Root Mission

views updated


ROOT MISSION. In April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed a mission to go to Russia, chiefly for the purpose of ascertaining whether Russia's active participation in World War I could be continued after the March revolution that had ousted Tsar Nicholas II. The mission, headed by former Secretary of State Elihu Root, arrived in Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg) in June. Greatly under estimating the strength of Nikolai Lenin and the Bolshevik party, the Root mission concentrated on developing contacts with moderates such as Aleksandr Kerenski. The mission thus reached the erroneous conclusion that an American-funded propaganda campaign could keep Russia in the war. The Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917 exposed the flawed strategy behind the Root mission and caught the Wilson administration almost completely unprepared. In March 1918, the Bolsheviks signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which established a separate peace between Russia and Germany, precisely what the Root mission had been intended to prevent in the first place.


Kennan, George F. Russia Leaves the War: Soviet-American Relations, 1917–1920. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989.

Leopold, Richard W. Elihu Root and the Conservative Tradition. Boston: Little, Brown, 1954.

Philip C.Jessup/a. g.

See alsoAnticommunism ; Russia, Relations with .