said in a matter-of-fact voice, recovered from her disap- 

Knowing how desperately she wanted to leave, knowing 
what an abyss of depression she had been plunged into at 
times, he looked down at her in wonder at her acceptance. 
"Sally, you amaze me. At a time when you'd be justified in 
breaking down in tears out of sheer frustration Where do 
you find these reserves?" 

"Where do you find yours?" she teased him. "With your 
example before me, how can I do less? I said once to you 
that you knew little about women. You still do, my dear." 

He sighed. "I never shall understand women, but I'm 
very grateful that I found one who could understand me. 
Sally, how could I manage without you? I'm so glad I 
didn't marry someone else," he said obliquely. 

She read his comment for its true meaning and laughed. 
"Dear John, even your compliments are clumsy." She 
rubbed her face affectionately against his sleeve. 

"But I only meant that I love you more than I possibly 


* "Without Connections, Without Friends . . " * 

could anyone else/' he protested, bewildered and a little 

"Never mind, dear/' She smiled at him. She may have 
missed a passage home, but her sense of happiness and fun 
were returning in some measure. And in her husband's 
love and need for her there was ample recompense. 


Enemies in the Household 


Time moved languidly in Spain. Little word came from 
official sources except notices of more drafts. Jay often 
heard from diplomatic colleagues news of the colonies and 
the progress of the war before he was informed by dis- 
patches. In writing to one friend he said tartly that though 
he may have misspelled a name, the censor might do him 
the courtesy of correcting it. 

He became more and more disillusioned by the cynicism 
of the Spanish diplomats and their subterfuges and de- 
lays. He had still not been officially received at court, a 
snubbing that he could not afford to resent. Not only 
were there no loans forthcoming from Spain, but the Jays 
often had no funds for paying their own bills. Yet they 
managed to extend credit to help the scores of travelers and 
sailors from America who were sick or out of money. 

Every packet from America marked a day of rejoicing. 
Kitty's letters bubbled with news and gaiety. But the Jays 
were deeply shocked at the story of the treason of Benedict 
Arnold; John had once interceded for Arnold's promotion 
and recognition. It was inconceivable, but it had hap- 
pened. Arnold had intended to betray West Point and 
General Washington to the British. He had barely escaped 
and had left his British intermediary, the much loved John 
Andre, to be hanged as a spy. 

It was more agreeable to hear that Susan had outwitted 
a British raiding party at Liberty Hall. They had come after 
midnight one night to demand the governor who had 
luckily departed shortly beforeand the state papers in his 
possession. Susan, dressed in a pretty flowered nightgown, 
could honestly reply that the bird had flown. While the 


* Enemies in the Household & 

troops were searching the house for papers, Susan ap- 
pealed to the colonel in charge to spare her own box of 
correspondence. This he gallantly did, and to satisfy the 
searchers she then brought down from the highest book- 
shelf a collection of Livingston's old law briefs, and the 
troops rode off triumphantly. Inside her box of correspond- 
ence she had hidden the real state papers. 

Kitty wrote that Betsey Schuyler and Alexander Hamil- 
ton were engaged to be married. Betsey had been visiting 
her aunt near Washington's headquarters in Morristown 
that winter. Hamilton had met her once before when he 
was sent, as Washington's aide, on a mission to Albany, 
but now he had paid her strenuous court. Kitty had been 
present at their second meeting at a dinner and a ball. 
Kitty, glowing in yellow, was absorbed in a flirtation with 
Mr. Laurens, but not too distracted to see how taken Alex- 
ander was with the charming and graceful little Betsey, so 
lovely in her pink brocade with a bertha of Brussels lace 
and a pointed bodice, her hair powdered and adorned with 
black ribbons. Betsey's beauty was enhanced for Alexander 
by the high reputation and character of her family. It 
suited him well to fall in love with a girl so extremely eligi- 

John and Sally both laughed over this, visualizing the 
.scene, knowing Alexander's supple charms and his ambi- 
tions and Betsey's attractions. They could readily imagine 
Alexander's frontal attack, to ensnare the girl's attentions, 
and a flank attack he prided himself on his military skill 
to enchant her aunt and uncle so he could enlist their 
approval. General Schuyler was already friendly, but his 
wife, baffled once before by the elopement of Angelica, 
Betsey's older sister, with a Mr. Church, was less pleased 
and insisted on a long delay and a proper marriage. She 



frowned on Alexander, but the Jays would bet on Hamil- 
ton. Even as a schoolboy and college lad he had never 
lacked energy or nerve to advise his elders, and quite often 
his advice was shrewd and wise. General Washington had 
found him an extraordinarily capable aide. 

The news of the war during the whole year of 1780, slow 
as it came to the Minister Plenipotentiary at Madrid, was 
consistently bad. The colonial army began the year with 
near famine; General Lincoln had been forced to surrender 
Charleston and his whole army of 4,500 men; Tarleton had 
massacred the Virginia cavalry and rejoined Cornwallis. 
Late in summer came the crushing news of Gates's defeat 
with 3,000 men at Camden in South Carolina. A final 
blow was the discovery of Benedict Arnold's treason and the 
plot to hand over West Point to the British. The attitude of 
the Spanish court exactly matched in coolness the ill for- 
tune of the colonies. 

Worst of all were the enemies in the household. Sally's 
brother, instead of feeling indebted to John for his kindness 
in offering him useful experience as his private secretary, 
was jealous, cantankerous, malicious, and so impudent as 
to dispute and quarrel and distort reports even while the 
Jays entertained guests. 

When a young Frenchman, a friend of Brockholst's, 
came to dine one day and the conversation touched on na- 
tional drinking habits, Brockholst assured the guest that 
Americans were all drunkards and that he had seen all the 
members of Congress drunk at one time. Sally remarked 
that she believed such a custom did not exist in the colo- 
nies and her brother retorted curtly that she was in no posi- 
tion to know. John clenched his teeth over his pipe but re- 
mained silent. 

"Of course, Colonel/' Sally said, "it is possible that 


* Enemies in the Household * 

upon the celebration of our independence or some other 
public festival some members of Congress may have drunk 
more freely than usual, but surely from that you would not 
infer that it is a daily habit with them?" 

"Congress, madam, are like other men/' Brockholst 
snapped, "and the custom of getting drunk after dinner is 
general," and he left the room with his embarrassed friend. 

Sally looked at John, appalled. "What if he spreads such 
talk around Madrid how distressing that would be!" 

John shook his head. "You must not worry so. The sub- 
ject is unlikely to recur, and scolding him would only pro- 
voke new outbursts." 

The next day as John was about to leave the house, 
Brockholsfs friend came back to thank Jay for his inter- 
vention in wangling permission for the Frenchman to live 
for a while in Toledo and unwittingly gave Brockholst an- 
other springboard for squabbling. With a smile the friend 
remarked that "monarchical governments choose some- 
times to show their power." 

Brockholst smartly interrupted Jay's polite reply with, 
"Say nothing of monarchical governments, sir! Congress is 
worse by far. Why, I know of one case where a gentleman 
was detained at Philadelphia for three months waiting to 
receive a passport from Congress after they had resolved 
to grant him one." 

"Aye, but with Congress it must be excused," said the 
Frenchman courteously. "Think of the multiplicity of af- 
fairs that demands their attention." 

Jay picked up his hat, said with impregnable good hu- 
mor, "Congress should at least be spared the censure of 
Americans," and took his leave, but Brockholst went on 
complaining. He saw no reason why he should not speak 
freely on the subject since Congress contained a great 



many rascals and he knew some of them personally. 

Sally kept her temper as long as possible and finally said 
that in America nothing harmful could result from such 
criticism, "but here, please remember, the independence 
of America has not yet been publicly recognized. I think 
we should be careful to do nothing that might lessen the 
respectability of the representatives of our country/' 

Brockholst's tirade only grew ruder. He finally turned to 
his friend and said, "Come with me over to Carmichael's. 
There's a man who can abuse Congress to a turn, though 
he was formerly a member of it. There we can say what we 
please about Congress and the knaves who are in it." And 
out he stormed. 

At dinner after his return, he told the Jays that he had 
decided to return to America rather than remain like a 
slave in Spain. For his own good, Jay tried to persuade the 
young man to stay, but his rudeness so distressed Sarah 
that Jay advised them both to cool off and Brockholst to 
retire to his room. 

Sally tossed sleeplessly all night. She had known her 
brother to be irritable in temper, but he had grown impos- 
sibly sullen, rude, and disagreeable. If Brockholst should 
return and spread such insufferable tales about John as he 
did about Congress, it might destroy Jay's reputation and 
usefulness. That she must forestall at all costs, whatever 
her pride in family and her affection for her brother and 
dislike of accusations and squabbles. John, she knew, 
would trust to Brockholsfs loyalty and eventual sense of 
justice, but by now, though she felt Carmichael was the 
real villain and corrupter of her brother, she had not much 
faith left in Brockholst's judgment. 

After careful consideration, she wrote Kitty a long letter 
detailing many of the episodes and circumstances of Brock- 


"& Enemies in the Household * 

hoist's stay with them and of his services. Not only had he 
been insulting without provocation, but he had been, to 
put it mildly, indiscreet and unreliable. 

In Spain, now that the friendly manner Carmichael had 
used toward the Jays in America had vanished and been 
replaced by hostility and intrigue, his jealousy and antago- 
nism made it impossible for Jay to entrust him with con- 
fidential reports. These he turned over to Broclcholst This 
further enraged Carmichael, who pumped the other secre- 
tary with all too good results, as the Jays discovered by 
Carmichaers inadvertent comments on matters he could 
have known in no other way. He tattled Brockholst's re- 
marks to Jay and then fed Brockholst with insults purport- 
edly from Jay. He tended to usurp powers that belonged to 
the Minister alone and behaved at times as if he himself 
were the envoy. 

For once tart about her husband's virtues, Sarah wrote 
with exasperation: "Had I been in Mr. Jay's place I never 
could have observed such moderation and civility to that 
gentleman after being acquainted with his baseness . . . 
But if moderation and prudence are virtues, I'm sure Mr. 
Jay has enough of them." 

In the fifteen-page letter enclosed to Kitty, she gave in- 
structions that if Brockholst should slander Jay at home, 
Kitty was to give the letter to their father so that he would 
know the truth and not a distortion of the circumstances. 
She had no doubt that Carmichael "has made Brockholst 
act a part so foreign to the welfare of himself and interest of 
the family . . ." 

To upset the household further, still a third rogue joined 
them. A colleague had urged Jay to befriend and take with 
him a youth named Lewis Littlepage from Virginia. He ar- 
rived in Madrid in the fall of 1780, a young fop who fan- 



cied himself as a lady-killer and adventurer. Funds for his 
support were never sent to Jay, but that did not mitigate 
either the lad's arrogance or his demands. 

One escapade followed another, from service with troops 
in Minorca instead of pursuing his studies to joining in 
the siege of Gibraltar. He abused Jay in a deluge of letters 
for not sending him more money and for interfering with 
his wanton career. Later, in Paris, he challenged Jay to a 
duel, and still later, in New York, when Jay tried to collect 
the money his uninvited protege owed him, Littlepage en- 
gaged in a war of scurrilous letters, which Jay answered 
with dignity and finality by revealing the correspondence 
between them. 

As it turned out, Brockholst was captured by the British 
when he left in 1781 and had no immediate opportunity to 
vent his rage on Jay. Yet the rage simmered and years later 
the chance presented itself for revenge. 

The death of their baby daughter, the accumulated ef- 
fect of these incidents, the hypocrisy and procrastinations 
and machinations of the Spanish ministers, the frustra- 
tions of Jay's missions all led to increasing distress and un- 
happiness in the Jay household. For John's sake, Sarah 
plucked up her spirits, but it was a great effort. 

Still, there were occasional pleasant interludes. Sally 
would walk with Mme. Gautier, the wife of a brigadier- 
general, in the street of the queen where the Princess of the 
Asturias rode and walked every afternoon and all the court 
met to pay their respects to her. It was a pageant of 
grandeur, with the lords and ladies elegantly dressed and 
strolling under parasols or riding in their carriages, and 
Sally's perceptive eyes found pleasure in the color and dis- 

Never had Sally felt more keenly the separation of an 


* Enemies in the Household * 

ocean and of months in time. At the very period when she 
and John were deep in mourning for their lost baby, Kitty, 
visiting in Philadelphia with their friends Mary and Rob- 
ert Morris, was gaily writing that she might become bank- 
rupt if she were mistaken about Sally's firmness. She had 
wagered with the Chevalier de la Luzerne and others that 
Sally neither painted her face nor went to plays on Sundays. 

With an acid smile for the irony of things, Sally, whose 
brilliant complexion kindled both admiration and doubt 
that it could be real, replied gravely that she hoped the 
bets were considerable for she had used no false coloring, 
as Mr. Carmichael could attest to the Chevalier, nor had 
she amused herself with plays or any other diversion on 
Sundays. (The Chevalier handsomely paid off his wager 
with a gift to Kitty of a beautiful dress cap and a note 
marveling at Sally's firmness.) 

There was the pleasure of receiving the first letters from 
little Peter, dictated to his aunt. He had a pocket book full 
of letters printed by his grandfather the past winter and in 
June he had gone with his grandmother to spend a few 
days with Grandfather at Cousin Clarkson's near Prince- 
ton, "a long ride for such a little fellow as me." Aunt Caty 
had sent him a top, and Uncle William had made him a 
kite. He was quite the country boy, "clad in a striped 
linen waistcoat and trousers, and sometimes I hoe in the 
garden and gather the gooseberries and currants and I 
helped to rake hay on the lawn in the hay harvest." Han- 
nah sent her love to his mother but wouldn't tell him what 
to say except that she had received the fine cambric hand- 
kerchief and was most obliged for it. "Wealthy has been to 
see her mother three or four weeks and is not the better for 
her visit; she does not learn her book as well as I do/' He 
would soon be able to write as well as read. Full of love for 



her absent son, Sally ordered a set of maps from France so 
that Peter could learn geography while he still thought it 
just a game. 

There were other presents to send home. For William 
Livingston, restored to his beloved Liberty Hall, Jay chose 
select seeds of the fine Spanish cabbages and onions. To 
Washington and the financier Robert Morris, he sent casks 
of his favorite wine, Packaretti. For the ladies there were 
presents of silk stockings, white kid gloves, a pink negligee, 
embroidered silk shoes, and cambric handkerchiefs (some, 
alas, captured by the British in transit, as were many of 
the precious letters) . 

It helped Sally's spirits to picture little Peter at his 
studies. Every hour the bell rang in Liberty Hall, and he 
would go into the office to say his lessons to Aunt Susan. 
Aunt Caty sent books from Philadelphia and he was read- 
ing from a very pretty book of tales with a picture on one 
page and opposite it a tale to explain, all the book through. 
He was proud to have finished the Continental Primer al- 

The next year marked a turning point, not only in the 
war but in relations abroad. General Nathanael Greene 
carried on a careful and brilliant campaign in the south, 
abetted by such guerrilla leaders as Francis Marion, which 
paved the way for the combined assault on Lord Corn- 
wallis by the colonial and French armies and the French 
navy. At the crucial moment Admiral de Grasse drove the 
British ships past hope of rescue, and Washington, after a 
few brief days of rest snatched in Mt. Vernon, had gal- 
loped down to Virginia to lead the final telling assault. 

At Yorktown on a lovely October day, a British officer 
had climbed down from a parapet with a request for a 
truce while a solitary little drummer boy had beat out the 


* Enemies in the Household * 

message for parley. Almost dazed with triumph after years 
of tribulation, Washington had recovered and stated terms 
for surrender. 

In the bright noonday Virginia sun on October 19, 
1781, the British and Hessian troops had laid down their 
arms and filed between sober American and French ranks 
accompanied by mournful music and watched by masses 
of civilians while General O'Hara, deputy for the indis- 
posed Cornwallis, offered his sword to Washington's 
deputy, General Lincoln, The Hessians in their green and 
blue coats marched crisply; it was no great blow to them. 
But the British ranks dragged by in humiliation and resent- 
ment, clattering their muskets in heaps, smashing butts 
and staving in drums. 

General Washington dismounted from his big bay horse 
to write the report to Congress that "a Reduction of the 
British Army under Command of Lord Cornwallis, is most 
happily effected/ 7 with full credit to the arduous services 
of men and officers. 

The crisis had come and passed; the rest of the war was 
chiefly diplomatic and fell on the shoulders of men like 
Jay, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. 

The news was long in reaching Jay in Spain, but the 
more amiable disposition of his Spanish colleagues gave 
him the clue beforehand. He had submitted, on three days' 
notice, a preliminary draft of a proposed treaty to Florida 
Blanca, but he met with the usual procrastinations. Only 
the desire to keep up the fagade of good relations with 
Spain, so necessary to morale at home, kept him in Ma- 

It was December before a letter from Washington noti- 
fied Jay of the surrender, and he and Sally were delirious 
with excitement. No wonder a few new attentions had 



been bestowed upon them. Unfortunately discussions were 
still held in abeyance by the "illness" of the appointed 
negotiator. No more progress was made on either the loans 
or a treaty. 

Then in February of 1782 another daughter, little Maria, 
was born to the Jays and was thriving. Once more the Jays 
found happiness in the midst of slights and failures. Jay 
wrote to his friend Morris: 

"Sally nurses and amuses herself with Maria. We are 
cheerful and not unhappy. We remove next week to Aran- 
juez to spend some agreeable weeks." This was a charm- 
ing place with gardens, meadows, parks, lawns, fine trees, 
and roads and walks near a winding river. But there were 
soldiers with fixed bayonets and horsemen with drawn 
swords to guard the royal family. The Jays were isled in a 
sea of distrust and longed for the free air and conversation 
of America and laws of their own making. 

In mid-May Jay received Franklin's hasty letter asking 
his immediate transfer to Paris to help with the negotia- 
tions for peace. Sally was radiant at the thought of leaving 
the scene of unhappiness and failure for such a mission. 
Again there was little time to settle their affairs and they 
could do no more than take their clothes and papers. 
Furnishings, horses, mules, and carriage were left in charge 
of CarmichaeL They left Madrid without regrets on May 

"At least you now have a mission that has some hope of 
success," Sally smiled at her husband. "And there will be 
friends and we know the language." 

She glanced down at little Maria, bundled in her arms, 
and softly touched the feathery little cheek. "Maria, my 
pet, we're going to a country where we will all be happier 
by far." 


* Enemies in the Household * 

Settling in the carriage, John lifted the tiny burden onto 
his own lap. "I would not have left Spain while there was 
still a chance for success, little Maria, but at least in 
France I can be useful. And perhaps it will make the future 
a little brighter for you/' 


"Enchanting Prospects' 


Paris, Passy 


Once the difficult journey over the Pyrenees was past the 
misery of battling fleas, bugs, and the wretched hovels that 
passed as innsSarah and John could settle down to enjoy 
their passage through country which was less spectacular 
but still beautiful, especially in spring, and more comforta- 
ble. France, wrote Sally, was "one of the favorite spots of 
Nature," full of "enchanting prospects and fertile fields/' 
She was charmed with the gaiety and industry of the French 
people, their pretty flower gardens and tasteful little bowers. 
John, without any immediate cares of state, could relax and 
begin to recover his health; the rheumatism and the pain in 
his chest that had plagued him in Spain disappeared for a 
time. Abbe was with them to care for little Maria and Peter 
Munro, and Sally too enjoyed the trip. 

They broke their journey at Bayonne and again at Bor- 
deaux. They traveled slowly because most of the post 
horses were being used by a nobleman with a great retinue. 
On leaving Bordeaux Sally fell ill with fever and ague and 
Peter contracted whooping cough, so they were happy to 
arrive at last in Paris on June twenty-third. While Sally su- 
pervised settling down in rooms that Franklin's grandson 
had reserved for them at the Hotel de la Chine, John left 
immediately to report to Dr. Franklin so they could begin 
the negotiations for peace with England. 

The time was ripe. England had lost most of her West 
Indian possessions and Gibraltar was being besieged. The 
British fleet, though victorious in a battle with de Grasse 
that spring, was outnumbered by its enemies. It was evi- 
dent that America was lost. The new British ministry and 
the nation were heartily sick of war. 


^ "Enchanting Prospects" * 

John was now well prepared to play the leading part in 
the negotiations for peace. His experience in Spain had 
brushed away any illusions he might have preserved about 
the altruism of nations, and he faced his new role with a 
keen sense of reality. True, France had befriended the 
colonies and sent arms ? loans, and even soldiers to their 
aid, and there was great public sentiment for America, 
enormously enhanced by the personal popularity of Dr. 
Franklin. Yet John knew this for the customary friendship 
of nations, based on good will while it suited the policies 
of France in its eternal rivalry with Britain, and did not 
rely upon it to survive in any conflict with basic French in- 

Franklin, that idol of France, worked hard in his lei- 
surely and engaging way to consolidate the friendship of 
the two nations, and in his old age was enjoying at Passy 
the adulation of the people and warm friendships with the 
cultivated and intellectual elite of France. His fur hat had 
become the symbol of America. His portrait was every- 
where, even on a porcelain chamber pot. 

Jay and Franklin had worked closely together in America 
and were warm friends. They at once began to negotiate 
with the British emissaries, Richard Oswald and Lord 
Grenville, on the basis of a draft roughed out by Franklin. 
When John Adams later arrived from Holland as the third 
commissioner, he agreed Completely with Jay's views and 
distrust of Congress's orders to submit all negotiations to 
the French minister Count Vergennes for approval. Jay had 
already written his objections in no uncertain terms. It 
seemed to them both not only undignified and humiliating, 
but against the best interests of their country. 

Jay was friendly with both of his colleagues, but Adams 
and Franklin thoroughly disliked each other. Adams was 



honest enough, conceded Franklin privately, often even 
great, but "sometimes positively mad/ 7 with little under- 
standing or tolerance of any way of life that differed from 
his own. Adams considered Franklin not only morally un- 
reliable and a slippery customer, but lazy and incompetent. 
He had little comprehension of, or sympathy for, Frank- 
lin's easygoing and highly irregular methods Franklin ap- 
peared not even much disturbed at the discovery that his 
secretary Bancroft was betraying state secretsand con- 
sistently distrusted the old philosopher who so offended 
his strict New England conscience. 

The commissioners met at Jay's apartments so often 
that Sarah was almost a participant at Oswald's, at Ver- 
sailles, at Franklin's home. It was tantalizing to be so close 
to these momentous happenings and be unable to drop so 
much as a hint in letters or conversations of the proceed- 
ings, but Sarah knew well the need for discretion and dis- 
tracted herself with other matters to avoid temptation. 

France then was a land seething with subterranean vol- 
canoes. Louis XVI and his beautiful queen, Marie An- 
toinette, and their courtiers sensed nothing of the unrest 
that surrounded them. They were so thoroughly imbued 
with the concept of monarchial rule and privileges, so 
alienated and distant from the man in the street and the 
housewife in her kitchen, that they had no inkling of the 
growing revolt. Few people had, and the Jays were no 
seismologists to detect the incipient convulsions that seven 
years later would erupt in the French Revolution. 

It was the gayest of countries for foreigners and the no- 
bility. Pleasure was their prime occupation, and the sever- 
est of punishments for a courtier was exile from the court 
at Versailles, the heart of France. Louis and his queen 
hunted and danced and held masquerades and went to the 


* "Enchanting Prospects" * 

theater, and Marie Antoinette and her ladies led the fash- 
ions by designing their own gowns, building their powdered 
hair in towering headdresses, designing liveries for each dif- 
ferent household and palace. The courtiers competed for 
royal attention as always. 

Small wonder that Sally wrote in high good humor that 
she was much pleased with France. It was glorious to find 
packets of letters, including one from little Peter, to dis- 
cover invitations from the kind little Marquise de Lafayette, 
wife of their good friend in the colonies, and to be reunited 
with American friends. 

In the suite above their quarters at the hotel were Mrs. 
Price and Mrs. Montgomery, and in the hotel opposite 
lived Mrs. Izard and her two grown daughters. Once again 
Sally could take tea and play cards with friends three times 
a week. But alas, there was no chaplain nor any public 
worship for Americans in Paris. In the midst of frivolity 
Sally did not neglect her devotions. 

In July the whole Jay household came down with influ- 
enza. The baby was ill and Sarah too ill even to nurse 
her. A hundred thousand people were ill with the disease 
in the city and Sarah said wryly that they were "very fash- 
ionably disposed/' 

John fretted in his sick bed at being unable to help 
Franklin in his dealings, but by late July he was back in 
action. Oswald was pleased to find Jay so sensible and af- 
fable, and then was set back on his heels to discover him 
in a later conversation so much more insistent on both 
American and French rights than Franklin. Oswald scurried 
home to request more concessions lest negotiations bog 
down. Meanwhile, the divergence of opinion about the or- 
ders to consult the French at every stage divided the com- 
missioners. Franklin in his dual role of minister to France 



and peace commissioner naturally wished to oblige the 
French to the utmost and wanted to follow the instruc- 
tions of Congress to the letter. Adams and Jay, suspicious 
of French double-dealing, absolutely refused. 

After one meeting at Franklin's house, the doctor re- 
minded Jay of France's generosity in loans and arms and 
thought it presumptuous to suspect the French court of ul- 
terior motives. Jay had no faith in any European court and 
said so. He removed his pipe from his mouth to elaborate 
more forcibly. "We must rely on God and ourselves. Let us 
be grateful to the French for what they have done for us, 
but let us think for ourselves. And, if need be, let us act 
for ourselves!" 

"But surely, Jay, you would not deliberately break those 

"If those instructions conflict with the fundamental 
honor and dignity of America, I would break them like 
this!" Jay snapped his pipe in two and threw the fragments 
into the fireplace. Franklin watched him in perplexity 
and at last nodded his head. He would join them in their 
stand to make it unanimous. 

Vergennes, well informed by his secret intelligence that 
the commissioners were disobeying instructions, left them 
alone with "their illusions/' remarking that they had all 
the presumption of ignorance but would soon be enlight- 
ened and improved by experience. But he did not reckon 
with Jay's firmness, or the adroitness with which the 
Americans supported each other, or with Franklin's wily 
propaganda. The doctor had printed and distributed in 
Holland a fake newspaper for. the British, which carried 
all sorts of tales about the barbarities of Indian scalping, 
burning, and ravishing tales which quickly spread through- 


* "Enclianting Prospects" * 

out Europe to counter the Tory accusations and embarrass 
the English. 

On the eve of signing the agreement, sudden doubts 
appeared to arise about the power of Oswald to sign for his 
government. To combat this move, Dr. Franklin had a 
trick of his own up his sleeve. He took out a packet of pa- 
pers and exclaimed that he would be happy for the oppor- 
tunity to query the ministry on the inclusion of another ar- 
ticle. Jay and Adams and Henry Laurens, who had just 
joined them, quickly backed him up with tales of confisca- 
tion which quite befuddled the Britons. Hastily they con- 
ferred in another room and came out with the changed 
opinion that Oswald was after all empowered to sign. 

On the next day, November thirtieth, the preliminary 
treaties were signed, to be published and made valid when 
a similar treaty between France and England was signed. 
Jay had wanted a peace so just that it would be to the ad- 
vantage of all parties to keep it. As he observed, the parch- 
ment and print alone would never guarantee a peace. 

Britain recognized American independence. The bound- 
aries were set, all the way west to the Mississippi. Fishery 
rights off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were guaranteed 
to the Americans. Debts due to creditors of either country 
by citizens of others were validated and Congress was to 
recommend full reinstatement of the rights and properties 
of Loyalists. The British were to withdraw from western 

That night the commissioners celebrated with a dinner 
at Franklin's house in Passy. Afterward Franklin soothed 
over the ruffled French pride with an astute letter to Ver- 
gennes. The Count de Aranda informed the Spanish king: 
"This federal republic is born a pigmy. A day will come 


when it will be a giant; even a colossus, formidable to 
these countries/ 7 

Count Vergennes was astounded by the terms and wrote 
that the English had rather bought a peace than made one. 
Their concessions were beyond anything he had believed 
possible. During the early months of 1783 the treaty was 
announced in America. There was an uproar from pro- 
French factions, but it was otherwise generally approved. 
Any dissatisfaction faded when the general peace was pro- 

Hamilton wrote Jay his congratulations and added that 
the reserved New Englanders were even talking of making 
an annual fish offering to him in acknowledgment of his 
services. Jefferson sent his homage and thought the terms 
obtained were indeed great. Adams said Jay was entitled 
to be called the "Washington of the negotiations" and ad- 
mitted that had he been detained longer in Madrid, all 
would have been lost. But from Vergennes's point of view 
both Adams and Jay, though honest, were unmanageable 

Sarah was exhausted with happiness and relief and could 
write her father that "the court of Grfcat Britain have ac- 
corded to the American commissioners the most honorable 
terms to take effect when the terms for peace are agreed to 
by France and England . . . Mr. Jay's health a little im- 
proved since this event." 

It was wonderful to feel that once more personal affairs 
could take precedence over state matters. Earlier in No- 
vember Sarah had been presented to Marie Antoinette. 
The queen had taken her hand and gazed at her and said 
she was one of the fairest women she had ever looked 
upon. The admiration was mutual. 

The twenty-eight-year-old queen was so handsome and 


* "Enchanting Prospects" * 

her manner so engaging, Sally reported to her friend Mary 
Morris, that "almost forgetful of Republican principles, I 
was ready, while in her presence, to declare her born to be 
a queen. There are, however, many traits in her character 
worthy of imitation, even by Republicans; and I cannot 
but admire her resolution to superintend the education of 
Madame Royale, her daughter." 

The resemblance between the two was such that once 
when Sarah attended the theater with her good friend the 
Marquise de Lafayette, the audience mistook her for the 
queen and rose in tribute. 

Sally delighted in the current styles, which outside of the 
Court, were at the time rather plain. But after the wartime 
restraints in the colonies, when ornaments were virtually 
discarded and homespun replaced the former imported 
fabrics, it was sheer delight to indulge in fine materials and 
more fanciful dress. It was a pleasure to send home some 
of those luxuries. 

Best of all John could take a vacation in Normandy a 
vacation he much needed for his health. He offered his 
resignation to Congress, since he felt he could be of little 
use that year in public affairs, but Congress instead granted 
him a leave of absence. There was of course the aftermath 
of heavy correspondence, both public and private, and mis- 
cellaneous matters. Jay, no enthusiast about music or the 
theater, left these arts to Sally. She went to the Opera and 
the Com^die Italienne with parties of friends. The Jays en- 
tertained informally in small groups, but their guests were 
ambassadors and ministers and courtiers, as well as friends 
from America. There were visits with the Lafayettes and 
the Viscount d'Herrira and his family. At Franklin's house 
they met nearly all the American visitors to France. At the 
Count de Rochambeau's dinners they heard first-hand ac- 



counts of the battles of the Revolution and the surrender 
of Cornwallis. They were guests at many great houses, in- 
cluding the singular establishment of Count d'Estaing, 
who sent his invitations in three languages laced with quo- 
tations from the classics. Sally, her natural talents and so- 
ciability polished with French finesse, became an accom- 
plished hostess and loved the French predilection for talk 
in preference to entertainments with cards and games. 

She wrote home to inquire about little Peter and his 
progress with lessons and implored her father to tell her 
exactly what he thought of Peter. He should be frank. No 
mother could have been much displeased with the gover- 
nor's reply: 

"I long to see you both and my dear little French grand- 
daughter Maria. My sweet little Peter is now standing at 
my elbow and as you desire me to tell you what I think of 
him, I will give you my opinion with the greatest impar- 
tiality. He is really and without flattery one of the hand- 
somest boys in the whole country and exceedingly sprightly 
and active, of a very quick apprehension and an exceeding 
good memory. Of late he is as fond of his book as can be 
wished and he reads well for a boy of his age. I think he 
has lost but very little by his not having been at school 
since he left Poughkeepsie . . /' 

There was not a boy in the country "more orderly or un- 
der better command/' There was thought of sending him 
to school last fall at Elizabeth Town, but it was expen- 
sive and he would learn little more. However, in spring "he 
can foot it from home with his basket containing his din- 
ner and need not return till after the second school . . . 
He has lost much of his bashfulness and begins to go to 
converse with strangers with considerable freedom/' Un- 
fortunately he still mispronounced certain letters and said 


* "Enchanting Prospects" * 

"tome" for "come/' but most of the Livingston children 
had had similar speech problems at an early age, and un- 
doubtedly he would soon get over that. Meantime the gov- 
ernor longed to see his family at home again. 

Liberty Hall had suffered more from the depredations 
of the country people than from the British, even while the 
governor was chiefly occupied with the defense of those 
same neighbors. Sally could visualize her parents discussing 
ways of putting the farm in order and her father, armed 
with pruning knife in hand, eager to attack the wilderness 
that had sprung up in his absence, but helpless to know 
where to begin. 

Sally wondered who had returned to New York when it 
was evacuated by British troops, and she and John talked 
nostalgically of New York and the chance of building their 
own home there on their return. John was still carrying on 
tentative negotiations with the Spanish ambassador in 
France, and they both dreaded a possible need to return to 
Spain. Carmichael had never transacted the personal busi- 
ness for them that he had undertaken on their departure, 
and eventually John resignedly set aside all papers relating 
to him with the notation that they included letters to and 
from a man who "mistook cunning for wisdom." 

At Franklin's invitation they moved to his house in 
Passy for the summer. Maria was growing charmingly and 
made herself a favorite with the old doctor. She clambered 
over him, prattled in a hodgepodge of syllables that had 
not yet become either French or English except for the one 
word Mama, and played with the doctor* s chess pieces as 
if they were dolls. She was tiny, smaller than Peter at the 
same age, but growing fast, and a joy to her parents. 

Sarah's health improved and her coughing had ceased. 
John already had a better appetite and digestion and could 



once again sleep at night, though he still suffered from a 
pain in his chest that alarmed Sarah and his doctor. 

Franklin's house was full of distinguished visitors and 
lively company, from the American naval hero, John Paul 
Jones, to scholarly and scientific Frenchmen and French- 
women distinguished by their charm and beauty. Frank- 
lin's unorthodox views of religion troubled Jay little; he 
simply diverted the subject by asking Franklin to play the 
harmonica. Jay had the gift for retaining his own devotion 
and piety undisturbed without making efforts to proselyt- 
ize others who differed in their beliefs. 

Sally's second daughter, Ann, was born in mid-August. 
And a new nurse, Louisson, was brought in to take care of 
Ann and Maria. Louisson was so adroit and proficient that 
poor Abbe, indispensable in Spain, grew jealous and so 
hostile that she became difficult to deal with. It was com- 
fortable and pleasant at Franklin's home, but after the 
birth of Ann, the Jays thought it considerate to find a house 
of their own. They looked about until they found a suitable 
one charmingly located at Chaillot, and not far from Passy 
on the road to Paris. It had long been vacant, but Sally's 
imaginative eye foresaw it occupied, furnished and beauti- 
ful. She undertook to make the move into the new house 
while John went to Bath in England for his health. 

It was always a wrench to part, but Sally was deter- 
mined not to undermine John's chance for improving his 
health. She found a thousand cares to busy her in planning 
and executing the move to the new house and in caring for 
the little baby and Maria. 

Dr. Franklin loved to tease his pretty young friend, 
and one night at dinner when she was a guest, he placed a 
piece of steel on the table. This was Sally at Chaillot, he 
said. Then he put down another which represented John 


* "Enchanting Prospects" * 

and showed how they were drawn together by the mag- 
netic influence. But then, to the delight of his other guests, 
he produced a third piece and said, "Now this is an Eng- 
lish lady. Let us place Mr. Jay near her say in Bath and 
see what happens now. Ah, behold, the same effect!" 

The two magnets flew together as they had in the first 
instance and the company laughed at Sally's blushes. They 
urged her to retaliate, but she only smiled serenely, shook 
her head, and said firmly, "Nothing can shake my con- 
fidence in Mr. Jay not even the doctor's torments/' 


"On the Wings of the Wind" 

Paris, Chaillot 

While John was in England in November of 1783, a most 
extraordinary event occurred. For the first time in history 
two men mounted the skies in free flight. 

For the past few months air globes had been the talk of 
France, and at Dr. Franklin's table Sally and John had 
heard of the origin of these new marvels. In June, 1783, 
Joseph Montgolfier with his brother Etienne had made a 
public demonstration by sending aloft a linen and paper 
balloon filled with hot air. The report of the experiment 
had sent the conservative French Academy into a dither of 
excitement. The academician J. A. C. Charles had then 
designed a balloon filled with hydrogen, controlled with a 
valve. This had sailed from the Champ de Mars north and 
east, floating down in the country, they heard later, where 
it terrified the nearby peasants. 

Etienne had then come to Paris at the invitation of the 
Academy, and, mindful of the standards of an audience of 
quality, constructed another balloon with a blue aerostat 
seventy-four feet high, decorated with scarlet scallops, 
zodiacal signs, wreaths, portraits of Apollo, and royal ci- 
phers in gold. His audience was properly dazzled. 

First he tested the balloon with a sheep, a cock, and a 
duck as passengers to make sure there were no poisonous 
vapors in the air. Then he considered the problem of a hu- 
man passenger. A young physician, Frangois Pilatre de 
Rozier, tried out the balloon in captive flight up to 330 feet 
and found it safe. Then the culminating spectacle was 

In front of the Chateau de la Muette, in the center of 
its splendid avenue of tall trees, a huge furnace to supply 


* "On the Wings of the Wind" * 

the necessary hot air was built. The balloon was suspended 
over it with ropes. In a doughnut-shaped gallery festooned 
with scarlet, Pilatre and his companion, the Marquis d'Ar- 
landes, stood waving to the spectators lined up at a respect- 
ful distance under the trees. Since notice had been given 
in the newspapers, all Paris flocked to watch from quays 
and bridges, in the fields, in the streets, on housetops, at 
the windows, and among them was Franklin. Never before, 
he remarked, was a scientific experiment so magnificently 

The November morning had been foggy, but at about 
one o'clock the air cleared. A brazier was placed in the 
neck of the balloon, to be damped down or stoked through 
portholes, and the two men cast off. Some holes were 
burned in the balloon, and the Marquis used a wet sponge 
to put out the flames but the cloth of the balloon was al- 
ready coming apart. 

Franklin followed the flight with his pocket telescope 
until the sphere appeared no bigger than a walnut. Out of 
sight, it crossed Paris and landed, barely missing some 
windmills. When the adventurers touched down, they were 
surrounded by a crowd and Pilatre's redingote was torn to 
shreds for souvenirs. The Marquis alone was in a decent 
enough state to report to the Academy. The next evening 
he and Montgolfier called on Franklin, who promptly 
wrote details of the venture to the Royal Society in Lon- 

"If I had four balloons to make a Mercury of a common 
messenger," Sally wrote gaily to John, "you should not be 
twenty-four hours without hearing of us." John must have 
the whole story of these wondrous happenings first hand, 
as well as newspaper clippings and prints of the balloons 
and tickets because Sally was sure they would be an impor- 

1 33 


taut topic of conversation not only at tea tables but 
among all ranks of people. 

She could see as well from the terrace as from the gar- 
den, she said, enclosing tickets for the much advertised 
flight of M. Charles and M. Robert on a Saturday in De- 
cember. Charles, that clever rival of the Montgolfiers, had 
manufactured a very large balloon of taffeta covered with 
elastic gum, she reported, fastened by cords to a net over 
the balloon, which had been filled with inflammable air. A 
tube descended into the car, and the men pulled a string to 
let out air from the top and could make it rise or descend 
at pleasure by means of sacks of sand as ballast. It was as 
ingenious a machine as David BushneH's one-man sub- 
marine, built to combat the powerful English navy during 
the war. But this was even more thrilling; the conquest of 
the air seemed a mightier feat. 

In the succeeding weeks the venerable doctor enter- 
tained Sally and his other dinner guests with speculations 
about the future of flight. It might become a common car- 
riage and relieve him from the jolting of coaches on the 
road even better than his sedan chair did, Franklin joked. 
Or it might give a new turn to affairs of state by showing 
sovereigns the folly of wars. 

"Five thousand balloons, capable of raising two men 
each, could not cost more than five ships of the line/' he 
pointed out, "and ten thousand men descending from the 
clouds might in many places do an infinite deal of mis- 
chief." The possibility of such a surprise attack, he thought, 
would make it extremely difficult for the most potent of 
kings to guard his dominions. 

Sarah had more imminent plans for making use of air- 
craft. "Mr. Jay and I might think of taking our passage 
back to America next spring on the wings of the wind/' 


* "On the Wings of the Wind" * 

she proposed, "and certainly it might be used for carrying 

Not very long after the Charles-Robert light a channel 
crossing by air was made, which brought Franklin the first 
air-mail letter from a friend in England. The event itself 
had been as ludicrous as it was dangerous and glorious. An 
American, John Jeffries, had underwritten the project, 
fully expecting to participate. But the professional aero- 
naut, Jean Pierre Blanchard, determined to fly alone, had 
weighted himself with lead to convince Jeffries that the 
balloon would support only one man. This trick had been 
discovered, however, and Jeffries had boarded the craft. 

The balloon itself was fantastic leaky and cluttered 
up with rudders, oars, and propellers, which pleased 
Blanchard's sense of fitness, but only encumbered their 
flight. En route they had been forced to jettison not only 
regular ballast but everything from anchors, brandy, oars, 
and rudder to their coats. In desperation, when they 
seemed likely to spill into the Channel, Blanchard had 
even tossed his trousers overboard and shivered in the 
January cold. They had landed at last, unhurt but freez- 
ing, about twelve miles inland. 

Globes were so much the rage of Europe that they be- 
came a motif for decorating porcelain, for hair dressing, 
for tapestries, and all manner of strange uses. Little Maria 
clamored for one to float in the air over her head. The 
ascents continued, so many that less skilled navigators of 
the air often suffered accidents and in descending many set 
fire to the fields so that it became necessary to regulate 

However, there were many other things on Sally's 
mind. Her landlord was dilatory about supplying the en- 


tire kitchen equipment, but on the whole Sally was 
charmed with the new house. Everyone who saw it was 
surprised that it had been so long unoccupied, she wrote 
John; it was so gay and lively. "Yesterday the windows 
were open in my cabinet while I was dressing, and it was 
even then too warm. Dr. Franklin and his grandson, and 
Mr. and Mrs. Coxe and the Miss Walpoles, drank tea with 
me, likewise, this evening, and they all approve of your 
choice. As the sky is very clear and the moon shines very 
bright, we were tempted to walk from the salon upon the 
terrace, and while the company were admiring the situa- 
tion, my imagination was retracing the pleasing evenings 
that you and I have passed together in contemplating the 
mild and gentle rays of the moon." 

Abbe's conduct was among her worries. She had been so 
impudent to Louisson that the nursemaid would have re- 
signed had she not seen that Sally herself patiently en- 
dured insolence in gratitude for the girl's past services and 
in the hope that soon Abbe would recover her spirits and 
normal behavior. 

But Abbe's jealousy of the nursemaid was etched too 
deep. An English washerwoman lured her away with an 
offer to pay Abbe for assisting her, and one day Abbe van- 
ished with all her clothes. Dr. Franklin, indignant at such 
disregard of Abbe's indebtedness to the Jays' kindness, had 
her tracked down and imprisoned and advised Sarah to 
ignore her until she came to her senses in a week or two. 

Sally was too attached to the girl to follow his advice 
and sent her nephew, Peter Munro, to see Abbe in prison 
and offer her pardon if she chose to return. Abbe was ada- 
mant. She hoped Mrs. Jay was more content, she said 
bitterly, now that she was gone. She would not return, and 
if she did, she would only run away again. Sarah worried so 

* "On the Wings of the Wind" * 

much that Abbe might suffer from cold that she sent Pe- 
ter several times again to see the girl. The next month 
Abbe begged to return. Sarah received her kindly, found 
her sick with a vile cold, and sent her to bed. But Abbe 
died not long afterward, and one more tie with America 
was severed. 

In December Dr. Sutton inoculated her little girls against 
smallpox, and Sally congratulated herself after eight days 
that the experiment was succeeding. But on that evening 
Louisson burst in with unwonted frenzy to call her mis- 
tress Ann was going into convulsions! Sarah started up in 
terror. Too vividly she remembered the illness of the baby 
who was buried in a vault of the Flemish Chapel in Ma- 
drid. She made an effort to calm herself and managed to 
soothe Louisson. 

She took the baby on her lap, called for lukewarm wa- 
ter, and bathed her gently for fifteen minutes. Then she 
rose and walked with the infant around the dining room 
with windows and doors opened for fresh air, keeping her 
well covered. While the hours crawled by, Sarah walked, 
soothing the child with her voice and hands, longing for 
John's comforting presence and strength in a crisis. By 
midnight, when Sarah was faint with weariness, the fever 
had gone down and she was able to put the sleeping baby 
into her crib. Several pustules appeared by morning. 

When the doctor came, he examined little Ann and lis- 
tened to Sarah's account. He grasped her shoulders and 
looked into her circled blue eyes and quietly said, "It was 
your resourcefulness that saved your daughter from death 
by convulsion. I congratulate you. You may tell your hus- 
band that I could have done no better myself. Now get 
some rest." 

Next evening when Maria's symptoms appeared, Sarah 


had more confidence in her method of dealing with the 
situation, and Maria was soon recovering. John would have 
been proud of her, Sarah thought, and then was overcome 
with a rush of longing for him. Grief over the baby that 
had died in Spain again assailed her, and she grew de- 
spondent. Too restless to sleep, she threw a shawl over her 
shoulders against the cold and went out to the garden. 

If only John were home . . . Home could anything be 
home but America, she thought bitterly, caught up with 
nostalgia for that lovely, tree-encircled house in Jersey. She 
had lived in beautiful homes abroad, but none had cap- 
tured her heart like Liberty Hall. She had watched it in the 
building, had chosen wall paper for her room, had pleaded 
for the planting of her favorite lilacs, and with Kitty and 
John had roamed the fields and orchards in sunlight and 
snow and rain. 

To be once more with her mother at Liberty Hall, listen- 
ing to that calm, wise, and steady voice urging her not only 
to fortitude but to understanding! Often her own mother 
had sorrowed over death, and yet never that Sally remem- 
bered except once had she given way to grief. Two sons 
had died in infancy before the other children were born, 
and Sally's sister Elizabeth had died in childhood. And 
more recently her brother John had been lost at sea on the 
man-of-war Saratoga in 1781. Yet most vividly Sally remem- 
beredshe had been tiny then the one occasion when 
her mother's strength had forsaken her. That was the day 
when the news was brought of her son Philip's death by 
drowning. Never could Sally forget her mother's face, at 
first too shocked and horrified for tears, then paralyzed, 
and finally broken with a torrent of weeping, while her hus- 
band stood speechless, holding her in his arms, powerless 
to console her. 

* "On the Wings of the Wind" * 

It came to Sally again that no matter how deeply she 
had loved her family, it was only after her own son was 
bom that she had understood the depths and quality of her 
parents' love for their children and the pain they suf- 
fered at every parting, much less at losing a child to death. 
Only their profound faith in their religion and their long 
perspective on life could lessen their grief and restore them 
to tranquil acceptance of whatever life held for them. Per- 
haps it was that perspective and acceptance that had won 
them so much happiness through all obstacles. 

Sally drew a long deep breath and seated herself on the 
stone bench in the garden. Her despondency was begin- 
ning to subside. She gazed in the direction of England 
and wondered if John were at that moment thinking of 
her, writing to her in the privacy of his room at William 
Bingham's house in Harley Street. 

It hardly seemed a decade since young Sally Livingston 
had sat on another bench with John Jay, on the lawn at 
Liberty Hall, and burst into tears because life was not well 
ordered and as simple as she would like it to be. John had 
consoled her then, more with his simple kindness and 
sweetness than with any real understanding of women. 
And how often since had he consoled her with that same 
patient gentleness and faith, expecting much of her and 
still tolerant of her lapses, her impulsiveness, her sensitiv- 
ity and quick irritations! 

She felt a welling of tenderness for him. It amused her 
that a man so intelligent and sensitive could remain so ob- 
tuse about small everyday worries and happenings. It was as 
if he blocked off a whole section of his understanding to 
save his energies for the demands of statesmanship or some 
other large and impersonal area of life, and left her to deal 
with prosaic matters. Yet he could find limitless interest in 



studying the breeding of mules, the raising of new crops, or 
the grafting of certain fruit trees. 

Perhaps that was the secret of the depth and stability 
of their relationship, that he knew how to use his own 
strength and resources to best advantage and left the areas 
of his weakness in her own skilled hands. She had all her 
mother's sensitivity to people and their needs. Sally could 
read John's moods at a glance when he entered the house, 
could foresee and anticipate his wishes, and she had equal 
perception about her children, her family, and their 
friends. Not that her self-discipline was always matched to 
her perception and good intentions, she admitted ruefully 
to herself. Too often her impulses overrode her good judg- 
ment and she would stay at a ball for just one more dance 
when she had already noted John stifling a yawn or casting 
an inquiring look in her direction, or in her gregariousness 
she would invite just one more couple to dinner when he 
preferred a smaller company for the sake of informality. 

At the recollection of Dr. Franklin's teasing manipula- 
tion of the magnets, she smiled. True, John was far away, 
meeting old friends and making new ones, entertained by 
statesmen and countesses, honored in all circles. Even now 
he was the guest of William Bingham and his enchant- 
ing young wife Anne, whose beauty and gracious charm 
made her the adored monarch of any circle. Yet Sally 
could swear that the past decade had welded their love into 
an ever more potent force that would survive separations 
and trials and disasters. 

Early in their marriage there had been fertile ground for 
the seeds of jealousy in their frequent separations she re- 
membered the "conch-shell beauty" whom John had once 
seen in a tavern and raved about to his friends. Perhaps 
that had been a turning point for them both. Some brides 


* "On the Wings of the Wind 7 ' * 

would have pouted and made much of his enthusiasm and 
stirred themselves into jealousy. Young as she was, Sally 
had had the wisdom to note that John's description cen- 
tered on such charms as she herself possessed, on creamy 
rich complexion and beautiful clear eyes. She had never 
created the barriers that would make him feel guilty for ad- 
miring other women; he could enjoy their company and 
have mild flirtations without any serious threat to his love 
for her. Nor would she ever commit the blunder of talang 
their life together for granted; nothing so precious could be 
presumed without risk of dulling its value. Often she and 
the little Marquise de Lafayette had talked of such matters 
and agreed that though pleasure might be found abroad, 
"happiness was to be found only at home and in the so- 
ciety of one's family and friends." 

Tranquil in the quiet of the night, Sally rose and went 
up to her cheerful bedroom where the maid had left a 
crackling fire in the fireplace. She sat down to write to 
John. She was anxious about his continued sore throat, but 
Dr. Franklin had assured her that most Americans in Eng- 
land suffered this. She wanted him home again but not at 
the risk of his health, however much she missed him. 

John, on the other side of the Channel, had much to re- 
port. He had not cared for the November fogs of London 
or the gloom of the climate, but his stay had been rich in 
experiences. He had seen the renowned Sarah Siddons as 
Belvidera on the stage; he had visited with many old 
friends from America and had much news of the colonies; 
he had talked with Lady Huntington and heard her mem- 
ories of Pope, Chesterfield, and Lord Bolingbroke, and 
had listened to the music of her chapel. At Bath, that most 
charming of English cities, he had admired the Royal Cres- 
cent and other magnificent houses fronted by parks with 



iron fences, had bathed in the old Roman baths, and had 
visited the famous Pump Room and seen the Pulteney 
Bridge. The daily four-mile walks, rhubarb pills, and the 
despised emetics did much to restore his health. 

He had gone to Bristol to collect a legacy, but impatient 
of the delays and eager to enjoy again the domestic pleas- 
ures which he preferred, he took ship across the Channel 
and by mid-January was back with his beloved Sally. 

He amused her with a new verse that was going the 
rounds in London: 

Ye masters of Packets! Ye poor silly loons! 
Sell your boats and get Blanchard to make you balloons; 
For our fair modern Witches, no longer aquatic, 
Will never more cross but in boats Aerostatic. 

He also brought back a silver cane for himself from Wil- 
liam Bingham; for Sally he brought the good silver knives 
she had asked for and a bracelet with locks of her hair and 
the children's entwined. Best of all he brought news that in 
June they would embark for home on the Edward from 

It was certainly, less risky than the new invention, 
though John wrote his friend Chancellor Robert Living- 
ston, "All the people are running after air globes. The in- 
vention of them may have many consequences and who 
knows but travelers may hereafter literally pass from 
country to country on the wings of the wind." 



Welcome Home! 


New Jersey, New York City 


"How sad to see such devastation/ 7 sighed Sally when they 
landed in New York in July. "And the hogs still roam the 
streets." She recalled many a soiled skirt. 

"Bowling Green looks much the same except that you 
can no longer see Trinity Church through the trees of the 

"And the statue of George III is missing." 

"I see they're building more slips for the ships on the 
East River. They must have done a lot of cleaning up and 
rebuilding already. It was certainly worse after the fires and 
the British occupation." 

The New York at which they landed was very different 
from the New York of pre-Revolutionary days, with its 
fine Georgian homes along Wall Street and the churches 
with soaring steeples and neat fagades. Now it was full of 
buildings gutted by fire or in rubble or torn down. The 
population of 20,000 had dwindled with the departure of 
many of the rebels when the British invaded the city, but it 
was once more swelling with new and returning residents. 

The handsome City Hall still stood at the corner of 
Nassau Street and the Dutch Church squatted sturdily on 
the corner of Nassau and Crown the latter renamed Lib- 
erty Street. The Church had survived its varied roles as 
prison and riding school for the British and was neatly 
nested behind its white wooden fence and turnstiles. St. 
Paul's Chapel lacked a steeple, but remained an imposing 
edifice. A Methodist Episcopal Church had been raised on 
John Street near Golden Hill, once the scene of a skirmish 
with the redcoats, but many landmarks had been demol- 

Welcome Home! ^ 

It was exciting to see the city again, but nothing quite 
matched the joy of returning to Liberty Hall and their son 
and presenting the two little girls to their brother and dot- 
ing relatives. Peter was nine and not disposed to look too 
Idndly on infant sisters like the two-and-a-half-year-old Ma- 
ria, with her odd babble in foreign syllables, and a mere 
baby not yet a year old. 

He greeted his mother and father politely and they ex- 
changed a wistful glance, mourning the four and a half 
years that had erased their images and reality for their son. 
It was hardly to be expected that a nine-year-old could re- 
vert easily to the status of the little boy who persisted in 
their hearts. They longed to gather him to them, but would 
not risk offending his sprouting male dignity. 

But soon Peter was all ears for the marvelous tales 
of balloons that rose into the sky, carrying men and beasts. 
He was delighted too by the talk of politics and diplomacy 
between Jay and Livingston, and later by their discussions 
of agricultural methods and produce at home and abroad. 
Little Ann, now settled in her grandmother's arms, seemed 
to Peter rather indecently small and fragile and apt to 
squawk at odd moments, but Maria, that experienced heart- 
tugger who had conquered Dr. Franklin, lost no time in 
capturing her brother's heart. Her adoring eyes reflected 
the splendor of Peter's stature and his accomplishments, 
as he recounted to his mother details about his lessons, 
which, except for grammar, he liked. 

Wisely Sally let him approach at his own pace. He was 
indeed, as his grandfather had claimed the year before, 
one of the handsomest boys in the country. His careful 
civility soon gave way to the ardor of a description of berry 
picking and hoeing in the garden, and raking hay on the 
lawn for the harvest. Most exciting of all was the time for 


cherry pidking when boys gathered from all over the 
countyno less than fifty boys some days, he assured his 
wide-eyed mother to strip the orchard clean. 

As restless as his grandfather Livingston, whose man- 
nerisms he had unconsciously picked up, Peter stalked 
around the room as he chattered and circled nearer and 
nearer to the pretty new mother on the settee. She was 
even younger and prettier, he decided with the candor of a 
child's appraisal, than Aunts Caty and Susan, and she wore 
such pretty clothes of strange fabrics. He settled like a 
bird on the sofa next to Sally and then promptly flew off 
again to fetch the buckles sent from France to show her 
how handsomely they sparkled on his shoes, and then to 
spread out for her inspection, while John leaned over 
them both to watch, the maps she had ordered for him and 
never seen. 

Proudly he pointed out Madrid, Paris, London, and 
Bath, and even traced the routes they had followed across 
the ocean, across the Pyrenees, and back again over the 
Atlantic. Aunt Susan and he had kept track. He sidled a 
little closer to Sally and found that she smelled quite de- 
lightful. Casually her hand dropped on his shoulder and 
before long he was leaning on her knees to show her 
places he had visited, like the house of his grandfather 
Jay at Rye. 

"Well all go there soon to visit your uncle and cous- 
ins," John told Peter, tousling his hair with a shyly affec- 
tionate gesture. "And some day you may journey all the 
way across the ocean too." 

The boy gave him an eager glance. Into his mind drifted 
little shreds of memory of times when his father had 
picked him from the wide planked floor and lifted him 
high into the air or had taken him up on his saddle for a 

* Welcome Home! * 

short ride, of times when his mother had set him OB her 
lap and let him play with her quill pen, or had taken him 
driving with her in a carriage or a tinkling sleigh in win- 
tertime. It was quite nice, he decided, to have a real 
mother and father again. Vaguely now he recalled his terror 
and hurt when they had said good-by to him and had never 
come again until now. 

Kitty and Susan were avid for news of Paris fashions 
and European dress and for talk of the king and queen and 
their courtiers and for news of their friends abroad. Mrs. 
Livingston, rocking with the baby in her arms, quietly 
studied her daughter. What was Sally like now, she won- 

She rocked and watched and listened, and her anx- 
iety died away. Nothing had spoiled Sally. Grace and 
beauty she had always had, and charm of manner and 
speech, but now there were new dimensions of depth. 
There were tiny lines around her eyes, but they crinkled 
in laughter as readily as ever. The pretty dimples cut a 
little deeper now in her smiles, but in recompense for 
the laugh lines and the faint trace of care in her brow, 
there was an upward tilt to the lips that gave her an en- 
gagingly piquant and impish quality and softened her al- 
ways direct gaze and level eyebrows. 

Sally still looked unbelievably young, but there was 
about her a quiet authority that betokened a cosmopolite, 
someone who had traveled widely and who had known 
people in both high and low places. There was an assur- 
ance and serenity that sprang from experiences met and 
mastered and a subtle skill in drawing out and responding 
to people. From her manner it was difficult to tell that 
she was younger than her sisters. Nor was there any hint 
of condescension toward them for not knowing court so- 



clety or diplomatic intrigue; she seemed to accept their 
wartime experiences and acquaintances as fully equal to 
her own. 

There was no mistaking Sally's joy in rejoining her 
family and her welling up of love and appreciation for 
each individual. Approvingly her mother noted Sally's re- 
straint with Peter, a restraint that enabled him to make ad- 
vances that were welcomed reassuringly as he reached 
with growing confidence toward his scarcely known par- 
ents. Mrs. Livingston had dreaded the possibility of hos- 
tility or shyness between them. 

She had been anxious during the personal and diplo- 
matic tragedies in Spain, fearing that the frustrations 
and griefs that they suffered might have embittered both 
John and Sarah. Although Mrs. Livingston knew only 
part of the story, she had sensed their loneliness and 
misery and feeling of exile from America and family and 
friends. She had grieved for her daughter when the baby 
died, and wondered whether Sally would be able to face 
the realities of life. But somewhere the girl had found 
sense and strength and wisdom. 

Had some of Sally's ebullience departed? Not really. Just 
then the mother caught the flick of a wink from Sally, 
as if she had read her mother's mind. No, the high spirits 
were there, but under control now. That must be John's 
contribution. She had acquired a share of his great dignity. 

What of John? He was of course older, more mature, 
more formed in spite of a certain odd naivet6 about him- 
self, but it had been more predictable that he would de- 
velop as he had. Sometimes Mrs. Livingston had fretted 
that Sally was too much devoted to her father, that she 
might find any husband a lesser man than the keen- 
minded, witty, irascible, honest governor. That John had 


* Welcome Home! *& 

more than held his own was plain to see. She knew by 
the glances exchanged between them, by the relieved smile 
over the winning back of Peter, by a hand dropped with 
casual affection on the arm of the other, by their atten- 
tiveness to each other. 

John's hair had receded slightly; his dress was as plain 
as ever, but the material and taste were of the finest, the 
workmanship exquisite to the practiced eye. Instead of be- 
coming somewhat stuffy and pompous, as she had feared 
he might from the honors and responsibilities he had had 
so rare for a man still in his thirties he had mellowed. 
He was leavened now with more laughter and that was 
surely due to Sally a greater sense of fun and more re- 
laxation. As a younger man he had been self-conscious, 
argumentative, and finicky, a little too solemn and inclined 
to take himself too seriously. Now when he spoke it was 
in terms of essentials undisguised by trivialities. An un- 
perceptive eye might miss the underlying rock of integrity 
and authority he possessed, but Mrs. Livingston was 
most perceptive. John's steady dark eyes were kind, but 
she knew that he was incorruptible. 

In almost perfect content at the reunion, Mrs. Living- 
ston gave a private little sigh and gazed down at the sleep- 
ing child. She permitted herself congratulations at mother- 
ing such a daughter and mother-in-lawing such a son. 
Smiling, she recalled the scene in that same parlor when 
John had entered after a long absence and had diffidently 
but firmly stationed himself in front of Sally, so decep- 
tively intent on her needlework. She knew that both of 
them had instinctively recognized that moment as the be- 
ginning of courtship. 

They were a handsome couple now as they rose and 
stood together. Sally was charmingly slight and girlish and 



quick in movement. Her intense and vivid blue eyes were 
framed by the dark curls that fell loosely around her face, 
for she had abandoned the French styles of pyramids of 
powdered hair. 

"And now the women wear their hair in great globes 
like the balloons/' she was telling Kitty gleefully, sketch- 
ing with her hands the vast expanse of powdered fluff. "So 
absurd, don't you agree, John?" 

He smiled down at her, clearly proud of, and enchanted 
with, his wife. "I much prefer your style, my dear/ 7 He 
had the stoop of a tall man accustomed to bending for- 
ward in attention to a smaller breed of man and he was as 
slender as ever. "And yet I must confess some of the ball 
gowns with their tremendous skirts were extragavantly 
handsome. Your mother should know that the queen 
called you her 'belle Americaine' and that you were mis- 
taken for her one night when we attended the theater 
with the Marquis and Marquise de Lafayette/' He laughed 
outright. "I shall never forget your astonishment when you 
glanced around in search of the royal party and there was 
none. And then it dawned on you that the rising of 
the audience was for you. You looked absolutely stricken 
with guilt as if you had come under false pretenses." 

Nothing could have delighted Kitty and Susan more 
than that little item, and they exclaimed that indeed there 
was a resemblance, but that in truth Sally was prettier. 
Mr. Livingston sniffed, but was obviously gratified that his 
daughter had passed for a queen, even for Marie Antoi- 
nette, of whose frivolities he disapproved. 

"Why isn't Brockholst here?" Sally asked presently. It 
had been on her mind since their arrival, and his absence 
seemed unpleasantly pointed. She had hoped that in the 

& Welcome Home/ * 

excitement and pleasure of reunion all dissension would 
have vanished. 

Kitty gave a laugh, but it was not a happy one. She 
alone knew the whole story because of the letter Sarah 
had sent her from Spain. She felt Sarah's was a double 
query to discover whether Brockholst had spoken of quar- 
rels and scenes and whether he was likely to be friendly 

"Hadn't you heard, Sally? It's been the gossip of the 
town. After consorting with the finest ladies in Europe, he 
had the bad taste to marry his landlady's daughter. Papa 
is not so democratic that he wants to welcome such a 
daughter-in-law into the family." It was a wry acknowl- 
edgment that even the most republican men of the period 
felt that certain distinctions should be maintained, and 
that Brockholst had shown poor judgment and taste by 
ignoring the ranking belles of New York. Furthermore, he 
had insulted his father, who might otherwise have over- 
looked the escapade. Brockholst was persona non grata 
at Liberty Hall. 

It was the first real rift in the Livingston family, and 
Sally was dismayed to hear of it. She had by now per- 
suaded herself that the real culprit was Carmichael and 
she hated to think that Brockholst's bad judgment was 
compounded by malice. But the story did not dispose 
the Jays to make overtures to the young man. 

All the younger children were married now, but Susan 
and Kitty, both in their thirties, were still unmarried. Al- 
though it was a puzzle to Sally, she had grown more discreet 
and didn't ask outright about it as she might have done 
years ago. Perhaps Kitty had been interested in young 
Laurens, who had died in battle. About the more re- 


served Susan, who had stayed at home most of those years, 
she knew little or nothing, except that she had done won- 
ders for little Peter. 

At Kitty's plea Sally talked of their dinners and theater 
parties with the Lafayettes, of her meeting with the bril- 
liant young William Pitt, whose father, Lord Chatham, 
had been a friend of America, of Franklin's wide range of 
friends Mirabeau, Necker the banker, Mme. Helvetius, 
Buffon the naturalist, John Paul Jones, the painters Greuze 
and David, and beautiful Vigee le Bran who portrayed the 
queen and her children, and the musician Gluck. She 
sketched the beautiful young Anne Bingham, of the Wild- 
ing family that Kitty and Susan had known in Philadel- 
phia. Newly married to William Bingham, she was a 
sensation at the courts of Europe, because of her grace 
and beauty, her beautiful taste in clothes, and her charm- 
ing manners. 

The Livingston girls were full of gossip and tales of 
society. With relish Kitty repeated the joke that had been 
circulated after Colonel Hamilton's marriage to Betsey 
Schuyler: "The Clintons have power; the Livingstons have 
numbers; and the Schuylers have Hamilton." At the wed- 
ding Hamilton had been resplendent in a black velvet 
coat lined with white satin, short trousers of white satin, 
stockings of white silk, and pumps with diamond buckles 
the last a gift from his friend Lafayette. Betsey had worn 
a white dress with a long bodice, panniers and lace, which 
had been worn long ago by the wife of the first patroon, 
and had covered her black hair with a wig. At the Schuyler 
mansion there had been dancing till three in the morning. 

Now the talk of New York was the rivalry between 
Hamilton, already brilliantly successful as a lawyer, and 
Aaron Burr. Alike in their war experiences, in the choice 

* Welcome Home! * 

of law as a career, in brilliance, and in attractiveness to 
women, they seemed to meet at every turn. On the surface 
all was well, but Susan thought there would some day 
be an eruption. Betsey was a darling and Hamilton adored 
her, but it was said that his love interfered little with 
other flirtations. Sally looked worriedly at John, but he was 
deep in talk with her father; he would not approve such 
talk about friends. 

The governor inquired about Jay's plans for the future 
and smiled to hear how surprised John had been to learn 
that in his absence he had been named secretary for foreign 
affairs for the young nation. 

"We had hoped John could retire from public life and 
spend some time again in his practice/' Sally said. It 
was hard to be displeased at the mark of esteem and trust, 
yet ... 

"Like the man who was about to be tarred and feath- 
ered," interjected the governor, "if it weren't for the honor 
of it, he'd just as soon decline." 

John laughed. "I really need to take time to get our 
affairs in order, or well run into debt. Also I want to 
settle down and not have to travel or move my family 
around. If the government is established in New York, III 
take the post provided that I can appoint my own 
assistants. I've had too much of accepting the selections of 
others." Carmichael had left a sour taste in his mouth. 

Governor Livingston shook his head. He knew well the 
difficulties of managing on an official salary (John's 
would be $4,000 a year) with the demands for entertain- 
ment of public officers and distinguished visitors and the 
maintenance of a suitable home. John could earn much 
more in private life, entertain only close friends, and re- 
ject the heavy responsibilities of office. His predecessor, 


Robert Livingston, with a less stringent public conscience, 
had not reached out for duties, but John would be sure to 
undertake whatever he considered necessary. Governor Liv- 
ingston foresaw that the office of foreign secretary would 
become more important and more powerful in John's 

On October fourth Sally attended a ceremony and 
watched with pride while Mayor Duane presented to Gov- 
ernor Clinton, General Washington, the Marquis de La- 
fayette, Baron Von Steuben, and John Jay gold boxes con- 
taining the "freedom of the city." He praised them highly 
for their contribution to the welfare of America. 

Deeply touched, Jay ended his speech of acceptance 
with these words: "If our views be national, our Union 
preserved, our Faith kept, war, however improbable, pro- 
vided for, Knowledge diffused, and our federal Govern- 
ment rendered efficient, we cannot fail to become a great 
and happy people/' 

John took office in December in the full flush of the 
prestige of his offices overseas. He had the congratulations 
of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson and the general ap- 
probation of the nation. There would be a full decade of 
hard but rewarding work before John would be commis- 
sioned personally to stave off another war. 

Chapter 11 

The Littlepage Scandal 


New Yort City 


It was imperative now that the Jays have a house of their 
own designed to meet their needs, one that could be furn- 
ished with treasures from abroad, such as the two em- 
broidered French chairs given them by the Lafayettes, as 
well as with fine colonial furniture. Sally wanted it to be 
elegant and adequate for official hospitality, and yet not 
so large or pretentious that it would be ludicrous or im- 
practical as a private residence. Since she and John still 
looked forward to a not too distant time when he could 
retire from public duties, it should be a house conven- 
iently arranged so that it could later be staffed by fewer 
servants, a house capable of versatility. 

While John, a delegate once more, attended Congress in 
Trenton and visited Philadelphia, Sally combed the streets 
of New York for the best location and found a property 
she thought suitable. It was on the east side of Broadway 
just south of Exchange Place (then Verlettenbergh) and 
centrally located. John approved and they began conferences 
with an architect, Joseph Newton, to draw up plans. 

In these plans the house was three stories high and nearly 
square, with all the dignity of hewn stones and simple 
fagade. A little vestibule led into a great hall and to a 
grand staircase which mounted to the upper stories. To 
the left was a library-public room of twenty-five by nine- 
teen feet. On the right was a large anteroom. The dining 
room in the rear, twenty-seven by twenty-one feet, over- 
looked the garden, and a breakfast room, somewhat smaller, 
gave upon a veranda. In back the garden stretched ninety 
feet to New Street, and there was room for stables. This was 
to be Number 8 (later 133) Broadway. 


* The Lfttlepage Scandal * 

Meanwhile they lived with John's brother Frederick, 
and Sarah passed much of the winter with her children at 
Liberty Hall. There was less time to walk about and in- 
spect the house in progress than they had hoped. John 
found a tremendous backlog of work piled up because 
Livingston had resigned eighteen months earlier. 

After a brief stay in an office at the Common Council 
Chamber in the City Hall, Jay moved his two-room office 
to a house leased by Congress at Broad and Pearl Streets, 
within easy walking distance of the new house on Broad- 
way. His hours were from nine in the morning to six at 
night. A French interpreter took care of the bulk of trans- 
lations, and experts in German and Spanish were called in 
as needed. 

John more than earned his salaryreduced to $3,500 as 
Congress grew more impoverished by working longer 
than office hours and keeping his department "a shining 
example of neatness, method and perspicacity/' as the in- 
spectors for Congress reported three years later. An im- 
portant part of his work was preserving and filing the 
historical documents so important to diplomatic history. 

As John observed more of the workings of the so-called 
government at close hand and talked with his father-in- 
law and with Robert Livingston, Alexander Hamilton, 
and other friends, he grew increasingly dissatisfied with 
the picture. It was a government that could do little 
more than recommend. The President of the Congress 
was hardly more than a figurehead, a chairman. As John 
had foreseen, the bonds of war that had united the colonies 
were now dissolved, and regionalism was stronger than 
ever. New England was jealous of Virginia; Virginia sus- 
picious of Pennsylvania and New York; and so on in a 
cycle. The army had been virtually disbanded at the end of 


the war, and Hamilton for one was anxious to restore a 
standing army. 

Unlike Livingston, his predecessor in office, Jay was de- 
termined to clarify his appointment. He constructed for 
Congress a picture of the post as he thought it should be. 
His office should transmit all communications on the sub- 
ject of foreign affairs to and from Congress; all letters and 
documents dealing with the subject should be addressed 
to him. Moreover, he believed he should not only express 
the policy of Congress on foreign affairs but assist in shap- 
ing it. 

Congress, no longer a body of any stature, fell in with 
his views, and within a year Jay's was the most powerful 
voice In the land. The French minister reported to Ver- 
gennes: "The political importance of Mr. Jay increases 
daily. Congress seems to me to be guided only by his di- 
rections, and it is as difficult to obtain anything without 
the cooperation of that minister as to bring about the re- 
jection of a measure proposed by him/' 

With the retirement from office or service in Europe of 
most of the eminent men of the Revolution Washington, 
Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, Sam Adams, Hancock, 
Franklin, Robert Morris, and others were in private life; 
Jefferson and John Adams were serving abroad Congress 
became so insignificant that little was heard of it and its 
doings. It was without credit, without means of imposing 
taxes or duties. 

During the war, Jay had been convinced that justice was 
with the colonies. Now he felt they were going and doing 
wrong. The concessions in commerce that had been 
granted in wartime were now withdrawn, and there was 
danger not only from European nations and the Barbary 
pirates but from the Indian territories. 


* The Liftlepage Scandal * 

As Jay became more powerful, he became the object of 
major attention from the ministers from abroad. Don 
Diego Gardoqui, for example, who was sent from Spain 
to negotiate a treaty, had known the Jays in Spain. He 
spoke English and thought himself an authority on the 
colonies and on the Jays. 

Ingeniously he inveigled instructions from home to cul- 
tivate both John and Sarah. "Jay, who is generally con- 
sidered to possess talent and capacity enough to cover in 
great part a weakness natural to him, appears ... to be 
a very self-centered man, which passion his wife augments, 
because, in addition to considering herself meritoriously 
and being rather vain, she likes to be catered to and even 
more to receive presents. This woman, whom he loves 
blindly, dominates him and nothing is done without her 
consent, so that her opinion prevails, though her husband 
at first may disagree; from which I infer that a little man- 
agement in dealing with her and a few timely gifts will 
secure the friendship of both, because I have reason to be- 
lieve that they proceed resolved to make a fortune . . ." 

If Sally could have seen this entry in Gardoqui's mem- 
oirs, she would first have been deeply hurt by the slurs 
upon her and John and would have ended by finding them 
laughable, but for their source. In John's absences from 
home, it was often necessary for Sally to attend social 
functions, both private and official, and Gardoqui made a 
welcome escort as an alternate to young Peter Munro. It is 
most probable that this bon vivant found such an ap- 
proach helpful in commanding funds for maintaining his 
pretentious New York house, his splendid table and other 
entertainments, and it gave official status to the pleasure of 
squiring the beautiful, witty, and companionable Sally. 
True, the King of Spain did send a fine Spanish stallion to 



Jay which he secured permission from Congress to accept. 

Monroe wrote of his suspicions of Jay's "intrigues" on 
the Spanish treaty, but the equally reputable Madison en- 
dorsed Jay for his probity and integrity. In his speech be- 
fore Congress, recommending the treaty, Jay explained his 
reasoning. The treaty with Spain had greater consequences 
for America than one with any other nation. He himself 
was against conceding the right of navigation of the Missis- 
sippi to Spain, but since, like Washington and most of 
his well-informed friends, he believed that settlement to- 
ward the west would and should be a slow expansion, it 
would be no great sacrifice to concede the actual navi- 
gation of the river for the next twenty-five or thirty years. 
"Why, therefore, should we not (for a valuable considera- 
tion, too) consent to forbear to use what we know is not in 
our power to use?" This was a red flag to the southern 

But for various reasons, the negotiations eventually died 
iway, though the suspicions of Jay by the south were 
much longer in subsiding. 

In spite of these preoccupations, Jay found time for 
3ther interests. With some friends he organized, early in 
1785, the New York Society for Promoting the Manumis- 
sion of Slaves. "Even if we could free all slaves now, I do 
not think it would be wise/* he observed on one occasion 
to his wife and his father-in-law. "But we should prepare 
now for eventual abolition of slavery by educating our 
Negroes and giving them opportunities to learn a trade 
and earn their independence." 

"Why don't more people do what you do?" Sally asked. 
It was a frequent question of hers; John seemed to have 
such a gift for leading a purposeful and well-organized life. 
"I mean, let your slaves purchase their freedom after a 


* The Littlepage Scandal * 

certain amount of service. It greatly helps their morale 
and from a selfish point of view it makes a staff much 
easier to deal with. They are far more cooperative when 
there is a goal of freedom/' 

"Not everyone is as far-sighted as John," her father said, 
with a twinkle for her prejudices. "Most people refuse to 
give up what they consider valuable property rights and 
you must remember that the south is more dependent on 
slaves for labor than we are/ 7 

"The problem of oppressed people is something we 
must deal with abroad too/' John remarked. "I wish that 
all unjust and unnecessary discriminations everywhere 
could be abolished and that all individuals, of whatever 
color or denomination, could partake in civil liberty/' 

"Some day it may happen, John/ 7 said William, nod- 
ding his head, "but I am afraid that will be long in the 
future. It might be easier to achieve in the north, where 
we employ slaves chiefly as household help, but the south 
is another matter/' He knocked the ashes from his pipe 
and put it in his pocket. "By the way, John, I hear that 
General Schuyler is urging you to run for Governor of New 
York. Are you considering it?" 

"I have considered it and the answer is no." 

"Don't you think that Clinton has been in office much 
too long? He is allowing the most unworthy characters to 
be appointed and is catering to the mob at every turn in 
order to maintain his power. Nine years is too long for 
him to serve" Governor Livingston turned red and gave 
an apologetic cough as he caught the smile between his 
daughter and Jay. 

"Then isn't it too long for you to serve too?" Sally 
asked, and then affectionately added, "No, I know the dif- 
ference is that your administration is an honest one and 


the people know it. You would never dream of cultivating 
popularity in any way but that of service . . ." 

"What a sarcastic tongue the child has/' sighed her 
father with a shake of his head. " 'How sharper than a 
serpent's tooth 7 . . ." He winced at the memory of his 
thankless child Brockholst. 

"Oh, I agree, the government has degenerated in Clin- 
ton's hands, but there is Robert Livingston to run if Gen* 
eral Schuyler does not wish to," John said. 

"But you're the only candidate with the experience, rep- 
utation, and integrity to have a chance against Clinton," 
William protested. 

John smiled at the compliment but refused the bait. 
"I wrote the general that my work for Congress precludes 
a shift to the state scene. If I ran for the office, people 
might believe that I covet it for the sake of a little more 
pay or prettier livery. Even that I would risk if I thought 
the general opinion was one of thorough disgust and dis- 
satisfaction with this administration, but I think it has 
not yet reached that point of disillusion/' He took another 
draw at his pipe. "Besides I think there is little chance 
that any opponent will be successful against Clinton this 

Livingston sighed and shrugged. "You have a point. 
Husband your energy and resources until they can do more 
good." He changed his tone to one of curiosity. "Tell me,, 
who is this Littlepage fellow who's been filling the news- 
papers with malicious stories about you? Is he the lad who 
stayed with you in Spain? It can't be." 

"The same rogue," burst out Sally. "Nor has he changed 
a whit. I don't know how John can be so patient with him. 
Five or six years ago he came to us in Madrid without a 
penny from his people and expected us not only to house 


* The Littlepage Scandal * 

and feed him, but to put up with his abuse and malice 
and still hand over funds whenever he took a notion to jog 
off on some silly expedition. John advised him to settle 
down to his studies, but instead he flew off to serve with 
the troops in Minorca for the sake of the excitement, and 
then he joined in the siege of Gibraltar. And all the time 
he was abusing us for not sending him enough money." 

"In Paris when I ran into him and asked to have that 
thousand dollars refunded, he was civil enough to give me 
a promissory note/ 7 John said mildly. 

"Yes and then turned on you with a challenge to a 
duel!" Sally retorted. "And why, Papa?" In her anger she 
jumped up like a fierce little Amazon. "Because the boy 
had made up his mind to be the bearer of the peace 
treaty- it would bring him into the limelight. He talked 
the Marquis into supporting him and then was furious 
when the commissioners agreed to name Adams's secre- 
tary. Mr. Adams and John were discussing the enraged 
letter he had the impudence to send when Lewis himself 
came in. Mr. Adams bless him gave his opinion so 
forcibly that the young man apologized. But then he had 
the insolence to spread the rumor that Mr. Jay had apolo- 
gized to him! Can you imagine it!" 

"What an insolent rascal!" 

John took over the story so that Sally would calm down. 
^Last year he met the King of Poland who offered him a 
position at court and a year's leave of absence to settle his 
affairs in America. Governor Henry of Virginia trusted 
him with the money that was due to the French sculptor 
Houdon, but Littlepage had then to apply to me for a 
letter of recommendation to Congress" 

"He never lacks nerve," Sally commented with flashing 


"He made me a vague promise that his guardian would 
pay his debts soon and then requested a letter from Con- 
gress on his behalf to King Stanislaus/' 

"And what do you suppose my husband did then?" 
Few things incurred Sally's wrath like the tendency of lazy, 
incompetent, or unworthy people to take advantage of the 
time and good will of a man as busy as John. "John worked 
late into the night to prepare the papers for him, even 
though Littiepage had not given sufficient documents and 
information. But the next day Congress adjourned with- 
out considering the matter or releasing the documents 
so of course he attributed that to John's evil machina- 

"It meant that he could have neither the letter nor the 
packet of his papers/' John explained, "because they could 
only be returned by order of Congress/' 

"Then John heard that Littlepage had a large sum of 
money, and he sued to collect his loan, and the man was 
arrested. But he put up the money for Houdon as bond and 
set out to make mischief. And who do you suppose was 
his fellow conspirator?" Now Sally was really afire with in- 
dignation. "None other than my sweet brother Brockholst! 
They've concocted insulting letters together and threatened 
to disgrace John with what I can't imagine because he 
treated them both with far more consideration than they 
deserved. They've even published blasts in the papers. 
John answered them with a complete and documented 
refutation of their lies, but the taverns are full of tattle 
and scandal, and doubtless the parlors too. Lewis even 
challenged John again to a duel, but John ignored him. I 
could almost wish you hadn't," she exclaimed, turning on 
her husband. "It would serve him right if but then it 
would have been terrible if anything had happened to 


* The Littlepage Scandal * 

you!' ? Sally flung her arms around John. "No, no, you 
were quite right, as usual. Dueling is no answer to any- 

She ran to a desk and took out a sheaf of clippings from 
the Daily Advertiser and thrust them at her father. "And 
another blow is that the publisher, Francis Childs, is a 
man whom John and Dr. Franklin helped to establish. 
Look. Nine columns of garbled curses and fragments of 
letters and vilification. This is a thankless Childs indeed!" 

"But he did publish my reply too/' said the incorrigibly 
fair-minded John. 

"But look, Papa. The whole story of all the squabbles 
and intrigues in Spain, things that could come from no 
one but Brockholst all twisted and warped. Kitty has a 
long letter from me with all the facts of the case which I 
wanted her to show you only if Brockholst tried to 
vilify John, as he has now done." 

The governor thumbed rapidly through the clippings. 
"It's a foul thing/' he said finally, "and it's a shame that 
such a trivial man should cause such scandal, but I think 
you must answer Littlepage again/' 

"He didn't want to expose the family squabbles out of 
respect for your feelings and Mama's," Sally said. 

The governor looked down at his clasped hands. His 
thumbs were locked against each other, and his face looked 
grayer and more lined. Suddenly he got up and stalked 
about the room with his former energy. "You must reply, 
John. Forget that Brockholst is my son and Sally's 
brother. The truth must come out, and if it injures him 
I am sorry for it, but he must face an accounting. He should 
not escape the consequences of evil actions merely be- 
cause he is of our family." The stern Presbyterian back- 
ground overruled considerations of family pride, but it was 

a6 7 


no easy decision for him to make, as the Jays both knew. 

John sighed, and tears stood in Sally's eyes. 

"Could you submit the facts to a group of esteemed 
friends and abide by their verdict whether it is for or 
against you? Or perhaps to members of Congress, to make 
it more impartial?" 

Jay thought for a moment. "Yes. Yes, I might explain 
that family matters make a public exposure indelicate 
and improper but that if Brockholst agrees, now that 
Littlepage has sailed for France, we might appoint such a 
committee. It's a good suggestion, Mrs. Jay." He smiled 
at her. "I know you have no doubt of the outcome and 
that is what matters most to me. All right. Meanwhile, 
111 work on a pamphlet which shall contain all our cor- 
respondence/ 7 

Brockholst agreed. A Congressional committee was ap- 
pointed and, on examining the facts and documents, 
cleared Jay completely of all accusations. Nevertheless, the 
publicity was damaging. 

Howls of outrage came from Littlepage in Poland, and in 
retaliation he accused Jay of incompetence and intrigue 
in Spain and jealousy of his own secretary, Carmichael. 
For once Carmichael was discreetly silent, and the affair 
died away. 


Chapter 12 

No. 8 Broadway 

New YorJc City 


The new house on Broadway became the center of social 
life in New York. All distinguished foreigners called there 
as a matter of course, and every Tuesday Sally gave a din- 
ner for the coips diplomatique. There were letters of in- 
troduction from personal friends abroad as well as official 
visitors, and Brissot de Warville came recommended by the 
Marquis de Lafayette. He found Jay "one of the most dis- 
tinguished men of the last revolution: a republican re- 
markable for his firmness and his coolness, a writer emi- 
nent for his nervous style and his close logic." 

Despite the circle of elite and exotic visitors, when 
plain Reverend Joel Bordwell of Kent, who had once ex- 
tended his hospitality to the Jays, wrote to send his re- 
spects and said that Jay's generous sociability tempted him 
to visit John in New York and to hear of his experiences 
in Europe, Jay promptly urged him to come and stay. 
He would put a room at his disposal and stable his horse, 
and they would have more long chats. Furthermore he 
sent a pamphlet, a box bearing a representation of a bal- 
loon ascension, and a pair of buckles for BordwelFs eldest 

New York then numbered less than four thousand 
houses and only about 25,000 inhabitants. English fash- 
ions raged among the women, with brilliant silken gowns, 
hats, and wigs, and the men indulged freely in the pleas- 
ures of food and wine. Sally's father disapproved of the 
dissipations of the city, but Kitty was a frequent visitor. 

The Jays 7 house was beautiful and handsomely furn- 
ished; the host was the most powerful man in the govern- 
ment; the hostess was the most charming and intelligent 


* No. 8 Broadway * 

of womenand the cook was one of the best In the 
country. Sally's dinner and supper lists of 1787 and 1788 
amounted to a roll call of the most distinguished and in- 
fluential men and women of the time. She favored serving 
in the French mode, and her table was amply spread 
with lobsters and beef, shrimp and mutton and lamb and 
veal, with truffles and fowl, apple pies, puddings, iced 
creams, custards, jellies; with melons in season, wild 
strawberries and raspberries, and with delicacies from the 
confectioners, Joseph Corre on Wall Street and Adam 
Pryor on Broadway. Their pastries were a delight. Eclairs 
and petits fours, pound cake, crullers and cinnamon com- 
fits crowded the tables. And sometimes would appear such 
rarities as oranges, pineapples, and bananas. 

So excellent was the Jay cuisine that the eccentric 
French minister, the Count de Moustier, who was at- 
tended at every other home by his own cook because of 
his distaste for American meals, did Mrs. Jay the signal 
honor of leaving his cook at home. 

To the Jay house came college presidents and diplo- 
mats, ministers and judges and lawyers, generals and doc- 
tors, and the wealthy old New York and Philadelphia fam- 
ilies. Close friends of the Jays were James Duane, the 
mayor of New York, Robert Livingston, the dubiously 
titled but attractive Lady Kitty Duer, Lady Mary Watts, 
Mary and Robert Morris, the witty bachelor Gouverneur 
Morris, Alexander and Betsey Hamilton, and Anne and 
William Bingham. 

The social furor was often too much for Sally's never 
robust health, and sometimes she retreated to the solitude 
of Liberty Hall with her children. The little girls were 
fine, little Nan ecstatic, "given to joy" like her mother, 
every instant exclaiming, "Oh, Mama. Oh, Mama!" at 



sight of a butterfly or blossoming flower, or rolling de- 
lightedly on the lawn or bringing in flowers or helping 
her grandfather collect asparagus from the garden. William 
would tap at the window for Sally's attention to show 
her the little girls skipping and playing and was kept busy 
answering Maria's unceasing questions. The country was 
enchanting, so much so that one night Sally dreamed that 
she was describing its glories to John and then awoke to 
realize sadly that he was not beside her. 

There was never too much social life to distract John's 
attention from the government and the needs of the coun- 
try. He talked much with Hamilton and William Living- 
ston, with Judge Hobart, who had worked with him on the 
New York Constitution, with Madison and Monroe, 
the Morrises, and his friend Robert Livingston. They 
agreed that the Articles of Confederation ratified in 1781 
were a makeshift device, a step in the direction of unifica- 
tion as the United States of America but not far enough. 
What was neededand Shays's Rebellion of debt-laden 
and disillusioned farmers, many of whom had served in 
the Revolution, had accentuated the need for this was a 
strong central government that could legislate and enforce 
as well as advise. 

To Jefferson, the U.S. minister in Paris, Jay wrote: "The 
inefficacy of our government becomes daily more and more 
apparent . . ." He spoke anxiously of the ambitious ad- 
venturers and speculators who were more eager to profit 
from the wreck of a government than to build one. "As the 
knaves and fools of this world are forever in alliance, it is 
easy to perceive how much vigor and wisdom a govern- 
ment, from its construction and administration, should 
possess . . ." He feared that people might drift from a con- 
cept of liberty and perhaps even turn to a monarchy. If 


* No. 8 Broadway * 

the roots of liberty did not take in American soil, he had 
little hopes for success elsewhere. 

Curiously enough, these two men, both aristocrats, both 
idealistic, both with wide interests, both fervently active in 
the support of their country, were to be leaders of the 
clashing forces in the formation of a new government 
and both in absentia. 

Meanwhile the states were at odds with one another, 
and the foreign powers were taking advantage of the frailty 
of the infant nation. The weaknesses of the government 
were evident abroad and at home in ineffectual trade ar- 
rangements and in poor economic conditions in America. 

An ill-attended convention was held at Annapolis in 
September, 1786. There Hamilton drafted a more urgent 
call, endorsed by the powerful Virginia faction, for a meet- 
ing to be held the next year in Philadelphia "to render the 
Constitution of the Federal government adequate to the 
exigencies of the union." Jay's name was proposed for dele- 
gate to this meeting, but the state senate feared his ultra- 
federal views, and Hamilton, Yates, and Lansing repre- 
sented New York. 

On May 14, 1787, once again for a momentous purpose, 
delegates began to gather under the arches flanking the 
handsome fagade of Independence Hall, spoke together in 
little groups, and by twos and threes mounted the few 

In Paris Jefferson sat down with the portable writing 
desk that had served him well in drafting the Declaration 
and wrote to his friends: 

I own, I am not a friend to a very energetic govern- 
ment. It is always oppressive. It places the governors 
indeed more at their ease, at the expense of the peo- 


pie. The late rebellion in Massachusetts has given 
more alarm than I think it should have done. Calcu- 
late that one rebellion in thirteen States in the course 
of eleven years, is but one for each State in a century 
and a half. No country should be so long without one. 
Nor will any degree of power in the hands of govern- 
ment, prevent insurrections . . . And say, finally, 
whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to 
the government, or information to the people . . . 
They are the only sure reliance for the preservation 
of our liberty. After all, it is my principle that the will 
of the majority should prevail. If they approve the 
proposed constitution in all its parts, I shall concur 
in it cheerfully, in hopes they will amend it, whenever 
they shall find it works wrong. 

Jay had corresponded extensively with Washington and 
others. "Let Congress legislate let others execute let 
others judge/ 7 he wrote, sure that sovereignty would be 
most effective and most democratic if it were divided into 
its logical elements. He suggested a governor-general 
limited in prerogatives and duration, and a congress of 
upper and lower houses one selected for life, one for an- 
nual elections. He favored a strong central government and 
believed that the states should retain only those powers 
necessary for domestic needs. His prestige was then so 
great that it far outweighed the influence of any other 
early Federalist. 

Shy little Madison, Jefferson's friend and disciple, was 
in Independence Hall, armed with a tentative draft that 
emerged as the "Virginia Plan/' So was slight, slender, far- 
from-shy Hamilton, whose views corresponded in many 
respects with those of his friend Jay. The powerful dele- 

* No. 8 Broadway * 

gation from Virginia included, besides Madison, Monroe 
(another friend of Jefferson), George Mason, Governor 
Edmund Randolph, and General Washington, who was as 
towering in moral stature and the esteem of his country- 
men as he was in physique. The Morrises (unrelated) and 
Franklin were there, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, 
and the very young but very wise Rufus King from Massa- 
chusetts, Dickinson now of Delaware, Edmund Rutledge 
and Charles C. Pinckney of South Carolina. In all, fifty-five 
men attended. 

Washington was elected chairman. Though he spoke lit- 
tle, from the outset his influence was potent. In one con- 
cise speech he set the tone of the convention. "It is too 
probable/' he said after an initial discussion of opposing 
views, "that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps 
another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If, to please 
the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how 
can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard 
to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is 
in the hand of God." 

With that the stage was set for statesmanship, not mere 
politics. There was a silence while the weight of Washing- 
ton's words sank in. Chiefly under the scholarly hand of 
Madison, the constitution was framed. Hamilton made a 
final, magnificent five-hour speech for his extreme view of 
a dominant federal government, but though men were 
moved and impressed, the majority stuck by the thought- 
ful Madison. Already evident was the strain between state 
sovereignty and federal powers, and already the opposition 
was stirring for battle. 

Hamilton came to the house on Broadway to tell the 
Jays about the convention. It was interesting that although 
the delegates were men of property, they had not in any 


way specified property as a requisite for holding office. 
Pinckney had ventured the suggestion and was promptly 
rebuked by both Franklin and Dickinson. There was a 
surprising confidence in the intelligence and good will of 
the public. 

The Constitution was unsatisfactory in many respects; 
nearly all delegates and states had some criticisms of it. 
Still, by and large, it was a great improvement, Hamilton 
thought, over the present government. Jay agreed. It was 
only sensible to adopt it. 

But throughout the states there were strong voices raised 
against its adoption. "What will the states have to do?" 
Patrick Henry was already demanding. "Take care of the 
poor, repair and make highways, erect bridges, and so on 
and so on? Abolish the state legislatures at once. What 
purposes should they be continued for?" 

It began to look as if ratification by the necessary 
nine states might become an unsurmountable obstacle. In 
September Madison and Hamilton visited Jay, anxious 
about the fate of their labor. Sally sent for tea and cakes 
while they discussed how best to persuade the people and 
the legislatures of the dire need to ratify. Sally toyed with 
the pen Jay kept on the desk and twisted the quill against 
her cheek. "Isn't this what Mr. Jefferson called 'the finest 
pen in America'? Why not put it to work?" She was never 
averse to teasing Hamilton with his propensity for being first 
in everything, but for once Hamilton overlooked the impli- 

He had been trying to persuade Jay to intercede in talks 
with the leaders of opinion, but Sally's hint gave him a 
different idea. Pamphlets, publications, newspaper articles 
to reach the men in the taverns and shops not only the 
leaders, but the general public too would read and know 


& No. 8 Broadway * 

the reasons that made adoption of a stronger form of gov- 
ernment so urgent. 

From that conference in the Jay parlor grew The Feder- 
alist papers. Most were written by Hamilton, twenty-nine 
by Madison, and only five by Jay, all under the signature 
of "Publius." The first was dashed off by Hamilton in a 
sloop en route from Albany down the Hudson. The 
next four were Jay's and were concerned mainly with for- 
eign influence and policy, soundly based on his long ex- 
perience. Shortly afterward Jay fell ill and contributed only 
one more essay. 

In April of 1788 the Doctors 7 Riot erupted. One Mon- 
day evening John and Sarah were discussing plans for a 
large dinner party the next evening when General Clark- 
son dashed up the steps. 

"Jay!" He wasted no time on ceremony. "Can you lend 
me a sword? There's a mob gathering at the jail, threaten- 
ing to liberate the prisoners and beat up the doctors!" 

Without waiting to call a servant, John bolted up the 
stairs for his sword while Sally asked in surprise, "What 
doctors? What is this all about? I read in the papers that 
there have been complaints about doctors rifling graves, 
but I didn't-" 

"Oh, yesterday some silly medical student wanted to 
play a prank and scare off some boys near the hospital so 
the young fool threw parts of a cadaver at them from the 
window. The boys were so scared that a mob collected and 
broke into the hospital. They wrecked equipment and 
some doctors took refuge in jail, afraid of the consequences. 
People have been milling around the jail and muttering 
and now they're beginning to search the houses of those 
doctors. They talk of tearing them to Ah, good, John!" 

John was clattering down the steps with two swords. He 



handed one to General Clarkson. Together they ran out in 
the rain while Sally anxiously looked after them. All 
thoughts of entertaining had vanished. She hovered by the 
windows for a time and then went out to the steps, but 
there was no other house within a quarter of a mile and no 
one passed to give her a hint of what was going on. From a 
distance she heard shouts and screams, and her alarm grew. 
If only John would leave such matters to the military or 
the police but, being John, he wouldn't. Like many men 
whose work was mainly cerebral, he would seize any 
chance for action. And when duty and impulse joined, 
Sally knew better than to attempt to hold him back. 

Down the street came a carriage, the horses splashing 
through puddles at a smart trot. It slowed as it neared the 
house, and Sally ran down the steps into the rain. Out 
jumped Clarkson and Mr. Rutherford and then turned 
back to lift a body from the carriage. 

Sarah caught her breath. It was John's face under the 
smear of mud and blood. "John!" 

"He's alive, Mrs. Jay," said Dr. Charlton's cairn voice 
from the carriage as he stepped out. "He was stunned by 
rocks thrown by the crowd as he ran up the steps of the 
jail. Careful, gentlemen! Easy there!" He turned to help 
carry the unconscious man up the stairs. 

Recovering herself, Sally ran ahead, calling to the maid 
to open the bedroom upstairs and turn down the covers; 
Mr. Jay had been injured. Her heart pounded as the men 
carried John into the bedroom and placed him gently on 
the bed. His long slender figure was stretched out and his 
clothes were grotesquely mud-stained and blood-caked. His 
hair was disheveled, and there were two great gashes, much 
swollen and discolored, in his forehead. Sally sent the maid 

* No. 8 Broadway # 

to the kitchen for hot water, and she herself fetched clean 

When she returned with the cloth in her hands, the doc- 
tor straightened up and looked at her, 

"No fracture, Mrs. Jay. Ill dress the wound and bleed 
him and give him some drops which will make him more 
comfortable later/' 

He washed the wounds and dressed them and called for 
a basin so he could bleed the patient. Sally stayed close 
by in case John should recover consciousness and need her. 
At the first stirring of his lids and half gesture of clenching 
fingers, she leaned over the bed and took his hand. 

"Dearest! John, dear, lie still. Try not to move. It will be 
easier for you/' 

His eyes opened and closed again in pain. His hand 
faintly pressed her fingers in acknowledgment of her pres- 
ence, and without letting go she quietly took a place by 
the bed. Dr. Charlton bent to whisper some instructions 
and left the room. 

The rain fell in a drizzle and the windows were spattered 
with drops. Sally scarcely moved. After a long time John 
opened his eyes, winced, and painfully turned his head to 
look at her with inquiry. She explained what had hap- 
pened, and he gave a wry chuckle. 

"Felled with a stone! The ignominy of it out to rescue 
the doctors and I turn out to be the victim. WellI might 
join the Cincinnati after all . . ." 

Relieved to find him not delirious and able to joke, 
Sally breathed more easily. He had already refused honor- 
ary membership in that elite order of officers, since he was 
distrustful of anything that smacked of hereditary honors 
and titles. 



"Well, Sally, I'm afraid I won't be up to entertaining 
tomorrow/ 1 

She had entirely forgotten their dinner. "Oh, I must 
send word to our company . . ." 

"Don't leave, Sally. Can't you write notes in here?" 

She smiled at him and rang for the maid to bring her 
paper and pen and wrote her notes using a big book 
propped in her lap. "And the Hamiltons and the Knoxes 
and that's all, I think." Then she wrote to her mother to 
tell her what had happened and to explain why she had 
had no time yet to buy some items her mother had asked 

Her fears that some brain damage had been done passed, 
but John continued to have pain in his neck and shoulders 
as well as pain from his head injuries; also he had taken 
a bad cold in the rain. It was almost two weeks later that 
the doctor was completely reassured. 

Jay spent his time while recovering in composing an 
Address to the People of New York about the Constitu- 
tion. The Federalist papers, which were to become classic, 
were widely read, but this briefer and more vigorous paper, 
couched in language readily understandable, exerted a more 
immediate influence. It was published anonymously, but 
there was little doubt of its authorship. 

In June came the crucial state convention at Pough- 
keepsie, attended by forty-six anti-Federal delegates and 
nineteen Federalists. The outlook was depressing except 
that Jay, Hamilton, and Robert Livingston led the smaller 
faction against Clinton, Lansing, and the orator Melancton 
Smith. With Jay and Hamilton stood the Federalist New 
York City faction of prominent men James Duane, Nich- 
olas Low, Isaac Roosevelt, the merchants; the lawyer 
Richard Harrison; Judge Hobart; the landowner Richard 


* No. 8 Broadway * 

Morris. Well organized, they talked individually with their 
opponents Hamilton "the political porcupine"; Jay with 
his reasoning "weighty as gold, polished as silver, and 
strong as steel/' 

There came the news of the ninth ratification, from 
New Hampshire, and then the tenth from Virginia. On 
July eleventh Jay moved the adoption of the Constitution 
with the recommendation of any useful amendments, and 
on the twenty-sixth, with a narrow majority of thirty to 
twenty-seven, New York ratified unconditionally. 

The old Continental Congress simply died away. Dele- 
gates ceased to attend. Often there were only two members 
present, and they would record their names, linger a while, 
then retire to boarding house or tavern. The interim gov- 
ernment had vanished, except for Jay and Secretary Thom- 

There was no question of a choice of President. Wash- 
ington's name was on every ballot. The Constitution went 
into effect on the first Wednesday of March, 1789. John 
Adams was the first Vice President. 


Debut of a Nation 

New YorJc City 


Every house and tavern in New York was crammed with 
guests. Travelers had gathered from all over the country 
and even from abroad to view the birth of the new govern- 
ment and the inauguration of the first President of the 
United States. Most sought after of all was an invitation to 
be the guest of these charming Jays in their lovely house 
on Broadway. 

Abigail and John Adams had taken the Burr mansion 
outside the city, at Richmond Hill, and they loved its 
beautiful vista and furnishings. Most of the gentlemen of 
Congress had taken rooms or houses near the Federal Hall, 
in Maiden Lane, in Wall Street and Broad Street, on 
Chatham Row and Great Dock Street. 

New York was decked out in its finest, architecturally as 
well as in costume. The focus of all eyes would be the 
thirty-foot-long iron-railed balcony of the Federal Hall 
which faced Wall Street. Here the President would take the 
oath of office. 

Major Pierre Charles I/Enfant had renovated the build- 
ingat a spanking cost of $65,000 and given it scale and 
grandeur. The Hall of Representatives, roughly sixty feet 
square, rose to an arched ceiling forty-six feet high. Blue 
damask curtained the lofty windows and covered the chairs 
at each desk, and the floors were thickly carpeted. A 
long gallery led to the Senate chamber, smaller and differ- 
ently proportioned but certainly equally handsome, dec- 
orated with crimson damask at the windows and on "the 
chairs, with a canopy of the same material over the high 
seat of the president of the Senate. Here "His Rotundity/' 
little Mr. John Adams, the new Vice President, sat brood- 


* Debut of a Nation ^ 

ing darkly over the problem of protocol in the Senate dur- 
ing presidential visits. He cried out, "I am Vice President. 
In this I am nothing, but I may be everything. But I am 
president also of the Senate. When the President comes 
into the Senate, what shall I be? ... I wish gentlemen 
to think what I shall be/' and he leaned back in great dis- 

Through the streets crowded troops and carriages, riders, 
carts, and pedestrians, sailors and shopkeepers, the town 
belles, the country folk and the gentry, all gaily pushing 
and craning their necks to catch a glimpse of a passing 
celebrity. The President was en route from his home in 
Mount Vernon, but the excitement of the occasion had 
long preceded him. 

Sally entertained alone at the Jay house. John had de- 
parted for New Jersey, one of the most distinguished of the 
company that was to greet General Washington and es- 
cort him to New York. Peter hung at the window, unable 
to contain his excitement, while the little girls pulled at 
his handsome new coat and demanded to know all about 
the General, whom Peter had known in Philadelphia. 
What Peter's memory and imagination could not supply, 
Aunts Caty and Susan remedied and Mama, when she had 
a moment from the cares of housekeeping and guests, 
could tell about receiving a lock of the General's hair as a 
farewell when the Jays sailed for Spain. It was beyond 
doubt a grand occasion. Never could the children remem- 
ber such a babble and furor of chatter and merriment, even 
at Christmas time. 

At Boxwood Hall, the elegant Boudinot mansion at 
Elizabeth Town, Washington met the Committee of Con- 
gress after a breakfast at the hotel of Samuel Smith, a re- 
ception for the citizens, and a fine dinner at the city tav- 


ern with John Jay, Governor Livingston, the Lees of 
Virginia, and other prominent men. 

It had been a splendid journey for Washington ever 
since he kissed his wife good-by in mid-April. At Alex- 
andria there were farewell toasts. In Philadelphia the city 
went wild, and there were processions, banquets, parades, 
and speeches. Washington so enjoyed the evening that the 
next morning he was abed till ten instead of up at his usual 
six. Trenton had erected triumphal arches over its stone 
bridge and greeted the General with a shower of song and 
punch and refreshments. 

Washington and his company entered a barge manned 
by thirteen white-uniformed harbor pilots. Thomas Ran- 
dall was cockswain. From Elizabeth Town Point the 
barge carried him through Kill van Kull into the bay, past 
Staten Island, and thence to Murray's Wharf. All along 
the way he was greeted by boats and barges and sloops, 
one of which was filled with a choir of girls. Even a 
school of porpoises came cavorting by, and a Spanish 
ship of war broke out the colors of a score of nations on its 
rigging and shot off thirteen cannon. 

Washington landed near the City Coffee House, passed 
up the carpeted stairs, and was greeted by the governor, 
Mayor James Duane, and other officers. Through crowds of 
cheering citizens the parade wound its way, via Queen 
Street, to the Franklin House at No. 3 Cherry Street, 
where Washington would stay. 

There was a dinner at Governor Clinton's house for 
Washington that night. The city was alive with bells and 
lights, parades and salutes, and shouts and music. For a 
few days Washington had leisure to see old friends and 
make new acquaintances and to view the changes in the 
city. There was a visit to the Jays and a meeting with the 


* Debut of a Nation & 

awestruck children. Maria and little Ann were tongue- 
tied, but Peter was almost beside himself with the excite- 
ment of being greeted as an old friend by the hero. 

No one could be disappointed in this giant. He had all 
the dignity and nobility of legend, yet was simple in his 
dress blue coat with buff-colored waistcoat and breeches, 
and powdered hair tied in back with a black ribbon. 
There was a cordial smile and a twinkle in his light blue 
eyes in memory of his dancing partners, Kitty and Susan 
and Sally. John stood by smiling, happy in the personal 
renewal of his warm friendship with the General after 
years of corresponding. 

April 30, 1789, dawned with a salvo of cannon and a 
few clouds in the sky. The artisans in yellow buckskin 
breeches, red flannel jackets, and checked shirts, and the 
farm people in Sunday best were already on the streets. 
Later in the day came the shop people, and the sailors 
and the officers and soldiers, and country gentle folk. 

Before noon the Jay coach, drawn by a handsome pair 
of horses, came across Wall Street. Ann and Maria were 
crisp in tailored white silk dresses and little coats. Peter 
wore a miniature version of his father's finely tailored 
gray broadcloth riding clothes and his three-cornered 
cocked hat and silver-buckled shoes. Kitty was splendid in 
green brocade and Susan in cinnamon-colored taffeta. 

Sally was cloaked in a cape of the same gray broadcloth 
that Peter and John were wearing. The week had been tir- 
ing for a woman who was expecting another child in a 
month or two, but the excitement of the event sustained 
her spirits and energy, and her blue eyes sparkled as in- 
tensely as little Ann's. 

The Jay carriage halted as close as possible for a good 
view of the balcony of the Federal Hall. More than one 


passerby in the crowd stopped to watch the well-trained 
horses standing quietly with arched necks and heads alert. 
Still more cast admiring glances at the carriage! ul of pretty 
langhing women and children. 

"When are they coming?" Maria kept asking, while 
Ann bounced and twisted in Kitty's lap, crying out, "Mama, 
look! Mama, see the soldier! How splendid he looks!" 
and "When does Papa come?" Peter, too excited to 
remain seated like a proper thirteen-year-old gentleman, 
was allowed to descend from the carriage, provided that he 
stayed close by. 

It seemed forever to adults and children alike before the 
stirs and shouts from the distance swelled and gave notice 
of the approach of the procession. Faintly came the sound 
of drums and music, and Sally helped the little girls to the 
seat of the carriage for a better view. 

"There's Colonel Lewis," exclaimed Ann, "and Major 
Van Home behind him with some other gentleman. 
Mama, he sees me! He's smiling at me, Mama!" Maria 
clapped her hands and jumped up and down on the car- 
riage seat while Peter vaulted back into the carriage for a 
loftier vantage point. 

As the grand marshal, Colonel Lewis led the procession. 
After him came a cavalry troop of dragoons with swords 
clanking and horses tossing their manes. Then came the 
artillery, which Peter watched with the appraising look of a 
student of the military General Knox, always good-na- 
tured, had often taken time out on his visits to the Jays to 
give his wide-eyed young admirer an account of some of 
his engagements and to underscore the importance of big 
guns. The grenadiers followed, with their blue uniforms 
and three-cornered hats topped with tall white feathers, 
and a company of men with shakos, and kilted troops with 


Debut of a Nation * 

bagpipes wailing their eerie, piercing tunes. More troops 
followed, and finally came the committee of the Senate in 

And then shouts and hurrahs at sight of Washington's 
superb cream-colored coach of state manned by a footman 
behind, a man on the box, and a lackey on one of the 
wheel horses. Its panels were decorated with flowers and 
garlanded cupids. For this most special of occasions the 
horses had been covered overnight with white paste and 
then polished so that their white coats shone like silver 
above their black polished hoofs. And inside was the Presi- 
dent-elect dressed in simple dark clothes. Next to the coach 
rode a bodyguard of six officers, young men but experi- 
enced, solemn with the weight of their responsibility to- 
ward their charge. And at the passing of the coach and the 
man inside, doffing his hat and bowing with enormous dig- 
nity, the spectators' shouts died away and turned to mur- 
murs of admiration and respect and awareness of the great 
significance of the occasion. 

Opposite the familiar Jay carriage, the General caught 
sight of its occupants and sent them a deep bow and a 
smile. Ann and Maria and Peter were quite delirious with 
the honor of it and waved back wildly, while the Living- 
ston girls blew kisses. 

More aides passed by with the committee of the House, 
and then Ann cried out, "Mama, there's Papa! Maria, I 
see Papa on his horse! Peter, do you see? Do you see?" 

On horseback came John Jay, General Knox, and Chan- 
cellor Robert R. Livingston, who was to administer the 
oath of office. John smiled and waved to his children and 
wife and so did General Knox, but the Chancellor, John's 
old friend and law partner, bowed stiffly and unsmilingly 
as he passed. 


Sally inclined her head in grave acknowledgment and 
felt a shadow of sorrow. She could guess something of 
John's intricate feelings this day. Certainly he must feel a 
vast and deep-rooted satisfaction that his friend Washing- 
ton, that great man, would be leading the nation now in 
peace as he had in war. And he would not be human if he 
did not inwardly rejoice in the knowledge that he had 
helped enormously to achieve the foundations of a stronger 
nation for the country he so dearly loved. Privately she 
suspected that John did not realize the full extent of his in- 
fluence on the assemblage that had drafted the Constitu- 
tion at Philadelphia. Because he was absent and had no 
direct vote, he, like many others, underestimated his share 
in preparing the ground for its acceptance, in underscoring 
the urgent need for it. But Washington knew and had 
written congratulations. And Judge Hobart had told her 
that without Jay's prestige and backing at Poughkeepsie, 
Hamilton would never have succeeded in obtaining rati- 
fication from New York. 

This should have been the most luminous day of John's 
career, a day to be shared with one of his oldest and most 
cherished friends. Yet that very friend was marring the 
event, tainting it with bile. 

Nothing escaped Kitty's keen eyes. She leaned over to 
whisper in Sally's ear, "The chancellor was hardly cordial 
in his greeting. And I notice he has not been visiting you 
recently. Has something happened?" 

Sally shrugged at first, but Kitty was not to be put off or 
deceived. Seeing that the children were completely ab- 
sorbed in the pageantry, Sally softly told her sister her 
own suspicions. Since John had been President of the 
Continental Congress and later had gone abroad to repre- 
sent his country while Robert Livingston remained at 


& Debut of a. Nation * 

home, there had been a noticeable lessening of cordiality 
and openness. 

Kitty nodded thoughtfully. "I see. Chancellor Living- 
ston has no mean opinion of his own abilities and it must 
have seemed grossly unfair to him that John should come 
back loaded with honors and acclaimed in Europe while he 
remains unknown abroad/ 7 

"John would never credit it, so I say nothing, but he has 
been puzzled and hurt that the chancellor sees so little of 
him and has been so cool." 

"It must be worse for him now when everyone gossips 
about which office John will have and no one mentions 
the chancellor's name. Fve heard he's ambitious to become 
Chief Justice. He gave up the office of Foreign Secretary in 
disgust and then John came along as his successor and made 
it the most powerful post in the country. No wonder he's 
jealous. By the way/' her bright eyes turned full on her 
sister "has John been offered an office yet?" 

Sally hesitated. It would not be discreet to admit that 
the President-elect had offered Jay his choice of office in 
the new government, and John had not yet made up his 
mind. Retirement still beckoned strongly, but the pressures 
to remain in public life were great. He was tempted by the 
Department of State, for which he was well qualified and 
was in fact still taking the responsibilities of that office. He 
had been mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of the 
Treasury, but that held little appeal for him despite his 
lucid exposition years earlier of the subject of continental 
currency and the urgent need for full payment in redeem- 
ing all bills as the only honorable and feasible method of 
retaining credit at home and abroad. Hamilton, he had 
said to Sally, would be a much wiser choice for that post. 

What really attracted John was the Chief Justiceship of 



the Supreme Court, the same office that his friend coveted. 
But Jay was distrustful of the long gap in his legal experi- 
ence. It had been many years since he had practiced and he 
doubted his own abilities to catch up on so much lost ex- 
perience; yet it was an inviting and challenging office. 
There was no precedent for its function, and John con- 
sidered it vastly important as the interpreter and guardian 
of the Constitution. 

So Sally said with as much honesty as discretion, "Not 
exactly. I think General Washington requires more time 
to consider the appointments." 

By now the crowd was pressing all around their carriage 
and even the well-mannered horses were restive with wait- 
ing and crowding. The long procession had ended at Wall 
and Broad streets. The General had descended from the 
coach of state and the riders had dismounted. All had 
walked the short distance to the Federal Hall, where the 
members of Congress had been waiting for more than an 

The General had entered the building and walked up 
the wide staircase into the Senate chamber. There Ralph 
Izard, a member of the committee that greeted Washing- 
ton, had formally presented him to John Adams. Loom- 
ing tall over rotund Mr. Adams on the dais, he had taken 
the spacious seat under the crimson canopy. John Adams 
had welcomed him, and then all had risen to proceed to 
the balcony. 

At the appearance of Washington above them on the 
balcony, the excited crowd grew silent. The President- 
elect laid his right hand on a Bible resting on a crimson 
cushion and repeated after Chancellor Livingston the oath 
which made him chief executive and commander-in-chief 
of the nation. Then he kissed the Bible and said with pro- 


* Debut of a Nation & 

found sincerity, "So help me, God!" Chancellor Livingston 
it was his dramatic moment turned to the people be- 
low and cried out, "Long live George Washington, Presi- 
dent of the United States!" 

The throng went into a frenzy of cheering. Cannons 
boomed salutes. Church bells rang joyously. The Presi- 
dent bowed and retired to the Senate Chamber for the 
next ceremony. There under the crimson canopy he fum- 
bled for a manuscript and read aloud his inaugural speech. 

His hand trembled; he was nervous and at times could 
scarcely be heard. This was his own composition written 
without aid from any of his associates. It was simple, 
deeply thought out, carefully considered, and sincere. 

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty," he said, 
"and the destiny of the republican model of government, 
are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked 
upon the experiment entrusted to the hands of the Amer- 
ican people . . ." 

It was, he pointed out, "a novelty in the history of 
society to see a great people turn a calm and scrutinizing 
eye upon itself ... to see it carefully examine the extent 
of the evil, patiently wait for two years until a remedy was 
discovered" and at last "adopt a new order and govern- 
ment without blood or tears . . " 

He was conscious of his deficiencies, he said, and would 
never have left his beloved Mount Vernon but for the 
summons of the nation and its people which would al- 
ways take first place in his heart. He was "unpracticed in 
the duties of civil administration" and begged forgiveness 
for the mistakes he might make. He pleaded for guidance 
from the Almighty Being. 

More than a decade ago this man, just chosen Comman- 
der-in-chief, had stood before Congress and required only 



the payment of his expenses as General of the Continen- 
tal Army, not the salary that went with his duties. Once 
more he stood before a Congress and renounced a salary, 
asking only that his expenses be paid. Yet only a few 
weeks earlier he had been forced to borrow money to pay 
bills before leaving his estate in Virginia. 

After the speech he proceeded with the whole com- 
pany to St. Paul's Chapel at Broadway and Chatham 
Row. As many as could manage crowded into the church 
to listen to the Bishop Provost ask blessings for the Presi- 
dent and the country. From the services he went back to 
No. 3 Cherry Street, attended by a great crowd. 

In the evening the city was transformed into a fairyland 
of light and cascading rockets and fountains of fire, with 
a thunder of cannon and fireworks. The Jay children, 
fascinated, clung to the windows long past their bedtime, 
staring at the miracles of illumination. 

John and Sarah kissed the children good night without 
interrupting their trance and went off to attend extrava- 
ganzas at the homes of the Spanish and French ministers, 
which were replete with tableaux, statuary, columns, flow- 
ers, and symbols of the union of the thirteen states. To- 
ward the end of the evening, at the house of the Cornte de 
Moustier, Kitty glided over to her sister and tapped her on 
the shoulder with her fan. "You look so very pretty and 
gay," she whispered. She took a seat by Sally in the in- 
terval between dances and followed Sally's smiling glance 
in the direction of Alexander Hamilton. 

As usual, he was the center of an admiring audience. He 
was spouting witticisms and compliments, flushed and 
handsome in his claret-colored velvet coat and breeches 
with a filigree of fine lace at his wrists and throat. Pres- 


* Debut of a Nation & 

ently he would lead the prettiest lady in the bevy off for a 

"No wonder he's happy/' said Kitty. "He deserves great 
credit for this dayalmost as much as John/' she added, 

Sally laughed. "It seems such a short time ago that he 
used to stay with us before he went to college, and now 
look at him. Already he's one of the most powerful and 
most courted men in the country and will surely have an 
office in the cabinet." She paused in reminiscence. "Re- 
member the day of the trial at Liberty Hall. Gracious! 
That was sixteen years ago!" Fondly she looked beyond 
the musicians and the laden tables to a corner where John 
stood talking with Henry Knox. 

"That was the day I advised you to set your cap for 
Alexander. Yes, I remember." Kitty chuckled. "If you had 
married anyone but John Fd say now, 'Aren't you just a 
tiny bit sorry you didn't?' " She regarded her sister criti- 
cally. "I must say, if you are sorry, you conceal it with 
amazing skill." 

Sally laughed whole-heartedly. "Never tell Betsey Ham- 
ilton you gave me such advice or she'd dismiss me as 
the world's greatest fool. She's wildly in love with Alexan- 
der. No matter how his eyes stray, she's sure of his heart." 
She put her hand on Kitty and rose with a little diffi- 
culty. "You won't mind if we leave early, will you? I'm 
a little tired from all the excitement." 

John had seen her stand up, and he came toward her. 

Smiling, Kitty watched John cross the floor. "Sometimes 
I think John sees no woman but you. Look! He's only 
now noticed that I'm with you. Sally, you're a lucky 



A shadow momentarily darkened Kitty's face, but it was 
not like her to be melancholy for long. Watching her, 
Sally was touched by the hint of loneliness and by Kitty's 
generous lack of envy, for her sister had been a widow 
for two years, after a brief marriage to Matthew Ridley. 

In the carriage on the way home, Sarah slipped her hand 
through her husband's arm and leaned her cheek against 
his shoulder with a sigh. "Indeed, I am a lucky woman/ 7 
she confided to him. 

John looked down at her absently and muttered, "I won- 
der if Jefferson would be Secretary of State . . . and if he 
and Hamilton could work together/' He was surprised 
to hear his wife smother a giggle. "What?" 

"My dear husband!' 7 Sally was half annoyed, half amused. 
"Do you ever think about private affairs instead of affairs of 

"Oh, Sally," he said resignedly, "what have I done 

"What but played midwife to a new nation, dear John." 
Sally shook her head with mock reproach, but sighed with 



Chief Justice Jay 

New York City, Bedford 


The year 1789 was one of momentous changes, both in 
the political scene and in the private life of the Jays. 

In mid-June their second son, William, was born, but 
that joyful event was followed a month later by the loss of 
Sally's mother. It was a great shock to her children and to 
her husband. The sympathy, devotion, and good sense 
which had quietly but powerfully sustained the family 
were gone, and it seemed to them that Susanna French 
Livingston had taken with her the ties that had knitted 
the family together. It consoled Sarah and John a little 
that their children had given Susanna great pleasure in her 
last years and that she had lived till the birth of William. 
But Governor Livingston never recovered from the death 
of his wife. 

Sally wrote to Susan that their sister Judy was sending her 
son William to keep his grandfather company at Liberty 
Hall. The Jays could not yet accept her invitation to come 
because John was too busy with foreign affairs, conferences 
with the President, and plans for setting up the Supreme 
Court. After the adjournment of the Federal Court they 
would visit. Meanwhile she had seen a spangled gown 
from England, very beautiful, which she could buy for 
Susan unless her sister thought the price too high. The 
President would soon become their neighbor because he 
was moving from No. 3 Cherry Street, which he had 
found too small for his staff, family, servants, and regular 
visitors, into Mr. McCombe's large house on Broadway. 
He would have to build stables there to make room for 
his saddle horses and carriage horses, the state coach and 
chaises, wagons and phaetons, but that was better than 


* Chief Justice Jay * 

laying out $80 a month for livery stable bills. The children 
were growing fast. Peter studied, loved drawing, shooting, 
and fishing, was never a moment idle. Maria was as good as 
ever, and Nan vivacious and lovable, impossible to check. 

Social activities which had been lively during the ses- 
sions of Congress in past years now doubled and became a 
mad whirl. "The rich, the well-born, and the able" ruled 
society, in John Adams's phrase, but at the very top, 
aside from the necessary official but not too entertaining 
functions of the Washingtons, were the Jays' dinners. 
Sarah's dinner and supper lists read more like a Who's 
Who than a social register, although it represented the be- 
ginning of society as such in the United States. The French 
traveler Bayard classed the levels of society as those who 
drove in coaches, those who rode horseback or walked, 
and, lowest of all, those who neither drove nor rode but 
worked with their hands. For all this, everyone called him- 
self a gentlemanand Sarah went on enjoying her horse- 
back rides. 

Martha Washington was a little too staid to enjoy her 
social position as wife of the President. She thought her 
life very dull and knew little of what passed in town. She 
preferred to spend a leisurely day with her grandchildren, 
Nellie and George Washington Parke Custis, and with 
Sarah Jay and her daughters. On one day Mrs. Washington 
breakfasted with General Morris and his family at Mor- 
risania, entertained the Jays for dinner, and then took 
coffee with Sarah in the evening. 

But she was a state prisoner, she said, and obliged to 
play a role. At church she and the President, like the Jays 
and the Hamiltons, were part of the Sunday spectacle. 
Mondays were free for private dinners or relaxation. At 
the President's levee from three to four on Tuesday ladies 



and gentlemen of rank visited frequently, depending on the 
weather and the social calendar, and the President duti- 
fully noted the number attending. 

On Wednesday evenings there was a dinner or open 
house at the Hamiltons'. Here Alexander and Betsey 
shared the spotlight with Betsey's sophisticated, cosmo- 
politan sister Angelica Church, just back from London 
and Paris. Angelica managed the quite extraordinary feat 
of being a devoted admirer and friend of her brother-in- 
law and also of his rival and eventual enemy, Thomas 
Jefferson, who had become her great friend in Paris. 

On Thursdays the Jays often gave a dinner and no one 
without good cause refused the prestige and pleasure of 
their invitations. 

On Friday evenings Mrs. Washington gave her reception. 
All the most respectable people came and some who were 
not. It was proper to be seen there, but unless you were 
lucky enough to chat with the beautiful Mrs. Bingham or 
amusing Mrs. Knox or to catch some political gossip, 
it tended to be a bit of a bore. 

On Saturday nights there were sometimes sumptuous din- 
ners at the Knox house. Lucy Knox was affable and well 
liked and pleased with her new position as a leader in 
society. She and General Knox had risen far since the 
days when his bookshop had been a popular rendezvous 
in Boston for young belles and British officers. He had 
proved a faithful and able officer during the Revolu- 
tion and a good aide and friend to the General. 

Americans were unanimous in electing their President, 
but from that point on began the divisions, and these 
divisions led gradually to the formation of new parties, 
the Federalists and the Republicans. 

Conscious of weighty responsibilities not only in immedi- 


* Chief Justice Jay * 

ate actions, but also in setting precedents for the new gov- 
ernment, Washington moved slowly in his appointments. 
In spite of frequent accusations that Adams had monarchial 
leanings, the Vice President and his wife Abigail were un- 
pretentious and quiet in their social life. General Knox was 
made Secretary of War and Edmund Randolph the Attor- 
ney General. Jefferson was offered the office of Secretary 
of State, although he did not learn about it until he landed 
in America in November and did not occupy the office 
until the following year. With Jay as Chief Justice, and 
Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury the President rightly 
believed he had a remarkably strong group of advisers and 
leaned heavily on them especially on Hamilton and Jay 
for all his decisions. 

What protocol should he follow? What form of address 
should be used? What should be the sphere of the Vice 
President? More importantly, what fiscal system should be 
adopted and how should it be organized? How should 
money be raised by tariff, by taxes, by bonds? What 
should the foreign policy be? Toward England? Toward 
Spain? Toward the old ally France? 

Hamilton was always first with advice and was always 
very cocksure. Jay, on the other hand, would survey the 
field and deliberately and impartially weigh the facts and 
come up with sound counsel. Knox and Randolph usually 
followed the lead of Hamilton. 

In the field of foreign affairs Jay's advice carried great 
weight, and the President spent long hours with him, in- 
specting and discussing papers and dispatches. By the time 
Jefferson arrived, the department of state was planned and 
the foreign policy formulated. Two acts had already ap- 
proved Jay's idea for the centralization of foreign affairs 
under the control of the President, with a senatorial check 



upon the power of treaty making. And Washington sub- 
mitted again Jay's suggestion that the settlement of the 
boundary dispute between America and Great Britain be 
left to a mixed commission. 

The news of the French Revolution assaulted the new 
government that summer. Only a year or so earlier Mr. 
Jefferson, the minister to France after Franklin, had written 
reassuringly of the peace and quiet in that realm and re- 
ported that "the King loves business, economy, order & 
justice, and wishes sincerely the good of his people/' He 
appeared to feel that his friends at home were more in- 
terested in news of the Turks, the Austrians and the Rus- 
sians, though the French Revolution was on the verge of 
erupting before his eyes. He was greatly surprised by a 
sudden change. "Such a spirit has risen within a few weeks 
as could not have been believed." Parlement was obstinate, 
revenues were lacking, and the country faced bankruptcy. 
The king had taken to drink and the queen was universally 
detested, and "an explosion of some sort is not impossi- 

The ill-advised king had first called a States-General at 
Versailles in May, which Jefferson came to watch. Out- 
raged by its activities, the king dismissed it in June. He 
consulted his minister, the banker Necker, idolized by the 
people, and then held him hostage. He held his Royal 
Sessions and dismissed the members when it backfired 
but they refused to disperse. On July eleventh he dismissed 
Necker and on July fourteenth the irate citizens of Paris 
stormed and conquered the once impregnable Bastille. 

Jefferson looked benevolently on and even designed a 
charter of rights to which the king and the three es- 
tates might subscribe. There was yet no reign of terror to 
cause discomfort abroad, and Jefferson was not one to be 


* Cliief Justice Jay * 

alarmed by the idea of revolution. The thought of playing 
architect to a second revolution was tempting, and he was 
greatly respected in France. He placed great faith in the 
idea that education of the people would lead to rational 

In America Jay happily occupied himself with the chal- 
lenge of organizing the Federal courts. Justices Rutledge, 
Wilson, Gushing, Harrison, and Blair were his associates. 
He took office in October, and the only thing that marred 
his satisfaction was the break in his friendship with Chan- 
cellor Livingston, who ceased altogether to see him. 

On February i, 1790, Sally inspected her husband before 
he left for the first meeting of the court in the Royal Ex- 
change at the foot of Broad Street. She circled around him 
with mock solemnity. He wore a black silk robe with white 
and salmon-colored facings which gave an imposing dig- 
nity to his tall figure. His complexion was pale, but his 
dark blue eyes, aquiline nose, and firm mouth and chin 
gave force to his features. His expression was amiable and 
his manner gentle and unassuming, but this day he bore 
himself, most fittingly for the occasion, Sally thought, with 
an extra degree of dignity. She kissed him and he set off 
by carriage for the crowded courtroom. 

City, state, and Federal officials and lawyers were already 
gathered, but Judge Gushing took one glance at his col- 
leagues and rushed home to get a more suitable peruke 
than his old-fashioned judicial wig. Furthermore court had 
to be adjourned because there were not enough justices 
present for a quorum. That evening the judges went to 
dinner with the President. 

The next day the organization of the court began, and 
that week a crier of the court and clerk of the court were 
appointed; some rules of court were formulated; and some 



practitioners were admitted. When the first session was 
dismissed after only ten days for lack of cases on the 
docket, tlie Justices were entertained at Fraunces' Tavern. 
That year in answer to Hamilton's plea for the court to 
denounce the opposition to the assumption of state debts, 
Jay made it clear that the duty of the court was to render 
verdicts only on cases properly presented in court. 

It was on the circuit courts that the Supreme Court 
justices were most active. Two justices were assigned to 
each of the nation's three circuits, the Eastern, the Middle, 
and the Southern, and were to hold court twice a year with 
a district judge. This was intended to bring the highest 
standards of law and justice to every corner of the union 
and to impress the dignity of the Supreme Court of the 
land upon everyone. 

Jay, assigned to the Eastern Circuit, presided over the 
first in New York in April. Witnessing his charge to the 
jury, Sarah thought of her ailing father and how deeply 
he would approve. She must remember to send him clip- 
pings if it were reported in the papers. 

". . , our individual prosperity depends upon our Na- 
tional prosperity, and . . . our National prosperity de- 
pends on a well-organized, vigorous government, ruling by 
wise and equal laws, faithfully executed/' Who, listening 
to Jay now, would suspect that his speech had been so im- 
perfect that he had practiced alone before a mirror, night 
after night, to correct the defects? Sally recalled that her 
father had always been a better writer than speaker; but 
John had style in speech and in writing and could com- 
bine simplicity with elegance of structure and thought: 

Nor is such a government unfriendly to liberty 
that liberty which is really estimable. On the contrary, 


* Chief Justice Jay * 

nothing but a strong government of laws, irresistibly 
bearing down arbitrary power and licentiousness, can 
defend it against those two formidable enemies. Let it 
be remembered that civil liberty consists, not in a 
right to every man to do just what he pleases, but it 
consists in an equal right to all citizens to have, en- 
joy and do, in peace, security and without molesta- 
tion, whatever the equal and constitutional laws of 
the country admit to be consistent with the public 

The charge was printed and reprinted and won friend- 
ship for the government and court wherever it was seen. 
In his circuit of New England Jay was so well received 
that the people of Massachusetts regretted that "Boston 
was not the place of his nativity, and his manner they con- 
sider so perfect as to believe that New York stole him from 
New England/' 

Sally laughed when she heard of this. The Jay upright- 
ness and lucidity would be right at home in New Eng- 
land, of course, but his plain speech was welcomed every- 

In May the President was seriously ill and was attended 
by several physicians, Sally wrote to John while he was in 
Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She reported on terms for 
the purchase of a farm, said that Peter Munro had paid 
her sixty-five pounds for John "which I've been spending 
at a great rate/' 

That summer Governor Livingston died and left a great 
void in their lives. His decline since the death of his wife 
had been rapid, but the foreknowledge was no consolation. 
Sarah and John both mourned the father, and John, a sage 
adviser and friend. Their children had spent nearly as much 



time with their relatives at Liberty Hall as they had at home 
and sadly missed their irascible but high-spirited, funny, 
doting grandfather. 

In the capital the demanding social life continued at a 
great rate. Dinners often began at three or four in the after- 
noon and ended only with the bringing in of candles as 
the last dishes were cleared and the serving of fruit and 
nuts for those who wanted to linger at table. With the 
many toasts that were customarily made, calling out to 
each individual at table, a great deal of time was con- 
sumed. When coffee was served, the guests might leave 
the table. 

This was not the way at the President's dinners, how- 
ever. Senator Maclay recorded one dinner at the Presi- 
dent's mansion attended by the Jays and others. The 
Adamses were there, Governor and Mrs. Clinton, the Pres- 
ident's secretaries and others, seventeen people in all. It 
was a marvelous dinner, Maclay admitted, but the August 
day was disagreeably warm. In the middle of the table 
were artificial flowers and little figurines. First came soup, 
with roasted and boiled fish, meat, fowl, game, and so 
on. The second course involved apple pies, puddings, iced 
creams, jellies, followed by watermelons, muskmelons, ap- 
ples, peaches, and nuts. It was all very solemn and not 
a health was drunk until the cloth was taken away, and 
scarcely a word was spoken throughout the meal. This 
must have been a sore trial to vivacious Sally. 

At last the President filled a glass of wine and very 
formally drank the health of everyone at table by name, at 
which everyone imitated him with a buzz of "Health, sir/' 
and "Health, madam," and 'Thank you, sir," such as 
Maclay had never suffered through before. But a little wine 
in his glass eased him through the ceremony. When Mrs. 


* Chief Justice Jay * 

Washington retired with the ladies, Maclay thought the 
talk would quicken, but it still languished. The President 
told a story about a New England clergyman and once in 
a while said something polite, and Mr. Jay tried to enliven 
matters with a story of the Duchess of Devonshire's efforts 
to help elect Fox, but again the conversation expired. 
The President simply played with a fork and after a while 
went upstairs to drink coffee, and the company broke up. 

The balls and less formal parties were more agreeable, 
and the President himself loved to dance with the pretty 
young matrons and belles, and would stay at the cotil- 
lions and minuets till two in the morning. In May there 
was a fine Dancing Assembly ball, and a week later the 
French minister gave a ball in the President's honor. 
Three hundred people came, in brocades, satins, velvets, 
plumes and ribbons. There was a ballet which illustrated 
the happy union between France and America. One room 
was devoted to a long table and shelves filled with cakes, 
fruits, wines and ice creams, and parties came in to refresh 
themselves after dancing. 

Among the men of the nation, the Order of the Cincin- 
nati was the most pretentious organization and counted 
Washington and Lafayette and various counts and barons 
as well as officers of the Revolution among its members. 
Pressed to accept an honorary membership, John Jay 
tartly replied that he had little interest in a society that 
existed mainly for the purpose of "conferring honors upon 
themselves." Colonel Hamilton and Aaron Burr, however, 
were very active members. 

When he arrived in March, 1790, Jefferson viewed 
the social whirl with great misgivings, and he suspected 
monarchial leanings. Washington was hard put to see why. 
"Gentlemen, often in great numbers, come and go; chat 



with each other and act as they please. A porter shows 
them into the room and they retire from it when they 
choose, without ceremony. At their first entrance they 
salute me, and I them, and as many as I can, I talk to. 
What 'pomp' there is in all this I am unable to discover/' 

To be sure, the Friday receptions were a little more 
formal than Washington's own levees. Visitors in full dress 
were presented to the Washingtons. The President usually 
wore a colored coat and waistcoat with black breeches, car- 
ried hat and sword and mingled with the guests. Plum 
cakes, tea and coffee were served and at nine Mrs. Wash- 
ington smilingly gave the signal for retiring. 

The theater was very much to Washington's taste and 
he made almost weekly visits to the single theater in 
town, The Old American Company. The company played 
in a red wooden building on the north side of John Street 
between Broadway and Nassau. The doors opened at six 
and the curtain went up at seven. Washington's presence 
ensured a full house and box office receipts of eight hundred 
dollars, and the line of sedan chairs introduced by Franklin 
on his return from France horses, and carriages went clear 
back to Broadway. 

At the Old American the fare might include The School 
for Scandal and a comic opera called The Poor Soldier, or 
Royall Tyler's The Contrast, or The Shipwreck, featuring 
a real balloon on the stage, or The Merry Wives of Wind- 
sor, Richard III, The Duenna, The Critic, and plays by 
Otway, Fielding, and other British playwrights. 

The theater might be uncomfortably cold on winter 
nights, but the audience thumped its feet to keep warm. 
There were no reserved seats, unless servants were sent 
ahead to hold them, and members of the audience some- 
times crowded onto the stage with the actors, which was a 


& Chief Justice Jay * 

great inconvenience. Still there was a half-hour concert 
of fiddles and drums, and everyone enjoyed the flurry of 
music and the turning of newly fashionable opera glasses 
as the President entered his box. There were cheers also for 
Adams and Clinton when they entered their boxes. 

Musical societies thrived, mainly inspired by Hessian 
bandmasters and musicians. Guitars were fashionable for 
ladies and the German flute for men. Teachers did well, 
even the dwarf William Hofmeister, Billy the Fiddler, who 
announced frankly that he taught because he could do 
nothing else. Dancing masters were popular, but the alle- 
mandes and rigadoons and cotillions demanded almost 
martial regulation. Improvised grace and individual per- 
formances were frowned on. 

Artists had a rough time of it, and the best stayed in 
Europe, which was both profitable and congenial. But 
John Trumbull of Connecticut, son of a former governor, 
came back from his studies with Benjamin West in Lon- 
don and did rather well with commissions to paint Wash- 
ington and Clinton. Guiseppe Ceracchi sculptured busts of 
Hamilton, Clinton, and Jay before he went back to Italy, 
rebuffed in his project to do a one-hundred-foot marble 
statue of Liberty. 

New York made the most of its year as the nation's 
capital. Its brief role ended in late 1790 when the capital 
was moved to Philadelphia until the site on the Potomac, 
at last agreed upon for a permanent capital, should be 
ready. This had been a source of wild contention and 
maneuvering, with Jefferson agreeing to support Hamil- 
ton's assumption of state debts bills in return for a southern 
capital. Meantime whole families, offices, and departments 
must be transplanted to Philadelphia and space found there, 
so many people were in the throes of moving that fall. Jay 



would be required to visit occasionally but did not have to 
uproot his family and live there. 

While Jay was on circuit in Hartford, Sally reported to 
him the ironical timing of the departure of Judge Iredell 
on a icxx>mile circuit just before his mother arrived from 
England to see him. She entertained the judge's wife and 
mother and also the Hamiltons before they left town. In a 
giddy moment she had even extended her hospitality to 
the five Hamilton children. The Knoxes were the next to 
leave, and she entertained their household at a family 
dinner. She saw much of the Peter Munros. Peter had re- 
mained a dear favorite of the Jays long after his participa- 
tion in their trip abroad, though he was now a rising law- 

For a period Sally had no time to feel either regret or 
relief at the departure of so many friends and associates. 
Little Nancy had an ulcerated throat and was seriously 
ill. She was treated with mercury and then another doctor 
was consulted. In addition she had a severe toothache and 
pain in the gums, which her mother eased with laudanum 
on cotton. Sally didn't leave her alone for a single hour, 
as she wrote John at dawn one Sunday. Nancy had been im- 
proving since the afternoon before and that Sunday evening 
the doctor pronounced her out of danger, but Sally was tak- 
ing no chances on a relapse. 

The next spring, before John left on his circuit duties, 
Susan came to visit and noted new little lines of fatigue 
in Sally's pretty face. Why shouldn't Sally take a second 
honeymoon, without the cares of family and household? 
Susan was there to run the household and take care of 
the children. Peter at fourteen was attending his father's 
alma mater, now renamed Columbia College. Maria had 
a new challenge and was learning to dance. What was 


* Chief Justice Jay * 

there to prevent Sally from going with John and enjoying 
a little trip? 

Sally brightened immediately, and the color came back 
into her cheeks. They could spend a week at Rye with 
John's brother and his family and then go up to Bedford 
for a more careful appraisal of John's property there, a 
farm of five hundred acres. 

It would be pleasant to be a guest instead of a hostess for 
a change, but the high point of the trip for them would 
be inspecting the Bedford farm. They would visit with 
Major and Mrs. Lyons, the tenant farmers, at their brick 

It was a day's journey from Rye, two days from New 
York, a distance of fifty miles, and the mail arrived in 
Bedford only once a week. It was beautiful rolling coun- 
try, heavily wooded, lined with century-old stone walls, 
and the fresh scent of lilacs flooded the lanes as they 
drove up to the house where the Lyonses lived. 

"Before we go in, let's walk around and take a quick 
look," Sally proposed as they descended from the carriage. 
John readily agreed, and they stopped only to make their 
arrival known and to greet the major and his wife. 

The sun was low on the horizon when they walked 
across the stony fields to the crest of the hill and looked 
toward the west. "You can see across the Kisco and Croton 
valleys clear to the Dunderberg by the Hudson on a day 
like this/' John pointed out. "My mother's father, Jacobus 
van Cortiandt, bought this in 1703 from the Indian chief 
Katonah, and I've always loved this spot." 

"It's beautiful, John. We could build the house on this 
very hill, don't you think? Can't you see a driveway curving 
up the hill from the road to the front of the house?" 

"And here, facing southwest, would be a piazza to 



capitalize on the view/' In his enthusiasm John snatched 
up a stick from the ground and began making marks in the 
soft earth to indicate his plans. "On the left would be a 
parlor, very large, and behind it a library" 

"And over on the right a dining room/' Sally joined in 
with zest and the sensible demands of a good housewife. 
"And a large kitchen with plenty of working space for 
preserving and preparing food. And a good cellar for stor- 
ing potatoes and apples and tomatoes and other produce 
. . . Oh, no! Here we can afford the space for a separate 
building, can't we, John? And for wines too. Should we 
have our own smokehouse?" 

"Perhaps. A flour mill certainly. We already have a 
sawmill. But of course, Sally, it takes longer to build in 
the country than it does in the city. There we purchase 
materials ready to use and have only to put them together, 
but here we shall have to fell our own trees and hew them 
into planks. We have to break the stones" 

"There are plenty of those around," Sally said with a 
wry glance at the fields covered with rocks and stones. 

"Enough to run a stone wall along the road," John 
agreed. "We'll have to make our own bricks and burn the 

"Meanwhile we could live in the tenant's house and let 
them find lodgings in Bedford," Sally suggested. "It's not 
more than two or three miles away. And in Salem there's 
a good academy where William could go to school and 
come home for week-ends. Oh, John, I can't wait till we 
can begin to build here." Her face was flushed and rosy as 
a girl's, and he looked down at her with a smile at her 

He came back to reality and sighed. "Oh, Sally, I'm 
afraid it's not possible in the immediate future. Not un- 


* Chief Justice Jay * 

til the President finishes his term at least/' Political cares 
crowded out his enthusiasm for their projected retirement, 
and he frowned. "Washington has been disturbed over the 
feud between Hamilton and Jefferson. They find it im- 
possible to work together in harmony, and the President 
grows tired of trying to reconcile them. I know he too 
looks forward to retirement, but there is no one who can 
achieve what he can in pulling the nation together. I don't 
know . . . But we shall begin our plans before too long, 
I promise you, Sally/' 

She was disappointed, but she accepted the inevitable 
with good grace. Nevertheless, as they walked back to the 
neat little brick house, Sally studied it with the eye of a 
prospective occupant. It was compact, well designed, small 
but inviting, and for modest temporary needs would serve 
quite well. She loved the big tree that flanked the entrance 
and shadowed the front lawn. "Since you promised, I 
know our plans will come true some time/' she said with 
a confident smile at John. 


Dragons of Revolution 

New York City 


"Mr. Hamilton is waiting in the library, Madam." 

Sally had come in just ahead of John and was giving 
her jacket to the servant. She raised her eyebrows a trifle 
and turned to John as he entered the house. "Mr. Hamil- 
ton is early for dinner. I wonder if something has hap- 

They found him pacing around the library, a handsome 
young man, more sure of himself than ever since his skill- 
ful handling of the enormous responsibilities of the nation's 
treasury. He came toward Sally with his quick light step and 
lifted her hand gracefully to his lips; then he clasped John's 
hand with a nervous firm grip. Sally wondered whether the 
excitement in Hamilton's eyes signaled distress or elation. 

"Have you heard the news?" He was like a falcon, 
poised for a swift strike, and Sally felt a sudden deadly 
presentiment. Surely nothing had happened to the Presi- 
dent or 

"What news? Sit down, my friend, and we'll send for 
tea." Jay ordinarily had a calming effect on the younger 
man's frequent agitations, but this time Hamilton disre- 
garded the invitation and launched promptly into his 

"From Paris. You recall the young Comte de Fersen 
who fought here during the Revolution?" 

"I don't remember meeting him myself, but the Presi- 
dent has spoken well of him as an officer. A Swedish 
nobleman, I believe." 

"That's the one. There are rumors that when he went 
to France he found great favor in the eyes of the queen. 
Well, I've just received news from from a friend . . ." 


* Dragons of Revolution *r 

Jay repressed a smile. Hamilton had friends, often paid, 
in various strategic spots and many mysterious sources of 

". . . from a friend whom I shall not namethat, with 
Fersen's aid, the King and Queen of France made an at- 
tempt to escape from the Palace of the Tuileries!" 

"Attempt to escape?" Sally was puzzled. "They weren't 
prisoners surely. I know they left Versailles to live in Paris, 
but the king accepted the Declaration of Rights and swore 
he would uphold the Constitution. We heard that at the 
celebration of the fall of the Bastille last year he and the 
queen were cheered and saluted when the queen presented 
her son to the crowd/' 

Hamilton gave an eloquent shrug. "You know the 
French, how mercurial they are. Yes, they cheered La- 
fayette then, too, and made an idol of him. But now he's 
in disgrace/' 

"Lafayette in disgrace! But why?" John demanded. 
"He's as honest a man as ever lived. He's commander of 
the National Guard and one of the most powerful men 
in Paris." 

"Was," Hamilton said succinctly. "And the freedom 
of the royal family was a false freedom. They could roam 
Paris, but they could not leave for Saint Cloud or any 
other city." 

"What happened? Tell us," Sally pleaded, now on edge 
to hear. 

"They made an effort to escape, but it was unbelievably 
clumsy and stupid." Hamilton's voice was scornful. "Why, 
all of Paris knew what was going on before it was ever 
attempted! It was even rumored in the newspapers. What 
would you expect when half the servants, the ladies-in-wait- 
ing, and the officers of the royal household knew or sus- 



pected what was afoot? They had begun preparations in 
February by ordering a large coach. Later Marie Antoinette 
had insisted on sending trunks of her clothes ahead to Brus- 
sels. The king was determined to be escorted by squads of 
cavalrymen who were to meet them at stations along the 
way. The king would masquerade as a valet and the queen 
as governess and the king's sister as maid to the real gover- 
ness. What a farce!" 

"When did all this happen?" John asked. 

"In June. The Assembly had questioned Lafayette about 
a possible escape, but the Marquis believed the king's de- 
nial and told the Assembly he would stake his life on the 
king's word. On the twentieth he was warned that an at- 
tempt at escape would be made that night. He went to 
see the king, made sure that he was being tucked into 
bed, and then made the rounds of the sentries' posts." 

"Then how did they get out?" 

"Through an unused passageway to the Seine. Only, the 
queen was late probably forgot her favorite hairbrush or 
some such nonsense and then the coach broke down, so 
they were hours late in meeting the first squad. They found 
the cavalry had given up and ridden away. Late that eve- 
ning they changed horses at a relay station run by a man 
named Drouet who was a Revolutionary and used to serve 
in the dragoons. He thought the valet and the governess 
looked familiar and when the Valet' gave him a fifty franc 
note in payment, there was the profile of Louis XVI to 
compare him with. When the carriage left, he looked at 
the newspaper and found an article predicting the flight 
of the king." 

"Oh, how dreadful!" cried Sally, thinking of the terror 
of the queen for her children. "Did he capture them then, 
this Drouet?" 


* Dragons of Revolution * 

"He took a short cut to Varennes to notify the officials, 
and there the coach was stopped. The passengers were 
questioned and finally the king admitted his identity and 
even presented his inquisitors to the queen. The townsmen 
didn't know what to do and simply held him until a rider 
came with an order from Lafayette claiming that the king 
had been 'abducted by the enemies of the Revolution/ " 

"Why ever should Lafayette say that? And surely the 
king had said nothing of the sort/' Sally could not bear 
the suspense. Hamilton was altogether too good a narrator. 

"It didn't make sense to the townsmen either, but they 
were glad to be rid of a touchy problem and so sent the 
king back escorted by National Guards. Back at the palace 
the king ordered a huge dinner, during which our friend 
the marquis appeared to receive orders. The king said, 
It seems that you are not at my orders but I am at 
yours/ " 

"Oh, such humiliation for them!" Sally exclaimed. All 
too vividly she could remember Marie Antoinette's queenly 
presence and her graciousness to the young American 
visitor. "The poor queen!" 

"So now they are in truth prisoners/' John said thought- 
fully. "But what about Lafayette? He can't be in a very 
enviable position." 

Hamilton shrugged again. "So far safe. But Gouverneur 
Morris writes that he is in trouble and should save him- 
self before it's too late." 

"Poor Adrienne." Sally's quick sympathy reverted to her 
little French friend. "How frantic she must be with worry 
about him and the children!" 

"This French Revolution that Jefferson extols is getting 
more and more dangerous and out of hand," said Hamil- 
ton, plainly delighted at the thought of the discomfiture 



of his colleague. "What will he say to this, I wonder?" 

"It won't trouble him long/' Jay said. "He has little 
sympathy for monarchies or monarchs. But don't be so 
sure that American sympathizers to the French Revolu- 
tion will be alienated. I fear it will take greater excesses 
than the imprisonment of the royal family to alarm them. 
For my part, I hope the leaders will be satisfied with 
what has been accomplished with the Declaration of 
Rights and the engineering of a constitutional monarchy." 

"The king left behind a note disavowing both and virtu- 
ally abdicating/' Hamilton said with satisfaction. "Sooner 
or later something more drastic than imprisonment will 

Sally watched him with silent displeasure. How like 
him to ignore the human aspects of a situation and to 
seize on the political implications. 

"Exile/' said John, musing. "Perhaps." 

"That would be the most fortunate thing for the royal 
family at this point/' Sarah said, depressed. "I don't 
think Marie Antoinette really felt very much at home in 
France. She would probably love to return to Austria, 
even though it would wound her pride." 

"She has plenty of that," said Hamilton dryly. "But bet- 
ter wounded vanity than death." 

"Death!" Both the Jays stared at Hamilton with shock. 

"I shouldn't be surprised if the king were tried for 
treason. Besides the note, he left behind a safe full of docu- 
ments showing correspondence and plots with Austria for 
an invasion to rescue and re-establish his power." 

"Oh, the people wouldn't dare!" Sally exclaimed. 

Even John was dismayed to hear this. "How could the 
king have been so foolish! To carry on such a correspond- 
ence was foolish enough, but to leave incriminating evi- 


* Dragons of Revolution * 

dence is worse. Yet it's hard to believe that the French 
are ready to have a government without a king. Perhaps 
they would crown the dauphin/' 

"We haven't seen the worst of this revolution yet/' said 
Hamilton darkly. "And look at the reverberations here in 

At the beginning, the French Revolution had appeared 
a magnificent step toward freedom, particularly in the eyes 
of Americans who had themselves fought a successful revo- 
lution. The Bastille had been conquered and destroyed; 
their hero Lafayette, as commander of the National Guard, 
was a power in France; and a constitution had set a check 
to absolute monarchy. 

Thousands of Americans joined the Democratic clubs 
modeled on the Jacobin Club, sang the songs and danced 
the Carmagnole of the French Revolution, cut their hair 
in the fashions of the revolution, called each other Citizen 
and Citizeness, saluted every French victory. They showed 
more ardor for the revolution across the ocean than they 
ever had for their own. It was a good deal safer, and there 
was less to risk. Liberty was such an alluring concept that 
many blinded themselves to violence. 

Like Hamilton, Washington had foreseen that the 
French Revolution was of too great magnitude to be con- 
fined in space and time without bloodshed. His dear 
friend Lafayette, as he knew, was more distinguished by 
good intentions than by political acumen and would be 
powerless when the purges began. 

In the fall of 1792 came news of Lafayette's flight to 
Belgium and request for passage through Austrian-held terri- 
tory. Instead, he was sentenced, by some curious logic, 
to be held as hostage for Louis XVI and imprisoned in 
some unknown dungeon in Austria. Then came the Sep- 



tember massacres and the abolishment of royalty. On Sep- 
tember 21 of that year Louis XVI, King of France, and 
his consort, Marie Antoinette, became plain Louis and 
Marie Capet 

The farce was ended. In January of 1793 the abolish- 
ment was carried one step further; Louis Capet was 
charged with treason, tried, sentenced, and guillotined. Ten 
months later the Widow Capet was beheaded, and in 1794 
the Reign of Terror began. Nearly three thousand persons 
were guillotined, only 650 of them of noble or wealthy 
families. And a young man named Napoleon Bonaparte 
emerged as the new hero of France. 

Even the most fervent supporters of the revolution 
blanched at such excesses of violence and hysteria. With 
pain Sally heard of the imprisonment of Adrienne de La- 
fayette. The stoic little marquise supplied living expenses 
and provisions for the four women with whom she shared 
a room in the prison and did the cooking. Her lands 
were confiscated and sold, but she sometimes saw her 
children and their tutor. Stoically she resigned herself to 
death by guillotine. Her aged and guiltless grandmother, 
her mother, and her sister were all executed. But for some 
obscure reason Adrienne was released in the next year. 

Her son, George Washington Lafayette, she entrusted to 
the care of his godfather in America. Then she packed 
what few possessions remained to her, managed to trace 
her husband, and with her two daughters joined him in 
prison. After five years of prison Lafayette was released, 
and eventually, in defiance of exile, the family went to 
live near Paris at the Chateau de la Grange. 

Meanwhile the furor of enthusiasm for the French Rev- 
olution died away in America, but not without leaving a 
sharp rift between the two parties, Federalists and Re- 


# Dragons of Revolution * 

publicans. The feud between Hamilton and Jefferson grew 
worse and more unmanageable. Washington, endeavoring 
to steer a reasonable course between the two extremes in 
his cabinet, was in such anguish that he could think of 
little but retirement. All factions, however, recognized his 
value to a still frail nation and pressed him urgently to 
accept another term of office. 

In December, 1792, Washington was re-elected. He 
would serve again. So would Hamilton, Jay, and Jefferson. 
Mount Vernon, Bedford, and Monticello would remain 
without masters for another period. 


'The Choice of the People 

New York City 


Prospects of retirement faded for the immediate future. 
The usual parade of household duties, cares, and pleasures 
marched on. Mr. Hammond, the English minister, arrived 
and called with Sir John Temple, but John was away. The 
Vice President and his lady, Abigail Adams, came to town 
for two days and Sally exchanged visits with her. Mrs. 
Hamilton visited her for three weeks and proved a little 
tedious. Sally longed to see John. 

In February, the Jays' third daughter, Sarah, was born and 
was promptly nicknamed Sally. 

Circuit duties were becoming more and more irksome. 
There were weeks of riding, living often in taverns with 
bad food, worse beds, and fleas, bugs, and filth. John re- 
fused to stay with friends or to accept the many invitations 
he received; he felt it would be improper for a judge, who 
might therefore be suspected of partiality. Once he was 
marooned for days by a snowstorm near Hartford. 

Still, there were pleasant interludes of dining with law- 
yers, governors, clergymen, and college presidents. There 
was the opportunity to exchange views and information 
with fanners and tradesmen and to swap stories. With a 
view to running his own farm, he studied grafting, feed 
for cattle, and recorded home remedies for ailments. 
Though he liked his work as a sort of public relations man, 
he came to feel that when most of the state-federal re- 
lationships had been resolved locally, it was time to curtail 
circuit activities. He was "not quite convinced that riding 
rapidly from one end of the country to another is the best 
way to study law. I am inclined to believe that knowledge 


* "The Choice of the People" * 

may be more conveniently acquired in the closet than in 
the high road." 

In 1792 Jay was nominated for governor of New York. 
He did no campaigning and merely continued with 
his duties as Chief Justice. Clinton had been a fine war- 
time governor, but lately had been steadily filling state 
offices with his friends and favoring such measures as 
cemented his own popularity. He was harsh with the re- 
turned Tories and fought the Constitution and later Ham- 
ilton's fiscal policies, but was defeated at every turn, despite 
his power, by Hamilton and Jay and the Livingstons. 

But in the gubernatorial campaign of 1792, the Liv- 
ingston clan made an abrupt switch under the leader- 
ship of John's old friend, the Chancellor. Sally was deeply 
grieved that her own family should turn on her husband. 

"It's true they were very influential in supporting the 
Constitution and the new government/' she acknowledged 
to John. "But did they support it because they believed in 
it or just because they thought you as a friend of Wash- 
ington's would be in a position to reward them with 
offices? They should have known that neither you nor 
Washington would make any appointments except on the 
basis of what man can and will do the best work. If the 
Chancellor had not been so ready to retire from public 
life a few years ago because he disdained to work in 
politics . . ." 

Even now John could remember the letter Robert Liv- 
ingston had written him during the Revolution, and he 
quoted it: "I am engaged in a round of little politicks 
to which I feel myself superior." John could also remem- 
ber his reply: "That you have deserved well of your Coun- 
try is confessed, and that you became latterly a little re- 
laxed is not disputable . . . like some game Horses you 



sometimes want the Whip ... I admire your Sensibility, 
nor would I wish to see less Milk in your veins; you would 
be less amiable . . . but I think a man's Happiness re- 
quires that he should condescend to keep himself free 
from fleas and wasps, as well as from thieves and robbers." 

He sighed heavily. "It's true that the Chancellor de- 
serves well of his country for his efforts, but it is short- 
sighted to appoint a man to office because he deserves 
well instead of the man who is best fitted for the office. 
Many very competent and well-meaning men have been 
passed over in favor of men with more ability, experi- 
ence, and integrity, men who want to do the best possi- 
ble job because it is important, not because it will win 
them prestige and recognition." 

Just then the maid came in with a letter from his 
friend Dongan on Staten Island. After a quick perusal, 
John smiled and read parts of it to Sally. For lack of other 
ammunition, Dongan wrote, the Clintonians were using 
"the lowest Subterfuges of craft and chicane to mislead 
the ignorant and unwary . . . The song is that it is your 
particular wish and desire to rob every Dutchman of the 
property he possesses the most near his heart, to wit: his 
Slaves, that you are not satisfied with doing that, but 
wish to oblige their masters to educate the children of 
those slaves in the best Manner, if they are not even able 
to educate their own children." 

"They accuse you of luxuriating in European courts 
while brave Clinton risked his life in battle," Sally put in 
indignantly. "Did you see The Daily Advertiser in Feb- 
ruary? And they attack you for drawing ninety-five thousand 
dollars in public service. That sounds like Brockholst. He 
knows very well that you would have made much more 


* "The Choice of the People" * 

than that in private life, at least half again as much if 
not twice. The wretched boy!" 

"There are silly accusations on all sides/' John said in- 
dulgently. "That is why I refuse to have anything to do 
with such articles and why I never begin a conversation 
or correspondence on the subject of the election. My own 
work keeps me occupied enough/ 7 He opened a sheaf of 
documents and prepared to work at his desk. 

Sally put an arm over his shoulder. "It would be nice 
if you were governor, John. You could spend more time at 
home. The children are all hoping you will win the elec- 
tion, you know, and mainly for that reason. You wouldn't 
have to be going out on circuit for weeks and months at a 
time or spending so much time in Philadelphia/' 

"The time in Philadelphia is well used/' John said 
gently. "Not only in judicial matters but in conferences 
with the President. He's greatly distressed at the dissen- 
sion between Hamilton and Jefferson, and though he 
knows Hamilton is a friend of mine, he trusts me to be 
impartial. As long as I can give advice in a private capacity 
and am not asked for a judicial opinion, I feel that I must 
offer him counsel when he asks it. Hamilton has been rather 
too friendly with Hammond, the English minister, and is 
interfering with the Department of State." 

"I hear Mr. Jefferson is not above attacking the Presi- 
dent and his policies, as well as Hamilton, through his man 
Freneau in the National Gazette," Sally retorted in defense 
of their friend. 

"The truth is that both are being indiscreet and stooping 
to measures unworthy of them. The tragic thing is that 
both mean well and earnestly want to do what is best for 
the country, but they have opposite ideas on what is 



best. Hamilton favors a strong central government, full 
assumption by the nation of the states 7 debts and full pay- 
ment, leans toward friendship with Britain and suspicion 
of the French Revolution/ 7 

"Mr. Jefferson obviously had his head turned by the 
flattery of the French during his stay in Paris/' Sally said 
with acerbity, "or he wouldn't swallow quite so uncriti- 
cally everything that happens in France/' 

John gave her a wry smile. "This is exactly what the 
Antifederalists accuse me of in reverse, you know. That 
I am anti-French and pro-English because I was received 
well in England and failed to inform the French of each 
stage of the negotiations of the peace treaty/' 

"That's absurd," Sally said fiercely. "Everyone knows 
you were strictly impartial when you were foreign secre- 
tary. Also we were very well received in France." 

"Facts make little difference to men in the heat of pas- 
sion," John reminded her. "They believe what they want 
to believe. Mr. Jefferson is biased in favor of the French 
because they aided us mightily during the Revolution when 
we so badly needed help. Also because he believes in the 
power of education to guide the common man" 

"But so do you," Sally exclaimed. "Haven't you said that 
every man, regardless of color or condition, has a natural 
right to freedom and education? But that doesn't make 
education a cure-all for everything, as Mr. Jefferson seems 
to think/' 

"He puts his faith in an agrarian society and thinks an 
urban, industrial nation is a corrupted nation. And of 
course he favors a weak government with more power for 
the states and is against Hamilton's financial position. 
And though both England and France have given provoca- 
tion, Hamilton thinks we should declare war on France 


* "The Choice of the People" * 

and Jefferson thinks we should declare war on England/' 

"And what do you think?" 

"I don't think we should declare war on anyone. We're 
not ready for any war, and it would be foolish. What we 
need is years of peace to strengthen the nation. We need 
to concentrate on crops and industries, on schools and col- 
leges, roads and bridges. We need to extend the mail 
service that Franklin initiated and to build an army and 
navy and merchant marine. We need to work out good 
relations with the Indians and settle our frontiers. This is 
what the President is fighting for time to build the na- 
tion, not to wage wars. He believes and I do too exactly 
what he said in his first address as President that 'The 
preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of 
the republican model of government, are justly considered 
as deeply, perhaps as finally staked upon the experiment 
entrusted to the hands of the American people . . / " 

They both fell silent, remembering the day of Wash- 
ington's inauguration when all the people were united 
and rejoicing. Now the country was divided into factions 
and parties, and the press was filled with attacks, not only 
on Hamilton and Jefferson as party leaders, but on Wash- 
ington himself. 

Throughout the state campaign John remained silent 
and concentrated on his regular duties. His one public 
statement was the result of an article by one "Timothy 
Tickler/' which contained a scathing denunciation of Chan- 
cellor Livingston for his about-face in politics after 1788, 
and accused him of being motivated by resentment for not 
being named to an office. 

Goaded by this, Livingston concluded that John must 
have written the article and retorted with a scurrilous 
article. Hurt not only by the tone of the article but by 


Livingston's willingness to believe that his old friend 
could have written a tirade against him, Jay published a 
reply which said only that he was not the author of any 
political paper that year, knew nothing of the origin of 
any such, and had contributed no information, counsel, 
or suggestion in regard to any, and therefore he could not 
"be responsible for the pain their publications have given/' 

In the spring he visited his blind brother at Rye, planted 
willows, walnut, pear, and plum trees in the garden there, 
"an innocent and rational amusement/ 7 and attended to 
his Bedford lands. On the day of the election he was in- 
terested in a discussion of a walnut tree that had been 
grafted with an apple tree, and on the next day he opened 
the Circuit Court at New Haven. 

His indifference was not matched by the public or by 
his friends. Judge Hobart was sanguine, and other friends 
ran to Sally all day long with the latest reports and rumors 
of votes. Robert Troup kept John informed of the counts 
as they filtered in and wrote on May second that he had 
little doubt that the election was his. Sally was elated at 
the prospect that her husband once more would be able 
to stay at home and wrote that Philip Livingston had 
whispered to her at the Hamilton house that if the Jays 
moved into Government House, he would be happy to 
take their home on Broadway. Judge Hobart rushed over 
on Sunday evening to congratulate her on Jay's triumph. 

On the next day came the news that instead of winning 
by a majority of 1,000 votes, Jay had lost by about 100 
through the trickery of the Clintonians who, on a techni- 
cality rejected some county votes. That evening Sarah sat 
down at John's own desk in his room, almost persuading 
herself that she was conversing with him, to write him the 
news. "Oh, Mama, then we shall not see Papa this great 


* "The Choice of the People" * 

while/' the children had mourned, she wrote. She was 
ashamed to say that Brockholst and Ned Livingston were 
guilty of suggesting the technical evasions by which Clin- 
ton was elected, though eight leading lawyers had re- 
ported they considered the key counties legal in their bal- 

"I am satisfied that the sentiments of the people are 
with you, whether you are or are not Governor, it appears 
you are the choice of the people." She was elated at the 
praises of her husband. 

While John's mare was being shod in East Hartford, he 
stopped at a tavern and looked over the newspapers for 
the results of the canvass. Then he wrote a letter to Sally. 
He was pleased that the majority were for him, but the in- 
justice did not greatly surprise him and he hoped it would 
not much affect her. "Having nothing to reproach my- 
self with in relation to this event, it shall neither dis- 
compose my temper, nor postpone my sleep. A few years 
more will put us all in the dust; and it will then be of 
more importance to me to have governed myself than to 
have governed the State." 

John dismissed the election lightly, but the reverbera- 
tions against Clinton were powerful. Jay's return to New 
York was a triumphal progress. He was f6ted in Albany, 
was guest of honor at a July Fourth celebration, and was 
met at Harlem Heights by a crowd of people on foot, on 
horseback, and in carriages, who paraded with him past 
cheering rows of admirers all the way down to his house 
on Broadway. The city was bright with flags and gay with 
the pealing of church bells. Jay made a short speech which 
was almost drowned in applause. He pleaded that politi- 
cal differences must not interrupt the functioning of so- 
ciety and government and effectively soothed the New 


York Federalists. He was guest of honor at a huge ban- 
quet at the City Tavern. But the up-state Federalists were 
still in ferment and all but ready to throw Clinton out of 
office. Through the rest of his term he was known as ''The 

In July Rufus King spent an evening with the Jays. In 
discussing the election he observed that since Clinton had 
filched the election this year, it would be interesting to 
see what would happen three years hence. 

"John," Sally said fervently, "I would much rather lose 
a crown, as you have lost the governorship, than gain an 
empire upon the terms Governor Clinton steals into his!" 

John smiled and removed the Havana cigar from his 
mouth. "And I, my dear Sally, would rather have your 
suffrage than the unanimous approbation of the whole 


Chapter 17 

Mission to London 

New YorJc City, Bedford 


In the fall of 1792 John was taken ill while he was riding 
circuit and had to spend several weeks in bed. When he 
recovered a little, the doctor sent him to Rye for a com- 
plete rest and vacation. Sally wanted to go, but she had to 
remain with the girls in New York; the smaller children 
still had whooping cough. Whenever John was ill, Sally be- 
came conscious of the fact that a vacation was only a 
temporary alleviation for him and that, until he retired, he 
could hardly hope for a full restoration of his health. 

The idea of retirement was never far from her thoughts, 
and in the summer of 1793 she took two of the younger 
children and her maid Effy first to Rye and then, by wagon, 
to Bedford for a visit. 

She made a full report to John on progress. "We dined 
at Holly's and arrived early in afternoon at the Farm. The 
major and his wife made us very welcome and after sit- 
ting with them we began our rambles. The place looks 
much prettier than when I was there before. The cellar 
for the new house is dug and the bricks are there but the 
stone is not yet drawn . . . We felt no other wish than to 
be peaceably settled there. The next morning after break- 
fast we went in the wagon to see the Mill, where we 
found John is miller himself. He explained the use of the 
different parts. The strength of it surprised me. We took 
leave of Major and Mrs. Lyons, returned and dined at 
Rye at four P.M. I am so especially anxious to see you and 
the children that if Brother would have consented to my 
leaving him, I should have set out Monday but neither he 
nor Polly will hear of it." 

John read her letter with a smile. He could see the four- 
year-old William prancing excitedly around the fields and 

* Mission to London * 

clambering with his older sister Nancy over the brickwork 
and stones of the cellar, delightedly exploring this grand 
new world that would some day represent home to them. 
And how Sally must have loved visiting the farm again, 
planning once more how to furnish the house, imagining 
it as it would look when finished. 

Reluctantly he went back to work on his brief for the 
case of Chisholm, Executor, v. The State of Georgia. This 
was an exceedingly delicate matter, this question of state 
sovereignty, and he wanted to think it through as rigor- 
ously and deeply as possible. He would have liked to join 
Sally on her journey to Bedford, but on such a key decision 
as this it was well that he was alone to concentrate on his 
analysis of the case. 

For the first time the suability of a state had been pre- 
sented in the Supreme Court of the nation. The state of 
Georgia refused to appear except to defy the jurisdiction 
of that court. Suppose he began, John mused, with the 
assertion that the states had never possessed an independ- 
ent sovereignty before the Revolution. The people were 
then subjects to the king of Great Britain. However when 
after the Revolution they established a Constitution, the 
people were acting as sovereigns of the whole country. 
John pondered this and finally reached for paper and pen 
and began writing. He stopped once when the light 
failed and set a match to the lamps on his desk, vaguely 
conscious of the sound of rain against the windows, and 
then wrote steadily on. 

Hours later he set down the pen and flexed his fingers 
absently, reading over the crucial sections. 

From the crown of Great Britain the sovereignty 
of their country [the United States] passed to the 



people of it ... then the people, in their collective 
and national capacity, established the present Con- 
stitution. It is remarkable that, in establishing it, the 
people exercised their own rights and their own 
proper sovereignty; and conscious of the plenitude of 
it, they declared, with becoming dignity: "We, the 
people of the United States, do ordain and establish 
this Constitution." Here we see the people acting as 
sovereigns of the whole country, and, in the language 
of sovereignty, establishing a Constitution, by which 
it was their will that the State governments should 
be bound, and to which the State constitutions should 
be made to conform . . . the sovereignty of the na- 
tion in the people of the nation, and the residual sov- 
ereignty of each State in the people of each State . . . 

The issue, it seemed to him, was: Which is sovereign, 
the people or the States? It appeared clear to Jay that the 
people were sovereign and the States therefore subsidiary 
to the Constitution they themselves had set up. 

Suddenly aware of fatigue, he got up and went to the 
window to throw it open and relieve the stuffiness inside. 
He was surprised that it was storming. In spite of the 
howling wind, he held the window open to take deep 
breaths of the night air and feel the lash of rain on his 
face. Now he wished Sally were with him. She was clear- 
minded and appreciative, and he liked to test the logic of 
his briefs on her good common sense. But he thought she 
would approve of his work that night. 

The landing of the French minister Gent at Charles- 
ton in the spring of 1793 provoked the already widespread 
delirium of enthusiasm for the French Revolution into a 


* Mission to London * 

frenzy of celebration. He made a triumphal journey all 
the way to Philadelphia, to the great delight of Jefferson. 

Jay had approved the work of the National Assembly in 
limiting the powers of the king and giving more power to 
the people, but the torrents of bloodshed that followed 
the execution of the king alarmed him, although he had 
no such admiration for monarchial government as Hamil- 
ton. To the American populace, when France declared war 
on Great Britain, it was a signal for a resurrection of the 
old Tory-Whig barriers. England was our enemy, France 
our ally, the Federalists a reincarnation of the hated 

In the capital crowds rushed through the streets, shout- 
ing the "Marseillaise," theme song of the Revolution, and 
insulting British sailors. Men wore the French tricolor in 
their hats and took their families to the Black Bear to see 
waxworks automatons perform the execution of the king. 

To Adams it was sound and fury; to Jefferson it was 
music celebrating the emergence of the common man. And 
the frenzy for revolution rose higher than it ever had dur- 
ing the years of the Colonies' war against Britain. 

Alarmed, Hamilton wrote Jay, asking his opinion on the 
advisability of receiving "Citizen Genet" and on announc- 
ing a policy of neutrality toward the warring nations. 
Would Jay draft a proclamation? At a cabinet meeting 
Washington discussed the question of neutrality and gave 
Randolph, rather than Jefferson, the chore of drafting the 
proclamation on the basis of Jay's ideas. The proclamation 
of neutrality without the use of that word was pub- 
lished in April. 

Washington received Gent with cold formality, but the 
minister circulated everywhere, even fitting out privateers 
despite the declaration of neutrality. Gen6t defied Wash- 



ington and the government, and no juries would support 
the courts in convicting defendants accused of violations 
of neutrality. Even Jefferson surreptitiously undermined 
the proclamation. 

The fever mounted. Genet threatened to appeal to the 
people, an outrageous insult to Washington and his admin- 
istration, and then capped everything by sending off a 
captured English brig which had been transformed into 
a French warship. This was in direct opposition to orders 
and against the pleas of Jefferson himself. Genet fell 
from favor with Jefferson and in 1794 was recalled by a 
new French government to face trial. Instead, he retreated 
to a farm on Long Island and silence and married the 
daughter of Governor Clinton. 

But war still hung heavily on the horizon, and as John 
wrote to Sally from Mrs. Gibbons's boarding house on 
Spruce Street in Philadelphia in the spring of 1794, "There 
is much Irritation and agitation in this Town, and in 
Congress. Great Britain has acted unwisely and unjustly; 
and there is some danger of our acting intemperately." 

Later he wrote of a visit to the theater with Robert 
and Mary Morris to see Mrs. Whitlock, the sister of the 
famous Sarah Siddons, in The Gamester, a tragedy, and 
The Guardian. He was kept busy with court sessions that 
lasted till late evening, but heard of the gossip in town 
from his friends Colonel Wadsworth and the President and 
Ruf us King, 

Meanwhile, Sally was writing her sister Susan in Balti- 
more that by next spring they hoped to emigrate to Bed- 
ford. They had laid foundations for two houses in Broad 
Street, but had to delay building for various reasons. She 
was really more concerned with the plans for building 


"& Mission to London "& 

in Bedford. There she would willingly live till Maria was 
sixteen and her education and her sisters' would have to be 
completed in a New York school. Peter was leaving college 
in the spring and would enter his cousin Munro's office 
to study law. Little William would enter an academy 
next year in Salem, six miles from Bedford, and he could 
spend weekends with his family. "As retirement will afford 
more leisure to Mr. Jay, he will aid me in instructing our 

Less than a week after sending the letter to Susan, 
Sally's hopes were crushed by news from Philadelphia. 
War was so threatening that a special envoy was desper- 
ately needed to negotiate a treaty with England. Adams, 
Hamilton, and Jefferson had all been considered and for 
various reasons rejected. Hamilton wrote that Jay was "the 
only man in whose qualifications for success there would 
be a thorough confidence, and him whom alone it would 
be advisable to send. I think the business would have 
the best chance possible in his hands." 

It was recognized everywhere that the prospects of a 
favorable treaty were slim, but Washington invited Jay to 
breakfast, stressed the urgency of the situation and his 
responsibility as the best qualified man, and pressed him 
to accept the commission. In the afternoon came Hamilton 
and Rufus King and other Federalists to underscore the 

Without committing himself, Jay attended another 
court session until nine in the evening, then came to his 
room and sat down to compose a letter to Sally which 
might ease the blow to their plans. This time it would be 
impossible for Sally to accompany him. She could not 
leave the five children on such short notice, and there 



were too many ventures that someone had to watch over 
the Bedford property and building 7 the buildings in 
New York, and their own home. 

With great reluctance he took up his pen and began: 
"There is here a serious determination to send me to Eng- 
land, if possible to avert a war. The object is so interesting 
to our country, and the combination of circumstances 
such, that I find myself in a dilemma between personal 
considerations and public ones. Nothing can be much 
more distant from every wish on my own account . . . 
If it should please God to make me instrumental to the 
continuance of peace, and in preventing the effusion of 
blood, and other evils and miseries incident to war, we 
shall both have reason to rejoice. Whatever may be the 
event, the endeavor will be virtuous, and consequently 

A few days later he added, ". . . my feelings are very, 
very far from exciting wishes for its taking place. No ap- 
pointment ever operated more unpleasantly upon me; 
but the public considerations that were urged, and the 
manner in which it was pressed, strongly impressed me 
with a conviction that to refuse it would be to desert my 
duty for the sake of my ease and domestic concerns and 
comforts." He accepted. 

It was young Peter who punctured Sarah's dreams of re- 
tiring to Bedford when he burst into the house agog 
with the latest news of Jay's appointment. While he was 
telling his mother of the rumors, Maria, Nan, and little 
William came running to see what was afoot. "Oh, no!" 
they wailed. "Papa can't go away! Not when we're making 
plans to move." 

Sarah hushed them with assurances that this was only 


* Mission to London * 

rumor and they calmed down. Only Peter was hopeful that 
the rumors were true, and he had a special reason. 

"Mania, do you remember when you came back from 
France, you and Papa said then that someday I could 
cross the ocean to see Europe when I was grown. And I 
sun grown, Mama, so why can't I go with Papa if he 
goes?'* he amended with a diplomatic sparing of her dis- 
tress. "I could be his secretary, couldn't I? I write a very 
good hand and spell well, and perhaps I could even com- 
pose some letters for him/ 7 

Sally smiled and made her tall son sit beside her. It 
seemed so short a time ago that he was painstakingly 
composing letters to tell her about tops and kites and 
the Continental Primer which he was learning to read. 
Now he, talked seriously about Plutarch and the Fed- 
eralist policies and discussed with his father farming 
methods and fine points of judicial practice. He was a 
good-looking boy with his father's deep-set clear eyes and 
sensitive mouth and the strong, straight Livingston nose 
with flaring nostrils. He was ready for graduation from 
college at eighteen. 

Peter's idea gave a new twist to the matter, and Maria 
joined in importantly. "Yes, I remember, Peter. Papa did 
say you should some day go abroad. It's true, Mama. 
Don't you remember?" 

"Yes, I remember, my sweet, but you were such a tiny 
girl you can hardly recall it." She turned back to Peter. 
Her heart was divided between the desire to provide 
every opportunity for her son and a mother's longing to 
keep him near her. "But, Peter, you were planning to go 
into Peter Munro's office to study law. He wiU be ex- 
pecting you, and it might not be so easy to find a satis- 



factory substitute. You don't want to disappoint him, do 
you? 7 ' 

Her son pulled up short in his enthusiasm. He had 
John's conscience and could not easily dismiss an obliga- 
tion. "Well but perhaps his present clerk could stay a 
few months longer. Or one of my classmates might sub- 
stitute for me/' 

"But suppose Peter liked the substitute so much he 
didn't want to give him up later?" Sally inquired slyly. 
"Then you'd have to look for another place/' 

It took him aback, but only for a moment. "But Peter 
knows how valuable such experience would be to me and 
eventually to him. You've always stressed the study of 
history and geography so much, and here is my chance 
to learn about them at first hand. What better oppor- 
tunity will I ever have? And I don't believe Peter will find 
a more apt assistant, either." 

At this Sally laughed outright. "You have all your father's 
sense of your own worth," she said dryly, "except that you 
have yet to demonstrate your abilities/' He blushed, and 
she took his hand. "I know you will one day, dear Peter," 
she said, with gentle affection. "But you must know that I 
would part with you with great reluctance and so would 
your brother and sisters." 

Nan promptly burst into tears at the thought of her 
brother's departure, and Sally quickly reassured her. Noth- 
ing was settled yet and could not be until John came 

"But you can make Papa stay home," Maria entreated 
her. "You know he does what you like." 

Sally placed an arm around her daughter. "In small 
things sometimes, but you don't know your father if you 
think he can be swayed by anything but his sense of duty 


* Mission to London * 

and what is right in a case like this. Now I must go and 
write to him." 

Her head was aching violently, and her eyes were sore 
from repressed tears. John's letters were so much in char- 
acter, so responsive to the double appeal of duty and his in- 
dispensability, that she knew she had been deluding her- 
self that he would not accept. She ventured the suggestion 
that he might take Peter along. And would he please con- 
tinue his daily letters to her to keep her informed? "Ab- 
sent or present/' she finished, "I am wholly yours." 

A week later she wrote that she did not wish to add to 
his conflicts by stressing her reluctance to see him go. 
"Never was I more sensible of the absolute ascendency 
you have over my heart. When almost in despair I threw 
myself on my bed and renounced the hope of domestic 
bliss your image in my heart seemed to upbraid me for 
adding to your trials. I assumed the charge of my family 
and even dare hope that by your example I shall be en- 
abled to look up to the Divine Protector . . ." 

In January, 1794, Edmund Randolph had succeeded 
Jefferson after the latter's resignation as Secretary of State, 
and it was Randolph who gave Jay his official instructions. 
But Hamilton, convinced as always that he knew best and 
all too persuasive with others, took it upon himself to med- 
dle in that department and in a private interview and a 
private letter gave Jay instructions that the envoy, with un- 
characteristic disregard of propriety, followed. The instruc- 
tions were extraordinarily free and required only two defi- 
nite conditions: There must be no conflict with American 
engagements to France, and American ships must be 
permitted access to the British West Indies. 

One important idea that Randolph had suggested pos- 
sible cooperation with the Baltic nations to maintain the 



principles of armed neutrality was the single good card 
Jay held in the diplomatic deal, and this he virtually 
ignored. There was also the interesting circumstance that 
the English minister Hammond had become a close friend 
of Hamilton. With singular indiscretion and obtuseness 
even for those days of amorphous ethical standards of diplo- 
macy, Hamilton confided to Hammond all kinds of perti- 
nent information, including Jay's instructions. This infor- 
mation Hammond dispatched with alacrity to his superiors 
in London. Jay's position in fencing with Lord Grenville 
would not be enviable. 

In the flurry of a quick visit home, John received a con- 
fidential letter from the President that requested him to 
take Pinckney's place as Minister to Great Britain at the 
conclusion of the negotiations. Such a post, important as it 
was, was too flagrant a violation of the Jay plans for retire- 

Sally had just come in from a visit when this letter ar- 
rived, and John discussed it with her. They agreed that it 
must not be accepted and that Jay with his usual prudence 
would return the letter to Washington to make sure the 
matter would remain confidential. Sally appeared strangely 
abstracted during their talk and John at last asked why. 

"Let's go out to the garden/ 7 Sally said after a moment's 

Puzzled, he wandered with her under the poplars in their 
yard and waited for her to explain. 

"Someone let slip today at tea the fact that you would 
make a likely presidential candidate for the Federalists 
when Mr. Washington retires," she said at length, "Did 
you know there had been talk of this?" 

John gave a shrug of his shoulders. "Only in passing as 


* Mission to London * 

they mention a dozen others. I wouldn't take that seri- 
ously. Why?" 

"But it is a possibility?'' 

"A far-fetched possibility, perhaps, but if s no decision 
that faces us now certainly. Why are you concerned, Sally?" 

She chose her words carefully. "Well, I didn't know how 
you felt about that possibility. But if you have a chance 
for the Presidency and feel that you should run if you are 
asked to perhaps you should reconsider this mission." 

"Why?" John said, surprised. "I've already accepted it." 

It was difficult to explain without suggesting that his 
mission had little chance of success, in the sense of pleas- 
ing the public, and she had heard enough of the sentiment 
for war against Great Britain to realize that even if Jay 
achieved a treaty, any treaty was likely to do irreparable 
harm to any possibility of winning the Presidency. But John 
saved her the pain of casting doubt on the issue of his mis- 
sion by divining what worried her. 

With a smile he put his hands on her shoulders and 
turned her to face him. "You're afraid that this assignment 
will ruin my chances for the Presidency, isn't that it? And 
that, therefore, I should let someone else assume the re- 
sponsibility and whatever unpopularity will result? Sally, 
you know me better than that. In the first place I'd rather 
retire than become President, and in the second place, if 
I'm considered the man most qualified for this mission, 
that is what I should do, whatever effect it might have later. 
That's a bridge I'll cross when I come to it. Meanwhile 111 
do my best in this work. Doesn't that please you? Or 
would you like to be once more the First Lady of the 

She almost cried with relief. "I'd rather be first lady at 



Bedford, thank you, sir. Oh, 111 be so happy when you re- 
turn! Then we can make definite plans, can't we? And 
though Pll miss Peter too, I'm glad youll have his com- 
pany in London." 

With his arm around her waist, they walked back to the 
house and stood for a moment in front of the dining- 
room windows. "The cherries will be ripe in a month or 
more," John noted. "How Fd love to be with you here 
watching the summer come instead of being closeted with 
Lord Grenville discussing the reasons why the British have 
not withdrawn from the western outposts and why our 
states have never paid the Tory claims." He sighed. "Any- 
how, I've learned enough to insist upon appointing my 
own choice for secretary this time. Fm taking John Trum- 
bull, our painter friend from New England." 

"He should be a good man," Sally said with pleasure. 
"He will be company for you as well as secretary and Peter 
will be interested in talking with him about art. Also he's 
lived in England and knows a lot of people who might be 
very helpful to you. And Peter can be your private secre- 

John was preceded by a report from a man who had 
known him twenty-five years ago and who relayed his 
memories of the young Jay to Lord Grenville. Jay was a 
man of "good sense and much information; has great ap- 
pearance of coolness; and is a patient hearer with a good 
memory. He argues closely, but is long-winded and self- 
opinioned. He can bear any opposition to what he advo- 
cates provided regard is shown to his ability. He may be 
attached by good treatment but will be unforgiving if he 
thinks himself neglected; he will expect to be looked up to, 
not merely as American agent, but as Mr. Jay, who was in 
Spain, who has been high in office from the beginning. On 

* Mission to London * 

the whole they could not have made a better choice, as he 
certainly has good sense and judgment, both of which 
must have mellowed since I saw him. But almost every 
man has a weak and assailable quarter, and Mr. Jay's weak 
side is Mr. Jay." 

It was a perspicacious analysis of the young Jay who 
was just beginning to practice law, who had not yet 
courted and married Sally, and who had not yet tested his 
powers before the Continental Congress and the courts of 
Europe. It did not take into account the leavening of 
Jay's still healthy sense of self-esteem by Sally's fond and 
exasperated teasing nor Jay's awareness of his own weak- 
nesses. He was prepared to be on guard against the potent 
weapons of flattery and good treatment and was equally 
armored against possible opposite treatment on his return 
from concluding the treaty. He took in stride the fact that 
this undertaking might end his political life. 


er 18 

Burned in Effigy 

New York City 


The wind was propitious and the moon near full on May 
fourteenth when Captain Kemp commanded his crew to 
prepare The Ohio for weighing anchor. Peter wrote de- 
lightedly to his mother that a two-day delay had enabled 
them to go ashore with letters and bring on board "a clever 
parcel of Fish and two sheep/' John had his usual devas- 
tating bouts of seasickness, but otherwise the voyage went 
well, enlivened by long discussions with his Quaker ad- 
mirer, Thomas Scattergood, on his message of peace. Four 
days after they sighted Ireland, they reached the port of 
Falmouth, just missing the thunder of guns that marked 
Lord Howe's great sea victory over the French. 

The American consul greeted them at Falmouth. Peter 
was wide-eyed at the excellent roads, the fine inns, and the 
sights en route to London. There was nothing like this in 
America, nor had Peter known any place like Bath, where 
his father showed him the Roman baths and the famous 
bridge of shops and the beautiful crescents. 

At Bath Thomas Pinckney welcomed them cordially 
and invited them to dine with him in London the next day 
at the fashionable London dinner hour of five-thirty. In 
London Angelica Church and her husband, avid for news 
of America and of Angelica's sister and Colonel Hamilton, 
entertained them at dinner several times. There were in- 
vitations for other dinners and week-ends in the country, 
and there were theater parties with Lord Grenville, Charles 
James Fox, and various ambassadors and friends. John 
had an interview with the king and later with the queen. 

A high point for Peter was a visit to the extraordinary 
trial of Warren Hastings at the time when the brilliant 


* Burned in Effigy * 

Edmund Burke concluded his argument. In spite of Burke's 
eloquence, their Lordships seemed inattentive, which was 
not too much to be wondered at since the trial had already 
lasted seven years. Inspired by this trial, Peter began to read 
with enthusiasm Blackstone's volumes on law, an educa- 
tion in itself. 

Peter was dazzled by everything and made sure his 
mother heard whatever his father neglected to mention. 
With Lord Grenville they visited Sir William Herschel's 
great telescope and actually walked through it. Together 
they dined with the Lord Chancellor and met Mr. Pitt, 
who remembered Sally from the Jays' stay in France a 
decade ago. They visited Copley's studio and heard Benja- 
min West, successor to Sir Joshua Reynolds as president of 
the Royal Academy, deliver a lecture. On Lord Mayor's 
Day Peter dined with the ancient guild of the Skinners 
Company and heard his father toasted. Peter attended 
John Tooke's trial for high treason and was greatly im- 
pressed with the candor, patience, and impartiality of the 
court and both counsels. He admired all the counsels but 
found none of them surpassing Burr and Harrison at home. 

He took the mail-coach to York, admired the York Ca- 
thedral, and switched to post-chaise to Edinburgh, which 
he thought most beautiful. On his return trip he saw York 
Minster lit at night by candles, a most spectacular and 
mysterious tableau. He rode to hounds, well mounted, and 
was pleased that he found little difficulty in keeping up. At 
Drury Lane he saw Mrs. Siddons and Mr. Kemble in The 
Merchant of Venice and decided that no words could 
praise enough the great Sarah's eloquence of delivery. 

For a time Lord Grenville was too busy to confer with 
Jay. He gladly accepted Jay's proposal that instead of us- 
ing diplomatic foils, they should be guided by the solemn 


urgency of peace between two peoples disposed to amity. 
At the beginning they would be alone in discussing the ma- 
jor points and only bring in their aides when their ideas 
were ripe for commitment. 

Cautiously John wrote to Hamilton that "appearances 
continue to be singularly favorable, but appearances merit 
only a certain degree of circumspect reliance . . . Person- 
ally I have every reason to be satisfied, and officially I 
have as yet no reason to complain . . ." 

Letters from Sally came at last, slowed as they had been 
by the ocean crossing. She was under a strain to hear of the 
voyage. "When I droop, who shall raise me if the wide 
ocean should swallow up my husband and my child? I'll 
recover myself instantly it was a slip of my pen," she 
added hastily. Wistfully she spoke of a tumultuous storm 
which had blown down the poplars in their yard and tum- 
bled down the unripe cherries from the tree by the dining 
room. Their man Frank had raised the poplars and hoped 
to save them. The children, unaware of her distress be- 
cause of John's long absence, unwittingly made her more 
sensitive. While they were washing the prints that orna- 
mented the chimney, they began arguing about which 
should have the favor of doing their father's. Maria took it 
first and refused to give it up to Nancy, and the episode 
touched Sally as further evidence of their love for John. 

She sent dutiful reports on progress at Bedford and com- 
mented sadly on the loss of Major Lyons's wife. In sum- 
mer she exclaimed triumphantly that Gilbert Stuart's por- 
trait of John was his very self, "an inimitable picture and I 
am all impatience to have it to myself. There is an excel- 
lent engraver here and Stewart [sic] has been solicited by 
citizens to permit an engraving for which he has asked 
and obtained my consent." 

* Burned in Effigy * 

She gave an account of business activities, proceeds, and 
investments, which she carried on with signal efficiency. 
Her sister Susan had been visiting. In the fall Susan 
would marry Judge John C. Symmes. Would John please 
let Peter know how much she enjoyed his entertaining let- 
ters? Mr. Stewart still had not sent the portrait. 

In September the country was prosperous, prices were 
uncommonly high, and the public had turned to favoring 
the Jay mission after all, she wrote. The children were 
charmed with the souvenirs John had sent from London. 

The next month Sally wrote that the children followed 
her everywhere and hung at her side. William desired her 
to say he was a good boy, and indeed he was a lovely child 
who promised much and would resemble his brother. Lit- 
tle Sally spoke little yet but the words she used were plain; 
she sat at the table, as Peter used to do years ago, and pre- 
tended she was writing. Nancy was irresistible with her 
beauty and soft caresses. As for herself, Sarah complained, 
"I write, as I frequently speak, without due reflection. 
You always have the advantage of me. I know what's right 
and you do it." 

In connection with Maria a knotty domestic problem 
had arisen and Sarah wished John were present to help her 
come to a decision. Maria had developed a determination 
to attend the fine but very distant girls' seminary at Bethle- 
hem, Pennsylvania. The school was full and had sixty 
girls on the waiting list, but Susan's new husband, Judge 
Symmes, who would pass through en route to Ohio, 
thought the society might be inclined to oblige him by tak- 
ing Maria, since he had done them signal favors. In case 
Maria were refused, she could return with some friends 
who were visiting their two daughters there. 

Sarah was proud of her daughter's eagerness to study 



and amused that Maria's ambition to promote her educa- 
tion so stunned her friends. They were awed that Maria 
would resign her social activities by choice to retire to a dis- 
tant school. Upon Ann this had a stimulating effect. She 
turned very industrious and would sit studying by Sally's 
side while her mother wrote. It had been difficult to bid 
good-by to her son and husband and it would be hard to 
part with Maria in their absence. But Maria was a mature, 
serious twelve-year-old and eager to go. 

The housekeeper Nelly had been married in the fall and 
had not been replaced. It was Sally's pleasure in John's 
absence to take full charge of the children, "her most 
pleasing companions/' since there were fewer demands on 
her time. She had asked for an accounting on the Bedford 
property from Major Lyons. His son had brought carriage 
horses to town that were lean and unbroken even to draw- 
ing a wagon. She was sending them to the riding instructor 
Swan to be broken, but she took the added precaution of 
sending Frank in attendance, "for the coachmen say Swan 
needs breaking as much as the horses." 

It was on a fine Saturday in October that Maria kissed 
and hugged Sarah good-by and mounted the cachee for the 
long journey to Bethlehem. She was too excited even to re- 
member the penknife and thread case, her Bible, and a 
half dollar in change left in her drawer. Once again Sarah 
stood on the steps of her house and watched a child ride 
serenely away for a long absence. 

The next week she was reporting to John the children's 
requests for souvenirs. Little William wanted a picture 
with a cow in it. The two younger girls requested a box of 
paints and silks to tambour and embroider. Maria hoped 
for two skein frames so that she could paint or embroider 


* Burned in Effigy ^ 

them for their satinwood stands, also filigree paper and 
cement to put it on with. 

Proudly Sarah enclosed a beautiful letter from Maria 
that had cheered her immensely and would be gratifying to 
her father. To Maria she wrote asking for details of her 
studies and instructors. She was happy to hear of her 
daughter's good work in geography, writing, ciphering, 
embroidery, and drawing. "Favor is deceitful," Sally re- 
minded her, "beauty vain, property precarious, but men- 
tal and personal accomplishments death only or sickness 
can deprive our families of." She would send Maria her old 
cardinal and muff for the winter and then next year would 
buy her more fashionable ones. At last the Stuart portrait 
of John had arrived and hung now in the alcove. 

The negotiations were coming to a close in London. Wat 
still hung in the balance, and Jay advised Randolph to 
continue to prepare for war but to avoid unnecessary in- 
dications of ill will. 

By fall Hammond had informed Grenville that Hamil- 
ton had assured him that America would not entangle it- 
self with European nations nor cooperate with the Baltic 
powers, and had also told him about Jay's minimum de- 
mand. Jay, unknowingly, was left with no useful card or 
threat. A war would have ruined his country. He had no 
choice, when Grenville found there was no hurry and no 
threat, but to accede to the terms Grenville outlined in an- 
swer to his proposals. Besides, the king had already prom- 
ised certain concessions and issued orders to protect neu- 
tral commerce and end impressment of American seamen. 
Jay could only take him on faith. 

On November nineteenth he signed the treaty of amity, 
commerce, and navigation and sent it off to America with 



letters to Washington, Hamilton, Randolph, and others. 
"Further concessions on the part of Great Britain cannot, 
in my opinion, be attained ... If this treaty fails, I de- 
spair of another . . ." 

He had succeeded in obtaining the minimum demands 
of evacuation of the British outposts by 1796, compensa- 
tion for plundering, and continuation of present commer- 
cial relations. But some of the British terms were unneces- 
sarily humiliating, and at home they aroused a furor. 

Jay heard nothing from America on the subject of the 
reception of the treaty. The courier was at sea from No- 
vember till late February, and it was March sixth before he 
reached the capital. In June the Senate met in secret ses- 
sion, promising solemnly not to disclose the terms, to dis- 
cuss the treaty. Four days later one of the Senators dis- 
patched a copy of the treaty to James Madison. 

No one was enthusiastic about it, and Hamilton called 
it an execrable treaty, but he was bound to support it. He 
did and was stoned for his pains. He did not, however, 
chastise himself for weakening Jay's position. Even before 
the terms were known to the public the Philadelphia 
Republicans made an effigy of Jay, stuffed it with powder, 
set an iron rod in the right hand and a detested speech of 
Swift's in the left and hung around the neck Adams's De- 
fence of the Constitution. It was exhibited in pillory for 
several hours, then guillotined and set afire, and explosions 
ended the rites. 

Under the pressure of Washington's insistence and with 
the elimination of Article Twelve relating to trading re- 
strictions, the treaty was ratified. When the terms leaked 
out and the treaty was published, it provoked the most vio- 
lent reactions in American history. Burnings in effigy, ac- 
cusations of treason and betrayal, hangings, denunciations 


* Burned in Effigy * 

and scurrilous articles and verses were circulating through- 
out the country. In Boston someone chalked in gigantic let- 
ters on a wall, "Damn John Jay! Damn every one that won't 
damn John Jay!! Damn every one that won't put lights in 
his windows and sit up all night damning John Jay!!!" 

Washington, too, felt the popular fury when he signed 
the Jay Treaty. In his own state of Virginia someone pro- 
posed the toast, ''A speedy Death to General Washington." 

Most outspoken and effective for Jay was Cobbett's 
Porcupine's Gazette, whose Peter Porcupine devastated 
with satire, humor, and direct assault many of Jay's critics, 
including the Livingstons. ". . . there is more wisdom, 
more honesty, more real patriotism in one curl, nay in one 
single hair of Mr. Jay's wig, than in all the skulls of all the 
Livingstons, from the days of St. Patrick down to the pres- 
ent hour." And the New York merchants, dining in the 
new Tontine Coffee House that Jay's brother had helped 
to organize and build, toasted: "The Steady Firm Patriot 
-who declines not a public duty because it is arduous, nor 
fears to endeavor to serve his country though at the risk of 
its censure: May the Public esteem ever recognize, and re- 
ward, the purity, and usefulness of his exertions." 

Yet when Jay's ship, the Severn, docked in New York in 
May, 1795, he was royally welcomed by a multitude and 
escorted to his house on Broadway. There to his surprise 
he learned that he had not only been again nominated for 
the governorship of New York; most probably he was al- 
ready elected. 


The Bedford House 

The Governor and His Lady 

New York City, Albany 


For Sarah the governorship meant removal to the hand- 
some Government House with its circular drive, Corinth- 
ian pillars, and large lofty rooms, and a revival of the 
brisk social pace of 1789 and 1790. She would happily 
have exchanged it for the less spacious and less elegant cot- 
tage at Bedford, but she had grown accustomed to the 
exigent demands of John's duties and offices and, though 
her health was a little undermined, accepted the new role 
with her usual good grace. 

John resigned as Chief Justice of the United States and 
on June thirty-first became Governor of New York. It was 
at that very time that the storm against him became most 
vicious. Through the vituperation Jay was as steadfast and 
impregnable as Gibraltar. But Sally, with her less stoic, 
more fiery temperament suffered over every word printed 
or spoken, the more so since some of the worst attacks 
came from her own brother and cousins. Her sense of jus- 
tice was outraged, but Jay was upheld by the conscious- 
ness of having done his utmost and by the knowledge that 
no one could have accomplished more. Behind him in 
England he had left hosts of friends and warm admirers of 
America, more than any man had done since Franklin's 

An epidemic of yellow fever broke out that summer and 
spread panic in the city. Many wealthy residents moved to 
the tiny village of Greenwich, and the Jays were invited 
to a safe retreat in Jersey. But to avoid increasing the gen- 
eral alarm and despite the risk, the family remained in 
Government House. In November cold weather finally 
ended the epidemic, and Jay proclaimed Thursday the 


* Tie Governor and His Lady * 

twenty-sixth as a Day of Thanksgiving. Even this was 
widely denounced as an unauthorized extension of his 

But Jay was far too busy to worry about criticism. Be- 
sides the constant visitors and mounds of documents to 
read r analyze and sign, the preparations for his first address 
to the legislature, and a working over with Hamilton of 
Washington's Farewell Address, there was a vast and 
varied correspondence on private matters with friends in 
America and abroad. He discussed apples with Edmund 
Burke, manures with Sir John Sinclair, yellow fever with 
Dr. Benjamin Rush, and even laid out a plan for a friend 
for a projected history of the American Revolution. 

Conservative as his administration was, it introduced 
many reforms, and it gave Sally much satisfaction to see 
what pleasure he took in helping to draft such measures as 
a proposal for the gradual abolition of slavery or restriction 
of the death penalty to treason, murder, or sacrilegious 
robbing of churches. He recommended a pension for the 
chancellor and justices of the State Supreme Court (his 
friend Judge Hobart had to resign as State senator for lack 
of funds, and Jay later collected money to provide for his 
declining years), and had the satisfaction of seeing salaries 

He had promised "to regard my fellow citizens with an 
equal eye; to cherish and advance merit, wherever found; 
to consider the national and state constitutions and gov- 
ernment as being equally established by the will of the 
people; to respect and support the constituted authorities 
under each of them; and in general, to exercise the powers 
vested in me, with energy, impartiality and prudence." He 
meant and followed every word of that promise, to the 
mortification of some of the more party-minded Federal- 


ists who had expected a clean sweep of their opponents out 
of office. Service and merit were the key words to Jay, not 
party, and he refused to evict good men from office merely 
because they were Republicans. 

More than once the need to enforce the law conflicted 
with his humanitarianism. A trip to Bedford usually left 
him in high spirits, but he came back from there one day 
in a very disgruntled humor. 

"It's that blacksmith, Daniel Gregory/' he said when 
Sally asked what was wrong. He slapped his horse on the 
flank as the groom led it away and turned to walk back to 
the house with Sally. 

"The one who has his shop and house in the middle of 
the road north of Bedford?" It had always amused her that 
Gregory had had the temerity and resource to build them 
there, since the man had no money to buy land, but the 
obstruction was illegal and an annoyance to all travelers. 
"Poor man, he can't do anything else until he earns 
enough to buy property/' 

"But I can't let him flout the law like that/' John ex- 
claimed. "I see it every time I pass and I can't wink at it, 
even though I feel sorry for the man. Yet I hate to order 
his shop and house demolished. I don't know where else 
he can settle. Tomorrow I'll have to order them removed." 
He was in a black mood at being put in such a quandary. 

After a moment's silence Sally ventured a suggestion. 
Land was not too expensive; perhaps the Jays could buy 
Gregory a bit of property to use. 

John shook his head, but his eyes lit up. "No, but that 
gives me an idea. It's not far from us. We could buy an 
acre and let him use it rent-free." So the blacksmith got 
his land and the law was enforced. 

But not every such conflict was so easily solved. A con- 


* The Governor and His Lady * 

victed forger was sentenced to life imprisonment. His fa- 
ther, an amputee who had served with distinction in the 
Revolution as an officer, came with petitions for clemency, 
and some of Jay's intimate friends asked him to pardon 
the young man. Full of compassion for the man and his 
family, Jay nevertheless refused the pardon. He would not 
set a precedent by which the son of a prominent family 
might escape punishment for a crime or be more leniently 
treated than an obscure and friendless man. Prudence and 
discretion must guide the governor; his judgment and not 
his feelings must determine the matter, John explained. 

In the winter of 1797 the legislature assembled in Al- 
bany instead of New York City, and the leading families 
there lavished such entertainment on the congressmen that 
they voted for Albany as state capital. Jay rode upstate in 
unhappy acquiescence and took lodgings at the Roseboom 
House. It was not until fall that he found a suitable house 
for his family, the fine home of James Caldwell at 60 State 
Street. Soon after that Sarah joined him with little Sally, 
William, and Nancy, and he could entertain at home in- 
stead of in the tavern of Steward Lewis. But winter was 
colder upstate, and he much preferred his home city. 

That year President John Adams was inaugurated in 
Philadelphia. President Washington was clothed in black 
velvet and such a smile as he watched his successor take the 
oath of office that Adams wrote to Abigail, "Methought I 
heard him say, 'Ay! I am fairly out and you fairly in! See 
which of us will be the happiest!' " But the inaugural crowd 
was less cheerful. Adams was a brilliant man and one of the 
great shapers of America, but never popular. The crowd that 
followed Washington to Adams's house when he went to 
pay his respects was glum. The General could not but be 
moved, and tears rolled down his cheeks when he turned 



on the threshold to look at them. After a great public din- 
ner under the roof of Rickett's Circus, Washington left 
Philadelphia for Mount Vernon. But even there he had 
little privacy, for strangers of note, acquaintances, and 
friends visited in countless numbers. 

Jay had planned to retire in 1798, but the critical years 
of delicate relations with France, plus the pressure of the 
Federalists and the people, persuaded him to run for office 
again. This time his Republican opponent was his former 
partner and friend, Robert R. Livingston, who hoped to 
make the governorship a step to the Presidency. He and 
the Livingston clan hoped to end Jay's political career and 
he even took as his running mate Stephen Van Rensselaer, 
whom they had once denounced. Again Jay took no part in 
the campaign and once more Sally was distressed by bitter 
opposition from her family. 

^ The results of the election gave Jay the greatest popular 
victory yet in the state. Federalists generally, even Hamil- 
ton, went into hysterics about the dangers from France 
and its effect upon the people of America. Jay thought the 
situation serious but kept his head. 

The Alien and Sedition Acts provoked drastic reactions 
against the Federalists. In spite of Jay's restraining influ- 
ence, some Federalists began to persecute their political op- 
ponents and left themselves vulnerable to attack. With 
brilliant maneuvering, Aaron Burr, now a Republican stal- 
wart, took full advantage of this and prepared for the next 

During his second administration Jay finally saw the 
passage of the bill for the abolition of slaves. The bill pro- 
vided that all children of slaves born after July fourth it 
seemed an appropriate date for emancipation of 1799 
should be free and subject only to apprenticeship and also 


* The Governor and His Lady * 

forbade the exportation of slaves. But Jay ran into great 
difficulties with the Republican-dominated Council of Ap- 
pointment which would approve none but Republican 

From Albany Sarah wrote to John, who was in New 
York on business, to ask him to thank Maria for her letter 
and to send her love. She was eager to know what was go- 
ing on at Bedford. She recounted a contest between little 
Sally and William. Sally accused him of not loving her. 
Hurt but silent, her brother went quietly outside and from 
his area of the garden painstakingly dug up two small 
peach trees, which he then planted in Sally's share of the 
garden. When Sally looked from the window and saw what 
he was doing, she was overcome with remorse. She ran out 
into the garden and threw her arms around her brother to 
show her love and appreciation. Then she came sheepishly 
back to her mother to accuse herself bitterly of ingratitude 
and unkindness. 

In the summer Sarah went down to vacation at Rye. Wig 
(young William's nickname) enjoyed possession of a pony, 
and Sarah hoped John would find time to ride with him 
late and with Maria in the morning. And did John think 
Bedford might be ready for living next summer? She and 
Ann were stronger and Sally was thin but lively. 

Late in Jay's administration he faced a serious dilemma. 
Burr had managed so brilliantly even against the ef- 
forts of Hamilton that the new state assembly which 
would send twelve electors to vote for the Presidency 
would be a Republican majority, and they were crucial and 
would probably determine the results of the election. Not 
only Hamilton but Philip Schuyler and John Marshall 
wrote Jay, urgently requesting that he take the legal and 
constitutional step of resectioning New York State to give 



the Federalists a better chance to elect men of their party. 
It would prevent "an atheist in Religion and a fanatic in 
politics from getting possession of the helm of state/' said 
Hamilton. Schuyler endorsed the same plan "as the only 
way to save a nation from those disasters, which it may 
and probably will experience from the mis-rule of a Man 
. . who is in fact pervaded with the mad French phi- 

"Meaning, of course, Mr. Jefferson," said Sally, as John 
read her the letters. "Well, I suppose it is true that Jeffer- 
son will be elected if you don't arrange a partition of the 
state. Still, I think Mr. Hamilton and General Schuyler 
rather overestimate the terrors of a Jeffersonian administra- 
tion. Hamilton sometimes gets a bit hysterical when things 
don't go his way." She bit off the thread for her sewing and 
knotted it and then looked inquiringly at John. She smiled 
at him. "But I daresay you'll refuse, John. It's not like you 
to be ruled by party principles. I'll warrant no other man 
in politics since General Washington has retiredwould 
sacrifice his party's prospects by not taking a perfectly con- 
stitutional step." 

"Oh, it's legal, all right," John said thoughtfully. He 
smiled at the memory of the election he had lost by a tech- 
nicality. "But the technically correct has never had great 
appeal for me, and I'm not apt to change my mind now 
just because it would favor the Federalists. As far as I'm 
concerned, when the people voted, they expressed their 
will, and their will was to elect a Republican majority. I 
don't intend to meddle to pervert their choice. No, I shall 
not even answer those letters. They will understand." 

In 1800 he was asked again to become candidate for gov- 
ernor, but this time Jay was adamant. Sarah's health had 


* The Governor and His Lady * 

been poor, he was building intermittently at Bedford, the 
children were growing, and it would not be long before 
they would leave the family for college or marriage. Maria, 
in fact, grave Maria, as Abigail Adams had called her, was 
seriously interested in young Goldsborough Banyer. Sarah 
was pointedly silent on the subject of another term, but 
John knew that another three years of public office would be 
more than she could bear. Already they had postponed 
retirement for six years. He said no firmly. 

The next month, in December, came a message from 
President Adams that he had reappointed Jay as Chief Jus- 
tice. "Nothing," he wrote "will cheer the hopes of the best 
men so much as your acceptance of this appointment." 

It was extremely gratifying, as Sarah agreed, but she 
gave him a long, penetrating look, disdaining entreaty. The 
letter from Adams and the commission as Chief Justice 
stood for days on his desk, unanswered. The children 
waited, sensing stress and uneasiness. 

Maria knocked softly one day on the door of John's 
study and was invited in. Nervously she played with the 
fringe of her shawl before she plucked up courage to 
speak. "Papa, I hope you won't accept. I know it's terribly 
important for the country and that the President is right 
in saying it would offer a great incentive to good men if 
they knew you held that office. But Peter and I were talk- 
ing about it, and we both felt you shouldn't. Your health 
isn't good and neither is Mama's." She gave him a plead- 
ing look before she went on. "I don't believe Mama tells 
anyone how sick she is." 

"Dear little Maria," John bent down and kissed her. Gaz- 
ing at her, he suddenly realized that she was already a 
young woman. It was hard to believe that she was older 



now than Sally had been at the time of their marriage. A 
few months ago he might have patted her hand, kissed her 
absently, and told her to run along. 

"It speaks well for your devotion to your mother that you 
and Peter are so concerned/' he said gently. "You know, 
I'm sure, that retirement to Bedford is what I want most, 
too. However, I have so often urged other men not to re- 
fuse public office for family affairs or because another life 
is more comfortable that I must be very sure before I 
make any answer to the President/' 

"I know that, Papa/' Maria said in a low voice. "I know 
that one of the reasons people have such respect for you is 
that they know you have often served our country against 
your own interests. But after twenty-five years, haven't you 
earned the right to your own life?" 

John got up and stood looking from the window at the 
snow-covered trees and garden. "I wish I knew, Maria. At 
what point does one earn such a right? All my instincts 
call for retirement and enjoying these years with my wife 
and family. And then I wonder if there is such a thing as 
an indispensable man or whether any good man might not 
ripen according to the demands on him/' 

"Papa." Maria went over to the window and slipped her 
arm through his. "You're indispensable to us, remember 

Suddenly he gripped Maria's hand. "You can tell your 
mother that I'm rejecting the appointment. For once I'm 
not going to think of duty but of my family. Through one 
disappointment after another your mother has always been 
wonderful. She shan't face another disappointment! No, 
I'll tell her myself, Maria, this very minute!" 

He marched to the door with a lighter heart than he had 


* The Governor and His Lady * 

felt in a long time. Squatting silently on the floor in the 
hall were Nan, Wig, and little Sally. They stood up 
quickly, half-alarmed at his abruptness. Down the hall Pe- 
ter, home for the New Year holiday, opened his door and 
glanced out. 

"What in the world is this congregation doing here?" 
John demanded. 

"We were waiting to hear/' Nan said politely. 

John raised his eyebrows. "A delegation? I see. Well, the 
delegation may be informed that the mediator has been 
eminently successful. You could hardly have selected a 
more able ambassador. Well? What do you say now?" 

Slightly befuddled by such elegant language, the younger 
children stood blinking for a moment, but Peter's sudden 
hurrah of triumph from down the hall clarified everything, 
and they rushed to throw their arms around their father. 

"Papa! Papa!!" 

"I told you so!" 

"I knew he would! I said it, didn't I!" 

"Oh, Papa! I'm so glad." 

John hugged and kissed them all, then lifted little Sally 
to his shoulder and pretended to stagger under the burden 
of the eight-year-old. "Come, we'll tell your mother!" 

They trailed down the hall, Sally on his shoulder, Nan 
and Wig on either side clutching at his gray velvet coat, 
and Peter and Maria rushing ahead down the stairs. Wig 
hopped on the balustrade and slid down in a streak of 
glory and was first to open the door to the parlor where 
Sarah sat with her finger in a closed book. She glanced up, 
startled at the sudden tumult, just as John appeared with 
his convoy. 

From the doorway he looked at her with a smile, and 

2 73 


there was silence as the children waited for him to make 
the golden announcement. Gently he lowered Sally to the 
floor, still watching Sarah and still not speaking. 

Sarah's eyes turned a luminous blue, and she looked back 
at John without a word, but a smile started in her eyes and 
the corners of her mouth turned up, and all at once she 
was laughing, even while tears stood in her eyes. He came 
toward her as she rose from the chair and she threw her 
arms around him exactly as she had in the parlor of Lib- 
erty Hall twenty-six years ago. 

"But tell her, Papa/' said Wig, too literal-minded to ob- 
serve that the message was already transmitted. 

"Mr. Jay regrets that he must refuse the high office of 
Chief Justice/ 7 Sarah said, smiling at Wig. 

Wig faced Maria in complete mystification and de- 
manded helplessly, "How did she know, Maria? Papa 
didn't say a word!" 

Maria hushed him and ushered all the children out of 
the room. 

"Bedford was written all over Papa's face," she told 
Wig. He peeped back in the room for one final look. 

"There's nothing on his face at all/' he said indignantly. 
"Nothing but a big smile." 


si rn