Jay, John (1745–1829), U.S. lawyer, first chief justice of the Supreme Court. He helped draft the N.Y. state constitution in 1777, and in 1778 he was elected president of the Continental Congress. In 1782, along with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, he negotiated the Treaty of Paris (1783) which ended the Revolutionary war. As secretary for foreign affairs (1784–89) he supported the new constitution, believing in the need for a strong central government. He was chief justice of the Supreme Court (1789–95). In 1794 he negotiated the unpopular Jay Treaty. A conservative member of the Federalist Party, he served as governor of N.Y. 1795–1801.
See also: Supreme Court of the United States.