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John Hay

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Template:Infobox Biography John Milton Hay (October 8, 1838July 1, 1905) was an American politician who served as Secretary of State from 1898 to 1905.

Born in Salem, Indiana, Hay began his public career as a secretary to Abraham Lincoln. His diary and writings during the Civil War are basic historical sources. He is credited by some as being the author of Lincoln's letter to the Widow Bixby, consoling her for the loss of her sons in the war. Hay was present when Lincoln died after being shot at Ford's Theatre. Hay and his fellow secretary, John G. Nicolay, wrote a 10-volume biography of Lincoln and prepared an edition of his collected works. Hay was named U.S. ambassador to Britain in 1897 when his friend William McKinley became President. Some of the recognition of the longstanding community of interests between that country and the United States came as a result of Hay's stay there. In August 1898, Hay was named Secretary of State and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris (1898).

His contributions included the adoption of an Open Door Policy in China (announced on January 2, 1900) and the preparations for the Panama Canal. He negotiated the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty (1901), the Hay-Herran Treaty (1903), and the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty (1903), all of which were instrumental clearing the way for the construction and usage of the Canal.

In 1904, he was one of the first seven chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

On his passing in 1905, John Milton Hay was interred in the Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio

He is also renowned for his comment, written in a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt, describing the Spanish-American War as a "splendid little war."

John Milton Hay appears as a character in Gore Vidal's historical novels Lincoln and Empire.


Preceded by:
William R. Day
United States Secretary of State
1898–1905
Succeeded by:
Elihu Root

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