John Hay was a great American statesman, diplomat, author and poet, whose political career spanned over 50 years.  

He was born in a small brick home, on College Avenue, in Salem, Indiana, on October 8, 1838.  John was the fourth of five children, born in the house, to Dr. Charles Hay and the former Helen Leonard. 

A graduate of Brown University, (whose library is named in his honor), Hay worked on the presidential campaign of Abraham Lincoln and once elected became one of his private secretaries in the White House, assisting with speech writing, including the Gettysburg Address, he also served as a major and colonel in the Civil War. 

He was at the bedside of Lincoln when he passed away the morning after Booth shot him. 


Afterwards, John Hay worked for presidents’ U.S. Grant, James Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, and served as Secretary of State for both William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt.  3 of these great men were assassinated during his service. 

While in service he authored and orchestrated the Open Door Policy for China and was the driving force behind pushing legislation through Congress that allowed our country to build the Panama Canal. 

Additionally, he served 10 years as the Editor of the New York Tribune, working for Horace Greely, he also authored over 20 books and was close personal friends with Mark Twain.  

If you would like to know more about this impressive native of Salem, the Stevens Museum at the John Hay Center, has several selections available for sale. 

Please stop by 307 E. Market St. during normal business hours to view these books or to learn more, Tues – Sat,9am to 5pm.