- Elihu Root
Infobox US Cabinet official
United States Secretary of State
July 19, 1905
January 27, 1909
United States Secretary of War
August 1, 1899
January 31, 1904
William McKinley(1899-1901) Theodore Roosevelt(1901-1904)
Russell A. Alger
William Howard Taft
United States Senator
jr/sr3 = Junior Senator
state3 = New York
March 4, 1909
March 4, 1915
Thomas C. Platt
James Wolcott Wadsworth, Jr.
Clinton, New York, U.S.
death_date=death date and age|1937|02|07|1845|02|15
Clinton, New York, U.S.
spouse=Clara Frances Wales
Elihu Root (
February 15, 1845– February 7, 1937) was an American lawyer and statesman and the 1912 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the prototype of the 20th century "wise man", who shuttled between high-level government positions in Washington, D.C. and private-sector legal practice in New York City.
Early life and career
Root was born in
Clinton, New York, to Oren Root and Nancy Whitney Buttrick. His father was professor of mathematics at Hamilton College, where Elihu attended college; there he joined the Sigma Phi Society. After graduation, Root taught for one year at the Rome Academy. In 1867, Root graduated from the Law School of New York University. He went into private practice as a lawyer. While mainly practicing corporate law, Root was a junior defense counsel during the corruption trial of William "Boss" Tweed. Root also had private clients including Jay Gould, Chester A. Arthur, Charles Anderson Dana, William C. Whitney, Thomas Fortune Ryan, and E. H. Harriman.
Root was appointed
United States Attorneyfor the Southern District of New York by President Chester A. Arthur.
Root married Clara Frances Wales (died in 1928), who was the daughter of Salem Wales, the managing editor of "
Scientific American", in 1878. They had three children: Edith (married Ulysses S. Grant III), Elihu, Jr. (who became a lawyer), and Edward Wales (who became Professor of Art at Hamilton College).
Root was a member of the
Union League Club of New Yorkand twice served as its president, 1898-99, and again from 1915-16.
He served as the
United States Secretary of War1899–1904 under William McKinleyand Theodore Roosevelt. He reformed the organization of the United States Military. He was responsible for enlarging West Point and establishing the U.S. Army War Collegeas well as the General Staff. He changed the procedures for promotions and organized schools for the special branches of the service. He also devised the principle of rotating officers from staff to line. Root was concerned about the new territories acquired after the Spanish-American Warand worked out the methods of how Cuba would be turned over to the Cubans, wrote the charter of government for the Philippines, and eliminated tariffs on goods imported to the United States from Puerto Rico. Root left the cabinet in 1904 and returned to private practice as a lawyer.
In 1905, President Roosevelt named Root to be the
United States Secretary of Stateafter the death of John Hay. As secretary, Root placed the consular service under the Civil Service. He maintained the Open Door Policyin the Far East. On a tour to Latin America in 1906, Root persuaded those governments to participate in the Hague Peace Conference. He worked with Japan in emigration to the United States and in dealings with China and established the Root-Takahira Agreement, which limited Japanese and American naval fortifications in the Pacific. He worked with Great Britainin resolving border disputes between the United States (Alaska) and Canada and also in the North Atlantic fisheries. He supported arbitration in resolving international disputes.
Root served a term in the
United States Senateas a Republican from New Yorkfrom 1909 to 1915. He was an active member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He chose not to seek reelection in 1914. During and after his Senate service, Root served as President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peacefrom 1910 to 1925. In that capacity, he helped create the Hague Academy of International Lawin the Netherlands.
In a 1910 letter published by the New York Times, Root supported the proposed income tax amendment, which became the
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
It is said that a very large part of any income tax under the amendment would be paid by citizens of New York....
The reason why the citizens of New York will pay so large a part of the tax is New York City is the chief financial and commercial centre of a great country with vast resources and industrial activity. For many years Americans engaged in developing the wealth of all parts of the country have been going to New York to secure capital and market their securities and to buy their supplies. Thousands of men who have amassed fortunes in all sorts of enterprises in other states have gone to New York to live because they like the life of the city or because their distant enterprises require representation at the financial centre. The incomes of New York are in a great measure derived from the country at large. A continual stream of wealth sets toward the great city from the mines and manufactories and railroads outside of New York. [Root For Adoption of Tax Amendment, New York Times, March 1, 1910 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D01E2DA1E30E333A25752C0A9659C946196D6CF] ]
In 1912, as a result of his work to bring nations together through arbitration and cooperation, Root received the
Nobel Peace Prize.
At the outbreak of
World War I, Root opposed President Woodrow Wilson's policy of neutrality. He did support Wilson once the United States entered the war.
In June 1916, Root was drafted for the Republican presidential nomination but declined, stating that he was too old to bear the burden of the Presidency. [Stefan Lorant, The Glorious Burden (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), page 540.] At the
Republican National Convention, Root reached his peak strength of 103 votes on the first ballot. The Republican presidential nomination went to Charles Evans Hughes, who lost the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
In June 1917, at age 72, he was sent to
Russiaby President Wilson to arrange American co-operation with the new revolutionary government. AFL James Duncan, socialist Charles Edward Russell, general Hugh L. Scott, admiral James H. Glennon, New York banker S.R. Bertron, John Mottand Charles Richard Cranewere members of Root's mission. They traveled from Vladivostokacross Siberiain the Czar's former train. Root remained in Petrogradfor close to a month, and was not much impressed by what he saw. The Russians, he said, "are sincerely, kindly, good people but confused and dazed." He summed up his attitude to the Provisional Government very trenchantly: "No fight, no loans," which referred to the current conflict with Germanyin World War I.
After World War I, Root supported the
League of Nationsand served on the commission of jurists, which created the Permanent Court of International Justice. In 1922, President Warren G. Hardingappointed him as a delegate to the International Conference on the Limitation of Armaments. He was the founding chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, established in 1921 in New York.
Root worked with
Andrew Carnegiein programs for international peace and the advancement of science. He was the first president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He helped found the American Society of International Law in 1906. He was among the founders of the American Law Institutein 1923. Root also served as vice president of the American Peace Society, which publishes World Affairs (journal), the oldest U.S. journal on international relations.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Root was awarded the Grand Cordon of the
Order of the Crown (Belgium)and the Grand Commander of the Order of George I(Greece). He was the second cousin twice removed of Henry Luce, through Elihu Root (1772-1843). Prior to his death, Root had been the last surviving member of the McKinley Cabinet.
Root died in 1937 in
New York City, with his family by his side. He is buried at the Hamilton College Cemetery. [ [http://www.findagrave.org/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=899 Elihu Root (1845 - 1937) - Find A Grave Memorial ] at www.findagrave.org] His home that he purchased in 1893, the Elihu Root House, was declared a National Historic Landmarkin 1972.
Works by Elihu Root
*"Citizen's Part in Government." Yale University Press, 1911.
*"Experiments in Government and the Essentials of the Constitution." Princeton University Press, 1913.
*"Addresses on International Subjects." Harvard University Press, 1916.
*"Military and Colonial Policy of the United States." Harvard University Press, 1916.
*"Miscellaneous Addresses." Harvard University Press, 1917.
*"Men and Policies: Addresses by Elihu Root." Harvard University Press, 1925.
The National Cyclopædia of American Biography. (1939) Vol. XXVI. New York: James T. White & Co. pp.1-5.Mellander, Gustavo A.(1971) "The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years". Daville,Ill.:Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). "Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years". Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1563281554. OCLC 42970390.
* [http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1912/root-bio.html Nobel Biography]
* [http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h891.html Elihu Root]
* [http://www.nobel-winners.com/Peace/elihu_root.html About Elihu Root]
* [http://www.state.gov/secretary/former/40843.htm State Department Biography]
* [http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/misc/root_cathedral1922.html Cathedral Building: An Index of National Character, by Elihu Root] 1922
* [http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/ CFR Website - Continuing the Inquiry: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996] History of the Council by Peter Grose, a Council member.
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