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1906 The Nobel Medicine Prize to Golgi and Ramón         ^top^
“in recognition of their work on the anatomy of the nervous system

El médico español Santiago Ramón y Cajal obtiene el premio Nobel de Medicina, compartido con Camillo Golgi.

      Camillo Golgi was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine as early as 1901, when the first prize was awarded. After that, his name came up every year until 1906. Santiago Ramón y Cajal had also been proposed a few times before, usually jointly with Golgi. In 1906 both Golgi and Cajal had proponents, so that it was decided to honor both and for the first time the Nobel Prize was shared between two Laureates.
     At the actual awarding of the 1906 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine it would be stated that it is presented for work accomplished in the field of anatomy. It has been awarded to Professors Camillo Golgi of Pavia and Ramón y Cajal of Madrid in recognition of their work on the anatomy of the nervous system.
      The importance of the field that they have undertaken to explore is obvious since it concerns the nervous system, an organic structure of such paramount importance to the most delicately organized of all living creatures. It is this system which brings us into relation with the outside world, be it that we receive impressions from it which act on our sensory organs and from there transmit themselves to the nervous centres, or be it that by movements or other forms of activity we intervene in the environmental phenomena. This same organic structure provides the basis and instrument for the highest form of activity of all, intellectual work.
      The different parts of the nervous system are all structurally complex, to a greater or lesser degree. The peripheral nerves, which act as transmitters — they may be compared to telegraph wires — are relatively simple as regards structure and pattern. On the other hand, the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, has an extremely complicated structure.
      The central nervous system is connected to the different parts of the body by means of a mass of fibres emanating from the central organ and following the pathways of the nerves which originate from this organ. These fibres may however be divided into several groups according to their specific functions. One group of fibres transmits the impulses which produce muscular contraction. Another group enables the nervous system to control the activity of other organs such as those used in digestion. Still another group transmits to the central organ of the nervous system exterior stimuli registered by the sensory organs or stimuli resulting from changes occurring in the organs of the body itself.
      Even when we are not considering the central nervous system itself it is often extremely difficult to discover the exact pathways of these different groups of fibres and to study each one separately. Within the central system the task is naturally even more difficult, since the nerve fibres are dispersed throughout the system and the fibres corresponding to the different parts of the body intermingle with those which link up the different parts of the central nervous system; moreover, some of these nerves have a long tract and others a shorter tract within the central organ.
      An example can be given of the way in which the nervous system functions in order to demonstrate how complicated this is. Let us suppose that a part of the skin at one of the extremities has suffered a lesion produced by an exterior agent; corresponding nerve endings receive the stimulus. Through the nerve trunk to which the nerve endings belong the irritation spreads and is transmitted to the spinal cord by the dorsal roots of the nerves to the area which is known as the dorsal horns of the cord. Should transmission of the impulse be interrupted at this point, the sensation will not be consciously registered. It can nevertheless give rise to a movement which is described as a reflex action. This proves that communicating pathways must exist by which the impulse is transmitted to cells in the ventral horns of the spinal cord which specifically control muscular activity. The resulting movement appears to be to some extent appropriate to the environmental circumstances, which denotes the existence of some mechanism which coordinates the activity of these motor cells. Even a relatively simple example such as this demonstrates a fairly complex mechanism.
      But a far greater complexity appears if the impulse continues to be transmitted and reaches the centres of consciousness. The impulse progresses along nerve tracts which follow complex pathways until it reaches the surface of the brain, i.e. the cerebral cortex. For consciousness - in man at least - is exclusively located in this area. Until it reaches this area the transmission of the impulse must remain isolated, otherwise, if other pathways corresponding to other parts of the skin become involved, the site of the injury may be incorrectly located. If a painful sensation is eventually perceived, limited to the irritated area of skin, this sensation may in its turn give rise to a number of different activities within the central nervous system. It can give rise to thought and action. In this case, painful sensation can be linked with memory traces from earlier experiences, obtained in various ways and stored in various areas of the brain. This process presupposes a system of connections between different parts of the cerebrum. Finally, stimulation may occur of certain cells in the cerebral cortex which control voluntary and conscious muscular activity. When this occurs these cells produce impulses which provoke muscular reactions appropriate to the circumstances. The mechanism of transmission, which we have briefly outlined correlated with functional phenomena, will, I trust, demonstrate the complexity of the mechanism required for the functioning of the nervous system. Our present knowledge of this mechanism has been acquired in a number of different ways: by research in the field of comparative anatomy, by studying the development of the nervous system, by physiological experimentation, etc. The way which would appear to be leading most directly to better knowledge, i.e. direct anatomical observation, remained impracticable for many years.
      It had been shown that the nervous system contained, apart from blood vessels, etc. a «supporting substance», composed of cells and fibrillar structures, and of nervous elements proper, also composed of filaments and cells which at different places showed a different appearance. The nerve cells which, for good reasons, were considered as stages and foci of the nervous pathways, were found to be concentrated in those areas of the central nervous system which are characterized by grey pigmentation. It was often difficult, however, to distinguish between real nerve cells and cells which made up the supporting substance. It was also known that many nerve cells gave off cellular processes, in varying numbers, among which one in particular, by reason of its special appearance, was believed to give rise to the true nerve fibre. Unfortunately, it was not possible to follow this process for a very long distance along its pathway. As for the other cellular processes, which ramified very quickly, they were the object of guesses rather than direct observation. Our knowledge of nerve fibres was also to a great extent incomplete. In the white areas of the central nervous system grouped nerve fibres were seen, similar in appearance to the peripheral nerve fibres. But to what extent did those of the first group prolong themselves into those of the second group, or link up different centres in the central nervous system? Did these fibres produce ramifications or not? Did they communicate or not with other nerve fibres? Such were the questions which required answers. It should be remembered in particular that almost nothing was known for certain of the relationship between nerve fibres and nerve cells. The central nervous system appeared as a confused mass of filaments, each as fine as the thread of a spider's web, and of microscopic cells armed with cellular processes. It was impossible to isolate the individual components of tissue specimens. Nor was it possible to resort to known staining methods by which, for example, a single nerve cell with its processes could be distinguished as an entity.
      For these reasons Golgi's method of silver impregnation, which met these requirements, must be considered as a fundamental discovery in the field of nerve anatomy. Using his original method, Golgi was also able to demonstrate a number of essential points of the architecture of the central nervous system, as well as many important structural details.
      It was only after many years, however, that attention was paid to his work and its importance recognized. When at last this happened, many scientists began to work in the field of action which Golgi had opened up. One could mention the names of a number of eminent scientists from far and near who, by their important contributions in the field of original studies of the anatomy of the nervous system, have done a great deal for science. First among these we must place someone whose extraordinarily active and successful work in this field has revealed both fundamental factors of great importance and many essential details and who therefore, more than anyone else, has contributed to the recent extensive development of this branch of science. I refer to Mr. Ramón y Cajal.
      By their achievements Professors Camillo Golgi and Ramón y Cajal must be considered as the principal representatives and standard bearers of the modern science of neurology, which is proving so fertile in results. In recognition of their achievements in this field, the Staff of Professors of the Caroline Institute has decided to award to them the 1906 Nobel Prize for Medicine.
      Professor Golgi is the pioneer of modern research into the nervous system. Santiago Ramón y Cajal, by reason of his numerous discoveries and learned investigations, has given the study of the nervous system the form that it has taken at the beginning of the 20th century, and by means of the rich material which his work has given to the study of neuroanatomy, he has laid down a firm foundation for the further development of this branch of science.

Camillo Golgi         ^top^

Nobel Lecture of Golgi.

      Camillo Golgi was born at Corteno near Brescia on 07 July 1843, the son of a physician. He studied medicine at the University of Pavia under Mantegazza, Bizzozero and Oehl. After graduating in 1865 he continued to work in Pavia at the Hospital of St. Matteo. Golgi himself stated that Bizzozero greatly influenced him and his methods of scientific research; at that time most of his investigations were concerned with the nervous system, i.e. insanity, neurology and the lymphatics of the brain. In 1872 he accepted the post of Chief Medical Officer at the Hospital for the Chronically Sick at Abbiategrasso, and it is believed that in the seclusion of this hospital, in a little kitchen which he had converted into a laboratory, he first started his investigations into the nervous system.
      Golgi returned to the University of Pavia as Extraordinary Professor of Histology, went to Siena for a short time, but returned to Pavia and was appointed to the Chair for General Pathology in 1881, in succession to his teacher Bizzozero. He settled down in Pavia for good, and married Donna Lina, a niece of Bizzozero.
      Already while working at the Hospital of St. Matteo, Golgi became interested in the investigation of the causes of malaria and he must be credited for having determined the three forms of the parasite and the three types of fever. After prolonged studies he found a way of photographing the most characteristic phases in 1890.
      Golgi was a famous teacher, his laboratory was open to anyone anxious to do research. He never actually practised medicine, but directed the Department of General Pathology at St.Matteo Hospital where young doctors were trained. He also founded and directed the Istituto Sieroterapico-Vaccinogeno of the Province of Pavia. Golgi was Rector of Pavia University for a long time and was also made a Senator of the Kingdom of Italy.
      He was an old man during the First World War, but assumed the responsibility for a Military Hospital in Pavia, where he created a neuro-pathological and mechano-therapeutical centre for the study and treatment of peripheral nervous lesions and for the rehabilitation of the wounded.
      However, the work of greatest importance which Golgi carried out was a revolutionary method of staining individual nerve and cell structures, which is referred to as the «black reaction». This method uses a weak solution of silver nitrate and is particularly valuable in tracing the processes and most delicate ramifications of cells. Golgi himself was extremely modest and reticent about his work and it is not known when exactly he made this invention. All through his life, however, he continued to work on these lines, modifying and improving this technique.
      Golgi received the highest honours and awards in recognition of his work. He shared the Nobel Prize for 1906 with Santiago Ramón y Cajal for their work on the structure of the nervous system. The Historical Museum at the University of Pavia dedicated a hall to Golgi, where more than 80 certificates of honorary degrees, diplomas and awards are exhibited.
      Golgi married Donna Lina Aletti, previously mentioned. They had no children of their own, but adopted his niece, now Mrs. Carolina Golgi-Papini in Rome. He died at Pavia, where he had lived all his life, on 21 January 1926.

More on the life and discoveries of Camillo Golgi

Santiago Ramón y Cajal         ^top^

Nobel Lecture of Cajal

      Santiago Ramón y Cajal was born on March 1, 1852, at Petilla in Aragon, Spain. As a boy he was apprenticed first to a barber and then to a cobbler. He himself wished to be an artist - his gift for draughtsmanship is evident in his published works. His father, however, who was Professor of Applied Anatomy in the University of Saragossa, persuaded him to study medicine, which he did, chiefly under the direction of his father. (Later, he made drawings for an atlas of anatomy which his father was preparing, but which was never published.) In 1873 he took his Licentiate in Medicine at Saragossa and served, after a competitive examination, as an army doctor.
      He took part in an expedition to Cuba in 1874-75, where he contracted malaria and tuberculosis. On his return he became an assistant in the School of Anatomy in the Faculty of Medicine at Saragossa (1875) and then, at his own request, Director of the Saragossa Museum (1879). On December 6, 1883 he obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Madrid, after having been the day before unanimously nominated Professor of Descriptive and General Anatomy at Valencia. In 1887, after an examination, he was nominated Professor of Histology and Pathological Anatomy at Barcelona and in 1892 he was appointed to the same Chair at Madrid. In 1902 he was appointed Director of the «Investigaciones Biológicas» and of the «Instituto Nacional de Higiene».
      In 1880 he began to publish scientific works, of which the following are the most important: Manual de Histología normal y Técnica micrográfica (1889). A summary of this manual recast with additions, appeared under the title Elementos de Histología, etc. (1897); Manual de Anatomía patológica general (1890). In addition may be cited: Les nouvelles idées sur la fine anatomie des centres nerveux (1894); Textura del sistema nervioso del hombre y de los vertebrados (1899); Die Retina der Wirbelthiere (1894).
      Apart from these works Cajal has published more than 100 articles in French and Spanish scientific periodicals, especially on the fine structure of the nervous system and especially of the brain and spinal cord, but including also that of muscles and other tissues, and various subjects in the field of general pathology. These articles are dispersed in numerous Spanish journals and various specialized journals of other countries (especially French ones). Some articles in Spanish by Cajal and his pupils appear in the Revista Trimestral de Histología normal y patológica (1888 onwards), continuation of them appeared under the title Trabajos del Laboratorio de Investigaciones biologicas de la Universidad de Madrid. Cajal's studies on the structure of the cortex of the brain have been partly grouped together and translated into German by J. Bresler, 1900-1901. Cajal is also the author of Reglas y Consejos sobre Investigacion Cientifica , which appeared in six Spanish editions and was translated into German (1933).
      In 1880 Cajal married Doña Silvería Fañanás García. They had four daughters and four sons.

More on the life and discoveries of Santiago Ramón y Cajal

1993 Death of a 1959 Nobel Medicine laureate,
Severo Ochoa who received the award,
jointly with Arthur Kornberg, “for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid”..

Prize PresentationOchoa's Nobel Lecture.

1993 Severo Ochoa
, bioquímico español,

     Severo Ochoa
was was born at Luarca, Spain, on September 24th, 1905. He is the son of Severo Ochoa, a lawyer and business man, and Carmen de Albornoz. Ochoa was educated in Malaga College, where graduated from high school in 1921. His interest in biology was greatly stimulated by the publications of the great Spanish neurologist, Ramón y Cajal [see above], and he went to the Medical School of the University of Madrid, where he obtained his M.D. degree (with honours) in 1929. While he was at the University he was Assistant to Professor Juan Negrin and he paid, during the summer of 1927, a visit to the University of Glasgow to work under Professor D. Noel Paton.
      After graduating in 1929 Ochoa went, with the aid of the Spanish Council of Scientific Research, to work under Otto Meyerhof at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Medizinische Forschung at Heidelberg. During this period he worked on the biochemistry and physiology of muscle, and his outlook and training were decisively influenced by Meyerhof.
      In 1931, Ochoa was appointed Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Madrid, a post he held until 1935. In 1932 he went to the National Institute for Medical Research, London, where he worked with Dr. H. W. Dudley on his first problem in enzymology.
      Returning to Madrid in 1934, he was appointed Lecturer in Physiology and Biochemistry there and later became Head of the Physiology Division of the Institute for Medical Research, Madrid. In 1936 he was appointed Guest Research Assistant in Meyerhof's Laboratory at Heidelberg, where he worked on some of the enzymatic steps of glycolysis and fermentation. In 1937 he held a Ray Lankester Investigatorship at the Plymouth Marine Biological Laboratory and from 1938 until 1941 he worked on the biological function of vitamin B1 with Professor R. A. Peters at Oxford University, where he was appointed Demonstrator and Nuffield Research Assistant.
      While he was at Oxford he became interested in the enzymatic mechanisms of oxidative metabolism and in 1941 he went to America and worked, until 1942, at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, where he worked with Carl and Gerty Cori on problems of enzymology. In 1942 he was appointed at the New York University School of Medicine. In 1956 he became an American citizen.
      Ochoa's research has dealt mainly with enzymatic processes in biological oxidation and synthesis and the transfer of energy. It has contributed much to the knowledge of the basic steps in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acids, the utilization of carbon dioxide, and the biosynthesis of nucleic acids. It has included the biological functions of vitamin B1, oxidative phosphorylation, the reductive carboxylation of ketoglutaric and pyruvic acids, the photochemical reduction of pyridine nucleotides in photosynthesis, condensing enzyme - which is the key enzyme of the Krebs citric acid cycle, polynucleotide phosphorylase and the genetic code.
      In 1931 Ochoa married Carmen Garcia Cobian.
1903 Death of a 1902 Nobel Literature laureate,
Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen who received the award,
as “"the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A history of Rome”.

Theodor Mommsen, historiador alemán.

     Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903),
the greatest classical historian of the nineteenth century, was born in 1817 in Garding, Schleswig, the son of a Protestant minister. He read law and classics at Kiel from 1838-43, and after a few years in France and Italy and a short career in journalism, he became a professor of law at the University of Leipzig. His involvement in the revolution of 1848-49 led to his dismissal in 1850. After holding academic positions at the universities of Zürich and Breslau he was appointed to the chair of Ancient History at the University of Berlin in 1858. He was permanent secretary of the Prussian Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the seventies he was an active and prominent member of the Prussian Parliament, first as a National Liberal and later as a Liberal.
      Mommsen's many writings — a bibliography up to 1887 lists over 900 items — revolutionized the study of Roman history. He was the general editor of, and chief contributor to, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, the gigantic collection of Roman inscriptions published by the Berlin Academy (1867-1959). This work laid the foundations for a systematic study of Roman government, administration, economics, and finance. Mommsen's books on Roman coinage and on Roman constitutional and criminal law are still classics in their fields. But he was more than a brilliant scholar with a tremendous grasp of detail and a powerful talent of organization. He was a vivid and powerful writer. His passionate involvement in the revolution of 1848-49 deeply affected the point of view of his main work, the incomplete Römische Geschichte (1854-55, 1885). His contempt for the senatorial oligarchy and the «weakling» Cicero, as well as his boundless admiration for the energy and statesmanship of Julius Caesar, for a long time dominated the standard view of the history of that era. The work covers the history of the Roman Republic; a history of the Empire was planned but never written, except for a volume on provincial administration under the Empire.

     The second paragraph of the Nobel statutes states that «Literature» should include not only belles-lettres, «abut also other writings that in form or content show literary value». This definition sanctions the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature to philosophers, writers on religious subjects, scientists, and historians, provided that their work is distinguished by artistic excellence of presentation as well as by the high value of its content.
     In 1902 the Swedish Academy had to make its choice among many brilliant names that had been suggested. In giving the Prize to the historian Theodor Mommsen, whose name had been proposed by eighteen members of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, it has selected one of the most celebrated among them.
      A bibliography of Mommsen's published writings, compiled by Zangemeister on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, contains nine hundred and twenty items. One of Mommsen's most important projects was editing the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (1867-1959), a Herculean task despite the assistance of many learned collaborators, for not only did Mommsen contribute to each of the fifteen volumes but the organization of the total work is his lasting achievement. A veritable hero in the field of scholarship, Mommsen has done original and seminal research in Roman law, epigraphy, numismatics, the chronology of Roman history, and general Roman history. Even an otherwise prejudiced critic admitted that he can speak with equal authority on an Iapygian inscription, a fragment of Appius Caecus, and agriculture in Carthage. The educated public knows him chiefly through his Römische Geschichte (1854-55, 1885), and it is this monumental work in particular that induced the Swedish Academy to award the Nobel Prize to him. The work began to appear in 1854; Volume IV has not yet been published, but in 1885 he brought out Volume V, a masterly description of the state of the provinces under the Empire, a period so close to our own that the descriptions could be made to apply to more recent fields of activity which are mentioned in the Nobel statutes and which one can use as a starting point in assessing the total work of the writer. Mommsen's Römische Geschichte, which has been translated into many languages, is distinguished by its thorough and comprehensive scholarship as well as its vigorous and lively style. Mommsen combines his command of the vast material with acute judgment, strict method, a youthful vigour, and that artistic presentation which alone can give life and concreteness to a description. He knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff, and it is difficult to decide whether one should give higher praise and have more admiration for his vast knowledge and the organizing power of his mind or for his intuitive imagination and his ability to turn carefully investigated facts into a living picture. His intuition and his creative power bridge the gap between the historian and the poet. Mommsen felt this relationship when in the fifth volume of his Roman history he said that imagination is the mother not only of poetry but also of history. Indeed, the similarities are great. Ranke's detached objectivity is reminiscent of Goethe's calm greatness, and England did right in burying Macaulay in the poets' corner of Westminster Abbey.
      In a few bold strokes Mommsen has drawn the character of the Roman people and shown how the Roman's obedience to the state was linked to the obedience of son to father. With extraordinary skill he has unrolled the huge canvas of Rome's development from slight beginnings to world rule. He has shown how with the growth of the Empire new tasks outgrew the old and stubbornly preserved constitution; how the sovereignty of the comitia gradually became a fiction, only incidentally realized by demagogues for their own purposes; how the Senate took care of public affairs in an honourable manner, but how the old aristocratic oligarchy that had once served its purpose failed to meet new demands; how a frequently unpatriotic capitalism abused its powers in political speculations; and how the disappearance of the free peasant led to disastrous consequences for the commonwealth. Mommsen also has demonstrated how the frequent change of consuls hampered the unified and consistent conduct of wars, which led to the prolongation of military commands; how at the same time the generals became increasingly independent and how Caesarism became a necessity for many reasons but especially because of the lack of institutions commensurate with the needs of the actual Empire; and how absolutism in many cases would have caused less hardship than the oligarchic rule. False grandeur vanishes before the uncompromising eye of the historian, the wheat is separated from the chaff and, like his admired Caesar, Mommsen has a clear eye for practical needs and that freedom from illusions which he praised in the conquerors of Gaul.
      Various critics have objected that Mommsen is sometimes carried away by his genius for subjective passionate judgments, especially in his frequently unfavourable remarks concerning the last partisans of dying freedom and the opponents of Caesar, and concerning those who wavered between the parties during those hard times. Objections, perhaps not always totally unjustified, have been raised to Mommsen's admiration of the power of genius even where it breaks the law, as well as to his statement that in history, which has no trials for high treason, a revolutionary can be a farsighted and praiseworthy statesman. On the other hand, it must be emphasized that Mommsen never glorifies brute power, but extols that power which serves the high goals of the state; and one has to record his firmly stated conviction that «praise that is corrupted by the genius of evil sins against the sacred spirit of history.» It has also been remarked that Mommsen occasionally applies to ancient conditions modern terms that cannot fully correspond to them (Junkertum, the Roman Coblenz, Camarilla, Lanzknechte, Marschälle, Sbirren, etc.). But this method of stressing the similarities between historical phenomena of different ages is not a product of Mommsen's imagination but of his learning, which has at its disposal many analogues from various periods of history. If it adds too much colour to the narrative, it also adds freshness. Mommsen, by the way, is not a historical materialist. He admires Polybius, but he blames him for overlooking the ethical powers of man, and for having a too mechanical Weltanschauung. Concerning C. Gracchus, the inspired revolutionary whose measures he sometimes praises and sometimes blames, he says that every state is built on sand unless the ruler and the governed are tied together by a common morality. A healthy family life is to him the core of the nation. He severely condemns the curse of the Roman system of slavery. He has seen how a people that still has energy can be morally strengthened by disaster, and there is a pedagogical truth in his words that just as Athens' freedom was born out of the flames with which the Persians ravaged the Acropolis, so today the unity of Italy resulted from the conflagration that the Gauls caused in Rome.
      Learned, lively, sarcastic, and versatile, Mommsen has shed light on the domestic and foreign affairs of Rome, her religion, literature, law, finances, and customs. His descriptions are magnificent; no reader can forget his accounts of the battles of Lake Trasimene, Cannae, Aleria, and Pharsalus. His character sketches are equally lively. In sharp and clear outlines we see the profiles of the «political incendiary» C. Gracchus; of Marius in his last period «when insanity became a power and one plunged into abysses to avoid giddiness »; of Sulla, in particular, an incomparable portrait that has become an anthology piece; of the great Julius Caesar, Mommsen's Roman ideal; of Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, the victor of Zama - not to mention the lesser figures whose features have been drawn clearly by the master's hand. Römische Geschichte is the finest historical work of the nineteenth century.
      One finds in Mommsen a curious combination of qualities. He is profoundly learned, a sober analyst of sources; yet he can be passionate in his judgments. He describes in great detail and with profound knowledge the inner workings of govemment and the complexities of economics; but at the same time his battle scenes and character sketches are brilliant. He is perhaps above all an artist, and his Römische Geschichte is a gigantic work of art. Belles-lettres, that noble flower of civilization, receives the last mention in Nobel's will; Mommsen will always be counted among its prime representatives. When he delivered the first volume of his Römische Geschichte to the publisher, he wrote, «the labour has been immense», and on the fiftieth anniversary of his doctorate he spoke fervently of the boundless ocean of scholarship. But in his completed work the labour, however great it may have been, has been obliterated as in any true work of art which receives its own form from nature. The reader treads on safe ground, unmolested by the surf. The great work stands before our eyes as if cast in metal. In his inaugural address in Cambridge, Lord Acton justly called Mommsen one of the greatest writers of the present, and from this point of view especially Mommsen deserves a great literary prize. The most recent German edition of Römische Geschichte has just appeared. There are no changes. The work has retained its freshness; it is a monument which, though it may not possess the soft beauty of marble, is as perennial as bronze. The scholar's hand is visible everywhere, but so is the poet's. And, indeed, Mommsen did write poetry in his youth. The Liederbuch dreier Freunde [Songbook of Three Friends] of 1843 is witness that he might have become a servant of the Muses if, in his own words, circumstances had not brought it about that «what with folios and with prose/not every bud turned out a rose». Mommsen the historian was a friend of Theodor Storm and an admirer of Mörike; even in advanced years he translated works by the Italian poets Carducci and Giacosa.
      Arts and Sciences have often shown the capacity to keep their practitioners young in spirit. Mommsen is both a scholar and an artist, and at eighty-five he is young in his works. Even in old age, as late as 1895, he made valuable contributions to the Proceedings of the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
      Mommsen is an old man, but he possesses the fire of youth, and one rarely realizes as clearly as when reading Mommsen's Römische Geschichte that Clio was one of the Muses. That example of pure history aroused our enthusiasm when we were young; it has kept its power over our minds, as we learn when we reread it now in our older days. Such is the power of historical scholarship if it is combined with great art.
1878 Birth of the 1936 Nobel Peace laureate,
Carlos Saavedra Lamas
,

He would receive the award for his promotion of peace as Argentina's Secretary of State, President of the Society of Nations, and Mediator in a conflict between Paraguay and Bolivia.

     The Nobel Peace Prize for 1936 was awarded to Carlos Saavedra Lamas, foreign minister of the Argentine Republic. The prize has thus been given to a statesman.
      Saavedra Lamas' country, Argentina, occupies a leading position in Latin America, a part of the world whose characteristics distinguish it in important respects from the European part where we live. For most of Latin America, Spanish is the common tongue, and the Roman Catholic faith the common religion. The Latin American nations are also united by a political bond, for all twenty have for a long time enjoyed a republican form of government, differing in this fundamental regard from the old Europe of before the World War.
      Latin America has accordingly been spared many of the problems which have beset us here. It does not suffer from the problem of nationalism, nor is there racial conflict with the indigenous Indian population, its absence being largely due to the influence and example of the Catholic missionaries who approached the so-called «primitive» peoples in a spirit of understanding.
      Finally - and this is by no means least important - Latin America is not, like Europe, burdened by the problem of overpopulation, for there is plenty of space in that young world. Along with Finland, our own country is the least densely populated in Europe. Only one of South America's ten countries, Uruguay, is more heavily peopled than Norway and Finland, and even Uruguay has a density of population well below that of Sweden. The consequence is that frontier disputes in South America never become as acute as they do in Europe. In fact, no other part of the world can boast such amicable settlement of boundary disputes - very often achieved by arbitration. Indeed, during the nineteenth century, Latin America became established as the home of arbitration.
      In their struggle to free themselves from Spanish domination, the Latin American states had the support of their great sister republic in the North, the United States. President Monroe in 1823 made his famous declaration that the United States would not permit any part of American territory to be colonized by a European state 1. This declaration was respected, and America thus escaped the fate which overtook Africa and to a certain extent Asia, both of which became the scenes of imperialist struggles between rival European powers.
      The idea of a federation, or at least of organized cooperation between the American republics, soon arose. Simón Bólivar, the Liberator, was a staunch supporter of this idea, and a number of proposals and attempts to form such an association are recorded in the annals of history 2. One finally began to take shape in 1889, when United States Secretary of State James G. Blaine3 called a Pan-American Conference in Washington 4, the first of a series which have since taken place at irregular intervals. The eighth conference opened last week in the capital of Argentina, under the presidency of Carlos Saavedra Lamas. With the passage of time, the conferences have built up an organization which is becoming more closely knit. The Pan American Union has its offices in Washington. It has studied a number of questions of common interest to the American states; among them, public health, the laws relating to intellectual property, and communications - including the construction of a Pan-American railway which will link all countries in America from South to North. The Union has also taken a constant interest in matters pertaining to laws for peace, such as the development of international conciliation and arbitration.
      In its efforts to create solidarity, the Union from the very beginning faced a serious problem: the relations between the powerful North American republic on the one hand and the Latin American republics on the other. The latter suspected that the Pan American Union was merely a convenient cover for the imperialist tendencies of the statesmen in Washington. Blaine himself, the originator of the Union, was in the vanguard of North American imperialism, a policy which was subsequently pursued with particular vigor in the Caribbean. The most pronounced representative of this North American imperialism, Theodore Roosevelt, interpreted Monroe's declaration of 1823 as conferring a right on the United States to see to it that the other states of the Western Hemisphere maintained a well-ordered government which would afford security to the North American business men in their economic ventures and financial investments in these countries. From the Monroe declaration he had extrapolated a Monroe Doctrine which constituted a potential danger to the independence of these states.
      This interpretation drew sharp opposition from the Latin American countries, and Argentina, Saavedra Lamas' homeland and one of Latin America's most powerful and best organized states, became the leader in the fight against intervention.
      Saavedra Lamas began his career as a university professor and from the university he went into politics. In his most important academic work, which has appeared in French, La Crise de la codification et la doctrine argentine de droit international, he mounts a vigorous attack against the policy of intervention, and especially against that form of it which, in his opinion, had been conceived and practiced by the United States. The change in U. S. policy during recent years, at first introduced in a mild form under President Hoover and now pursued obviously and consistently under Franklin Roosevelt6, must be a source of great satisfaction to Saavedra Lamas. This change has led him to play a more active part in the work of the Pan American Union, which is no longer suspected of being merely a camouflage for North American imperialism.
      It is not so much in his academic work that Saavedra Lamas has made his most valuable contribution, but in the political field. He entered political life at a very early age. He was scarcely thirty years old when he was elected a member of Parliament, and by 1917 he was already minister of Justice and Education. As you know, Argentina remained neutral during the World War; unlike most of the Latin American countries, it did not follow the United States into the conflict. Nevertheless, it was invited, along with twelve other neutral countries in Europe, Asia, and America, to join the League of Nations, and at the First Assembly in 1920, it took a highly distinctive position. The Argentine delegates asked that the League Covenant be amended to admit any nation to membership without prior application and without such admission's being subject to a vote. When this proposal was not adopted at once and received no support at all, Argentina withdrew from the Assembly, its seat there remaining vacant for many years to come.
      Nevertheless, Argentina continued to send representatives to the International Labor Conferences, and in 1928 we find Saavedra Lamas not only heading his country's delegation but also being elected president of the conference. In this capacity, he had reason to study the institutions of Geneva in some detail, and so acquired useful preparation for the active part he was to play in international peace politics after February 1932, when he became Argentina's foreign minister, an office which he still holds.
      Some months after he had taken up his new ministerial appointment, a bitter war broke out between Argentina's neighbors, Bolivia and Paraguay 8. This war has constantly claimed his attention. He deployed his efforts in three different but converging directions. He was learned in international law; he was acquainted, through some firsthand experience, with the existing international organizations, the League of Nations and the Pan American Union; and he was familiar with the particular position maintained by the United States on questions of war and peace. So he made a comprehensive attempt to coordinate these three different factors.
      Like the logically thinking «Latin» he is, he began by formulating a theoretical expression of his ideas, working out his Antiwar Pact during his very first year as foreign minister. I
      ts first two articles express, in slightly modified form, the same principles of international law for which the United States has tried to gain recognition: first, the condemnation of all forms of aggressive war - the central point of the Kellogg-Briand Pact 9; and second, the refusal to recognize any territorial expansion or change of boundary unless effected by peaceful means - the so-called «Stimson Doctrine», which, under President Hoover, Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson had formulated during the Manchurian conflict in 1932, and which was afterwards endorsed in the special session of the League of Nations Assembly called as a result of that dispute.
      Thus did Saavedra Lamas seek to secure the invaluable support of the United States for his pact.
      Both the Kellogg Pact and the Stimson Doctrine are simply declarations; that is to say, of purely theoretical nature. Saavedra Lamas' Antiwar Pact goes further: its Article 3 requires the states not involved in a given conflict, in which one or more states violate the obligations stipulated in Articles 1 and 2, to maintain «a common and united attitude» and to employ the political, legal, and economic means provided by international law to put an end to the conflict; they shall have recourse to the influence of public opinion but shall never resort to intervention, either diplomatic or armed, subject to any commitments they may have assumed under other agreements. This last reservation clearly refers to sanctions stipulated by the League of Nations Covenant. Article 4 outlines a conciliation procedure which all signatory nations undertake to follow in settling the dispute.
      The Antiwar Pact, therefore, tries to steer a middle course between the system of the Kellogg Pact and the Stimson Doctrine, which is satisfied to enunciate principles, and the far more rigid system laid down in the League of Nations Covenant. The pact rejects neither system, but opens the way to collaboration between those nations which so far have preferred the first system - especially the United States - and the states which have favored the second - the member states of the League of Nations.
      His efforts to secure acceptance of his pact have proved Saavedra Lamas to be an astute and farsighted diplomat. He first obtained the signatures of six Latin American states at a solemn ceremony which he shrewdly arranged in Rio de Janeiro on 10 October 1933. By this step he won the powerful support of Brazil, the largest of the South American states, which had quit the League of Nations ten years before. Two months later, Saavedra Lamas won approval of the pact from all the American states at a special session of the Seventh Pan-American Conference in Montevideo. U. S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull was present at this conference, as a personal guarantor, so to speak, of the new policy which the United States had inaugurated toward its sister nations on the American continent.
      That same year, 1933, Saavedra Lamas had succeeded in persuading his government to change its attitude toward the League of Nations, from which Argentina had withdrawn thirteen years previously. He was now able to inform the Secretariat in Geneva that henceforth Argentina wished to play an active part in the work of the League of Nations. And since, as everyone knows, there is greater joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine who have no need to repent12, Argentina, too, received its reward. It was immediately elected to the Council of the League, where it kept its seat for the prescribed three years, which ended with the opening of last September's session.
      The Antiwar Pact was officially presented to the League of Nations Council in January, 1934, and was given a reception that must surely have delighted its author. The pact has since been signed by eleven nations outside America, including Norway, and to date five of these have ratified it.
      We can safely assume then that Saavedra Lamas regards his pact as a kind of supplement to the League of Nations Covenant and as a primary means of bringing countries outside the League of Nations into its work to promote peace and prevent war, by imposing less rigid demands on them than those prescribed in the League's Covenant.
      We have evidence of his attitude in the fact that he has submitted his pact to the commission set up by the Assembly of the League of Nations last September to investigate improved ways and means of implementing the principles set forth in the Covenant. There may well be a question of whether Saavedra Lamas' pact will be of decisive importance in the solution of this great problem. The pact becomes operative only when a war has already started; and the vital problem in the prevention of war is to find ways to intervene with peacemaking procedures before the storm of war breaks.
      When the Argentine Antiwar Pact was submitted to the League Council on 18 January 1934, British Foreign Minister Sir John Simon took the opportunity to point out that the pact was of particular interest since the Council had to deal, during the same session, with a serious conflict precisely «in that part of the world occupied by most of the signatory powers».
      Needless to say, Saavedra Lamas had been aware of this fact all along. Paraguay, although among the first states to sign the pact, had never ratified it, and Bolivia did not ratify it until July 1, 1935. So Saavedra Lamas was unable, in the case of these two warring nations, to invoke the pact officially. He had to bide his time. But in May of 1935, he took the very course of action dictated by his own pact, approaching the Brazilian, Chilean, and Peruvian diplomatic representatives in Buenos Aires about setting in motion a common mediatory operation. A conciliation commission was set up, composed of representatives from Argentina, from the three countries already contacted, and from the United States and Uruguay, under the chairmanship of Saavedra Lamas himself; The foreign ministers of both Bolivia and Paraguay were persuaded to take part in the commission's negotiations, and by the twelfth of June, 1935, two protocols had been signed which brought hostilities to an end. The work was later completed when the two belligerents accepted a final settlement stipulating that any disagreement concerning the implementation of the peace treaty should be resolved by the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague.
      It must be recognized that the principles underlying Saavedra Lamas' Antiwar Pact have stood a practical test on South American soil and under his personal leadership.
      As foreign minister and leader of the Argentine delegation, Saavedra Lamas participated in the recent Assembly of the League of Nations. In recognition of his work for peace, the Assembly elected him its president. In his opening address, he alluded to the fact that the six American states, whose work of conciliation he had headed, had succeeded in negotiating an end to the war in South America, and that two of the six, the United States and Brazil, were not members of the League of Nations. He added: «The possibility therefore exists, in a concrete case demanding mediation, of winning the cooperation of nations outside our League. I see this as a significant signpost for the diplomacy of peace. We must regard it not as an isolated or exceptional occurrence but as one which will become the rule.»
      In making this statement, Saavedra Lamas has set a task for the future. He is still in 1936 a man in the prime of life. His recent achievements in the politics of peace gave hope that his unusual energy and singleness of purpose would enable him to contribute even more to the creation of a truly lasting peace between nations. But World War II would start less than 3 years later.


      Born in Buenos Aires, Carlos Saavedra Lamas was a member of the aristocracy of Argentina. A descendant of an early Argentinian patriot, he married the daughter of a president of the Republic. Saavedra Lamas achieved renown not only as foreign minister of Argentina for his practical work in drafting international agreements and in conducting international mediation, but also as a professor for his scholarship in the fields of labor legislation and international law. Saavedra Lamas was a distinguished student at Lacordaire College and at the University of Buenos Aires where he received the Doctor of Laws degree in 1903, summa cum laude. After study in Paris and travel abroad, he accepted a professorship in law and constitutional history at the University of La Plata, where he began the teaching career that was to span more than forty years. Later, he inaugurated a course in sociology at the University of Buenos Aires, taught political economy and constitutional law in the Law School of the university, and eventually served as the president of the university.
      Saavedra Lamas was a leading Argentinian academician in two areas. A pioneer in the field of labor legislation, he edited several treatises on labor legislation in Argentina and on the need for a universally recognized doctrine on the treatment of labor - among them, Centro de legislacíon social y del trabajo (1927) , Traités internationaux de type social (1924), Código nacional del trabajo (three volumes, 1933). In the arena of practical affairs, Saavedra Lamas drafted legislation affecting labor in Argentina, supported the founding of the International Labor Organization in 1919, and presided over the ILO Conference of 1928 in Geneva while serving simultaneously as leader of the Argentine delegation.
      In international law, his other field of major scholarly interest, he published La Crise de la codification et de la doctrine argentine de droit international (1931); and he spoke, wrote, or drafted legislation on many subjects with international ramifications - among them, asylum, colonization, immigration, arbitration, and international peace. His brief Vida internacional, which he wrote at the age of seventy, is an urbane by-product of all this study and experience.
      Saavedra Lamas began his political career in 1906 as director of Public Credit and then became the secretary-general for the municipality of Buenos Aires in 1907. In 1908 he was elected to the first of two successive terms in Parliament. There he initiated legislation regarding coastal water rights, irrigation, sugar production, government finances, colonization, and immigration. His main interest, however, lay in foreign affairs. He provided leadership in saving Argentina's arbitration treaty with Italy, which almost foundered in 1907-1908, and eventually became the unofficial adviser to both the legislature and the foreign office on the analysis and implications of proposed foreign treaties. Appointed minister of Justice and Education in 1915, he instituted educational reforms by integrating the different divisions of public education and by developing a curriculum at the intermediate level for the vocational and technical training of manpower needed in a developing industrial country.
      When General Agustín P. Justo became president of Argentina in 1932, he appointed Saavedra Lamas as foreign minister. In this post for six years, Saavedra Lamas brought international prestige to Argentina. He played an important role in every South American diplomatic issue of the middle thirties, induced Argentina to rejoin the League of Nations after an absence of thirteen years, and represented Argentina at virtually every international meeting of consequence during this period.
      His work in ending the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia (1932-1935) had not only local significance but generalized international importance as well. When he took over the foreign office, he immediately engaged in a series of moves to lay the diplomatic groundwork for a negotiated settlement of this dispute. In 1932 he initiated at Washington the Declaration of August 3 which put the American states on record as refusing to recognize any territorial change in the hemisphere brought about by force. Next, he drew up a Treaty of Nonaggression and Conciliation which was signed by six South American countries in October, 1933, and by all of the American countries at the Seventh Pan-American Conference at Montevideo two months later. In 1935 he organized mediation by six neutral American nations which resulted in the cessation of hostilities between Paraguay and Bolivia. Meanwhile, in 1934, Saavedra Lamas presented the South American Antiwar Pact to the League of Nations where it was well received and signed by eleven countries. Acclaimed for all of these efforts, he was elected president of the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1936.
      After his retirement from the foreign ministry in 1938, Saavedra Lamas returned to academic life, became president of the University of Buenos Aires for two years (1941-1943), and rounded out his career as a professor for an additional three years (1943-1946).
      Saavedra Lamas was known as a disciplinarian in his office, a logician at the conference table, a charming host in his home or his art gallery, a man of sartorial elegance who wore, it is said, the highest collars in Buenos Aires. In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor of France and analogous honors from ten other countries.
      He died on 05 May 1959 from the effects of a brain hemorrhage.
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