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Roosevelt is Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

Dec 10, 2010

On December 10, 1906, Theodore Roosevelt became the first American to win a Nobel Prize. Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work surrounding the Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War.

Unable to be in Norway to collect the prize at the time, Roosevelt asked the United States Ambassador to Norway, Herbert H. D. Peirce, to accept the award on his behalf. In 1910, during his European tour, Roosevelt belatedly delivered his Nobel lecture in Oslo, Norway. The speech included a call for “a league of peace with international police power.” Such a league was thought too radical an idea by European newspapers at the time and was also an unwelcome proposition in a Europe actively preparing for war. Roosevelt’s vision would not be realized until 1945 and the formation of the United Nations, an effort begun by another Roosevelt, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, before his death.

Roosevelt did not keep the prize money. Though he stated privately to his son Kermit that he wished he could have kept it for his children, his wife Edith said a public figure such as Roosevelt could not keep such a reward. Instead, when he accepted his prize, Roosevelt stated he would be donating the money to Congress for the funding of a permanent Industrial Peace Committee which would address “fair dealings between classes of society.” However, Congress never organized the committee and so, during World War I, Roosevelt petitioned Congress to return the funds to him so that he could distribute the money to war relief efforts and various charities.

Image: Working for Peace - President Roosevelt and the envoys of Mikado and Czar on the Mayflower. Partial of stereograph from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs division

Posted by Krystal Thomas on Dec 10, 2010 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)  |  Share this post

Zoe Lincon said,

Hi, could you please put up another article that goes into more detail about the treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War. Also could you please tell me the Author of "Roosevelt is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize" for a bibliography. Thanks Zoe

Stephanie Seacord said,

For more information on the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, Theodore Roosevelt's diplomacy in orchestrating an end to the Russo-Japanese War and his Nobel Peace Prize, visit www.portsmouthpeacetreaty.org

Terese Kajzer said,

Hello....where is PresidentTeddy Roosevelt Nobel peace prize kept....is it on display somewhere for viewing. ..thanks

Kevin Kite said,

The author is Krystal Thomas. It is listed just after the article.

Donald M Raber said,

Teddy Roosevelt's Noble Award is on display in the Roosevelt Room, in the White House.

alex matthews said,

where was he at during the nobel peace prize ceremony

Karen Sieber said,

This is the Outreach Coordinator for the Theodore Roosevelt Center. Thanks for the great resource link, Stephanie, and for answering the prize location question, Donald. As far as Alex's question about why he did not attend the ceremony (but had an ambassador speak on his behalf instead), there are a few likely factors. I dug through our archives and library to see if I could find mention of any one specific reason, but no luck. Although I did find some clues. In a letter to his son, Kermit, on December 1, 1906, he writes that he had JUST been informed of his award. Roosevelt was the first American to win the prize, and the first statesman, making it more difficult for him to attend the awards ceremony than other winners. Logistics alone, it would take 8-9 days by boat to arrive in Norway, which would not quite give him enough time to guarantee arrival before the December 10 ceremony. The trip would also take him away from work for 3 weeks in entirety. I found records of him speaking to the Gridiron Club on the night before the awards ceremony, and to Congress on the day after the Nobel Prize was awarded, so previous engagements may have played a factor. Additionally, as the president had just returned mere days earlier from a long trip to Panama and Puerto Rico, it seems unlikely he'd leave his post again so soon. He also didn't think that the work he did to bring peace to the region was at all exceptional, as it was part of his job. Hope that helps!

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