Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The Forgotten Peace Prize Winner

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Here’s a press release from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, about the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, which will take place at the University of Illinois-Chicago from April 23-25.   

    Chicago was selected as the first North American city to host the World Summit due to its rich heritage and international profile. Numerous Nobel Peace Prize winners have hailed from Chicago, among them U.S. President Barack Obama. In 1931, Illinois native Jane Addams became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her international peace efforts and work on behalf of Chicago’s marginalized immigrant communities.

    The press release left out the first local resident to win the Nobel Peace Prize -- Charles Gates Dawes, whose life was just as colorful and accomplished as Obama’s or Addams’s. Dawes was a successful banker when the U.S. joined World War I in 1917. He joined the American Expeditionary Force as a supply procurement and distribution officer, rising to brigadier general. After the war, the League of Nations asked Dawes to write a report on German reparation payments. For this, he won the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize. According to his laureate biography, the Dawes Report “provided facts on Germany’s budget and resources, outlined measures needed to stabilize the currency, and suggested a schedule of payments on a sliding scale.”

    By then, he had been rewarded with another prize: President Coolidge asked Dawes to run with him on the Republican ticket in the 1924 election. Dawes was one of our worst vice presidents: he refused to attend cabinet meetings, delivered a speech insulting the Senate’s seniority system, and failed to break a tie in favor of Coolidge’s attorney general nominee because he was napping at his hotel.

    Dawes may now be best remembered for his contribution to pop music. He wrote the melody to the song “It’s All In The Game,” which became a #1 hit for Tommy Edwards in 1958. Dawes is the only Nobel Prize winner in any discipline to also top the Billboard charts.

    Following his death in 1951, Dawes’s turreted brick mansion, overlooking Lake Michigan, was willed to the Evanston Historical Society. Located at 225 Greenwood St., it is open for tours every Thursday through Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.