Award ceremony speech

Presentation Speech by Gunnar Jahn*, Chairman of the Nobel Committee

The environment in which a child is brought up almost invariably leaves a distinct and indelible mark on its character. This appears to have been the case with Emily Greene Balch.

Born in Boston in 1867, she comes from an old New England family and grew up in stimulating intellectual surroundings whose traditions can be traced back to the Puritans who first colonized that part of the United States. These New Englanders had freed themselves from the harshness of puritanism, but they inherited the strict self-discipline and energy and desire to make this world a better place to live in, especially for the less fortunate members of society. In this environment she acquired a certain idealism, an awareness of her personal responsibility; yet at the same time she learned to recognize that work for a better world can be fruitful only if it is based on the hard facts of reality.

As a young student she was first attracted to the study of literature, but she was soon to take an interest in the work to which she was to devote all her energies in the period preceding the First World War: the improvement of conditions of life through social reform. The necessity of such work was first brought home to her when she became acquainted with the poverty and squalor of the slums in America’s big cities. She collaborated in the founding of a social center in Boston and undertook other practical work as well, becoming a member of the American Federation of Labor and helping to establish the Women’s Trade Union League of America.

All this was in the early 1890’s at a time when Europe was becoming increasingly conscious of the untold social problems bequeathed by the Industrial Revolution. But the dawn of enlightenment had not yet broken over America.

Practical work alone, however, did not exhaust the aspirations that gripped Emily Balch. She felt the need both to acquire knowledge and to pass it on to others if she was to achieve more. And so she continued her studies, first in Paris under Levasseur1, the historian of the French working class, and later in Berlin where she studied that branch of economics which has been called a «professor-chair socialism»2. Here she also came in contact with the European labor movement and attended the Socialist Trade Union Congress in 1896.

In the same year she went to Wellesley College, first as lecturer and then as professor of social economics. Teaching was her principal occupation up to the First World War. But her teaching went hand in hand with practical social work in the field, membership on official commissions, and authorship of publications. A typical example is her work concerning immigrants. She was the first professor in America to give students a course of lectures on problems relating to immigrants. Best known, undoubtedly, is her work on the Slav immigrants in the United States, a work which is said to be a landmark in the scientific analysis of immigration problems3. This work provides a perfect illustration of her approach: before putting pen to paper she visited most of the Slav centers in the United States and also did research for a year in those regions of Austria-Hungary from which many of the immigrants came. Not content to rely on verbal or written sources, she felt she had to see things for herself, to meet these people, and to study their conditions at first hand.

And then came the First World War, putting an end to her university career, for she was dismissed from her post in 1918 because of her pacifist activities. But the war also brought a fresh challenge, giving her life a new goal. Like so many others, she saw the war as a futile interruption to the construction of a better world.

To use her own words: «My reaction was above all a feeling that this was a tragic break in the work which to me appeared to be the real task of our time: to construct a more satisfying economic order.» But the impact upon her must have been more powerful than she herself cared to admit, for from the outbreak of the war she devoted all her strength to the work for peace. Or, as Professor Simkhovitch of Columbia4 says: «I have never met anyone who has, as she has done, for decade after decade given every minute of her life to the work for peace between nations.»

Emily Balch probably did not realize – and few did at that time – that 1914 was, more than 1939, the great turning point of our era. It marked the end of an epoch, and subsequent events have, in many ways, robbed people of their faith in the individual and in justice, which have been the heritage and the source of strength for the best in this world. Men have grown harder since then, more skeptical, and the doctrine that might is right has found its way increasingly into both internal and external policies, even after the end of this last war.

These then are the times in which Emily Balch has waged her fight for peace. They have not been easy, but she has never relaxed her efforts, whatever the obstacles in her path.

Throughout the many years of her work for peace she has been closely associated with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, founded at The Hague in 1915 while war was being waged. The League provided a meeting place for women from neutral countries, the Central powers, and the Allied nations. Such a conference was still feasible at that time, for the monstrous beast of war had not yet fully bared his fangs. But the remarkable thing is that this was the only group of any importance within the belligerent countries to meet and reach agreement on a just and practical program for peace. For it really was practical, especially if we judge it against the background of its time. «I think the proposal is without any doubt the best which has so far been put forward,» declared President Wilson to the chairman of the Women’s League, Jane Addams. Many of the resolutions were subsequently incorporated in the League of Nations Covenant. Although the program was drawn up by the conference itself, its realistic provisions owe much to the wealth of knowledge and practical foresight contributed by Emily Balch5.

Following the conference at The Hague, two delegations, one of them headed by Emily Balch, visited neutral and belligerent countries alike to submit their resolutions to the statesmen. A polite reception was accorded to them everywhere. This is not surprising, for the statesman is as a rule polite, perhaps especially so when dealing with women, but his true thoughts inevitably remain concealed behind his inscrutable smile. The women failed to make any headway with their proposals; and this was only to be expected with things as they were.

In 1916 Emily Balch visited Stockholm and took part in the Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation which was sponsored by Henry Ford6. At this conference she put forward her proposal for «International Colonial Administration», a proposal which foreshadows the mandate system later adopted at Versailles.

On returning home in 1916, she joined the ranks of those who were fighting against America’s entry into the war. She was a member of the Collegiate Anti-Militarism League7 and also sat on the council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation8. As already mentioned, her work for peace and her radical social views led to the loss of her professorial position in 1918. Thereafter she joined the editorial staff of the Nation, a weekly which was in the forefront of the struggle for a just and permanent peace.

With the coming of peace, the Women’s League arranged its second conference at Zurich in 1919 while the Allies were discussing the peace treaty in Paris. The conference thus had the opportunity of studying a draft of the peace treaty. Time does not permit me to review the resolutions which were passed as a result of this study. What I can and will say is that it would have been judicious to have heeded the women’s counsel. That few did so is sad, though hardly astonishing in view of the political climate of the time. Besides, the proposals had been put forward by women, and it is all too seldom that our male society lends a willing ear to the advice of women, no matter how well-founded it may be. It would not be a bad thing if men would occasionally remove their bland smiles and listen.

After the Zurich conference, Emily Balch stayed on in Geneva as the secretary-general of the International Women’s League, a post which she relinquished in 1922 because of ill health. In later years she spent a large part of her time in this center of international work.

A brief synopsis of her activity during these years cannot do justice to all that she did. She took part in most of the nine congresses of the Women’s League which were held in the period between the wars, her influence being felt particularly in the drafting of the resolutions. She organized several of the conferences called by the Women’s League to study particular questions such as modern methods of war, opium, the Austrian problems, and minority questions. She took part in conferences concerning stateless persons and the world economic crisis. Her influence extended not only to these but also to numerous other conferences not arranged by the Women’s League. She was in continuous contact with the League of Nations throughout her stay in Geneva, not only in connection with major political problems but also in relation to everything which could serve international cooperation. With her practical outlook, she understood that improvement in political relations between nations could be achieved by encouraging them to collaborate regularly in specific fields.

Typical of her work on such questions, which form just one part of the great problem of peace, are the efforts she made in 1921 in association with the American branch of the Women’s League, to induce the United States to renounce its claim to priority for its Austrian credits. Her efforts were to prove successful. Another and even more typical example is her work in 1926 to secure the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Haiti after eleven years of occupation9. Once again the initiative came from the Women’s League, and it was Emily Balch who provided the driving force behind everything that was achieved.

She never embarked on a campaign until she was sure of her facts. She first traveled to Haiti with a delegation whose report, the greater part of which she herself wrote, gives conclusive proof of her ability to get to the root of the problem and of her consummate skill in devising a practical and democratic solution that would greatly benefit the people. These are aptitudes which must surely be the envy of many a politician. Then came the struggle to get the solution accepted. In the end the American government carried out practically all the delegation’s recommendations and withdrew its troops.

Now it would be a mistake to think that Emily Balch has worked only through the medium of congresses and committees or through the pressure she could exert on state authorities. One of the first to realize the need for education and instruction, she initiated the international summer schools run by the Women’s League during the inter-war years. She herself taught at these schools. But this is by no means all. In her extensive travels throughout the world she sought first-hand knowledge of the conditions of life wherever she was, meanwhile preaching the need for international understanding. While in Egypt, she tried to make contact with the women; in Palestine with the Jewish, British, and Arab leaders; in England she gave a series of lectures in support of the ratification of the Briand-Kellogg Pact – to mention just a few examples. In addition she delivered innumerable lectures in the United States on the subject of internationalism and the League of Nations in her fight against the isolationism which kept her own country at arm’s length from the work of the League. She fought America’s passive attitude at a time when it was vital to be active.

But the years passed and the disappointments multiplied, the first being the Japanese occupation of Manchuria10; after that, one blow followed another. A fresh world war loomed black upon the horizon. Yet men would not understand that when violence takes the helm and the rule of law is destroyed, then is the time to stand on guard.

The events of those years evoked a sharp reaction in Emily Balch. She attacked isolationism and American neutrality legislation, thereby placing herself for the first time in opposition to the American branch of the Women’s League. And with the coming of war, we no longer see her among the opponents of America’s entry into the conflict as had been the case during the First World War. We can say, perhaps, that this was the time when she parted company from the absolute pacifists, the Quakers, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the War Resisters League. She had to ask herself the question which faced all those who had worked for peace: Shall we submit meekly and allow ourselves to be devoured? I only put the question. Let each man examine his own conscience and find the answer.

Emily Balch found her answer, for she believed that if we did not vanquish the evil we could not hope to achieve victory for the ideas which she herself had championed for so many years.

Both before and during the war she worked enthusiastically for the refugees who came to the United States, especially for the Jews. But even at that time she was already looking ahead to the problems which would follow in the wake of the war. Hers was not just passive, armchair interest, for she personally drafted proposals for peace terms, terms based not on unconditional surrender but on the realistic view that the world would have to be rebuilt. She also drafted proposals for a constructive international settlement. She has given her loyal support to the newly created United Nations Organization and has brought all her influence to bear on American peace organizations to enlist their support for it, even if it does not now correspond perfectly with their ideals. «For», she says, «the future shape of the new organization will not depend upon what the documents appear to state, but on what the members make of it. Practice in cooperation is what will give the United Nations its character. Plans have not been set up for a utopia but for Europe, Russia, America, and all the other countries with their conflicting interests and ideas. And it is precisely because the proposals we have before us are fairly modest that they may perhaps be realized.» We see here yet another instance of her practical approach. A lifetime of experience has taught her how great the difficulties are which lie ahead.

But now and again we espy a different approach to the coldly calculating, realistic evaluation of the task before us. I cannot refrain from quoting a few words in her own language: «International unity is not in itself a solution. Unless this international unity has a moral quality, accepts the discipline of moral standards, and possesses the quality of humanity, it will not be the unity we are interested in.»

It is her basic conception that practical solutions, no matter how refined technically, count for nothing if they are not evolved from, or if they do not rest upon, an ethical foundation. If the organization is autocratic in character, or if it is not guided by the spirit of cooperation, then it is worse than useless.

There are many who have shared this view in the past. They are perhaps fewer in number today, for such thoughts are not fashionable in this modern age. A dream, they cry. But isn’t life empty and worthless without its dreams, even for practical everyday work?

The name of Emily Balch may not be familiar to many of us here, and there are probably few people in Europe who still remember her now. The war has erased so many names. Being a modest person, she was never one to seek the limelight even at the height of her activity. What was said of Cordell Hull last year is, I think, also true of her: she cares little whether the credit goes to her or to someone else, as long as the object in view has been attained.

Emily Balch has now reached old age but she remains active to the last, and, as she herself said when being congratulated on her seventy-fifth birthday: «I think I shall live for quite a while yet, for, as my grandfather said, an old woman is as tough as an old owl.» May her words prove to be no less than the truth, for the world cannot boast of many persons of her mettle.

Even if we cannot say to her: «Do you not smile on reaching the goal?», that goal which is the guiding light of those whose sights are set beyond the ending of each day, we can still pay her homage and express our gratitude for her lifelong, indefatigable work for the cause of peace. She has taught us that the reality we seek must be earned by hard and unrelenting toil in the world in which we live, but she has taught us more: that exhaustion is unknown and defeat only gives fresh courage to the man whose soul is fired by the sacred flame.

*Mr. Jahn delivered this speech in the auditorium of the Nobel Institute in the early afternoon of December 10, 1946. At its conclusion, Mr. Jahn read a message of acceptance from Miss Balch, whose health prevented her from attending the ceremonies, and presented the prize to Mr. Huston of the U.S. Embassy who accepted in her name. This translation is based on the Norwegian text in Les Prix Nobel en 1946, which contains, also, a French translation.

1. Pierre Émile Levasseur (1828-1911), French economic historian; wrote Histoire des classes ourrières en France, 3 vols. (1859-1867).

2. «Katetersosialismen»; i.e., theory spinning rather than practical application: «schoolroom socialism», «armchair socialism».

3. Our Slavic Fellow-Citizens (1910).

4. Vladimir G. Simkhovitch (1874-1959), professor of economic history.

5. See Women at The Hague by Jane Addams, Emily G. Balch, and Alice Hamilton, pp. 150-166.

6. The Conference attempted to salvage something from the collapse of the hopes centered on the «Peace Ship», a venture sponsored by the American automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford (1863-1947).

7. Organization of American collegiate personnel flourishing during WW I, which opposed America’s entry into the war, promoted a negotiated peace and a world society free of militarism.

8. Founded in Great Britain in December, 1914, to promote pacifism as a solution to problems raised for Christians by the war.

9. See Occupied Haiti by Emily G. Balch.

10. In 1931, the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945).

* * *


Presentation by Herman Smitt Ingebretsen*, Member of the Nobel Committee

John Raleigh Mott is an American like Emily Greene Balch, with whom he shares this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. He was born in Sullivan County in the state of New York on May 25, 1865. It was assumed that he would follow in the footsteps of his father, a timber merchant engaged in transporting timber on the tributaries of the Delaware River. But he was an avid reader, and the town’s Methodist minister persuaded his parents to allow him to continue his studies. For a long time the boy did not know what he wanted to be. His father hoped that he would return to the timber trade, while he himself vacillated between the church, law, and politics. But during his years of study he was stirred by the Gospel of Christ to mankind, and when the Y.M.C.A. asked him to become a traveling secretary among the students of American and Canadian universities he interpreted the offer as a call from the Lord. He answered the call. It did not take him back to the Delaware River. It sent him out into the wide world and it has brought him here today.

Most of those who have received the Nobel Peace Prize bear names which are well known from peace conferences, from congresses on disarmament problems and arbitration treaties, or from their handling of acute political situations when they were able to play propitious roles in finding a solution to great and grievous conflicts. But the venerable John Mott is among us today because he has been faithful to the call which he answered as a young student, and because he has created worldwide organizations which have united millions of young people in work for the Christian ideals of peace and tolerance between nations. He has never been a politician, he has never taken an active part in organized peace work. But he has always been a living force, a tireless fighter in the service of Christ, opening young minds to the light which he thinks can lead the world to peace and bring men together in understanding and goodwill. His work has always been chiefly among youth, for in them lies the key to the future. They are the leaders of tomorrow. The spirit that moves the hearts of the young will one day fashion the world. And the old John Mott is still to be found in the midst of the young, a tireless servant of his Master. His long life has brought him profound disappointments. But they have never broken his spirit nor cooled his ardor. He believes that good will triumph in the end, that all the trials and struggles, all the disappointments and defeats, must bring the fulfillment of the Christian promise that all men shall become one. We need only be faithful to our call, resolute in our confidence that someday the spirit of unremitting service will see the seed sprout from the furrows of peace in a world free from fear.

The young university man who traveled from college to college to preach the word of God among the students felt a growing awareness of the tasks and possibilities which lay ahead. He understood that the frank and open comradeship which bound together the Christian students at the American and Canadian universities could become a mighty impulse for the whole world, if only the circle of fellowship could be widened from country to country. And he was to see his dream become reality. The World’s Student Christian Federation was founded in 1895 under his leadership at a meeting held in Vadstena Castle1. Following this happy event, Mott departed on his first missionary journey. He wanted to organize student associations all over the world. On this journey he visited twenty-four countries, founded seventy new associations, created national associations of Christian students in India, Ceylon, New Zealand, Australia, China, and Japan, and selected corresponding members of the world federation in Egypt, Hawaii, and in many European countries. Since that trip he has gone round the world on numerous occasions. Someone has calculated that he has covered more than two million miles on his travels; that is equal to seventy times the circumference of the earth!

Few men have traveled in so many countries, spoken to so many people, and inspired so much confidence as has John Mott. He never departed on one of his tours without adequate preparation. When he was to visit a country, he first studied its culture, its customs, its religious and political background. When he arrived, he was able to talk with those he met as a friend who knew the country, the people, and their way of life. His mind was always receptive to new influences, to other ways of thinking and feeling. He was never an American bringing an evangelical message to Poland, to South America, or to the East, in an American style. He was an apostle of a simple Christianity, presented in a form which made it living and real to the people to whom it was addressed. God is our Father, he said. But if God is our Father, then we are all brothers, and no frontiers or racial divisions can separate us from each other.

The students who flocked to Mott’s organization were not only Protestants. They came from the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, from the Thomist Christians in India, from the Nestorian, Syrian, and Coptic churches. Mott’s aim was to give the Christian world new leaders whose love and tolerance would transcend the old frontiers which had previously separated people. All races have a valuable contribution to bring to the great spiritual community, he said, and all races and nations are needed for Christ to reveal Himself in all His power and glory.

Mott himself is a Methodist, but he never traveled as a representative of any denomination. He worked among people of every creed and race, and his help and advice were freely available to all. He sought to make contact not only with religious circles, but also with scientists, political leaders, statesmen and, above all, with youth. His simple preaching was a source of strength and inspiration to those whom he addressed or with whom he talked; his powerful, tinselfish, and noble character won him friends and followers and opened the way for brotherhood between nations under the banner of Christ – always the central theme of his preaching.

To his other qualities must be added that of great organizing ability. The World’s Student Christian Federation which he had founded at Vadstena grew under his guidance into a mighty organization, with hundreds of thousands of members in over forty countries. He organized a series of world conferences of Christian students, the best known being the Tokyo Conference of 1907, which marked the movement’s breakthrough in the Far East.

The work of the organization, its program, and the resolutions which it sent out into the world bore the imprint of his forceful personality. We Christian students, states one such resolution, believe in the fundamental equality of all races and nations, and we consider it a part of our Christian duty to give expression to this principle in our relations with people. We also believe it to be our absolute duty to use all our efforts to combat everything which can lead to war and to combat war itself as a means of resolving international disputes.

The work of Mott and his student movement in the cause of peace, goodwill, and understanding between nations was a natural corollary of his view of Christ as the Prince of Peace. The movement’s motto had at one time been «Make Christ King». And this summarizes Mott’s feelings. Christ was the King he served, and the fight he waged was a fight to win the world for the peace which his King wanted to give to mankind.

For over thirty years Mott was the organizer and leader of Christian students. But at the same time he has for decades been a prominent figure in the Y.M.C.A., the organization which first called him to the service of youth, and in 1926 he became president of the World’s Alliance of Young Men’s Christian Associations. This organization is run along lines similar to those of the Student Federation but is much broader in character. Its membership, drawn from every social class and occupation, numbers two million boys and young men from more than fifty countries. It represents autonomous national organizations all over the world and of every Christian denomination. It arranges exchange of delegates and publications, sets up study groups and international and ecumenical meetings, and tries through planned activities to find constructive solutions to the problem of peace between nations.

John Mott is still at the head of the World’s Alliance, still its fountain of strength and inspiration. His outstanding organizing ability and uncanny resourcefulness in the raising of funds for the member associations have materially assisted them in accomplishing extensive humanitarian work over and above their contribution in the spiritual domain. When most international organizations were disintegrating during the First World War, Mott was gathering together the resources of his organizations in a mighty effort to span the abyss of hatred of those days by launching welfare work among the soldiers at the front and by bringing relief to millions of prisoners of war on both sides. He himself was always on the move, traveling from country to country and visiting the fronts, entering into negotiations with statesmen in belligerent as well as in neutral states, recruiting suitable helpers for this vast project, for which he collected no less than 250 million dollars. His men worked unceasingly to render captivity mentally and physically bearable for the prisoners of war, trying to prepare them for a return to normal life after the war, free of the bitterness that war and imprisonment engender, so that collaboration between nations could once again become possible.

It was one of the greatest works of peace ever carried out in the entire history of war, wrote President Taft, adding that it was chiefly due to Mott’s organizing genius and inspiring leadership.

After the Armistice, Mott’s attention and energy turned to the demobilized men, and to such good effect that thousands of young men were saved from physical and moral ruin. It is a powerful testimony to Mott’s outstanding organizing ability and zeal that he and his assistants were invited to conduct the work of rehabilitation in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

During World War II, the Y.M.C.A., with Mott still at the helm, resumed its gigantic operation to improve conditions in the prisoner-of-war camps. With the coming of peace, Mott, disdainful of his eighty years, once more set forth on his worldwide travels to reforge the international links which the war had broken and to arrange the first world conference of his organization. This conference was held in Geneva last summer under Mott’s chairmanship.

But it is not only international work among Christian youth of all lands which has profited from Mott’s great powers of leadership. For a whole generation he has also been a leading figure in ecumenical work. At the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910, the Protestant churches of Europe, North America, and Australia entrusted to Mott the guidance of their international activities. Subsequently, Mott also brought the churches of Africa, Asia, and South America into this association. He also founded and presided over the International Missionary Council and the Institute of Social and Religious Research.

Under Mott’s leadership at the World Missionary Congress at Jerusalem in 1928, representatives of European and American churches met with representatives of Christian churches from the Muslim world, the Dutch and British Indies, from China, Turkestan, Persia, Iraq, Arabia, and Africa. The conference adopted a detailed and constructive racial program, embodying a code for the protection of the native against economic and social injustice, as well as plans intended to prevent friction between nations pursuing a policy of economic expansion. In 1938 he presided over the third World Congress of the International Missionary Council at Tambaram in India.

Mott has worked tirelessly in all parts of the world to combat racial prejudice. He is perhaps better acquainted with this problem than anyone because he has been everywhere, has talked with all manner of people, and has systematically studied the conditions in all the countries he has visited.

Wang, who has four times been China’s foreign minister2, says that in many crises in the Far East, when international complications could have led to serious conflicts, Mott exercised all his influence to bring about a peaceful solution.

In 1913 President Wilson, who had an unbounded confidence in Mott’s character and skill, tried to persuade him to accept the post of ambassador to China because he was familiar with the people and the conditions in that country and because many of the men who were most active in setting up the new government and establishing a new regime in China were his friends and helpers in the Y.M.C.A. movement. But Mott declined. He had to remain true to his vocation. He wanted to advance his work for peace through the many international organizations of which he was president. «I do not know when I have been so disappointed», remarked Wilson when he received Mott’s refusal.

When a serious conflict arose between the United States and Mexico in 1916, President Wilson appointed Mott a member of the delegation which he sent to Mexico, and it was quite in keeping with Mott’s reputation that the press should interpret his appointment as an outstretched hand to Mexico. Nor is it unlikely that his intimate familiarity with Mexican conditions and his will for peace had a decisive influence on the successful outcome of the negotiations.

The following year Mott was a member of the American diplomatic mission to Russia. His German friends later reproached him for having taken part in this mission, but his assignment was in no way political, and it is a remarkable tribute to the high regard in which he was held that the Germans afterwards agreed to express their confidence in the integrity of Mott’s motives, even though they would have preferred his relinquishing his international position before taking the trip.

Mott’s work to subdue racial antagonism was a link in the chain of peace which he tried to forge around the world. But it was more than that. It was also an endeavor to impart dignity to the relations between human beings within individual nations. In his own country, the United States, he has performed great work on behalf of the Negroes. To fight prejudices which exist in one’s own society makes a bigger demand perhaps on a man’s personality and strength of character than any other endeavor. Mott was the driving spirit in the movement to form associations in the southern states comprising both white and colored members, the leading men of both races representing a variety of professions. His aim was to bring about a relaxation of the existing racial tension. In 1914 he presided over the first Christian student conference for Negroes ever held in the United States. During the same year, and also for the first time in American history, a congress was held under Mott’s chairmanship of both black and white Christians from northern and southern states. If we are Christians, said Mott in his closing address, we must be able to live side by side as true friends, in equality, justice, and mutual respect.

This is the principle that has governed all of Mott’s work among the different churches and missions, among races and nations. The three great world organizations which have flourished under his leadership for a generation – the Student Federation, the Young Men’s Christian Association, and the International Missionary Council – have in his hands been instruments for creating that spirit of Christian tolerance and love which can give peace to the world.

Elihu Root, himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner and at one time American secretary of state, has said about Mott: «His powerful personality and completely self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of peace, have, I believe, never been equaled. He does not owe his influence to the official positions he holds; rather, it is the positions which have acquired importance through the work he has accomplished. Over the years he has traveled over the whole world, using his official position to create and strengthen a universal sympathy for the fundamental ideas on which peace necessarily depends.»

Disraeli3 once said that it is a magnificent sight to see a nation saved by its youth. But is it not even more magnificent, says Mott, to see the student youth of all nations and races stand together in the struggle to maintain the high ideals of international peace and goodwill?

Many eminent men and women, idealists worthy of our admiration, have done outstanding work in establishing peace and promoting general acceptance of arbitration agreements between governments, in organizing international courts and building up the League of Nations or the United Nations. Mott has not done that. But he has tried to create the climate in which the work for peace can grow in strength and security.

He himself once expressed it this way: Let us always attach importance to arbitration agreements and other international regulations, to peace and arbitration conferences, to publicity campaigns on these vital questions, and to the display of sound practical judgment on these matters; but let us also be of one mind on the most fundamental issue of all, that which will give life and effectiveness to all the rest, that which alone can create and preserve the climate in which international arbitration can exist, that which will make it effective or, even better, superfluous – and that is to create the right atmosphere, the right frame of heart and mind, to instill the right spirit in the lives of nations.

Mott’s work has been devoted to the most fundamental issue of all. He has gone out into the whole world and opened hearts to the idea of peace, to understanding, love, and tolerance. He has done it in answer to a call from God and, guided by that call, he has prepared the soil in which the hope of the world will grow.

* Mr. Ingebretsen delivered this speech in the auditorium of the Nobel Institute on the afternoon of December 10, 1946, following Mr. Jahn’s presentation speech on Emily G. Balch who shared the prize for 1946. Mr. Mott was present and made a brief speech of acceptance. This translation is based on the Norwegian text in Les Prix Nobel en 1946, which also contains a French translation.

1. In Sweden.

2. Wang Chêng-t’ing (1882-1961), foreign minister for most of the period from 1922 to 1931.

3. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British statesman and author.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1926-1950, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1946

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