Meet the Founding Father of U.S. Counterintelligence (You May Have Heard of Him)

Born in New York in 1745, John Jay was one of the framers of the Constitution, author of five of The Federalist Papers, and the first Chief Justice of the United States.

A patriot devoted to public service, his achievements in virtually every branch and level of government are indeed noteworthy, both during the American Revolutionary War and following it. But John Jay's contributions to the birth of America's counterintelligence capabilities are somehwat less well known.

Jay’s foray into counterintelligence began in 1776 when, at the age of thirty, he headed a New York State executive body called the Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies. The Committee's role, according to the resolution establishing it, was “inquiring into, detecting and defeating all conspiracies which may be formed ... against the liberties of America.”

Today, the Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies is recognized as our nation’s first dedicated counterintelligence agency. And during the Revolutionary War, John Jay played a crucial intelligence role directing clandestine operatives and running counterintelligence missions, including helping to foil a plot to kill General George Washington.

Read more about John Jay, the "Founding Father of American Counterintelligence" in our special feature on the Wall of Spies Experience, a museum-style exhibit developed by ODNI's National Counterintelligence and Security Center, which recounts the evolution of espionage in America.

We’ll be telling that story, from the Revolutionary War to the present day, right here on Visit The Digital Experience for a look at what’s to come.