Year
1779

John Jay is appointed minister to Spain

On this day in 1779, the former president of the Continental Congress, John Jay, is appointed minister to Spain and tasked with winning Spanish support for the American Revolution and Spain’s recognition of America’s independence.

For more than two years, Jay negotiated for Spanish support of the American cause but was only successful in getting occasional loans and a supply of war materials. His inability to gain recognition of American independence was the result of Spain’s fear that the revolution might spread to Spanish-controlled colonies in the Americas.

Jay, who graduated from King’s College, now Columbia University, at the age of 19, was a prominent figure in New York state politics from an early age. While he opposed British interference in the colonies, Jay was initially against complete independence from Great Britain. He was elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774 as a representative from New York; it was during this term that he published “Address to the People of Great Britain,” in which he promoted a peaceful resolution with Great Britain instead of independence. Jay was reelected to the Second Continental Congress in 1775 but resigned in 1776 rather than sign the Declaration of Independence.

Jay then returned to New York where he helped draft the state’s constitution before being elected the first chief justice of New York in 1777. After serving as president of the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1779, he was appointed minister to Spain. Upon his return to the United States, Jay went on to become the first chief justice of the United States in 1789 and, six years later, governor of New York state.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Jesuit order established

In Rome, the Society of Jesus–a Roman Catholic missionary organization–receives its charter from Pope Paul III. The Jesuit order played an important role in the Counter-Reformation and eventually succeeded in converting millions around the world to Catholicism.The Jesuit movement ...read more

Sylvia Pankhurst dies

Sylvia Pankhurst, British suffragette and international socialist, dies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the age of 78.Born in Manchester, England, in 1882, Sylvia Pankhurst was the daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, a champion of woman suffrage who became active in the late 1880s. ...read more

John Kipling killed at the Battle of Loos

On this day in 1915, Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the British army, the only son of Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, is killed at the Battle of Loos, in the Artois region of France.The Battle of Loos, part of a joint Allied offensive on the Western Front, began on ...read more

Antiwar sentiment increases

An advertisement headed “A Call To Resist Illegitimate Authority,” signed by over 320 influential people (professors, writers, ministers, and other professional people), appears in the New Republic and the New York Review of Books, asking for funds to help youths resist the ...read more

Bobby Jones wins U.S. Amateur title

On this day in 1930, golfer Bobby Jones wins his fourth major tournament of the year, making him the first person ever to win the “Grand Slam” of golf. Jones beat Gene Homans in match play format, 8 and 7, meaning he was eight holes ahead with just seven holes left to play.Bobby ...read more

F. Scott Fitzgerald stamp is issued

On this day in 1996, the U.S. Postal Service issues an F. Scott Fitzgerald commemorative stamp.Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to a once well-to-do family that had lost much of its wealth and influence. A well-off aunt sent Fitzgerald to boarding school in New Jersey ...read more

Ships collide off Newfoundland

Sudden and heavy fog causes two ships to collide, killing 322 people off the coast of Newfoundland on this day in 1854.The Arctic was a luxury ship, built in 1850 to carry passengers across the Atlantic Ocean. It had a wooden hull and could reach speeds of up to 13 knots per ...read more

Zsa Zsa Gabor storms out of the courtroom

Zsa Zsa Gabor, on trial for slapping a police officer, storms out of the courtroom in the middle of the district attorney’s closing argument. The prosecutor told the jury that Gabor “craves media attention . . . and abused two weeks of this process for her own ...read more

Khrushchev ends trip to the United States

Nikita Khrushchev ends his dramatic and eventful visit to the United States and returns to the Soviet Union. For nearly two weeks, his trip dominated the news in America and around the world. Khrushchev arrived in the United States on September 15. His plan was to tour America ...read more

“My Mother, The Car” exported to France

On this day in 1967, a French television network begins to broadcast the first (and only) season of the American sitcom “My Mother, The Car,” the first TV show to star a talking automobile. The show’s premise–a man visits a used-car lot and finds a 1928 Porter convertible that ...read more