The Nobel Prize
Until the Spanish-American War the United States had demonstrated little influence on global affairs. Although the nation was respected militarily and economically by the nations of Europe it had done little to intervene other than within the western hemisphere. The Spanish American War brought the United States overseas possessions in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, including the Philippines. The US had since the early 1800s maintained a naval squadron in the Mediterranean, now it needed a continuous naval presence around the globe.
The Russo-Japanese War was a conflict between Tsarist Russia and the Empire of Japan which began after years of competition over access to ports and spheres of influence between the two empires. Interestingly it began with a Japanese sneak attack on the Russian fleet in port just before the delivery of the declaration of war, an act for which the Japanese gave an encore in 1941. In 1905, concerned over the threat to American possessions and potential conflicts should one of the contending empires emerge much stronger from the war, then President Roosevelt offered to mediate a settlement.
Both sides agreed to participate and the conference was held at the Portsmouth Naval Base, actually located in Kittery, Maine across the river from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The conferees held twelve separate negotiating sessions. When it became apparent to the Russians that the Japanese were not going to agree to a key point – that of reparations – they announced that the war would resume and threatened to leave the conference. The Russians also gained the support of the American media pressuring the Japanese, in which they were joined by the American President. The Russians agreed to stay.
Eventually a deal was struck, the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed, and the Russo-Japanese War ended. The balance of power in East Asia was stabilized and peaceful relations between Russia and the Japanese lasted until the onset of the Sino-Japanese War thirty years later. Both empires were also made aware of the growing interest of the United States in the maintenance of its overseas possessions and in maintaining the stability of the region.
The successful intercession of Theodore Roosevelt in bringing to an end the Russo-Japanese War on terms acceptable to the belligerents also brought a new respect from the European nations which were even then involved in the arms races and interlinking treaties which would lead to the First World War just a few years later. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work bringing the two empires to the bargaining table and for achieving a deal. He was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any category. Unable to attend the ceremony, it was picked up for him by the United States Ambassador to Norway. After retiring as President, Roosevelt finally was able to deliver his acceptance speech during his tour of Europe in 1910.