John Jay helped draft New York's first Constitution, proposing it abolish slavery, as he wrote to Robert Livingston and Gouverneur Morris, April 29, 1777, that there should be:
"...a clause against the continuation of domestic slavery."
John Jay was appointed by George Washington to be the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jay helped found the New York State Society for Promoting the Manumission (Freeing) of Slaves in 1785, filing lawsuits on behalf of slaves.
John Jay wrote to Benjamin Rush, MARCH 24, 1785:
"I wish to see all...discriminations everywhere abolished, and that the time may soon come when all our inhabitants of every colour and denomination shall be free and equal partakers of our political liberty."
Jay helped found New York's African Free School in 1787 and supported it financially.
Jay bought slaves in order to free them, writing:
"I purchase slaves and manumit them."
As Governor of New York, John Jay signed an Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in 1799, prohibiting the exportation of slaves and making a path for children of slaves to attain freedom.
John Jay was also president of the American Bible Society, 1821-1828.
Newspaper editor Horace Greeley stated in 1854:
"To Chief Justice Jay may be attributed, more than to any other man, the abolition of Negro bondage in this State."
John Jay's son, William Jay (1789-1858), founded New York City's Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.
William Jay drafted the constitution for the American Anti-Slavery Society and served as its corresponding foreign secretary, 1835-1837.
William Jay was the first judge of New York's Westchester County from 1820 to 1842, but was removed on account of his strong anti-slavery views.
William Jay helped to found the American Bible Society in 1818.
William Jay's son, John Jay II (1817-1894), was manager of the New York Young Men's Anti-Slavery Society in 1834.
John Jay II was a prominent member of the anti-slavery Free Soil Party.
John Jay II later helped found in New York a branch of the new political party dedicated to the social issue of ending slavery - the Republican Party.
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story and former President John Quincy Adams helped establish the illegality of the slave trade in 1844, as portrayed in Steven Spielberg's 1997 movie Amistad.
Salmon P. Chase coined the slogan of the Free Soil Party:
"Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men."
A member of the newly created Republican Party, Salmon P. Chase defended so many escaped slaves that he was nicknamed "Attorney-General of Fugitive Slaves."
Salmon P. Chase was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court where he admitted John Rock as the first African-American attorney to argue cases before the Supreme Court.
Cassius Marcellus Clay heard William Lloyd Garrison speak while a student at Yale and became an abolitionist.
Cassius Marcellus Clay helped to found the Republican Party and served three terms as a Kentucky Representative till he lost his seat due to his strong anti-slavery views.
In 1843, pro-slavery Democrats attacked Cassius Marcellus Clay and shot him in the chest, but he was able to fight them off with his Bowie knife.
Clay began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper in 1845 called The True American.
He received death threats and had to barricade his newspaper office doors. A mob broke in and stole his printing equipment.
In 1849, while making an anti-slavery speech, Clay was attacked, beaten, stabbed, and almost shot, till he fought off his attackers.
Cassius Marcellus Clay helped pressure Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
As Minister to Russia, Clay helped negotiate the U.S. purchase of Alaska.
Anti-slavery leader Rufus King was born MARCH 24, 1755.
Rufus King was a Harvard graduate who was an aide to General Sullivan during the Revolutionary War.
At 32 years old, Rufus King was one of the youngest signers of the U.S. Constitution.
Rufus King later served as U.S. Minister to England, U.S. Senator from New York, and was a candidate for U.S. President.
In a speech made before the Senate at the time Missouri was petitioning for statehood, Rufus King stated:
"I hold that all laws or compacts imposing any such condition as slavery upon any human being are absolutely void because they are contrary to the law of nature, which is the law of God."
Jake Sudderth, Columbia University
John Jay to Robert R. Livingston, Gouverneur Morris, 4/29/1777, Jay ID #2819.
Minutes of the Manumission Society of New York, v.1, 1785.
John Jay to Dr. Benjamin Rush, 3/24/1785, Jay ID #9450.
John Jay to John Murray, Jr., 10/18/1805, Jay ID #9603.
John Jay to Egbert Benson, 9/18/1780, Jay ID #1713.
King, Rufus. M.E. Bradford, A Worthy Company (Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982), p. 15. Tim LaHaye, Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1987), p. 161.