|Creator:||Hay, John, 1838-1905.|
|Title:||John Hay Letters|
|Quantity:||1 volume containing 36 letters (SC)|
|Abstract:||Papers of the American biographer, historian, journalist, statesman; Ambassador to Great Britain, later Secretary of State under President William McKinley. Bound collection of 35 Hay letters written between 1886 and 1905 to financier and philanthropist Samuel Mather (1851-1931).|
|Repository:||Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
John Milton Hay (1838-1905) was an American politician and poet who served as Secretary of State from 1838-1905 and who made substantial contributions to American foreign policy.
John Milton Hay was born October 8, 1838 in Salem, Indiana, although his parents, Dr. Charles and Helen (Leonard) Hay, relocated the family to Warsaw, Illinois during Hay's early childhood. He graduated from Brown University in 1858, being named "Class Poet" and then returned briefly to Warsaw. Shortly after, Hay was granted the opportunity to serve as a private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln. In May 1865, he was appointed as secretary to the American Legation in Paris, France. Over the next years, Hay held various diplomatic posts. However, it was not until 1897 that Hay gained an appointment to Ambassador to Great Britain. This was followed by President William McKinley naming Hay as Secretary of State in 1898. While in this office, Hay constructed the Open Door Policy, allowing for open trade with China. Hay maintained his post during President Theodore Roosevelt's presidency and was influential in the Panama Canal negotiations. He remained at this post until his death on July 1, 1905.
The John Hay Letters are a bound collection of 35 items written between 1886 and 1905 to financier and philanthropist Samuel Mather (1851-1931). The collection of letters of the American journalist, historian, and diplomat is preceded by a letter from William Roscoe Thayer, Hay's biographer, requesting Mather's permission to inspect Hay's correspondence. The letter also contains a series of questions about Hay's personal and political life, including an inquiry into his "being a man subject to fits of depression."
The Hay letters are of both a personal and business nature, many of which focus on Hay's diplomatic career as President McKinley's ambassador to Great Britain, and later his Secretary of State. Writing of his negotiations with artist John Singer Sargent, Hay explains (7 Feb 1903):
...through Henry White Carter, I had partly arranged to have him do my portrait, if he could find the time during his visit to Washington, but, as it was not certain, I did not say anything about it. He succeeded in finding a few hours for me, and has completed my portrait. I suppose, of course, that Clara has first claim upon it, but, bearing in view your most flattering request, I asked him if he could do another. At first, he said it would be impossible, but afterwards seemed to be in a more compliant mood, and now says that one of these days, if he can find the time, he will be glad to do it. If when it is done you and Flora still think you want one of them, I will put it at your disposition.
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Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
John Hay Letters
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
Gift of Robert C. Hosmer.
Created by: KM
Date: Jun 1990
Revision history: 12 Nov 2008 - converted to EAD (LDC)