Elihu Root

Elihu Root, 1845–1937, American cabinet member and diplomat, b. Clinton, N.Y. Admitted to the bar in 1867, he practiced law in New York City, became prominent in Republican politics, and was appointed (1883) U.S. attorney of the southern district of New York. He soon returned (1885) to his private practice, in which he gained distinction as a corporation lawyer. As U.S. Secretary of War (1899–1904) under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, Root improved the efficiency of the War Dept., made drastic reforms in the organization of the army, introduced the principle of the general staff, and established the Army War College. He helped direct U.S. policy in the areas acquired as a result of the Spanish-American War and was largely responsible for the Platt Amendment (see under Platt, Orville Hitchcock) regarding Cuba. He also fostered the establishment of civilian governments in Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Root became Secretary of State under Roosevelt in 1905, serving until 1909. He improved relations with Latin America somewhat, after much criticism had been leveled at U.S. activities in Panama, and he concluded (1908) the Root-Takahira agreement with Japan, by which both nations agreed to maintain the status quo in the Pacific and to uphold the Open Door Policy in China. He also negotiated a series of arbitration treaties. Although reluctant to run for public office—partly because his opponents made much of his having been defense attorney for William M. Tweed in 1873—he accepted appointment in 1909 as U.S. Senator from New York and served until 1915. In 1912 he was chairman of the Republican national convention, and in the break between Roosevelt and William Howard Taft he adhered to the conservative Taft faction. He was a member of the Hague Tribunal (Permanent Court of Arbitration) and was prominent (1910) in the North Atlantic Coast Fisheries Arbitration. Root received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912 in recognition of his efforts toward international peace. He advocated U.S. entry into the League of Nations and helped to bring the World Court (Permanent Court of International Justice) into existence.

See biographies by P. C. Jessup (1938) and R. W. Leopold (1954).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Elihu Root
Philip C. Jessup.
Dodd Mead, vol.1, 1938
FREE! Experiments in Government and the Essentials of the Constitution
Ellhu Root.
Princeton University Press, 1913
Elihu Root on the Army War College
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Parameters, Vol. 31, No. 1, Spring 2001
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell
Edward S. Mihalkanin.
Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Elihu Root (1845-1937)" begins on p. 430
The First Cold War: The Legacy of Woodrow Wilson in U.S.-Soviet Relations
Donald E. Davis; Eugene P. Trani.
University of Missouri Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "1917: The Root Mission and Stevens Railway Commission"
The American Road to World Peace
Alfred Zimmern.
Dutton, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Section V "Woodrow Wilson and Elihu Root"
FREE! The McKinley and Roosevelt Administrations, 1897-1909
James Ford Rhodes.
The Macmillan Company, 1922
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Elihu Root begins on p. 195
Theodore Roosevelt, American Politician: An Assessment
David H. Burton.
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Elihu Root begins on p. 63
Abolishing Coercion: The Jurisprudence of American Foreign Policy in the 1920s
Zasloff, Jonathan.
The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 102, No. 7, May 1993
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