Beginning with Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, there have been 18 American men and three American women who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In the case of the most recent American recipient, President Obama, the
Nobel Committee recognized "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Laureates have included not only presidents but secretaries of State, activists, and scientists.
Nobel prizes are bestowed in a variety of categories such as chemistry, literature, and economics; the Peace Prize specifically recognizes individuals who have made strides in negotiation, world organizing, disarmament, humanitarianism, or other efforts to advance peace.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt received the prize in 1906 for his achievements in office. He is credited with negotiating peace in the Russo-Japanese War, which lasted from 1904 to 1905. Roosevelt also made diplomatic strides with Mexico. Factions of the Nobel Prize committee were discontented with Roosevelt's selection, considering him an imperialist for his leadership in the American conquest of the Philippines. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images ) Elihu Root, 1912 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. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images ) Woodrow Wilson, 1919 President Woodrow Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919. He was a leading architect behind the League of Nations, an international group that preceded the United Nations and was meant to prevent future conflict after the First World War. Though the U.S. did not join the League and it ultimately collapsed, the Nobel awarding committee chose Wilson after factoring in his tenets of self-government for oppressed people and his mollifying postwar gestures. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images ) Charles Dawes, 1925 Charles Dawes was awarded the peace prize in 1925. His most significant contributions came from a post-World War I reparations deal with Germany. Termed the "Dawes Plan," the deal convinced France to cease its occupation of Germany. (Keystone/Getty Images ) Frank B. Kellogg, 1929 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. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Jane Addams, 1931 In 1931, Jane Addams became the first American woman and second woman ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She founded the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919. She also ran an organization called Hull House in Chicago that helped the poor—particularly immigrants. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Nicholas Murray Butler, 1931 Nicholas Murray Butler shared the peace prize with Addams in 1931. He was recognized for his efforts to strengthen international law and the International Court. He was a staunch supporter of U.S. involvement in World War I, but opposed participation in the League of Nations, citing limited freedom to act in national interest. Butler was also president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Wikipedia Commons) Cordell Hull, 1945 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. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images ) Emily Greene Balch, 1946 Emily Greene Balch received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for her work in advancing the global peace movement, but her success was not recognized by the U.S. government, which regarded her as a dangerous radical. As a sociologist, Balch studied the poor living conditions of marginalized U.S. citizens, which led her to become a self-identifying socialist. She worked closely with fellow Nobel laureate Jane Addams before becoming president of Addams's group, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. (AFP/Getty Images) John R. Mott, 1946 John Mott was awarded the prize in 1946 for his accomplishments promoting international peace as head of the YMCA. His work with the YMCA International and World Committees included establishing international youth camps and advocating for prisoners of war and against colonial oppression and racism. (Wikipedia Commons ) Ralph Bunche, 1950 In 1950, Ralph Bunche became the first man of color to receive the award. He was the first African-American man to hold a position of high leadership in the State Department, and he eventually served in the U.N. Bunche was instrumental in arranging a cease-fire between what was then the newly-created state of Israel and neighboring Arabs. (Derek Berwin/Fox Photos/Getty Images) George Marshall, 1953 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. (Keystone/Getty Images) Linus Pauling, 1962 Linus Pauling, who first won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1954, received the Nobel Peace Prize eight years later, in 1962, for his opposition to weapons of mass destruction. He was a driving force in the Pugwash movement, which sought to reduce the role of nuclear arms in international politics, and he famously authored the "Hiroshima Appeal." (Keystone/Getty Images) Martin Luther King Jr., 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work fighting against discrimination through nonviolent protests. Four years later, he was assassinated. Inspired by the philosophy of Gandhi, King is pictured after leading a 250,000-person march on Washington in 1963. (AFP/Getty Images ) Norman Borlaug, 1970 Norman Borlaug, who won the prize in 1970, was coined the father of the "green revolution" for his efforts to fight famine through agricultural sustainability. Borlaug consulted with countries that faced insufficient food production and cultivated "dwarf wheat," a robust strain that could grow under difficult conditions, which was used in developing nations such as Mexico, India, and Pakistan. During the 1940s and 1950s, his work in Mexico made the country self-sufficient in grain. (Nobel Peace Center ) Henry Kissinger, 1973 Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his skills in international negotiation. He served as secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 and was an acclaimed scholar in the fields of politics, government, and international affairs. Kissinger actively oversaw U.S. bombing in North Vietnam while also leading cease-fire negotiations. Born in Germany, he became a naturalized citizen in 1943. (AFP/Getty Images ) Elie Wiesel, 1986 In 1986, Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts to encourage dialogue about the Holocaust and actively fight the ideologies that led to its creation. Though Romanian-born, Wiesel has been a U.S. citizen for decades. He is most commonly known for his book "Night," which recounted the atrocities he experienced in Nazi concentration camps. (AFP/Getty Images ) Jody Williams, 1997 Jody Williams was awarded the prize in 1997 for her work to ban and clear antipersonnel mines. Her organization, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, was active in more than 60 countries in the late '90s. She is credited with playing a role in the Ottawa Convention, which bans the use, sale, and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images) Jimmy Carter, 2002 Former President Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work in peace negotiations, human rights, and social welfare. His most successful negotiation came in the form of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel made official in 1978. After losing his reelection race to Ronald Reagan, Carter continued a long career of activism and mediation campaigns. (Alpert/Keystone/Getty Images ) Al Gore, 2007 Former Vice President Al Gore was recognized with the award in 2007 for his efforts to spread awareness about climate change and make it an active part of the American political agenda. Called "a great communicator" by the Nobel Committee, he is credited with unparalleled strides in rousing public interest in climate change, notably through his books and documentaries. (Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for Free The Children) Barack Obama, 2009 Only eight months into his presidency, Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for his work to advance dialogue among racial, ethnic, and religious lines and his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. At the onset of his time in office, President Obama called for renewed relations between the Muslim and Western worlds, and put a plan in motion to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. He also spoke on the issues of human rights and climate change. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images )