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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the actor, see Robert Lansing (actor).
Robert Lansing


In office
June 24, 1915 – February 13, 1920
President Woodrow Wilson
Preceded by William Jennings Bryan
Succeeded by Bainbridge Colby

Born October 17, 1864(1864-10-17)
Watertown, New York, U.S.
Died October 30, 1928 (aged 64)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Amherst College
Profession Lawyer, Politician

Robert Lansing (October 17, 1864 – October 30, 1928) served in the position of Legal Advisor to the State Department at the outbreak of World War I where he vigorously advocated against Britain's policy of blockade and in favor of the principles of freedom of the seas and the rights of neutral nations. He then served as United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson between 1915 and 1920. He was nominated to the office after William Jennings Bryan's resignation. He negotiated the Lansing-Ishii Agreement with Japan in 1917 and was a member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris in 1919.

Contents

Career

Born in Watertown, New York, he graduated from Amherst College in 1886 and was admitted to the bar in 1889. From then until 1907 he was a member of the law firm of Lansing & Lansing at Watertown. An authority on international law, he served as associate counsel for the United States, in the Bering Sea Arbitration in 1892-93, as counsel for the United States Bering Sea Claims Commission in 1896-97, as solicitor for the government before the Alaskan Boundary Tribunal in 1903, as counsel for the North Atlantic Fisheries in the Arbitration at The Hague in 1909-10, and as agent of the United States in the American and British Arbitration in 1912-14. In 1914 Lansing was appointed by President Wilson counselor to the State Department.

World War I

Lansing advocated "benevolent neutrality" in World War I, and eventually American participation. Following the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on 7 May 1915 by the German submarine U-20, Lansing backed Woodrow Wilson in issuing three notes of protest to the German government issued on 13 May, 9 June, and 21 July. William Jennings Bryan resigned as Secretary of State following Wilson's second note, in which Wilson rejected the German arguments that the British blockade was illegal; was a cruel and deadly attack on innocent civilians; and that the Lusitania had been carrying munitions. Bryan considered the note too provocative and resigned in protest after failing to moderate it, to be replaced as Secretary of State by Lansing, who later said in his memoirs that following the tragedy he always had the "conviction that we would ultimately become the ally of Britain".

In 1916, using funds discretionary to himself, Lansing hired a handful of men who became the State Department's first special agents in the new Bureau of Secret Intelligence. These agents were initially used to observe the activities of the Central Powers in America, and later to watch over interned German diplomats. The small group of agents hired by Lansing would eventually become the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) many years later.

In 1919, he became the nominal head of the US Commission to the Paris Peace Conference. Because he did not regard the League of Nations as essential to the peace treaty, Lansing began to fall out of favor with Wilson. During Wilson's stroke and illness, Lansing called the cabinet together for consultations on several occasions. In addition, Lansing was the first cabinet member to suggest that Vice President Thomas R. Marshall assume the powers of the presidency. Wilson was disturbed by Lansing's independence, and Lansing resigned in 1920 at Wilson's request. Afterward, he practiced law in New York City.

His nephews include John Foster Dulles, who also became a U.S. Secretary of State, and Allen Welsh Dulles, a Director of Central Intelligence.

Authorship

He became associate editor of the American Journal of International Law, and with Gary M. Jones was author of Government: Its Origin, Growth, and Form in the United States (1902). He wrote: The Big Four and Others at the Peace Conference (1921) and The Peace Negotiations (1922).

External links


This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.

Political offices
Preceded by
William Jennings Bryan
United States Secretary of State
Served under: Woodrow Wilson

1915 – 1920
Succeeded by
Frank Polk (Acting)

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