On 10 December 1906, Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in mediating the end of the Russo-Japanese War, making him the first American to win the prize. Roosevelt—then president of the United States—was not able to be in Norway to accept the award in person, so he had the U.S. ambassador do it on his behalf, later traveling to Norway in 1910 (after his term ended) to give his Nobel Lecture.
Roosevelt’s role in working out peace between the Japanese and Russians stemmed from both countries’ desire for peace but their inability to be the one seen as the one to give in first. They needed an impartial third party, and since the United States had no conflicting alliances in the area and had recently established itself as a world power, the Japanese approached Roosevelt. Roosevelt, for his part, saw this as an opportunity to further American interests in the region, and so, after being approached by the Japanese, asked the Russians if they would participate in peace talks. With both sides expressing interest, Roosevelt formally invited representatives from both countries to meet in the United States. After difficult and frustrating negotiations, the terms of peace were finally decided, and the war was ended.
Upon winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Roosevelt—though privately expressing a desire to keep the award money for his family—said publically that since he could only have mediated the conflict through his role as president, the money should be given to Congress to start a foundation for industrial peace. This foundation was never established, and during World War I, Roosevelt asked that the money be donated to various relief charities.