The New International Encyclopædia/Hay, John
HAY, John (1838—). An American statesman, author, and journalist. He was born in Salem, Ind., of Scotch ancestry, October 8, 1838; graduated at Brown University in 1858; and then studied law at Springfield, Ill., where he became acquainted with Abraham Lincoln, then the acknowledged leader of his profession and of the Republican Party in the State. He was taken into the latter's law office, and in 1861 was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Illinois. He accompanied President-elect Lincoln on his memorable journey to Washington, and served as his assistant private secretary until his (Lincoln's) death, with the exception of a brief interval, during which he served as adjutant and aide-de-camp to the President, and of a few months when he served in the army under Generals Hunter and Gillmore. In the latter capacity he rose to the rank of major, and was subsequently brevetted lieutenant-colonel and colonel. After Mr. Lincoln's death, he went to Paris as secretary of legation, which position he held for three years; he then served for more than a year as secretary of legation and chargé d'affaires at Vienna, and after a short interval went in the same capacity to Madrid, where he remained for another year. From 1870 to 1875 he was an editorial writer on the New York Tribune, and for a short time acted as editor-in-chief of that journal. In the meantime he had married the daughter of Amasa Stone, of Cleveland, Ohio. From 1879 to 1881 he served under President Hayes as First Assistant Secretary of State. He then was again engaged in literary pursuits until March 19, 1897, when he was appointed by President McKinley Ambassador to Great Britain, to succeed Thomas F. Bayard. His service in this capacity was marked by thoroughness, skill, and tactfulness. His public addresses were models of their kind and examples of diplomatic propriety. With excellent social gifts, he made a favorable impression on English society, and did much to promote friendliness between the two nations. On September 20, 1898, he was appointed Secretary of State, to succeed William R. Day, who had just resigned. His conduct of the foreign affairs of the nation was, from the first, characterized by unusual vigor, tact, and sagacious foresight. Perhaps his greatest diplomatic achievement was the maintenance of the ‘open-door’ policy in China, and the consequent postponement of the threatened dismemberment of that nation. Not content with verbal assurances from the European nations, Secretary Hay demanded and secured written guarantees that the ‘open door’ should be maintained in China. During the British war in South Africa he used his good offices to secure the neutrality of the Continental European powers. Other notable diplomatic achievements of Secretary Hay were the settlement of the Samoan dispute, as a result of which the United States secured Tutuila. with an excellent harbor in the Pacific; the settlement of the dispute with Great Britain over the Alaska boundary, temporarily by the conclusion of a modus vivendi in 1898, and by treaty in 1903; the negotiation of reciprocity treaties with Argentina, France, Germany, Cuba, and the British West Indies; the negotiation of a treaty with Great Britain relative to the construction of an interoceanic canal (see Hay-Pauncefote Treaty); the negotiation of new treaties with Spain; and the negotiation of a treaty with Denmark for the cession of the Danish West India Islands.
Colonel Hay won literary distinction by Pike County Ballads (1871) and Castilian Days (1891). With John G. Nicolay he wrote an authoritative life of Lincoln, entitled Abraham Lincoln: A History (10 vols., 1890). A once popular anonymous novel. The Bread-Winners (1883), is generally attributed to him, but thus far without sufficient evidence.