People & Events|
John Hay's imprint on American foreign policy was evident during the presidential administrations of both William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Hay served as Secretary of State for both men. It was Hay, in his capacity as ambassador to Great Britain, who termed the Spanish-American war, "a splendid little war." Hay was no stranger to presidential politics. He had gained exposure to life in the White House as a private secretary to Abraham Lincoln. That experience was the inspiration for a 10-part volume called "Abraham Lincoln: A History," that Hay wrote along with John G. Nicolay.
While serving as secretary of state under McKinley, Hay was the architect of the US's Open Door policy toward China which favored free commercial rights for US merchants in exchange for respect of Chinese sovereignty. The Boxer Rebellion proved to be a refutation by Chinese nationalists of that policy.
The Hay-Paunceforte treaties of 1900 and 1901 with Great Britain, along with the Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty of 1903 laid the groundwork for the US construction of the Panama Canal.