Alvey A. Adee

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Alvey Augustus Adee
2nd United States Second Assistant Secretary of State
In office
August 3, 1886 – June 30, 1924
Preceded byWilliam Hunter
Succeeded by(none)
Personal details
Born(1842-11-27)November 27, 1842
Astoria, New York, U.S.
DiedJuly 4, 1924(1924-07-04) (aged 81)
Washington D.C., U.S.
ProfessionDiplomat, Secretary, Politician

Alvey Augustus Adee (November 27, 1842 – July 4, 1924) was a long-time official with the United States Department of State who served as the acting Secretary of State in 1898 during the Spanish–American War. He was the second of three senior State Department officials—the first being William Hunter and the third Wilbur J. Carr—whose overlapping careers provided continuity and good management in American foreign policy for over a century, from the administration of President Andrew Jackson until that of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Biography and career[edit]

Adee, c. 1914

A native of Queens, New York City, Adee got his start in diplomacy by becoming the private secretary of Daniel Sickles, whom Adee accompanied to Madrid when Sickles was named the U.S. Minister to Spain in 1869. While in Madrid, Adee met and was befriended by John Hay, who was then the Secretary of the U.S. Legation there.

Adee stayed at the Legation in Madrid for eight years, then returned to the United States in 1877 to take a temporary secretary position in Washington, D.C. with the State Department. A year later, he was named the Chief of the department's Diplomatic Bureau. In 1882, he was promoted to Third Assistant Secretary, and in 1886, he was promoted again to Second Assistant Secretary, a position he held until his death 38 years later.

The apex of Adee's career came during the Spanish–American War in 1898. The Secretary of State, John Sherman, was old and in poor health, and the Assistant Secretary of State, William R. Day, was inexperienced in diplomacy, which meant that Adee, as the third-ranking officer in the department, effectively supervised U.S. diplomacy during the war. In September of that year, with both Sherman and Day having left the department, Adee became acting Secretary of State in name as well as fact for two weeks, until John Hay returned from England to take over as the new Secretary.

Adee was again in effective charge of the State Department during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, because Hay was ill and the Assistant Secretary David Jayne Hill was away from Washington.

After 1909, Adee's influence (and health) steadily waned, though he was allowed to remain as Second Assistant Secretary. He continued to work until his death.

Adee never married and fathered no children. He was well known for his annual summer bicycling trips through Europe, which he continued until the outbreak of the First World War, and on which he was usually accompanied by Alexander Montgomery Thackara, American consul general at Berlin and later Paris, and his wife Eleanor, daughter of General William Tecumseh Sherman.


  • Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971) The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Daville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
  • An Appreciation of Alvey Adee

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Walker Blaine
Third Assistant Secretary of State
July 18, 1882 – August 5, 1886
Succeeded by
John Bassett Moore
Preceded by
William Hunter
United States Second Assistant Secretary of State
August 3, 1886 – June 30, 1924
Succeeded by
post abolished