John Hay

American statesman (1838–1905)

John Milton Hay (October 8, 1838July 1, 1905) was an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln. He served as United States Secretary of State from 1898 to 1905 under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

John Hay in 1897


  • [The Spanish-American War] has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune that loves the brave. It is now to be concluded, I hope, with that fine good nature, which is, after all, the distinguishing trait of the American character.
    • From a 1898 letter to Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in Donald E. Schmidt's The Folly of War: American Foreign Policy, 1898-2005 (2005).
  • Dealing with a government [Tsarist Russia] with whom mendacity is a science is an extremely difficult and delicate matter.
  • He never funked and he never lied
    I reckon he never knowed how.
  • He weren't no saint—but at jedgment
    I'd run my chance with Jim.
    'Longside of some pious gentlemen
    That wouldn't shook hands with him.
    He seen his duty, a dead-sure thing—
    And went for it thar and then;
    And Christ ain't a-going to be too hard
    On a man that died for men.
  • At my door the Pale Horse stands
    To carry me to unknown lands.
    • "The Stirrup Cup", Pike County Ballads and Other Pieces (1873).
  • The people will come to their own at last,—
    God is not mocked forever.
    • "The Sphynx of the Tuileries", Pike County Ballads and Other Pieces (1873).
  • I think that saving a little child
    And bringing him to his own,
    Is a derned sight better business
    Than loafing around the throne.
    • "Little Breeches", Pike County Ballads and Other Pieces (1873).
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