21 Nobel Peace Prize Winners From the United States

The number of Nobel Peace Prize winners from the United States is nearly two dozen, which includes four presidents, a vice president and secretary of state. The most recent Nobel Peace Prize winner from the United States is former President Barack Obama.

Barack Obama in 2009

Barack Obama
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President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, a choice that surprised many around the world because the 44th president of the United States had been in office less than a year when he was given honor for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Obama joined the ranks of only three other presidents who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The others are Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter. 

Wrote the Nobel selection committee of Obama:

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

Al Gore in 2007

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore reacts to the crowd on day four of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at Invesco Field at Mile High August 28, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.
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Former Vice President Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Price in 2007 along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Nobel selection committee wrote that the prize was awarded for:

"their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

Jimmy Carter in 2002

Jimmy Carter speaking at an event

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The 39th president of the United States was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, according to the committee,

"for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."

Jody Williams in 1997

Jody Williams

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The founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was honored for her work "banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines."

Elie Wiesel in 1986

Elie Weisel

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The chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust won for making it his life's work "bear witness to the genocide committed by the Nazis during World War II."

Henry A. Kissinger in 1973

Sec. of State Henry Kissinger signing the Vietnam War cease fire
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Henry A. Kissinger served as secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. Kissinger received a joint prize with North Vietnamese Politburo member Le Duc Tho for their efforts negotiating the cease-fire agreements in the Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War.

Norman E. Borlaug in 1970

Dr. Norman Burlaug

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Norman E. Borlaug, director of the International Wheat Improvement Program, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to fight hunger.

Borlaug described his efforts to add new cereal strains as “a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation.”

The committee said he created

"a breathing space in which to deal with the 'Population Monster' and the subsequent environmental and social ills that too often lead to conflict between men and between nations."

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964

Martin Luther King, Jr

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was awarded the Nobel Peace Price for civil rights and social justice in the fight against racial discrimination in the United States, especially the segregated South. King led a movement based on Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence. He was assassinated by a white racist four years after receiving the Peace Prize.

Linus Carl Pauling in 1962

Linus Pauling
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Linus Carl Pauling, of the California Institute of Technology and author of No More War!, received the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to weapons of mass destruction. He didn't receive the award, however, until 1963, because the Nobel committee determined that none of the nominees that year met the criteria outlined in Alfred Nobel's will.

According to the Nobel Foundation's rules, no one could receive the award that year, and Pauling's award had to be held until the following year.

Once it was eventually given to him, Pauling became the only person ever to be awarded two undivided Nobel Prizes. He had been given the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954.

George Catlett Marshall in 1953

Picture of Secretary of State George C. Marshall, author of the Marshall Plan.

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Gen. George Catlett Marshall, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as the originator of the Marshall Plan to bring economic recovery to Europe after World War II. Marshall served as secretary of state and secretary of defense under President Harry Truman and as president of the Red Cross.

Ralph Bunche in 1950

American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968) and his wife Coretta are greeted by Ralph J. Bunche

Harvard University professor Ralph Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as acting mediator in Palestine in 1948. He was the first African American to be awarded the prize. Bunche negotiated a cease-fire agreement between Arabs and Israelis following the war that broke out after the creation of the state of Israel.

Emily Greene Balch in 1946

Emily Greene Balch
Courtesy Library of Congress

Emily Greene Balch, professor of history and sociology; honorary international president, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, was given the prize at age 79 for her lifelong work fighting against war, though she did favor taking action against Hitler and Mussolini's fascist regimes in World War II.

Her pacifist views, however, won her no accolades from her own government, which saw her as a radical.

John Raleigh Mott in 1946

As chair of the International Missionary Council and president of the World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations (YMCA), John Raleigh Mott received the award for his role creating "a peace-promoting religious brotherhood across national boundaries."

Cordell Hull in 1945

Cordell Hull With Adm. Nomura
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Cordell Hull, former U.S. congressman, senator, and secretary of state, was awarded the prize for his role in creating the United Nations.

Jane Addams in 1931

Jane Addams

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Jane Addams received the award for her efforts to advance peace. She was a social worker who helped the poor through the noted Hull House in Chicago and also fought for women's causes. She was labeled a dangerous radical by the U.S. government for opposing America's entry into World War I, and warned that the harsh conditions forced on Germany afterward would cause it to rise again in war.

Nicholas Murray Butler in 1931

Nicholas Murray Butler was given the award for "his efforts to strengthen international law and the International Court at the Hague. He served as president of Columbia University, head of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and promoted the 1928 Briand-Kellogg Pact "providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy."

Frank Billings Kellogg in 1929

Frank Billings Kellogg was awarded the prize as co-author of Briand-Kellogg Pact, "providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy." He served as a U.S. senator and secretary of state and was a member of the Permanent Court of International Justice.

Charles Gates Dawes in 1925

Charles Gates Dawes received the prize for his contributions in reducing the tension between Germany and France after World War I. He served as vice president of the United States from 1925 to 1929 and was chairman of the Allied Reparation Commission. (He was the originator of the Dawes Plan in 1924 regarding German reparations.) Dawes shared the prize with Sir Austen Chamberlain of the United Kingdom.

Woodrow Wilson in 1919

President Woodrow Wilson and his wife Edith review papers in the Oval Office
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President Woodrow Wilson was awarded the prize for founding the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, at the end of World War I.

Elihu Root in 1912

Secretary of State Elihu Root was awarded the prize for his work to bring nations together through treaties of arbitration and cooperation.

Theodore Roosevelt in 1906

President Theodore Roosevelt

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Theodore Roosevelt was given the prize for negotiating peace in the Russo-Japanese war and resolving a dispute with Mexico with arbitration. He was the first statesman to receive the Peace Prize, and it was protested by the Norwegian Left, who said Alfred Nobel was turning over in his grave. Roosevelt, they said, was a "military mad" imperialist who had conquered the Philippines for America. Swedish newspapers opined that Norway gave the prize to him only win influence after the dissolution of the union of Norway and Sweden the year before.