There are no contemporary, “formal histories…. Many of the Founding Fathers who thought about the matter concluded that the history of the Revolution could not be written until the documents had been all collected”—a hard requirement, and, even then, unlikely to “tell the truth.”
—H.S. Commager 1
A unique document was found among the papers of William Livingston, governor of New Jersey, upon his death in 1792: “A History of the American Revolution Commencing with the Settlement of the Colonies”—and down to the early months of 1776. 2 The authorship is uncertain, although it is clear that at least two writers were involved and that they wrote from a postwar perspective. Livingston's son-in-law, John Jay, then kept it in his possession until his own death, in 1829, and no wonder, as it eloquently breathed the life and work of that Founding Father and those of his revolutionary colleagues who were of like mind. Moreover, it met at least part of Jay's long-standing desire for someone intimately familiar with the events to write such a history.
There can be no better way to set the stage for the following study of Jay's diplomatic role in the Revolutionary War than to summarize for the reader selected sections of that contemporary history. Particular emphasis will be placed on those specific events following the French and Indian War that convinced Jay, in 1774,