John Hay - journalist, historian, poet, and diplomat - had the unique fortune of serving President Lincoln as his personal secretary and Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of State. Being in many respects an ideal letter writer, Hay recorded his impressions so freshly and so vividly that he never leaves us in doubt as to what he thought of persons, political affairs, or life's experiences. Included are the letters that he wrote to Garfield, Nicolay, Theodore Roosevelt and many others. Hay served at diplomatic posts in Paris (1865-76), Vienna (1867-68), and Madrid (1869-70). His widely-known ballads were collected in Pike County Ballads (1871), and from 1870-75 he was staff editorial writer at the New York Tribune. In 1897 he was appointed by President Cleveland as ambassador to Great Britain. As secretary of state (1898--1905), Hay authored the Open Door policy, instituted regular press conferences, and paved the way for the building of the Panama Canal, making his office and American foreign policy of worldwide influence.