John Hay - From Poetry to Politics
By: Tyler Dennett
Dodd, Mead & Company, 1933
John Hay is another of those political figures (that I often run into in my readings of the Pulitzer winners) whose name was familiar to me, but I couldn't remember exactly what it was that he was known for. I remembered mentions of his name in the biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and Walt Whitman plus a few mentions in different NPR programs I had listened to. So, I had a general idea of when he was involved in politics but nothing else. Tyler Dennett's biography of Hay proved surprisingly interesting reading for a political biography (or, heaven forbid, I'm just getting used to the endless talk of this policy and that).
Hay worked in political administrations in various capacities from Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt. From Illinois, Hay came to Washington, DC as a secretary with Lincoln and his entourage. He followed this by stints as military representative and ambassador in various places in Europe, but the position that he is best known for was Secretary of State. While you may not be familiar with his name, issues that you might be familiar with that Hay played a key role in were the Open Door Policy with China, negotiations concerning the United States' building of the Panama Canal, negotiations concerning the Alaskan border with Canada, and many treaties with foreign nations as the United States emerged as a world power.
I'm not sure who I could say would be interested in reading this biography, but I could recommend it for anyone interested in the history of the rise in power of the United States in the world, as Hay was instrumental in this transition time.