Friday, October 12, 2007

October 12, 2007:

Vice Presidents and the Nobel Prize

Al Gore is the second vice president -- among those who were never president as well -- to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1925, Charles Dawes, 30th Vice President of the United States (pictured left), won the prize.

According to the Nobel Foundation: "The League of Nations late in 1923 invited Dawes to chair a committee to deal with the question of German reparations. The 'Dawes Report,' submitted in April 1924, provided facts on Germany's budget and resources, outlined measures needed to stabilize the currency, and suggested a schedule of payments on a sliding scale. For his masterly handling of this crucial international problem, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; he donated the money to the endowment of the newly established Walter Hines Page School of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University."

Like Gore, Dawes shared the prize. The other winner that year was British statesman Sir Austen Chamberlain (half-brother of Neville, pictured right), famed for his role in negotiating the Locarno Pact, a series of agreements in 1925 to re-normalize relations between Germany and other European states, among other things.

"After meticulous preparation during the summer of 1925, representatives of seven powers - Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Poland, and Czechoslovakia - met at Locarno in southern Switzerland on October 5, 1925," says the Nobel Foundation. "On Chamberlain's birthday, October 16, the foreign ministers initialed the documents known as the Locarno Agreements. Eight treaties or agreements in all, they included the Rhine Guarantee Pact (or Locarno Pact) with Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Italy as signatories; individual treaties of arbitration between Germany and former enemy nations; guarantee treaties involving France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia; and a collective note on the entry of Germany into the League of Nations."

In short, these two gentlemen greatly helped lay the foundation of a peace in Europe that would last... for a while. Of course, it's easy to say that in hindsight. In 1925, it must have seemed reasonable to honor them with the Peace Prize.

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