John Milton Hay


Biography of John Milton Hay

John Milton Hay (October 8, 1838 – July 1, 1905) was an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln. Hay's highest office was serving as United States Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

Hay was born in Salem, Indiana, of Scottish ancestry, the third son of Dr. Charles Hay and Helen Leonard from Middleborough, Massachusetts, who had come to Salem to live with her sister. He was raised in Warsaw, Illinois, and educated first at the private school of the Reverend Stephen Childs, an Episcopal clergyman. In 1851 John went to an academy at Pittsfield in Pike County, where he met an older student, John G. Nicolay, with whom he would later work as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln. In 1852 John Hay went to the college at Springfield, and in 1855 was sent to Brown University, where he joined Theta Delta Chi. At Brown, he developed an interest in poetry, and Hay became a part of Providence's literary circle which included Sarah Helen Whitman and Nora Perry. As a salutation to each issue of Benjamin Tucker's Liberty (1881-1908), these lines of poetry by Hay were printed: For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!/ Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;/ And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee. When he graduated, he was named Class Poet. He left Brown in 1858 before receiving his diploma and went home to Warsaw to study law with his uncle, Milton Hay.

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