Mining Engineer & Diplomat
31 March 1855 – 8 June 1936
John Hays Hammond was a famous mining engineer, diplomat, and philanthropist. Known as the man with the midas touch, he amassed a sizable fortune before the age of 40. An early advocate of deep-level mining, Hammond was given complete charge of Cecil Rhodes' mines in South Africa and made each undertaking a financial success.
After the dismal failure of the Jameson Raid, Hammond, along with the other leaders of the Johannesburg Reform Committee, was arrested and subsequently sentenced to death. The Reform Committee leaders were released after paying large fines, but like many of the leaders, Hammond left Africa for good. He returned to the United States, became a close friend of President William Howard Taft, and was appointed a special U.S. Ambassador. At the same time, he continued to develop mines in Mexico and California and, in 1923, he made another fortune while drilling for oil with the Burnham Exploration Company.