Born in Salem, Indiana, October 8, 1838; died in Newbury, New
Hampshire, July 1, 1905. One of the greatest diplomats and statesmen
in the last half of the nineteenth century, John Hay was also
a cultivated man of letters and a poet of a native, though limited,
vein. Educated at Brown University and admitted to the bar in
1861, he obeyed the call of public events and after serving,
not only as secretary to Lincoln, but as his adjutant and aide-de-camp,
went to the front and won successive ranks, to that of colonel.
After a period in minor diplomatic service at Paris, Vienna,
and Madrid, he returned to America and became associated with
the editorial staff of the "New York Tribune," to which
he contributed from time to time his "Pike County Ballads."
He reentered public service and was Assistant Secretary of State
under President Hayes. It was not, however, until 1897, when
he was sent as Ambassador to Great Britain, that his high qualities
as a diplomat were given their full opportunity. He was recalled
to enter President McKinley's Cabinet in 1898, as Secretary of
State, where his wide experience was valuable during the Spanish-American
War. He was retained in this high office by President Roosevelt
and occupied it at the time of his death.
This biographical note is reprinted
from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.