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The Jay, Rutledge, and Ellsworth Courts (1789–1800)

Introduction

What positions did Jay, Rutledge, and Ellsworth hold before serving as chief justice?

John Jay had a distinguished political career in his home state of New York, including serving as a delegate at the Continental Congress and later becoming president of that colonial governmental body. He also served as chief justice of the New York state court, minister to Spain, and secretary of foreign affairs under President George Washington. He acted as a special envoy to Great Britain while serving as chief justice of the Supreme Court, which led to the adoption of a treaty between the two nations called the Jay Treaty.

John Rutledge also had a distinguished political career from his home state of South Carolina. He served as a member of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, acting South Carolina attorney general, a member of the Continental Congress, president of the South Carolina General Assembly, governor of South Carolina, judge of the Chancery Court of South Carolina, and chief member of the South Carolina delegation to the Philadelphia Convention (which formed the U.S. Constitution). Rutledge also served as an associate justice on the Court for seventeen months.

Oliver Ellsworth had an impressive political career in his home state of Connecticut, serving as a member of the Connecticut General Assembly, the Hartford County state attorney, a member of the Continental Congress, a judge on the Connecticut Superior Court, a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention, and U.S. senator. He also served as commissioner to France while he served as chief justice.



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