Hay, John Milton
He was appointed assistant secretary of state in 1878 and moved to Washington, D.C., where he became the intimate of Henry Adams and Clarence King. In this period he published with John G. Nicolay, the monumental Abraham Lincoln: A History (10 vol., 1890), a work for which the young secretaries, while serving under Lincoln, had gathered material with his knowledge and permission. In Mar., 1897, McKinley appointed Hay ambassador to Great Britain, and there he served his country well during the trying time of the Spanish-American War.
From Sept. 20, 1898, until his death, July 1, 1905, he was secretary of state under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. In the McKinley administration he was a maker of policies, and he was also a prominent figure in the Roosevelt administration, despite his chief's posthumous description of him as a
fine figurehead. Hay was responsible for the Open Door policy (1899) with regard to China, which stressed freedom of commercial enterprise for American merchants; for U.S. involvement in the Boxer Uprising; and for the Hay-Pauncefote Treaties.
See W. R. Thayer, Life and Letters of John Hay (1915, repr. 1972); biographies by T. Dennett (1933, repr. 1961) and J. Taliaferro (2013); J. Zeitz, Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay and the War for Lincoln's Image (2014).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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