US Presidents and the Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize, one of 6 prizes that the Nobel Committee presents almost every year, has been awarded since 1901.

Three US presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Barack Obama, have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while serving in office. A fourth- Jimmy Carter- was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for contributions after his presidency.

In all, twenty-one Americans have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Which US Presidents Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Obama joins 3 other US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize

Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese War.

Roosevelt was unable to attend the ceremony in 1906 but did deliver his Nobel Prize Lecture in 1910 while touring Europe after the conclusion of his second term.  Roosevelt’s speech included a call for “a league of peace with international police power.”

Wilson won the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in establishing the League of Nations and the development of his “Fourteen Points” which many believed contributed to ending of World War.

Wilson was actually awarded the prize in 1920. He was unable to attend the ceremony due to a stroke which had left him partially paralyzed the previous year.

Wilson did not deliver a Nobel Lecture but sent a telegram that was delivered by the US Ambassador to Norway.

Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The reasons for Obama’s recognition are less clear than the others. The Nobel Prize Committee seems to have been motivated by the inspirational example he set for others through his rhetoric and policy positions. The Nobel Prize award credited him for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

“So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice are full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.”

Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize Lecture

In the words of the Nobel Prize Committee, Jimmy Carter won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” Carter concluded his Nobel Lecture, with these thoughts:

Jimmy Carter Nobel Prize.jpg

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.

The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes – and we must.”

Two Vice-Presidents Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize

Charles Dawes, Vice President under Calvin Coolidge from 1925–1929, shared the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize with the British Foreign Secretary Austen Chamberlain for their role in devising the Dawes Plan. Negotiated prior to Dawes’ election as Vice President, the Dawes Plan temporarily reduced tensions between Germany and France over disputed reparations payments resulting from World War I.

charles dawes.jpg

Dawes did not deliver a Nobel Lecture but sent a telegram in which he wrote, “It was the endeavor of the experts to found their plan upon the principles of justice, fairness, and mutual interest, relying for its acceptance thus prepared upon that common good faith which is the enduring hope for the universal safeguarding of peace. That the results achieved under it have merited in your judgment this high recognition is a tribute to the united efforts of the committee.”

Former Vice-President Al Gore shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In Gore’s Nobel Lecture he pronounced,


 “We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.”

US Secretaries of State Have Also Been Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

“Between 1901 and 1909, Elihu Root served as Secretary of War and Secretary of State. He was later a senator and the first president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. With President Roosevelt, he helped secure territories in the Philippines and Latin America. His Nobel Prize was awarded in 1912 for his efforts to resolve conflict via arbitration.”

“Frank Kellogg won the prize in 1929 for orchestrating the Briand-Kellogg Pact of 1928 during his time as secretary of State. The pact was signed by almost all world nations and prohibited acts of aggression. Kellogg had risen to prominence as a Republican senator and later as the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. ”

“Cordell Hull, often considered the “Father of the United Nations,” received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his role in creating the international governing body, which was founded that year. As secretary of State from 1933 to 1944, Hull not only orchestrated creation of the U.N., but also negotiated free trade agreements with Latin America.”

“George Marshall spent more than 50 years in public service but was awarded the Nobel prize in 1953 for orchestrating a plan of economic recovery in Western Europe following World War II. Marshall’s military career began with the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, and he later planned the successful invasion of Normandy and delivered President Truman’s orders to drop the atomic bomb.”

“In 1973, the award went to US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for his efforts to achieve a cease-fire in the Vietnam War. North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho was also honored for his role in the truce, but he refused to accept the award. Meanwhile, Mr. Kissinger, who many considered an architect of the war, asked the US ambassador to Norway to accept the prize on his behalf. The cease-fire soon fell apart and fighting dragged on for three more years.”

21 Americans Have Been Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

Other notable Americans to have won the Nobel Peace Prize include:


I'm routinely overestimated.

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