Who was John Hay?
Statesman, Author, Ambassador
John Hay was a great American statesman, diplomat, author and poet, whose political career spanned over 50 years. He was born in a small brick home in Salem, Indiana, on October 8, 1838.
After John displayed considerable potential in his schooling, his Uncle Milton Hay, who was a practicing lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, took a special interest and sent him to Brown University, where he graduated in 1858.
In 1860, when John Hay’s childhood friend, John Nicolay, was appointed Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign secretary, he was brought on board to assist with the enormous amount of correspondence.
Hay grew to adore President Lincoln for his goodness, patience, understanding, sense of humor, humility, magnanimity, healthy skepticism, sense of justice, resilience and power, love of the common man and mystical patriotism. Many later noted that Lincoln too, loved Hay as a son and was very attached to him.
In 1903, after years of negotiating treaties, Hay successfully passed legislation that afforded the United States the opportunity to start construction on the Panama Canal.
Brown University’s John Hay Library was named in his honor, as was the John Hay Air Base, in the Philippines and both his birth home, in Salem, Indiana and his summer estate, The Fells, in New Hampshire, have been historically conserved.