University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Lincoln Collection. William E. Barton Collection of Lincolniana. The John Hay Library 1861-1877

© 2008 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Lincoln Collection. William E. Barton Collection of Lincolniana. The John Hay Library




12 volumes


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The University of Chicago Library's collection of books from the John Hay library consists of twelve books that were purchased by William E. Barton in 1926. Many of these books bear John Hay's signature and most date from Hay's time as secretary to Abraham Lincoln during the latter's presidency. Many are U.S. government publications and others are concerned with governmental and legal matters.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Lincoln Collection. William E. Barton Collection of Lincolniana. The John Hay Library

Biographical Note

The Rev. William Eleazar Barton (1861-1930) was one of the early twentieth century's most prominent writers and lecturers on the life of Abraham Lincoln. Born in Sublette, Illinois, in the same year Lincoln assumed the presidency, Barton grew up in an environment heavily influenced by reverence for Lincoln. After pursuing undergraduate studies at Berea College in Kentucky, Barton earned his divinity degree from the Oberlin Theological Seminary in 1890. He served parishes in Tennessee, Ohio, and Massachusetts before becoming the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Oak Park, Illinois, a position he held until his retirement in 1924. Four years later, Barton accepted an appointment as lecturer at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, where he also organized and served as pastor of the Collegeside Congregational Church.

Barton's work as a writer produced a number of denominational manuals for church organization and a series of books presenting the wisdom and parables of a character he named Safed the Sage. For the last ten years of his life, however, Barton was best known to the public as a prolific author and lecturer on Abraham Lincoln

John Milton Hay was born in Salem, Indiana in 1838. While clerking in his uncle's Springfield, IL law office in 1859, Hay met Abraham Lincoln. At the urging of John Nicolay, Lincoln's private secretary, Hay was appointed to the personal staff of the President-Elect and accompanied him to Washington, D.C. in 1860. Hay served as a secretary to Lincoln until the President's death in 1865. Following Lincoln's assassination, Hay remained in diplomatic service, serving in lower level posts throughout Europe between 1865 and 1870. From 1879 until 1881, he served as Assistant Secretary of State under President Rutherford B. Hayes. In 1897, Hay was appointed Ambassador to Great Britain by President William McKinley. His tenure coincided with the Spanish-American War, and Hay was instrumental in negotiating the Treaty of Paris (1898), which concluded the hostilities and eventually led to U.S. control of the Philippines. Hay served as Secretary of State from 1898 until his death in 1905, under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. During this time, he articulated the Open Door policy toward China, by which the great powers agreed not to partition the country and to compete freely for trade. He was also instrumental in guiding government policy during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Later, Hay negotiated the Hay-Pauncefote treaties with Great Britain (1901), which ultimately paved the way for the construction of the Panama Canal by the United States. Hay died on July 1, 1905 in Newbury, New Hampshire.

In addition to his diplomatic work, Hay was also a journalist and an author of poetry and prose. He wrote, with John Nicolay, the 10 volume biography of Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890). Additionally, he edited Lincoln's Complete Works (1894).

Scope Note

The University of Chicago's collection of books from the John Hay library consists of books purchased by William E. Barton from Barker's Art Store of Springfield, IL in 1926. The main focus of Barton's purchase had been a collection of law books from the offices of Abraham Lincoln and William H. Herndon. At this time, however, Barton also acquired 19 volumes from the personal library of John Milton Hay. Twelve of these books are part of this collection. Several of these books are annotated in what is alleged to be Hay's own hand and their publication dates correspond roughly to the period during which Hay served on Lincoln's White House staff.

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Subject Headings


Item 1

The Army and Navy Official Gazette..., vol. 1, 1863-64. (Washington, D.C: John C. Rives, 1864). xl, 832 p. (Signed by John Hay, front and back covers not attached)

Item 2

Benét, S.V. A Treatise on Military Law and the Practice of Courts-Martial. (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1862). 377 p. (Signed and annotated by John Hay, front and back covers not attached)

Item 3

Hammond, J. Pinkney. The Army Chaplain's Manual.... (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1863). xii, 13-286 p. (Signed by John Hay)

Item 4

Johns, Henry T. Life with the Forty-Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers. (Pittsfield, MA: published for the author, 1864). 391 p. (Signed by John Hay)

Item 5

Morris, Benjamin Franklin. Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States.... (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864). 831 p. (Signed by John Hay)

Item 6

The National Almanac and Annual Record for the Year 1864. (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864). vol. 2 only. (Missing)

Item 7

Papers on Foreign Affairs Accompanying the President's Message to Congress, at the Opening of its Session in December, 1861. (Missing)

Item 8

U.S. Army. Corps of Engineers. Report on the Construction of a Military Road from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton. By Capt. John Mullan. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1863). 363 p. (Inscription: "From the President of the United States, John Hay, Priv. Sec., A. Leonard Hay, Esq., Custom House, New York City, U.S." Also Signed by A. Leonard Hay on Title Page)

Item 9

U.S. Census Office. Preliminary Report on the Eighth Census. 1860. (37th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate). by Jos. C.G. Kennedy, Superintendent. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1862). xvi, 294 p.

Item 10

United States Christian Commission. United States Christian Commission, for the Army and Navy. For the Year 1863. Second Annual Report. (Philadelphia, 1864). xii, 9-284 p. (Signed by John Hay)

Item 11

U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Military Affairs. Permanent Fortifications and Sea-Coast Defences. (37th Congress, 2nd Session, House of Representatives Report No. 86). Submitted by Mr. F.P. Blair. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1862). 528 p.

Item 12

U.S. War Department. Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861.... (Philadelphia: J G. L. Brown, 1861). 559 p. (Signed by John Hay)

Item 13

White, Richard Grant. The New Gospel of Peace according to St. Benjamin. (New York: The American News Company, 1877). xxviii, 343 p. (Signed by John Hay)

Item 13

Whiting, William. The War Powers of the President, Military Arrests, and Reconstruction of the Union. 8th ed. (Boston: John L. Shorey, 1864). vi, 264 p. (Inscription: "Major John Hay, Ass. Priv. Sec. Of the Pres. U.S., with the friendly regards of Wm. Whiting")