Mr. Thomas to Mr. Hay.
Stockholm, December 11, 1901.
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that events of exceptional import and interest took place yesterday at Stockholm and Christiania.
December 10, 1901, was the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Bernard Nobel, the great Swedish engineer and inventor, and on yesterday were awarded for the first time the prizes instituted by him in his testament to those persons who have contributed most materially to benefit mankind in the domains of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and in the works of peace.
The prizes were awarded as follows: In physics, to Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen, professor at the University at Munich, the discoverer of the Rontgen rays; in chemistry, to Jacobus Henricus Van’t Hoff, professor at the University of Berlin; in medicine, to Emil von Behring, professor at Halle, the discoverer of the diphtheria serums; in literature, to Sulty-Prudhomme, member of the French Academy; in the works of peace, this prize was divided in two, and awarded in equal parts to Henri Dunant, of Switzerland, the leading spirit in bringing about the Geneva convention and in instituting the Societies of the Red Cross, and to Frederick Passy, national economist, of France.
The first four prizes were given out at Stockholm with impressive ceremonies. The place was the grand hall of the Royal Academy of Music, which was tastefully decorated. This spacious hall was filled with a brilliant gathering of gentlemen and ladies, the leaders in Swedish science, literature, art, and public life, and the occasion was especially honored by the presence of the Crown Prince and other members of the royal family.[Page 498]
The exercises were enlivened by addresses appropriate to the event, and by music and song. The prize diplomas were given out by the Crown Prince in person and were received in person by Professors Rontgen, van’t Hoff, and Behring.
As M. Sully-Prudhomme was unable to be present on account of sickness, the diploma in literature was delivered to the minister for France at Stockholm, to be forwarded by him to M. Sully-Prudhomme.
On the same day the prize in the works of peace, divided in two parts, as above mentioned, was awarded to M. Dunant and M. Passy at Christiania by the Norwegian Storting convened in solemn session.
Each of the five prizes is for the sum of over 150,000 crowns (150,782.23 crowns exactly), or more than $40,000—an amount sufficient of itself to place each recipient in independent circumstances, and to permit him untrammeled to pursue his investigations and life work, which have already been of so great benefit.
Furthermore, five prizes of like, or perhaps greater, amount will be awarded every year on December 10 hereafter forever.
I think it may be said that these prizes, in kind as well as in amount, are unparalleled in the history of science, literature, and humanity, and that the day these prizes were for the first time awarded marks an epoch in the advance of the human race.
Alfred Nobel directed that substantially the whole of his vast fortune be used for the benefit of mankind. Though the discoverer of dynamite, he instituted one of his grand prizes for the works of peace. His beneficence is as broad as humanity. He was more than patriot; he was the friend of the human race. In his last will he directs that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever be paid to nationality, but that the worthiest be awarded the prize, whether he is Scandinavian or not.
Peace to his ashes. His great and enduring work reflects honor upon himself and upon the race from which he sprung.
I have, etc.,