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  • Jonathan Pearl

Great Mediators in History #8. Teddy Roosevelt.

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

· 27 October 1858 – 6 January 1919

· American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, and writer

· Leader of the Republican Party

· Governor of New 1899 to 1900

· President of the United States, 1901-1909

· Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906



On February 6, 1905, Russia and Japans’ fierce competition for control of Manchuria and Korea came to a head, when Japan launched a surprise torpedo attack on Russian ships at Port Arthur in Manchuria. So began the brief 3-week long Russo-Japanese war that left 100,000 dead or injured.

As the battle raged Roosevelt quietly offered the services of the U.S. as a neutral go-between to explore a settlement that might end the dispute and save face for the Japanese and the Russians.

After preliminary arrangements were made, Roosevelt invited delegations from both countries to the U.S. and asked them to join him for lunch on his yacht at Oyster Bay. Then he had them delivered to the meeting on separate American warships. During the ensuing roundtable discussions, he treated both sides with dignity, composure, and even-handedness. More than a passive host, Roosevelt stayed quietly but firmly involved in the proceedings. He lowered each side’s expectations, remained uncharacteristically patient with the usual diplomatic manoeuvring, and issued personal pleas to the rulers of both countries to end the conflict. It worked and the peace was secured.

The 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth solved certain problems and created others, continuing proof that every good solution has unforeseeable implications and unintended revenge effects. For his interventions, Teddy Roosevelt was awarded the first Nobel Prize ever made to a politician for peace-making.

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