The New International Encyclopædia/Jay, William

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JAY, William (1789-1858). An American reformer and jurist, the son of John Jay (1745-1829). He was born in New York City, graduated at Yale in 1808, and then studied law at Albany, though poor eyesight soon compelled him to give up the profession. He early became interested in various philanthropic enterprises and reforms, and identified himself especially with the temperance, anti-slavery, and anti-war movements. He was one of the founders (in 1816) of the American Bible Society, which he defended against the vigorous attacks of the High-Church Party; was judge of common pleas in New York from 1818 to 1820; and was first judge of Westchester County from 1820 to 1842, when he was removed on account of his anti-slavery views. An enthusiastic member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, whose constitution he drafted, he stood with Birney at the head of the conservative Abolitionists, and by his calm, logical, and judicial writings exerted for many years a powerful influence. From 1835 to 1837 he was the Society's corresponding foreign secretary. As a protagonist of the anti-war theories, he was also conspicuous, and was for many years president of the Peace Society. His most valuable publication was the Life and Writings of John Jay (1833), in which the part played by his father in the diplomacy of the Revolution was first adequately pointed out.