John Hay and Mark Twain
BY KENTON J. CLYMER*
John Hay is best remembered as secretary of state from 1898
to 1905 and in particular as the author of the Open Door notes regarding the status of China. People with an interest in Lincoln and
the Civil War will also know that in 1861 President Abraham Lincoln
invited Hay, then a young man of twenty-two, to come to Washington as his unofficial private secretary.1 If Hay is remembered
* Kenton J. Clymer is assistant professor of American Diplomatic History at
the University of Texas at El Paso. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees
from the University of Michigan. He acknowledges with appreciation financial
assistance for his study of John Hay from the University of Michigan, the University of Texas at El Paso and the American Philosophical Society.
i Hay's selection was probably due more to the influence of John G.
Nicolay (who was Lincoln's official private secretary and who needed an assistant) or perhaps to Milton Hay, John's uncle and a long-time associate and
friend of Lincoln, than to any mutual admiration between Hay and Lincoln.
To be sure, John knew Lincoln. He had taken a small part in the campaign of