Apr 27, 2017 - Sale 2444

Sale 2444 - Lot 224

Price Realized: $ 6,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(NEW YORK.) Correspondence of Peter Augustus Jay, including a letter written on his father John Jay's deathbed. 232 items (0.4 linear feet) in one box, including 140 letters to Peter Augustus Jay, 41 retained drafts of letters sent by Peter Augustus Jay, 26 letters to his son John Clarkson Jay, 10 other family letters, 11 other manuscript documents, the 1786 pamphlet "Letters, being the whole of the Correspondence between the Honorable John Jay, Esq., and Mr. Lewis Littlepage," and 3 other items; condition generally strong. Vp, 1792-1866

Additional Details

Peter Augustus Jay (1776-1843) of New York was the eldest son of founding father John Jay, and had his own distinguished career of public service. A graduate of what became Columbia University, he practiced law, and was active in state politics and cultural institutions. Among his regular correspondents was his brother, the jurist William Jay (1789-1858), represented by 39 letters dated 1808-42. Many of the early letters mention their famous father, who died in 1829. His 25 June 1826 letter states that "Papa has . . . discharged young Chester & taken the coloured boy of whom you speak into his place. He bids fair to be a good servant." One letter was written on the morning of John Jay's death, 17 May 1829: "Papa has sunk very much. . . . His pulse is quick & his head hot. On the whole we all think that you should be apprized of his condition without delay." The 7 June 1830 letter complains "That Jefferson should speak with such bitter hostility of our father is not surprising. The treaty with England disappointed & exasperated the French party & retarded Jefferson's advance to the presidency." Their mutual interest in abolition is alluded to on 24 October 1840: "I rejoice in Mr. Van Buren's fall. . . . Both he & his party have been willing to barter constitutional rights & to a great extent moral obligation for southern votes." The collection also includes letters from deaf educator Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, nephew John Jay II (1817-1894), and James I. Roosevelt.
Also included are 41 retained draft letters by Peter Augustus Jay, 1799-1843, with most of them from the last 5 years of his life. The earliest is dated 21 February 1792: "It is true that my father has consented to become a candidate for the office of gov'r. . . He will use no exertions of his own to influence the election (he never having in the course of his life asked any for a vote for one of the many offices he has enjoyed)." Two of these are letters of introduction written for friends to President-Elect William Henry Harrison, February 1841 ("I fear you may have but a faint recollection of me").
This collection also includes 26 letters to John Jay's grandson John Clarkson Jay (1808-1891), a physician best known for his important collection of shells, still preserved at the American Museum of Natural History. 11 of these letters are from his father Peter Augustus Jay, 1826-38. A printed circular is signed by scientist Louis Agassiz. Also included is his manuscript essay "Notes on Shells, No. 111," dated 1826.
Overall, this is a substantial archive from the family of John Jay--one of the most important founding fathers--and offers intimate information on his final years.