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Robert Lansing

(b. 1864)


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(b. Watertown, New York, 17 Oct. 1864; d. Washington, DC, 30 Oct. 1928)

US; Secretary of State 1915–20 The son of a lawyer and banker, Lansing graduated BA from Amherst College in 1886. Thereafter he read law in his father's office, was called to the bar in 1889, and that same year joined his father's practice. Specializing in international law, he acted as counsel for the Chinese and Mexican legations in Washington, DC, 1894–5 and 1900–1; counsel for the US Bering Sea Claims Commission 1896–7; and counsel for the USA at the Alaskan Boundary Tribunal 1903. He was a founder member of the American Society for International Law in 1906 and in 1907 he established the American Journal of International Law, which he continued to edit until his death.

In 1902 Lansing made an unsuccessful bid to enter the political arena when he stood as Democratic candidate for mayor of Watertown. Although elective office eluded him he entered the public service as a counsellor for the State Department 1914–15, a role which enabled him to serve as acting Secretary of State during the absences of Secretary Bryan, and eventually to become Secretary of State in 1915 after Bryan's resignation. In 1920, amid controversy, he left office himself in response to a request from Wilson that he resign. The President accused Lansing of having usurped his authority by calling Cabinet meetings during the President's illness. After his resignation, Lansing returned to practising international law.

Subjects: Politics.


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