Hay and Nico in the Library

One last post devoted to my favorite secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, and then I’ll move onto other topics!

The secretaries spent years compiling an official history of the Lincoln administration:

Abraham Lincoln: A History – volume I
Abraham Lincoln: A History – volume II

In addition, John Hay’s diaries provided more details of life in the Executive Mansion – he and Nicolay complained about Mary’s conspiracies and Tad’s bad behaviour, while discussing Lincoln’s ever-changing moods.

The Life and Letters of John Hay – volume I
The Life and Letters of John Hay – volume II

After the war, both became diplomats, and Hay would eventually rise to Lincoln moulded these men, and stayed with them in experience and memory their entire lives.  Just a few weeks before he died in 1905, Hay wrote,

I dreamed last night that I was in Washington and that I went to the White House to report to the President who turned out to be Mr. Lincoln. He was very kind and considerate, and sympathetic about my illness. He said there was little work of importance on hand. He gave me two unimportant letters to answer. I was pleased that this slight order was within my power to obey. I was not in the least surprised at Lincoln’s presence in the White House. But the whole impression of the dream was one of overpowering melancholy.

I’ve added all of these to the Library.

Lincoln’s Men

Speaking of Hay and Nicolay, I finished an excellent book about the secretaries a few months ago: Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries. It’s a delightful look at the boys who ran the White House and kept Lincoln company in the best and worst moments of his Presidency.  It’s thanks to their labor of love history (and Hay’s private diaries) that we have the backstage glimpses of life in the Executive Mansion. Hay and Nicolay’s best-friendship lasted nearly half a century, and they were linked in their love for Lincoln.



Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries: Daniel Mark Epstein: Amazon.com: Books.

Hay and Nico, Together at Last

I’m working on a special project for 2014, and went looking for a photo of John Hay and John Nicolay – Lincoln’s secretaries.  There’s one famous photo of them with Lincoln between them, but shockingly, given their half-century friendship, there are none of the BFFs together.  However, one eagle-eyed websurfer has found them together, amongst the crowd in the Second Inaugural photo. They both look solemn and stressed. Thinking, no doubt, of all the paperwork awaiting them back at the office.



Lincoln’s Second Inauguration Photo…Again.