Nicholas Murray Butler

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Nicholas Murray Butler (April 2, 1862-December 7, 1947) "was an educator and university president; an adviser to seven presidents and friend of statesmen in foreign nations; recipient of decorations from fifteen foreign governments and of honorary degrees from thirty-seven colleges and universities; a member of more than fifty learned societies and twenty clubs; the author of a small library of books, pamphlets, reports, and speeches; an international traveler who crossed the Atlantic at least a hundred times; a national leader of the Republican Party; an advocate of peace and the embodiment of the «international mind» that he frequently spoke about. He was called Nicholas Miraculous Butler by his good friend Theodore Roosevelt; the epithet was so perfect that, once uttered, it could not be forgotten...

"He was named acting president of Columbia University in 1901 and president in 1902, retaining that position until retirement in October, 1945.

"Under his presidency, Columbia University made phenomenal growth. It became a major university. All graduate studies were enormously expanded; the scope of professional training was enlarged to include new schools such as those of journalism and dentistry; the student body was increased from 4,000 to 34,000 and the faculty by a like ratio; the plant was enlarged by a construction program that averaged a new building each year, and the endowment kept pace; the professorial salaries were increased enough to attract many of the world's leading scholars to the teaching and research staff.

"Butler moved in the realm of politics as easily as he did in that of education. He was a delegate to the Republican convention for the first time in 1888 and for the last in 1936. Butler, Root, William Howard Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt constituted a powerful political quartet in the early years of the century. Breaking with the others in 1912, Roosevelt ran for the presidency as the candidate of the Progressive Party, which drew most of its strength from Republicans, against the nominees of the constituted party: Taft for the presidency and Butler for the vice-presidency. By splitting the national vote, they permitted the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, to win the election. In 1916 Butler failed in his attempt to secure the Republican presidential nomination for Root and in 1920 and 1928 failed to secure it for himself

"Meanwhile, Butler sought to unite the world of education and that of politics in a struggle to achieve world peace through international cooperation. He was chairman of the Lake Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration, which met periodically from 1907 to 1912, and was appointed president of the American branch of International Conciliation, an organization founded by another Nobel peace laureate, d'Estournelles de Constant. His association with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was a fruitful one of thirty-five years. Influential in persuading Andrew Carnegie to establish the Endowment in 1910 with a gift of $ 10,000,000, he served as head of the Endowment's section on international education and communication, founded the European branch of the Endowment, with headquarters in Paris, and held the presidency of the parent Endowment from 1925 to 1945...

"In 1940, Butler completed his autobiography with the publication of the second volume of Across the Busy Years. Both in size and in title it is peculiarly appropriate." [1] (He also had a "lifelong friendship with Elihu Root")

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  1. Nicholas Murray Butler, Nobel Peace Prize, accessed February 9, 2008.