The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Nicolay, John George
NICOLAY, nĕk'ō-lā, John George, American author: b. Essingen, Bavaria, 26 Feb. 1832; d. Washington, D. C., 26 Sept. 1901. He came with his family to the United States in 1838 and settled in Illinois, where he was educated in the public schools. He entered the office of the Free Press in Pittsfield, Ill., when 16 and later became its proprietor and publisher, soon making himself a political power in the State. In 1856 he entered the office of the secretary of state at Springfield, Ill., where he became a devoted adherent of Lincoln. When the latter was elected to the Presidency Nicolay was appointed his private secretary and as the duties of the office increased John Hay (q.v.) was selected as assistant secretary. Together they formed the plan of writing a biography of President Lincoln and gained his approval of their project. In 1865 Nicolay was appointed by the President to be United States consul at Paris, where he remained until 1869 and in 1872-87 he was marshal of the Supreme Court. In 1874 he began in collaboration with John Hay ‘Abraham Lincoln, a History,’ the authoritative biography, published serially (1886-90) and in book form and supplemented by Lincoln's ‘Complete Works,’ in 12 volumes (1894). He also wrote ‘The Outbreak of the Civil War’ (1881). His daughter, Helen Nicolay, who has inherited her father's absorption in the life and achievement of the great President, is the author of ‘Personal Traits of Abraham Lincoln’ (1912).