Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood

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Image:Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood - Project Gutenberg eText 15306.jpg
Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood
Image:Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood & Warren G. Harding - Punch cartoon - Project Gutenberg eText 18114.png
Encourage Home Industries.
Lord Robert Cecil. "I trust that after all we may secure at least your qualified support for our League of Nations?"
U.S.A. President-elect: "Why, what's the matter with ours?"
Cartoon from Punch magazine, 10 November 1920, depicting Cecil advocating a design for the League of Nations to Warren G. Harding

Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood CH , PC previously known as Lord Robert Cecil (September 14, 1864November 24, 1958) was a lawyer, politician and diplomat in the United Kingdom. He was one of the architects of the League of Nations and a faithful defender of it, whose decades of service to the that organization saw him awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937.

He was a son of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (three times Prime Minister in 1885, 1886–1892, and 1895–1902).

The education that Robert absorbed at home until he was thirteen was superior and far more interesting, he wrote in his autobiography, than that in the four years that followed, at Eton College. He enjoyed his undergraduate days at University College, Oxford, where he won renown as a debater. After several terms of reading law, he was admitted to the Bar (permitted to practise as a barrister), in 1887, at the age of twenty-three. He was fond of saying that his marriage to Lady Eleanor Lambton two years later was the cleverest thing he had ever done. From 1887 to 1906, Cecil's career was a legal one, involving most of the forms of common law, occasional efforts in Chancery, and a steadily increasing parliamentary practice. He also collaborated in writing a book, entitled Principles of Commercial Law.

In 1906, Cecil was elected as a member of the Conservative Party to the House of Commons, representing East Marylebone from 1906 to 1910. He lost two elections in the next year, and then won as an Independent Conservative in 1911 as member for the Hitchin Division of Hertfordshire, remaining in the Commons until 1923.

Fifty years old at the outbreak of World War I, Cecil went to work for the Red Cross, but with the formation of the coalition government in 1915, he became Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for a year, served as Minister of Blockade from 1916 to 1918, being responsible for devising procedures to bring economic and commercial pressure against the enemy, and early in 1918 became assistant secretary of state for foreign affairs.

In September, 1916, he circulated a memorandum making proposals for the avoidance of war, which he says was the "first document from which sprang British official advocacy of the League of Nations."

From the inception of the League, after World War I, to its demise in 1946, a span of almost thirty years, Cecil's public life was almost totally devoted to the League. At the Paris Peace Conference, he was the British representative in charge of negotiations for a League of Nations; from 1920 through 1922, he represented the Dominion of South Africa in the League Assembly; in 1923 he made a five-week tour of the United States, explaining the League to American audiences; from 1923 to 1924, with the title of Lord Privy Seal (to hold which office he was created Viscount Cecil of Chelwood), and from 1924 to 1927, with that of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he was the minister responsible, under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Secretary, for British activities in League affairs.

During a naval conference of 1927 in Geneva, negotiations broke down after the United States refused to agree to the British argument that Britain needed a minimum of seventy cruisers to adequately defend the British Empire and its trade and communications. The cutting of British cruisers to fifty from seventy was proposed by the Americans in return for concessions over the size of cruisers and the calibre of their guns. Lord Cecil was part of the British delegation at Geneva and resigned from his government post because the British government let the conference to break down rather than reduce the number of Britain's cruisers.

Although an official delegate to the League as late as 1932, Cecil worked independently to mobilize public opinion in support of the League. He was president of the British League of Nations Union from 1923 to 1945, and joint founder and president, with a French Jurist, of the International Peace Campaign, known in France as Rassemblement universel pour la paix. Among his publications during this period were The Way of Peace (1928), a collection of lectures on the League; A Great Experiment (1941), a personalized account of his relationship to the League of Nations; and All the Way (1949), a more complete autobiography.

Lord Cecil's career brought him many honours. In addition to his peerage, he was created Companion of Honour in 1956, was elected chancellor of the University of Birmingham (1918–1944) and rector of the University of Aberdeen (1924–1927), was given the Peace Award of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in 1924 and, most significantly, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937. He was presented with honorary degrees by the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Liverpool, St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Princeton, Columbia, and Athens.

In the spring of 1946, he participated in the final meetings of the League at Geneva, ending his speech with the sentence: "The League is dead; long live the United Nations!" He was eighty-one. He lived for thirteen more years, occasionally occupying his place in the House of Lords, and supporting international efforts for peace through his honorary life presidency of the United Nations Association. He on died 24 November 1958, and his title died with him, as he left no heirs.

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Political offices
Preceded by:
Austen Chamberlain
Lord Privy Seal
1923–1924
Succeeded by:
John Robert Clynes
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by:
New Creation
Viscount Cecil of Chelwood
1924–1958
Succeeded by:
Extinct
ca:Robert Cecil of Chelwood

de:Robert Cecil, 1. Viscount Cecil of Chelwood es:Robert Cecil eo:Robert Cecil no:Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil

Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood

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