Nicolay, John George

John George Nicolay, detail

John Nicolay was a young journalist who became Abraham Lincoln's top White House aide and later one of his official biographers. Nicolay was born in Germany and came to the United States in 1838 as young child. He came to Lincoln's attention while editing the Pike County Free Press in the 1850s and traveled with the President-Elect in 1861. Nicolay served in the White House with John Hay. The two became close friends and share a deep mutual admiration for Lincoln, whom they dubbed "The Tycoon." Nico, as Hay called him, was the senior aide, though both men were young --Nicolay was in his early thirties and Hay was in his mid-twenties during the war. The president praised his senior assistant as "entirely trustworthy" but other figures in wartime Washington found Nicolay difficult to engage. Journalist Noah Brooks once described Nicolay in public as a "grim Cerberus of Teutonic descent," a reference to the three-headed guard-dog at the gates of Hell from Greek mythology. After Lincoln's assassination, Nicolay served as a diplomat and then as marshal for the U.S. Supreme Court. Nicolay co-wrote a ten volume biography of Lincoln with John Hay that was published in 1890. (By Matthew Pinsker)

Life span
02/26/1832—09/26/1901

Life Summary

Full name
  John George Nicolay
Place of Birth
Birth Date Certainty
  Exact
Death Date Certainty
  Exact
Gender
  Male
Race
  White
Sectional choice
  North
Occupation
  Politician
  Journalist
  Writer or Artist
Relation to Slavery
  White non-slaveholder

Note Cards

Major Topics

Bibliography