Tag Archives: John Jay

Photos from the house of John Jay

While in New York this summer, I am trying to visit some of the sites of historical significance. Two recent trips took me to the houses of two leading Founding Fathers. These houses, much like these two Founders, are not as well known as some of the bigger names and not too frequently visited, as a result.

John Jay, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and negotiator of the controversial Jay Treaty, lived up in Westchester after his retirement from politics. My friend and I were the only visitors there. We were told by the tour guide and curator (two different people working there) that they only have a few visitors each day.

Like so many other retired politicians, John Jay became a “gentlemen farmer” upon retirement from politics. I could not imagine a more beautiful place to grow crops:

Upon entering the house, to the right is the dining room:

To the left of the entrance way was a parlor for entertaining the family and guests:

The bedrooms are upstairs:

Returning downstairs, John Jay certainly spent a lot of time in his study:

The chairs seen in the above photo and below are not just any ordinary old chairs. These are three of the original twenty-six chairs from the original Senate chamber when the capital was in New York City. When the chairs were shipped to Washington, D.C., three of them were “accidentally” sent to John Jay. I could not figure out how these chairs were sent to the wrong place or why Jay kept them, but these are certainly pieces of history.

But to the Jay grandchildren, these were not important pieces of history. It’s hard to see in the picture, but these chairs have wheels and made perfect engines for racing down the hallway. It is amazing that the chairs are still in such great condition.

My visit to another home of a Founding Father will have to wait for another day…

The evils of democracy and the mob: Quotes from some of the greatest minds in history.

Fisher Ames: “A democracy is a volcano, which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption, and carry desolation in their way.”

John Jay: “Pure democracy, like pure rum, easily produces intoxication, and with it a thousand mad pranks and fooleries.”

Lord Acton: “The one prevailing evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”

George Washington: “It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act.”

Alexander Hamilton: “If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.”

Alexander Hamilton: “Real liberty is neither found in despotism, nor in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”

James Madison: “Where a majority are united by a common sentiment, and have an opportunity, the rights of the minor party become insecure.”

James Madison: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

Alexis de Tocqueville: “The will of the nation is one of those phrases most widely abused by schemers and tyrants of all ages.”

Cicero: “No tempest or conflagration, however great, is harder to quell than mob carried away by the novelty of power.”

Cicero: “This excessive licence, which the anarchists think is the only true freedom, provides the stock, as it were, from which a tyrant grows.”

Plato: “Is it not the excess and greed of this and the neglect of all other things that revolutionizes this constitution too and prepares the way for the necessity of a dictatorship?”

Plato: “And is it not true that in like manner a leader of the people who, getting control of a docile mob, does not withhold his hand from the shedding of tribal blood, but by the customary unjust accusations brings a citizen into court and assassinates him, blotting out a human life, and with unhallowed tongue and lips that have tasted kindred blood, banishes and slays and hints at the abolition of debts and the partition of lands.”

Plato: “And a democracy, I suppose, comes into being when the poor, winning the victory, put to death some of the other party, drive out others, and grant the rest of the citizens an equal share in both citizenship and offices.”

Plato called democracy “a delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!”

Polybius: “And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.”