John Milton Hay (1838 – 1905) was born in Salem, Indiana but did much of his growing up in Warsaw, Illinois. He attended schools in Warsaw as well as in Springfield – even attending college in Springfield before attending Brown University. He received his law degree from Brown University. Mr. Hay loved poetry and was well known at Brown for his talent in that area. But in returning to Springfield, found there was not much employment for poets. So, he joined his uncle Milton Hay in a law office next door to Mr. Lincoln’s law office on the Springfield square.
John M. Hay was a private secretary to President Lincoln while Lincoln was in the White House 1861 – 1865. He was one of two personal secretaries to President Lincoln, with the other being John Nicolay.
Following Lincoln’s assassination, John Hay went on to have an outstanding career on his own. He was secretary of legation to Paris from 1865 to 1870 under President Andrew Johnson. He was the Charge deAffairs in Vienna following for less than a year in 1871.
Mr. Hay was assistant to secretary of State 1871 to 1881, serving under Presidents Grant, Hayes & Garfield. From 1897 to 1898, Mr. Hay was ambassador to Great Britain. From 1898 to 1905, he served as Secretary of State under President McKinley.
John Hay and John Nicolay co-authored a book about the life of Abraham Lincoln following the end of the war and Lincoln’s assassination.