15¢ John Jay
Issue Date: December 12, 1958
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10½
Color: Rose lake
The image of John Jay used on U.S. #1046 is based on a painting by Gilbert Stuart.
John Jay (1745-1829)
Born in New York City, John Jay graduated from King’s College (now Columbia University). He served as a New York delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, and was president of the Continental Congress from December 1778 to September 1779. At that time, he became the U.S. minister to Spain. In 1783, Jay played a key role in negotiating the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution. He then became the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
In 1789, President George Washington appointed Jay the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. While serving as chief justice, Jay went to Great Britain and negotiated the Jay Treaty, which was signed in 1794. This treaty settled many of the disputes between the U.S and Great Britain. Jay resigned from the Supreme Court, and in 1795 he was elected governor of New York. He served two terms, and retired in 1801.
The Liberty Series
Issued to replace the 1938 Presidential series, this patriotic set of stamps honors guardians of freedom throughout U.S. history. Eighteenth century America is represented by Revolutionary War heroes and statesmen such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Henry, Jay, and Revere.
Leaders of the 19th century including Monroe, Lincoln, Lee, Harrison, and Susan B. Anthony make an appearance. The 20th century is represented by Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and General Pershing.
The Liberty Series also features famous locations important to America’s democratic history, such as Bunker Hill, Independence Hall, and the Alamo.
“Wet” versus “Dry” Printing
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing began an experiment in 1954. In previous “wet” printings, the paper had a moisture content of 15 to 35 percent. In the experimental “dry” printings, the paper had a moisture content of 5 to 10 percent. This process required stiffer, thicker paper, special inks, and greater pressure to force the paper through the plates.
Stamps produced by dry printing can be distinguished by whiter paper and higher surface sheen. The stamps feel thicker and the designs are more pronounced than on wet printings. So the dry printing experiment was a success, and all U.S. postage stamps have been printed by this method since the late 1950s.
Jay Treaty Resolves Issues Between US And UK
On February 29, 1796, the Jay Treaty went into effect, resolving some lingering issues between America and Great Britain following the Revolutionary War.
While the Treaty of Paris helped end the Revolutionary War and settle some issues between the US and Great Britain, tensions still remained between the two nations. The three main issues were the influx of British exports in the US (while American exports were blocked by Britain’s tariffs and trade restrictions), the British continued to occupy northern forts that they had agreed to abandon and the British capture of American sailors and ships bound for enemy ports.
In 1793, a war broke out between Britain and France. This war helped to widen the rift between Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who had already been at odds over other issues. Hamilton wished to avoid international conflict and stay neutral. Jefferson thought that neutrality violated the 1778 alliance with King Louis XVI. Washington sided with Hamilton and signed a neutrality proclamation on April 22, 1793.
Although the United States remained neutral in the European conflict, relations with England gradually worsened. Not only had British troops refused to give up forts along the Mississippi River (in violation of the Treaty of 1783), they were causing Indian uprisings in the West. British warships were harassing American cargo vessels as well. To try to repair the wounded relations, Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to England to work out a treaty.
In the treaty, the British agreed to evacuate forts in the Ohio River Valley, now part of the United States. The British Navy had also captured hundreds of American trading ships in the previous years and agreed to pay the ships’ owners. In exchange, the US established a strong trading relationship with Great Britain, which led to ten years of peaceful trade.
The US also received “most favored nation” status. However, many issues were left unsettled, but both nations agreed to resolve them through arbitration. This was one of the first significant uses of arbitration in modern diplomatic history and would serve as an example for future negotiations. Jay and negotiators from England signed the Jay Treaty on November 19, 1794.
President Washington supported the agreement and sent it to Congress. There, the two political factions again disagreed on how to proceed. Hamilton’s Federalists supported the treaty because it allowed for further trade with England. Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans disliked it because they felt that it would harm France. In the end, the treaty was ratified by a 2/3 vote in the Senate on June 24, 1795, in spite of strong opposition. The treaty officially went into effect on February 29, 1796.
The treaty was effective for 10 years, but negotiators failed to agree on a replacement treaty in 1806. Eventually, tensions arose once again, leading to the War of 1812.