Presentation Speech by Gunnar Knudsen, Presiding, on December 10, 1906*
As the Nobel Committee meets today, the tenth of December, perhaps for the last time in this hall1, to announce to the Norwegian Parliament its decision concerning the award of the Peace Prize, it is appropriate to recall that the Norwegian Parliament was one of the first national assemblies to adopt and to support the cause of peace. Twelve or fifteen years ago, Gentlemen, the cause of peace presented a very different aspect from the one it presents today. The cause was then regarded as a utopian idea and its advocates as well-meaning but overly enthusiastic idealists who had no place in practical politics, being out of touch with the realities of life. The situation has altered radically since then, for in recent years leading statesmen, even heads of state, have espoused the cause, which has now acquired a totally different image in public opinion. The United States of America was among the first to infuse the ideal of peace into practical politics. Peace and arbitration treaties have now been concluded between the United States and the governments of several countries. But what has especially directed the attention of the friends of peace and of the whole civilized world to the United States is President Roosevelt’s happy role in bringing to an end the bloody war recently waged between two of the world’s great powers, Japan and Russia2. On behalf of the Norwegian Parliament, I now present to you, Mr. Ambassador, the Peace Prize along with its insignia, and I add the request that you convey to the President the greetings of the Norwegian people and their gratitude for all that he has done in the cause of peace. I would also add the wish that this eminent and highly gifted man may be blessed with the opportunity of continuing his work to strengthen the ideal of peace and to secure the peace of the world.
* President Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1906 on December 10 of that year. He asked Mr. Herbert H.D. Peirce, American envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Norway, to accept for him. Having completed his presidency in 1909, Mr. Roosevelt set out on an extensive travel and speaking tour, one of his last engagements being to deliver his postponed Nobel lecture on May 5, 1910, in Oslo. There are two speeches of interest from the ceremony of December 10, 1906, which are given here. The first speech by Mr. Gunnar Knudsen (1848-1928), the Norwegian statesman – and later, prime minister – who was presiding, is one of presentation of the prize to Mr. Peirce. Its translation is based on the text in the Norwegian language in Les Prix Nobel en 1906. In the second speech, Mr. Peirce accepts the prize and reads a telegram from President Roosevelt.
1. The hall in which the Norwegian Parliament customarily met. Mr. Knudsen anticipates, no doubt, that future sessions for this purpose would be held in the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which had recently been constructed.
2. Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). The laureate offered his good offices to mediate the dispute; the result was the Treaty of Portsmouth signed by Russia and Japan on September 5, 1905, at Portsmouth, N.H., U.S.A.
Their work and discoveries range from the Earth’s climate and our sense of touch to efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.
See them all presented here.