U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was the surprise winner of the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize after using his "Big Stick" diplomacy to broker a peace treaty to end the Russo-Japanese War.

Illustration by Charles Lewis Bartholomew, courtesy Library of Congress

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  • On September 2, 1901, United States Vice President Theodore Roosevelt outlined his ideal foreign policy in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights, Minnesota: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Two weeks later, Roosevelt became president and “Big Stick diplomacy” defined his leadership.
    Big Stick diplomacy is the policy of carefully mediated negotiation ("speaking softly") supported by the unspoken threat of a powerful military ("big stick"). The Great White Fleet, a group of American warships that toured the world in a show of peaceful strength, is the leading example of Big Stick diplomacy during Roosevelt’s presidency.
    President Roosevelt used Big Stick diplomacy in many foreign policy situations. He brokered an agreement for an American-led canal through Panama, expanded American influence in Cuba, and negotiated a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. For this, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    broker Verb

    to negotiate an agreement.

    canal Noun

    artificial waterway.

    diplomacy Noun

    art and science of maintaining peaceful relationships between nations, groups, or individuals.

    Encyclopedic Entry: diplomacy
    expand Verb

    to grow or get larger.

    foreign policy Noun

    courses of action or thought that guide a nation's relationship with other nations.

    ideal Adjective


    influence Noun

    force that effects the actions, behavior, or policies of others.

    mediate Verb

    to intervene or bring about change between different people, ideas, or methods of doing something.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    negotiate Verb

    to discuss with others of different viewpoints in order to reach an agreement, contract, or treaty.

    Nobel Peace Prize Noun

    award recognizing the contributions of a person or organization to "work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace."

    outline Noun

    representation of a boundary or definition.

    policy Noun

    set of actions or rules.

    threat Noun


    tour Verb

    to travel from place to place.

    treaty Noun

    official agreement between groups of people.

    warship Noun

    seagoing vessel built for armed conflict.