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Elihu Root

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Elihu Root
38th United States Secretary of State
In office
July 19, 1905 – January 27, 1909
PresidentTheodore Roosevelt
Preceded byJohn Hay
Succeeded byRobert Bacon
41st United States Secretary of War
In office
August 1, 1899 – January 31, 1904
PresidentWilliam McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded byRussell A. Alger
Succeeded byWilliam Howard Taft
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1909 – March 3, 1915
Preceded byThomas C. Platt
Succeeded byJames Wolcott Wadsworth Jr.
Personal details
Born(1845-02-15)February 15, 1845
Clinton, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 7, 1937(1937-02-07) (aged 91)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Clara Wales
RelationsOren Root II (Brother)
EducationHamilton College, New York (BA)
New York University (LLB)

Elihu Root (February 15, 1845 – February 7, 1937) was an American lawyer and politician. Root was United States Secretary of State under President Theodore Roosevelt and United States Secretary of War under President Roosevelt and President William McKinley. He was later a United States Senator from New York until 1915. In 1912, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in developing the International Court of Justice, a court where countries could solve legal disputes.[1]

Early life

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Root was born in Clinton, New York in 1845. His father Oren Root was a mathematics professor at Hamilton College.[2] Elihu studied at Hamilton College and graduated in 1864. He taught physical education classes in Rome, New York for a couple years before going to law school at New York University in New York City.[3]

After law school, Root began to work as a lawyer. His clients included future president Chester A. Arthur. When Arthur became President of the United States after the assassination of James A. Garfield, he hired Root as a US Attorney for the state of New York.[4]

Under President William McKinley and President Theodore Roosevelt, Root was United States Secretary of War from 1899–1904. While Secretary, Root made the United States Military Academy at West Point larger. When he left office he again worked as a lawyer.

President Roosevelt asked Root to return to office in 1905 after the death of United States Secretary of State John Hay.


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  1. "The Nobel Peace Prize 1912". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
  2. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States as Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders, and Defenders of the Republic, and of the Men and Women who are Doing the Work and Moulding the Thought of the Present Time, Volume 11 page 15
  3. "Constitutional Conservatives in the Progressive Era: Elihu Root, William Howard Taft, and Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr".
  4. Hartford, William J. (January 1, 1900). "Hon Elihu Root, Secretary of War". The Successful American. New York, NY: Press Biographical Company. p. 26.