Archive for the ‘Jay, Peter Augustus’ Category

“my dearest friend”

SARAH LIVINGSTON JAY had written the letter in the previous post on December 28, 1778, but found no way of sending it to her husband John who was in Philadelphia tending to his responsibilities as president of the Second Continental Congress. From Elizabeth Town, to which she had returned, she penned an addition to it on the 30th.

I have always been charmed by the way married couples during often referred to each other in their letters as “my dearest friend.” My colleagues and I had wanted that phrase to be the title of our book on the correspondence of the Jays, but sadly the publisher overruled it.

Wednesday Morng.
I wrote this letter on monday, but as I knew of no opportunity of sending it, left it unsealed, & in the evening was agreeably surprised by Papa’s arrival at Persipiney, but still more pleased when he handed me your letter of the 10th Inst. which I have the pleasure of acknowledging at present. Accept my dearest friend of my sincere thanks for your never-ceasing attention to my happiness. You tell me, my dear, that the greatest gratification you derive from the honor of your late appointment is it’s being an additional recommendation to my esteem. And do you really imagine that my esteem for you can be heightned by any public testimony of your merit? No, no my dear, my sentiments of esteem have long since been confirmed, nor indeed has the public acknowledgment of your merit been wanting to convince me that the respect I felt for you was founded on your virtue.
Yesterday Papa prevailed upon me to return with Kitty & himself to Eliz. Town, and by way of inducement assured me there are more frequent opportunities of hearing from you here than if I staid at Persipiney. He tells me likewise to inform you that unless there is an order of Congress to the contrary he shall certainly fetch your little Boy [Peter Augustus in Persipiney] very soon. Papa is just going to church, I’ll seal my letter in hopes that in town he’ll hear of some way of forwarding this to you. . . .
Yours

Louise North, Janet Wedge, and Landa Freeman Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005), 55. Circa 1870s antique engraving of Sarah Livingston.

posted December 19th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Jay, John,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Governor William

” . . . how long . . . am [I] . . . to remain in a state of widowhood”

It’s time for a return visit to one of my favorite Revolutionary War women—SARAH LIVINGSTON JAY. The intelligent and beautiful Sarah, daughter of William Livingston, the governor of New Jersey, was the wife of John Jay of New York. The couple’s first child, Peter Augustus, was born in 1776. On December 10, 1778, John Jay was elected president of the Second Continental Congress, the highest office in the government at that time, replacing Henry Laurens whose term had come to an end. A few days later, in a letter William Livingston wrote to Nathaniel Scudder in Philadelphia, he included this: “P.S. Please to give my respects to your new President, & to tell him that his present office appears rather obstructive of the performance of the promise he has made me of using his best endeavours to get me another Grandson as soon as possible.”

Writing to her husband from Persipiney, New Jersey on December 28th, SARAH JAY seems to be rather put out by having read about her husband’s new position in a newspaper. And she is a bit miffed at not hearing from him frequently enough. Note the typically formal salutation of wife to husband. Classical references were common in the correspondence of educated people of that time. The manuscript letter can be viewed here.

My dear Mr. Jay,
I should have troubled you a second time, & have wrote you by the last Post had I not entertained the hope that it wou’d not be long before I should have the pleasure of acknowledging at least one favor from you. I have been disappointed, ‘tis true, but still I will not relinquish the pleasing idea of being affectionately remembered by my beloved friend. To prevent future mortifications of the like tender to nature, permit me to remind you that there is a Post that takes letters from Morris-Town for Philadelphia & returns every week.
I had the pleasure of finding by the news-paper that you are honor’d with the first office on the Continent, and am still more pleased to hear this appointment affords general satisfaction. Will you be so kind as to inform me whether our State has prolonged your stay beyond the first of March or not? As by your present Appointment your personal attendance upon Congress I imagine can’t be dispensed with, I am very solicitous to know how long I am still to remain in a state of widowhood; upon my word I sincerely wish these three months may conclude it; however, I mean not to influence your conduct, for I am convinced that had you consulted me as some men have their wives about public measures, I should not have been Roman Matron enough to have given you so intirely to the public, & of consequence your reputation & claim to the gratitude of your country would have been as much diminished as theirs who have acted so imprudent tho’ tender a part.
It will give you pleasure to be informed that your son & myself are still favored with health, & if you can spare time to give me the same grateful tidings of yourself, you can hardly imagine what happiness you’ll confer upon your
affecte. Wife
Sa. Jay

Louise North, Janet Wedge, and Landa Freeman Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005), 54-55. The portrait is by Robert Edge Pine; it appears HERE.

posted December 14th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Jay, John,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Governor William

“Apply diligently, and play heartily”

SARAH LIVINGSTON JAY wrote again to her husband John on 12 November 1794 expressing her satisfaction with their children.

. . . . To-day I’ve recd. a letter from Maria from Bethlehem, I’ll inclose it for your satisfaction. We have as much reason as ever Parents had to be grateful on account of our Children. I ask’d your dr. little son [William, 1789-1858] what I should tell you of his little sister [Sarah “Sally” Louisa, 1792-1813]. He said I should tell you she talk’d enough to employ three tongues to repeat. In short, if it was not for your little Counter-parts, I should want chearfulness & vigour to enable me to perform a variety of extra duties that devolve upon me in consequence of your absence. To-morrow I shall resume my pen.

Don’t you just love the reference to the children as “your little Counter-parts”? Sarah wrote a note to Maria on November 19 asking “what studies engage your attention at present, & which of the Ladies you are indebted to for instruction,” and advising her to “Read as much history as you conveniently can, & let me know what it relates to. Without Geography history will be but a blind study, you will therefore I am sure be attentive to that. . . . ”

Upon learning of his daughter Maria’s enrollment in the Bethlehem Academy John Jay wrote her this letter dated 9 December 1794. He was always giving advice to his children in a rather pedantic way.

Mama informs me that you had sollicited, and obtained her consent, to pass some months at Bethlehem, from an Expectation that you would there have better means of Improvement than at New York. Your motive certainly was laudable, and I sincerely wish your Expectations may be realized. As much will depend on yourself, as well as on your Teachers. I flatter myself that they will derive Credit, and your Friends Pleasure, from the Progress you will make. I do not mean by this remark, to urge you to unceasing application. Exercise and Relaxation are essential to Health; and Health is a Blessing without which no other temporal ones can be enjoyed. Apply diligently, and play heartily. I need not add properly, of that I am sure you will be mindful.
Your Brother [Peter Augustus] is well, and assures you of his affection. We hope by the Blessing of Providence to be home next Spring. I shall be happy then to take the earliest opportunity of seeing you; and of assuring you that, by being, what I am persuaded you will be, prudent, amiable and accomplished, and ever mindful of your Creator, you may rely on the Esteem, Love and attachment of
My dear Maria
Your very affectionate Father
John Jay

source: Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay, compiled and edited by Landa M. Freeman, Louise V. North, and Janet M. Wedge (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2005), 241, 243, 247. Jay’s portrait is by John Trumbull, dated 1794 when the two were in London, Trumbull serving as Jay’s secretary. It is at the John Jay Homestead State Historic Site in Katonah, NY.

posted December 8th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Bethlehem Seminary,Education,Jay, John,Jay, Maria,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Jay, Sarah Louisa,Jay, William,Trumbull, John

“her laudable endeavors to excel”

From New York on 25th October 1794, SARAH LIVINGSTON JAY wrote to her husband John, who was in London negotiating what came to be called the Jay Treaty, about their daughter Maria’s acceptance to the Bethlehem Academy in Pennsylvania. Organized and operated by Moravians, it was one of the few schools of higher learning for girls in the United States at that time. Sarah Jay was used to making decisions on her own when her husband was away and when Maria who was twelve years old asked to attend the Academy Sarah, with the help of friends and relatives, managed to get her admitted. Sarah’s sister Susan had recently married Judge John Cleves Symmes [see posts here and here] and it was in part through his influence that Maria was accepted. It was in the couple’s custody that Maria traveled to Bethlehem.

My dr. Mr. Jay,
. . . . Last Saturday our dear little Maria went with Judge Symmes & his daughter to Morris-Town where Mrs. Symmes is, to go from thence with them in their Cochee as far as Bethlehem. In my last I inform’d you how very desirous she was of residing there 12 or 18 months as the means of promoting her Education. As we were inform’d that the school was full & that numbers had applied for admittance without obtaining it; I did not expect that she would be gratifyed; but Judge Symmes was of a different opinion; and as he was not ready for his journey when Mr. & Mrs. Arden went upon a visit to their daughters; he requested them to take charge of a letter from him to the Clergy-man there, which they did, & they have return’d; & Mrs. Arden call’d upon me to inform me that Mr. Van Vleck, the principal of the Society told her that the Clergyman told him that they could not hesitate about the reply, for that the Society were under obligations to Judge Symmes for past favors which ought never to be obliterated, & to the chief Justice of the U. States [John Jay] for past & present exertions for the Welfare of the Union; & that therefore his family merited the Assistance of those who were capable of being useful to them.

As Mrs. A[rden] was very desirous of Maria’s being there, she was kind enough to impress them with a favorable opinion of her understanding, representing her as a young Lady that was willing to forego the indulgences her situation in Life afforded, merely to derive advantage from retirement & application. She has acquired great éclat among her friends here likewise who know it to be her own choice. May a kind Providence be propitious to her laudable endeavors to excel. Little Ann [the Jays’ younger daughter] is very industrious at home. I did not wish her to accompany her sister, but if I had, she could not have been prevail’d upon to quit me. She is setting by me studying her french. The Children all behave well, enjoy perfect health & are very chearful. Yourself & Peter [Peter Augustus, the eldest of the Jay children who had accompanied his father to London] are the constant theme of our conversation. . . .

Once more, my dearest Mr. Jay receive the Adieus of
your ever affecte. Wife
Sa. Jay

Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay, compiled and edited by Landa M. Freeman, Louise V. North, and Janet M. Wedge (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2005), 236. The portrait of Maria, dated 1798, is by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin and is in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.

posted December 5th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Bethlehem Seminary,Education,Jay, John,Jay, Maria,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Symmes, Susan Livingston

“I am quite a country boy”

Following is a letter from Elizabethtown dated 18 July 1781, in the handwriting of SUSAN LIVINGSTON but signed by Peter Augustus Jay, to Sarah Jay in Madrid. Peter was only five so he couldn’t have written the letter no matter how precocious he may have been. It is charming.

I thank my Dear Mama for her kind letter, and good advice, and my dear Papa for his remembrance.

I hope when you return to our Country you will find your little son as you expect, and not be disappointed,

Aunt Susan teaches me to read; every hour the bell rings, and then I go in the office to say my lesson. Aunt Caty [Catharine Livingston] sends me books from Phila. I learn in a very pretty book of Tales, one page has a picture and the opposite one a tale to explain it, all the book through. I have finished with the Continental Primmer. . . .

As soon as I read well Aunt Susan will teach me to write, and then I can have the pleasure of writing to my absent friends. I have a pocket-book full of letters that Grand-Pa printed for me last winter. Every fortnight allmost I received a letter from him, and last month Grand-Mama and I went to meet Grand-Papa and spend a few days with him at Cousin David Clarksons, who lives three miles this side of Princeton. It was a long ride for such a little fellow as me.

Aunt Caty sent me a top, and Uncle Watkins [the husband of his aunt Judith Livingston] made me a Kite for pastime. I am quite a country boy clad in a striped linen waistcoat and trowsers, and sometimes I hoe in the garden and gather the gooseberries and currants, and I help to rake hay on the Lawn in the hay harvest.

We have plenty of fine fruit this summer, while we had cherries, the boys collected from all parts of the Country here, not less than fifty in a day, and soon stripped our trees.

Mama says I must write her what I wish her to bring me. I should like a hat, a pair of shoe and knee buckles, and a pair of sleeve buttons—if she pleases.

Hannah [PA Jay’s nurse] says I must not forget to mention her, but she won’t tell me what to say about her. She has not left me, and is very good to me, and gives her love to Mama. She has received the fine handkerchief and is much obliged to Papa for it. . . .

Please to give my love & duty to Papa & my love to Uncle Henry [Brockholst Livingston] & Cousin Peter [Munro, the son of John Jay’s sister Eve].

I am dear Mama, Your very Affecte. Son,

Peter Augustus Jay at age 21:

See the whole letter at the Columbia University Digital Library Collection of the John Jay Papers HERE. The portrait is by James Sharples and is in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

posted November 3rd, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Children,Jay, John,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Letter-writing,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty",Symmes, Susan Livingston

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