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In His Own Words: Concluding the Russo-Japanese War

Nov 25, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War. In this letter to his daughter, Alice, Roosevelt described his role in the negotiations.

“I advised the Russians informally to make peace on several occasions last winter, and to this they paid no heed. I had also consulted with the Japanese, telling them what I had told the Russians. It was undoubtedly due to the Japanese belief that I would act squarely that they themselves came forward after their great naval victory and asked me to bring about the conference, but not to let it be known that they had made the suggestion - so of course this is not to be spoken about. Accordingly I undertook the work and of course got the assent of both Governments before I took any public action. Then neither Government would consent to meet where the other wished and the Japanese would not consent to meet at The Hague, which was the place I desired."

TR and diplomats from Russia and Japan

Theodore Roosevelt with Russian and Japanese diplomats. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site collection.

"The result was that they had to meet in this country, and this necessarily threw me into a position of prominence which I had not sought, and indeed which I had sought to avoid – though I feel now that unless they had met here they would never have made peace. Then they met, and after a while came to a deadlock, and I had to intervene again by getting into direct touch with the Governments themselves. It was touch and go, but things have apparently come out right. I say ‘apparently,’ because I shall not feel entirely easy until the terms of peace are actually signed. The Japanese people have been much less wise than the Japanese Government, for I am convinced that the best thing for Japan was to give up trying to get any indemnity. The Russians would not have given it; and if the war had gone on the Japanese would simply have spent -  that is wasted and worse than wasted -  hundreds of millions of dollars additional without getting back what they had already paid out.”

Posted by Grant Carlson on Nov 25, 2013 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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