A tribute to Warren Christopher

21 Mar

“Warren was a diplomat’s diplomat – talented, dedicated and exceptionally wise … he understood the subtle interplay of national interests, fundamental values and personal dynamics that drive diplomacy.” – Former President Bill Clinton

Former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher has been called a “resolute pursuer of peace” and he was known as a revered leader.  The great statesman was born in Scranton, N.D. in October 1925, and he lost his battle with cancer last week at the age of 85.

“I was born in a very small town in North Dakota, a town of only about 350 people.  I lived there until I was 13.  It was a marvelous advantage to grow up in a small town where you knew everybody.” – Warren Christopher

Christopher graduated from high school and college in California.  He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve and attended Stanford Law School.  His career began as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, then going into private practice for 17 years before serving as U.S. Deputy Attorney General.

In 1977, Christopher was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of State under the Jimmy Carter administration, and was President Bill Clinton’s first Secretary of State, from 1993 to 1997.

Christopher’s professional work included many achievements.  He was involved in negotiating the Iranian hostage release, relations with China, the Panama Canal treaties and he headed the first interagency group on human rights.  President Carter awarded Christopher with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1981.

Christopher received N.D.’s Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, the state’s highest commendation for present or former North Dakotans, in 1998.  This tribute can be seen in the lower level of North Dakota’s state capitol building.

Governor Jack Dalrymple issued the statement: “Betsy and I extended our deepest condolences to the family of Warren Christopher, a true statesman who was dedicated to making the world a safer place and the United States a stronger nation.  He was a skilled diplomat and a tireless advocate for peace and freedom and will be remembered for the integral role he played in bringing peace to Bosnia and negotiating the release of American hostages in Iran.”


Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Events, History, ND in the News


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3 responses to “A tribute to Warren Christopher


    March 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you for this great tribute– He loved his roots in North Dakota were he grew up with his other siblings– Erine,Dave, Jean.& Lois. He is survived by his two sisters.North Dakota & the world will miss him.

  2. Jeremy

    March 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I didn’t realize Christopher was from ND originally – that’s pretty cool.

    Do you have any more information about where this quote about growing up in ND as a “marvelous advantage” came from? Even though I’m a bit more ambivalent about my North Dakota roots, I’m quite interested to hear his explanation, since it seems to come up a lot in other folks like Teddy Roosevelt, Eric Sevareid, et al.

  3. legendarynd

    March 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you Jeremy. I certainly wish I could have interviewed him personally because the information I have to share I’ve gathered from other sources. Former ND Senator Byron Dorgan has said that Christopher regularly invited the ND delegation in Washington to find out what was happening in his home state, and said that Christopher was enormously proud of his North Dakota roots.

    I loved the statement that Secretary Clinton gave about him on Saturday; so classy. He’ll certainly be missed.


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