Elihu Root

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Elihu Root Elihu Root signature.svg

Elihu Root (born February 15, 1845 in Clinton , New York , †  February 7, 1937 in New York City ) was an American lawyer and politician . In 1912 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his constant endeavors to balance interests and formulate arbitration agreements in international conflicts.

life and work

Early years and education

Elihu Root was the son of a math professor . He attended college after graduating from local school and then studied law in New York. In 1865 he completed this course and shortly afterwards founded a law firm; he became one of the leading lawyers in the country. Between 1883 and 1885 he served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York .

Political activity

In 1899, the Republican Root became Minister of War in the cabinet of US President William McKinley and held this office under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt until 1903. He was primarily responsible for the administration of the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico , Cuba and the Philippines . As Secretary of War he succeeded in portraying alleged threats to US interests in Latin America by third parties in such a way that Congress approved the increase in spending on the army and the navy demanded by Root. Root enlarged the US Army substantially, carried out extensive reforms of the army structure and introduced the general staff idea and the army war school. He was responsible for a considerable expansion of the West Point Military Academy and for the establishment of the United States Army War College in Carlisle , Pennsylvania ; he was also one of the founders of the American Law Institute in 1923 . In 1904 he resigned from the post, mainly for health reasons.

From 1905 to 1909 he was then Secretary of State of the United States in the Roosevelt cabinet . In this capacity, Root took part in the third Pan American Congress in Rio de Janeiro in 1906 , which was supposed to ensure the peaceful coexistence of the American states. In 1907 he traveled to Mexico to promote the peace process here too. Root was a staunch supporter of the Monroe Doctrine . In a speech he said that while the United States "only sought to protect the rest of America, it is essentially sovereign in America because its will is law." Another focus was on improving relations with Japan , where he concluded the Root-Takahira Agreement in 1908, in which the conditions and political influences in the Pacific region were clarified. For these efforts he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912.

In 1909 he resigned as Secretary of State and was Senator for New York State from 1909 to 1915 . In 1912 Root was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1915 to the National Institute of Arts and Letters . With the outbreak of the First World War he was elected as a member of the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee. He was an avowed opponent of Woodrow Wilson's policy of neutrality (1913-1921), but supported him after entering the war in 1917. Root advocated the entry of the United States into the League of Nations .

As the first president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (from 1910 to 1925), he helped found the Hague Academy for International Law in the Netherlands . Elihu Root was a founding member and honorary president of the New York think tank Council on Foreign Relations .


  • Calvin D. Davis: Walter Q. Gresham. In: Edward S. Mihalkanin (Ed.): American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell . Greenwood Publishing 2004, ISBN 978-0-313-30828-4 , pp. 430-442.
  • Gustavo Adolfo Mellander, Nelly Maldonado Mellander: Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Editorial Plaza Mayor, Río Piedras (Puerto Rico) 1999, ISBN 1-56328-155-4 .
  • Gustavo Adolfo Mellander: The United States in Panamanian Politics : The Intriguing Formative Years. Interstate Publishers, Danville IL 1971.

Web links

Commons : Elihu Root  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Alfred Vagts : Germany and the United States in world politics . Macmillan, New York 1935, Vol. 2, p. 1391.
  2. Quoted from Alfred Vagts: Germany and the United States in world politics . Macmillan, New York 1935, Vol. 2, p. 1783.
  3. Members: Elihu Root. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed April 23, 2019 .
  4. Michael Wala: Winning the Peace - American Foreign Policy and the Council on Foreign Relations, 1945-1950; The emergence of the Council on Foreign Relations . Franz Steiner Verlag with the support of the University of Hamburg. P. 28 ( online in Google Book search)