Sarah Jay (1756–1802)

Sarah Jay to John Jay (1745–1929), p. 1

June 25, 1788
Columbia University, Butler Library, Rare Book & Manuscript Division, The Papers of John Jay

Women were constitutionally prohibited from voting and holding office in New York. Nonetheless, many were still interested in politics and involved in the ratification process. Sarah Jay (1756-1802), the daughter of New Jersey governor William Livingston, regularly advised her husband John Jay on political matters. In this letter, Sarah Jay advised her sickly husband "not [to] have a greater share of business imposed upon you than your just proportion," because his "Colleagues are Men of Abilities." She hoped that the New Hampshire and later the Virginia ratifications would stimulate New York's Convention to ratify.

Other women took part in the New York debate over the Constitution, as well. "A Columbian Patriot" (an Antifederalist pamphlet written by Mercy Otis Warren of Milton, Massachusetts) was reprinted in April 1788 by the New York Federal Republican Committee and 1,700 copies were distributed throughout the state. The Albany Anti-Federal Committee noted that it was "a well composed piece but in a Stile too sublime & florid for the common people in this Part of the Country."