Elihu Root - Encyclopedia

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ROOT, ELIHU (1845-), American lawyer and political leader, was born at Clinton, New York, on the 15th of February 1845, the son of Oren Root (d. 1885), professor of mathematics at Hamilton College from 1849-81. He graduated at Hamilton College in 1864, taught at the Rome (N.Y.) Academy in 1865, and graduated at the University Law School, New York City, in 1867. As a corporation lawyer he soon attained high rank and was counsel in many famous cases. Politically, he became identified with the reform element of the Republican party. He was United States attorney for the Southern District of New York (1883-85), and a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention of 1894, acting as chairman of its judiciary committee. From August 1899 until February 1904 he was secretary of war in the cabinets of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt, and in this position reorganized the army and created a general staff, and in general administered his department with great ability during a period marked by the Boxer uprising in China, whither troops were sent under General A. R. Chaffee, the insurrection of the Filipinos, the withdrawal of the United States troops from Cuba, and the establishment of a government for the Philippines under a Philippine Commission, for which he drew up the "instructions," in reality comprising a constitution, a judicial code and a system of laws. In 1903 he was a member of the Alaskan Boundary Tribunal. In July 1905 he re-entered President Roosevelt's cabinet as secretary of state. In the summer of 1906, during a visit to the Pan-American Conference at Rio de Janeiro, he was elected its honorary president, and during a tour through the LatinAmerican republics, brought about a better understanding between the United States and these republics. In general he did much to further the cause of international peace, and he concluded treaties of arbitration with Japan, Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and other countries. Upon his resignation from the cabinet he was elected, in January 1909, as United States senator from New York. In 1910 he was chief counsel for the United States before the Hague tribunal for the arbitration of the long-standing dispute concerning fisheries between his country and Great Britain (see Newfoundland). He received the degree of LL.D. from Hamilton, 1896; Yale, 1900; Columbia, 1904; New York University, 1 9 04; Williams, 1 9 05; Princeton, 1906; University of Buenos Aires, 1906; University of San Marcos, of Lima, 1906; and Harvard, 1907.

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