Nicholas M. Butler

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Nicolas M. Butler

Nicholas Murray Butler (April 2, 1862 - December 7, 1947) was the co-winner with Jane Addams of the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize. Butler distinguished himself as president of Columbia University from 1902 to 1945 and as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1925 to 1945. He was also the Republican Party nominee for Vice President of the United States under President William Howard Taft in 1912, when the nominated vice presidential candidate James S. Sherman died in office a few days before the election.

Butler was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey to manufacturer Henry Butler and Mary Murray Butler. He enrolled in Columbia College (which became Columbia University in 1896) and earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1882, his masters' degree the following year, and his doctorate the year after. In 1885 he studied in Paris and Berlin and became a lifelong friend of future Secretary of State Elihu Root. Through Root he also became acquainted with future Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. In the fall of that same year, Butler accepted a position on the staff of Columbia's philosophy department.

In 1889 he established and administered the Teachers College, which later became affiliated with Columbia. Throughout the 1890s Butler served on the New Jersey Board of Education and participated in forming the College Entrance Examination Board. In 1901 he was installed as acting president of Columbia University and assumed the presidency the following year.

From 1888 to 1936, Butler was a delegate to the Republican convention. When Roosevelt ran in the 1912 presidential election as the Progressive Party candidate, Butler became Taft's running mate on the Republican ticket. Four years later Butler attempted and failed to secure the Republican presidential nomination for Root. Attempts to secure the nomination for himself in 1920 (lost to Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding) and 1928 also failed.

Butler also chaired the Lake Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration that met periodically from 1907 to 1912. In this time he was appointed president of the American branch of International Conciliation. Butler was also instrumental in persuading Andrew Carnegie to establish the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace with a gift of $10,000,000, where he served as head of international education and communication, founded the European branch of the Endowment headquartered in Paris, and held the presidency of the parent Endowment for twenty years.

Butler first married in 1887 and had one daughter from the marriage. His first wife died in 1903 and he married another in 1907. In 1940, Butler completed his autobiography with the publication of the second volume of Across the Busy Years. When Butler became almost blind in 1945 at the age of eighty-three, he resigned from the posts he held and died two years later.

See also

Preceded by:
James S. Sherman
Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate
1912 (lost)
Succeeded by:
Charles W. Fairbanks

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