Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What do the Jay Treaty and the Iran Deal Have in Common?

Obama Hopes History Will Prove Him Right on Iran

In a thought-provoking article by George E. Condon Jr., White House correspondent for National Journal, the author points out that all the way back to our Founding Fathers, when Presidents have made controversial agreements with foreign governments in the face of harsh public criticism, those agreements have typically ended up on the right side of history; with hindsight vindicating their decisions and proving the critics wrong:

“The reality is that almost every president who has reached a major agreement with a U.S. foe has been viciously attacked, with treaty foes warning of dire consequences. But even as he is being battered over the Iran deal, Obama can take some solace from the fact all of those presidents were rewarded by sticking with the deal and ignoring popular disdain and stinging criticisms.

Some of the venom was captured earlier this year in "A Brief History of Hating Treaties," by reporter David H. Montgomery of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He recalled the criticism of the Jay Treaty in 1796 that dealt with the issues left over from the Revolutionary War. George Washington was too revered a figure to assail, so the critics went after Washington's chief negotiator, John Jay. Montgomery cited one newspaper editor who wrote sentiments about Jay not too far away from today's Republican attitudes toward Obama, referring to Jay as "the arch traitor—seize him, drown him, burn him, flay him alive."

Seven years later, Thomas Jefferson was viciously attacked for agreeing to the Louisiana Purchase for $15 million. Then there was the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty, again with Britain, which one congressman said was a collection of "errors, mistakes, blunders, concessions, explanations, apologies, losses, and mortifications." But history showed both Jay and Webster to be good treaties for the United States, and Jefferson was vindicated for doubling the size of the United States.”

Read the full article at:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

For July 4th, scholars urge new look at forgotten US founder John Jay, justice, diplomat, spy

Who Puts the "Jay" in Jay Treaty?

Chief negotiator and namesake of the Jay Treaty, John Jay, is a founding father most Americans know very little about; at least when compared to his peers such as Washington and Jefferson. However, his influence was vast and lasting; reaching all branches of government, and nations worldwide:

"Jay was one of three contributors to the Federalist Papers, which helped define American government. He was president of the wartime Continental Congress, then served as secretary of foreign affairs, precursor to secretary of state, after the Revolutionary War ended. He was an essential diplomat whose peace negotiations with England, leading to the Treaty of Paris, vastly expanded U.S. territory. 

For his accomplishments heading a network of informants during the revolution, actions that helped inspire James Fenimore Cooper's novel "The Spy," the CIA's website calls Jay "the first national-level American counterintelligence chief." He also helped write the New York Constitution, was a founder of the New York Manumission Society and as governor signed legislation that phased out slavery in the state (Jay himself owned slaves). 

The founders bickered colorfully among themselves, but they agreed on the virtues of Jay. Noting his centrality in the talks with England, John Adams praised him as "of more importance than any of the rest of us." Alexander Hamilton turned to Jay first when conceiving the Federalist Papers, and George Washington thought so much of him that when he was forming his original Cabinet, he offered the first position — any position — to Jay, who chose the Supreme Court."