How Many U.S. Presidents Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Find Out Which of our Commanders in Chief Commanded the Honor

President Obama Meets With 2016 American Nobel Prize Winners
Pool / Getty Images

A pacifist by nature, Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite, had a life that touched on many disciplines. Nobel passed away on December 10, 1896. Nobel had written several wills over the course of his life. The last was dated November 27, 1895. In it, he left about 94 percent of his net worth to the establishment of five prizes: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

In 1900, the Nobel Foundation was established to award the first of the Nobel Prizes. The prizes are international awards given out by the Norwegian Nobel Committee at a ceremony held on December 10 each year, on the anniversary of the day Nobel died. The Peace prize includes a medal, diploma, and a monetary award. According to the terms of Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize was created to award those who have

"done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

U.S. Presidents Who Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize

The first Nobel Peace Prizes were handed out in 1901. Since then, 97 people and 20 organizations have received the honor, including three sitting U.S. presidents:

  • Theodore Roosevelt: Roosevelt, who was in office from 1901-09, was awarded the prize in 1906 "for his successful mediation to end the Russo-Japanese war and for his interest in arbitration, having provided the Hague arbitration court with its very first case." His Nobel Peace Prize currently hangs in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing which was his office when the West Wing was built in 1902.
  • Woodrow Wilson: Wilson, who was in office from 1913-21, was awarded the prize in 1919 for founding the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations.
  • Barack Obama: Obama whose two terms ran from 2009 to 2017, was awarded the prize just months after his initial inauguration "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." He donated a large portion of the $1.4 million monetary prize to charities including Fisher House, Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, College Summit, The Posse Foundation, and The United Negro College Fund, among others.

When President Obama learned he'd won the Nobel Peace Prize, he recalled that his daughter Malia remarked, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's (the first family's dog) birthday!" Her sister, Sasha, added, "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." So it wasn't surprising that when accepting the prestigious award, he offered this humble statement:

"I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who've received this prize—Schweitzer and King, Marshall and Mandela—my accomplishments are slight."

Former President and Vice President Peace Prize Winners

The prize has also gone to one former U.S. president and a former Vice President:

  • Jimmy Carter: Carter, who served one term from 1977 to 1981, was awarded the prize in 2002 "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."
  • Vice President Al Gore: Gore won the prize in 2007 for his work in researching and disseminating information about climate change.
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Johnson, Bridget. "How Many U.S. Presidents Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Johnson, Bridget. (2021, February 16). How Many U.S. Presidents Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize? Retrieved from Johnson, Bridget. "How Many U.S. Presidents Have Won the Nobel Peace Prize?" ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).