Who Was The First American To Win The Nobel Peace Prize?

The Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel Peace Prize.

Every year, a person or an organization is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Nobel Peace Prize is among the five Novel Prizes that were established by Alfred Nobel. The peace prize has been awarded annually since 1901 with a few exceptions. The Nobel Peace Prize has been traditionally awarded every December 10 in Oslo City Hall since 1990. The reward for the prize is 9 million SEK (2017). As of 2016, a total of 104 men and women have won the prize while 23 organizations have been awarded. But who was the first American Nobel Peace laureate?

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was the first American Nobel Peace laureate when he won the prize on December 10, 1906. He received the award for the role he played in the Treaty of Portsmouth that brought the Russo-Japanese War to an end. In the process, he became the eighth person to win the prestigious prize. The prize was collected by Herbert Peirce, who was the US ambassador to Norway, on behalf of Roosevelt who was unable to travel to Norway. Theodore Roosevelt delivered his belated Nobel lecture in Oslo in 1910. He donated the money rewarded to the Congress to fund a permanent Peace Industrial Committee that was to address the “fair dealings between different classes in the society.” However, the committee was never formed and Roosevelt requested the Congress to refund his money which he used to fund the war relief efforts and charities.

Some sources have indicated that Theodore Roosevelt privately told one of his sons that he wished he could have secured the future of his children with the money. Edith, Roosevelt’s wife, believed that such a public figure could not keep the reward for himself or family but had to use it for the good of the people.

How Did Theodore Roosevelt Help End The Russo-Japanese War?

The Russo-Japanese War was fought from 1904 to 1905 between the Empires of Russia and Japan. The battle was mainly fought on the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden. At the beginning of the war, Theodore Roosevelt, who was then the US president, publicly expressed a pro-Japanese stance. However, as the war progressed, Roosevelt got concerned with the military strengthening of the Japanese and the impact of such a military strengthening to the interest of the US in Asia.

In early 1905, Theodore sent messages to the Russian government, calling for a cease-fire and peace talks. Russia was however determined to defeat the Japanese while the Japanese were also not ready for any treaty since they were enjoying several victories over the Russians. However, the Battle of Mukden which proved costly to both sides pushed the Japanese to seek for settlement. The Japanese sent a word to Roosevelt that they were now ready to negotiate with the Russians. It was not until June 1905 that the Russians agreed to negotiations. Portsmouth was chosen by Roosevelt as the site for the negotiations. Roosevelt guided both teams through 12 sessions, leading to the Treaty of Portsmouth which was signed on September 5, 1905.


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