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Public Servant


On this date in 1925, Warren Christopher was born in Scranton, North Dakota. He attended the University of Southern California, where he graduated magna cum laude. During World War II he served in the Navy. After the war, he graduated from Stanford Law School, and went on to serve as law clerk to Justice William O. Douglas. He later practiced with a law firm in California, and in 1958 became special counsel to Governor Pat Brown. In 1977, he was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of State, a position he held until 1981. He was instrumental in many delicate political negotiations including the Algiers Accords, relations with China, and ratification of the Panama Canal treaties. President Jimmy Carter awarded Christopher the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981. He also received the Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official.

From 1993 to 1997, Christopher was President Clinton’s Secretary of State. In 1993, he arranged a signing ceremony for the peace agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In 1994, he committed what is seen as his greatest foreign policy mistake when the United States failed to act quickly and decisively to address the Rwandan Genocide. Also in 1994, Christopher worked with Senator John McCain to normalize relations with Vietnam. In 1995, he negotiated peace talks between Serbia and Croatia.

After his retirement, Christopher continued to serve his country. He supervised the contested Florida recount for Al Gore in the 2000 election. He was on the Advisory Board for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering bipartisanship in Congress. With former Secretary of State James A. Baker, Christopher served as co-chair of the National War Powers Commission. He also taught a course on international affairs at UCLA.

Warren Christopher died at his home in Los Angeles on March 18, 2011. He was survived by his wife and four children. He was widely recognized for his long and valuable public service. Jimmy Carter called him “the finest public servant I ever knew.” President Obama said Christopher was a “resolute pursuer of peace.” Out of all his awards and honorary degrees, Christopher was especially proud of the Roughrider Award bestowed upon him by his native state.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

CBS News "http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-secretary-of-state-warren-christopher-dies/" http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-secretary-of-state-warren-christopher-dies/ Accessed August 1, 2014

U.S. Department of State "http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/biographies/christopher.html" http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/biographies/christopher.html Accessed August 1, 2014

Washington Post "http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/former-secretary-of-state-warren-christopher-dies-at-85/2010/09/21/ABCPk6t_story.html%20Accessed%20August%201" http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/former-secretary-of-state-warren-christopher-dies-at-85/2010/09/21/ABCPk6t_story.html Accessed August 1 , 2014