John George Nicolay

Photograph of John G. Nicolay, President Lincoln and John Hay
John Nicolay

Library of Congress

Quick Facts

Significance:
Private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln
Place of Birth:
Bavaria
Date of Birth:
February 26, 1832
Place of Death:
Washington, DC
Date of Death:
September 26, 1901
Place of Burial:
Washington, DC
Cemetery Name:
Oak Hill Cemetery

John George Nicolay was a journalist, clerk and private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln from 1861 to 1865. The future president came into contact with Nicolay when the younger man was clerking for the secretary of state in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln was impressed with Nicolay's abilities and professional conduct, and when Lincoln was nominated for the presidency, Nicolay was retained as his secretary. 

Nicolay was involved in Lincoln's most intimate personal affairs during the Civil War and became one of the President's most trusted aides. On a day-to-day basis, he and the president's assistant secretary, John M. Hay, were responsible for receiving and screening visitors, writing and editing letters, and delivering and receiving messages, among other duties. After Lincoln's death, Nicolay served as American Consul in Paris and then Marshall of the Supreme Court. Nicolay and Hay published a ten-volume biography of Lincoln in 1890 and Nicolay published a collection of Lincoln's writings in 1894.

Last updated: June 17, 2015