Elihu Root (1845-1937) served as Secretary of War from 1899-1904 under President William McKinley and President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of State from 1905-1909 under Roosevelt. As Secretary of War, he established American policies for new colonial possessions, including the Philippines and Cuba.
Root was an isolationist and differed from President Roosevelt when it came to U.S. involvement in other nations’ crises. He helped design the Foraker Act of 1900 which established a civilian government in Puerto Rico, the Platt Amendment of 1901 which authorized American intervention in Cuba only if needed to maintain a stable government, and the Philippine Organic Act of 1902 which inaugurated Filipino self-governance. As Secretary of State, he worked with Great Britain to arbitrate between the U.S. and Canada on the Alaska boundary dispute and competition in the North Atlantic fisheries.
Despite his reluctance to involve the United States in issues in which it had limited interests, Root negotiated arbitration treaties with 24 nations. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912 for his work on international arbitration.
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