AKA John Milton Hay
Birthplace: Salem, IN
Location of death: Newbury, NH
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, OH
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Secretary of State, 1898-1905
American statesman and author, born at Salem, Indiana, on the 8th of October 1838. He graduated from Brown University in 1858, studied law in the office of Abraham Lincoln, was admitted to the bar in Springfield, Illinois, in 1861, and soon afterwards was selected by President Lincoln as assistant private secretary, in which capacity he served until the president's death, being associated with John George Nicolay (1832-1901). Hay was secretary of the U.S. legation at Paris in 1865-67, at Vienna in 1867-69 and at Madrid in 1869-70. After his return he was for five years an editorial writer on the New York Tribune; in 1879-81 he was first assistant secretary of state to William M. Evarts; and in 1881 was a delegate to the International Sanitary Conference, which met in Washington, DC, and of which he was chosen president. Upon the inauguration of President William McKinley in 1897 Hay was appointed ambassador to Great Britain, from which post he was transferred in 1898 to that of secretary of state, succeeding W. R. Day, who was sent to Paris as a member of the Peace Conference. He remained in this office until his death at Newburg, New Hampshire, on the 1st of July 1905. He directed the peace negotiations with Spain after the war of 1898, and not only secured American interests in the imbroglio caused by the Boxers in China, but grasped the opportunity to insist on "the administrative entity" of China; influenced the powers to declare publicly for the "open door" in China; challenged Russia as to her intentions in Manchuria, securing a promise to evacuate the country on the 8th of October 1903; and in 1904 again urged "the administrative entity" of China and took the initiative in inducing Russia and Japan to "localize and limit" the area of hostilities.
It was largely due to his tact and good management, in concert with Lord Pauncefote, the British ambassador, that negotiations for abrogating the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty and for making a new treaty with Great Britain regarding the Isthmian Canal were successfully concluded at the end of 1901; subsequently he negotiated treaties with Colombia and with Panama, looking towards the construction by the United States of the Panama Canal. He also arranged the settlement of difficulties with Germany over Samoa in December 1899, and the settlement, by joint commission, of the question concerning the disputed Alaskan boundary in 1903. John Hay was a man of quiet and unassuming disposition, whose training in diplomacy gave a cool and judicious character to his statesmanship. As secretary of state under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt his guidance was invaluable during a rather critical period in foreign affairs, and no man of his time did more to create confidence in the increased interest taken by the United States in international matters.
Hay also represented, in another capacity, the best American traditions -- namely in literature. He published Pike County Ballads (1871) -- the most famous being "Little Breeches" -- a volume worthy to rank with Bret Harte, if not with James Russell Lowell's Biglow Papers; also Caslilian Days (1871), recording his observations in Spain. With John G. Nicolay he wrote Abraham Lincoln: A History (10 vols,, 1890), a monumental work indispensable to the student of the Civil War period in America, and published an edition of Lincoln's Complete Works (2 vols., 1894). The authorship of the brilliant novel The Bread-Winners (1883) is now certainly attributed to him. Hay was an excellent public speaker, some of his best addresses are: In Praise of Omar; On the Unveiling of the Bust of Sir Walter Scott in Westminster Abbey, May 21, 1897; and a memorial address in honor of President McKinley.
John Hay is the grandfather of newspaperman John Hay Whitney.
University: Concordia College
University: MA, Brown University
US Secretary of State 1898-1905
US Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1897-98
American Academy of Arts and Letters 1904
Author of books:
Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle, and Little Breeches (1871)
Castilian Days (1871)
Pike County Ballads and Other Pieces (1871, poetry)
The Bread-Winners (1884, novel, anonymous)
Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890, biography, with John G. Nicolay)
Poems (1890, poetry)
In Praise of Omar (1898)
Addresses of John Hay (1906, speeches)
Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary (1908, letters, 3 vols.)
A Poet in Exile (1910)
The Complete Poetical Works of John Hay (1916, poetry)
A College Friendship: A Series of Letters... (1938, letters)
Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay (1939)
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