Frank Billings Kellogg

Frank Billings Kellogg (1856-1937) negotiated the Kellogg-Briand Pact, intended to achieve international peace.

Frank B. Kellogg was born in Potsdam, N.Y., on Dec. 22, 1856. In 1867 the family moved to Minnesota, where Kellogg studied law and was admitted to the bar. He became a highly successful lawyer and was called to conduct a trust prosecution for the Federal government against the Standard Oil Company in 1911. His success led to election as president of the American Bar Association in 1912. In 1916 he was elected to the U.S. Senate but was defeated for reelection in 1922. He served as ambassador to Great Britain from 1923 to 1925.

In 1925 Kellogg was appointed secretary of state by President Calvin Coolidge. As secretary, he faced the problem of strained relations with Mexico over legislation against American oil interests, but the appointment of Dwight Morrow as ambassador relieved those tensions. Kellogg also found himself embroiled in Nicaragua, where civil war broke out against the government recognized by the United States. However, the mission of Henry L. Stimson to Nicaragua restored a measure of peace, which led, eventually, to the withdrawal of American troops. Kellogg was less successful in his attempt to bring about a reduction in naval armaments among the Great Powers.

Kellogg regarded his negotiation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact for the maintenance of world peace as his most important State Department work. Taking advantage of a French proposal to conclude a pact binding France and the United States to refrain from war with each other, Kellogg proposed a much more ambitious policy—a general international agreement for the preservation of peace. Signed in August 1928 and ratified by most of the nations of the world, this pact bound the signatory nations not "to resort to war as an instrument of national policy" and to settle all disputes by peaceful means. For this Kellogg received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929 and was appointed a member of the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague, a post he held from 1930 to 1935.

In practice, the pact proved ineffectual in preventing war. It contained no provision for action against an aggressor nation and could not prevent the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

During Kellogg's tenure, the U.S. State Department took steps to allay Latin American worry over the Monroe Doctrine. In 1928 the Clark Memorandum sought to make it clear that the doctrine was not to be considered a justification for United States military intervention in the affairs of Latin America. Kellogg died on Dec. 22, 1937.


Further Reading on Frank Billings Kellogg

Old but still useful is David Bryn-Jones, Frank B. Kellogg (1937).Kellogg's conduct of foreign affairs is examined in Robert H. Ferrell, Peace in Their Time: The Origins of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1952), and Lewis E. Ellis, Frank B. Kellogg and American Foreign Relations, 1925-1929 (1961).