John Bassett Moore was born in Smyrna, Delaware, December 3rd 1860. He studied at the University of Virginia and graduated in 1880. He then returned to Wilmington where he read the law and was admitted to the bar in 1883. In 1885 he became a law clerk at the State Department and in 1886, he was made Assistant Secretary of State. In 1891 he became professor of International Law and Diplomacy at Columbia University.
John Bassett Moore studied international law and was active in international affairs all his life. In 1885 he started his first “Digest of International Law”; he was counselor to the Spanish-American Peace Commission of 1898; he represented the United States in the Dominican Arbitration of 1904; and in 1910 was the American representative to the Buenos Aires International Conference. In 1912 he became Justice of the Permanent Court of International Arbitration at The Hague; in 1915 he was the chairman of the International High Commission organized by the Pan-American Financial Congress; in 1923 he was United States Ambassador Extraordinary and president of the International Conference at The Hague. From 1921 to 1928 he was one of the first Judges of the Permanent Court of International Justice.
John Bassett Moore received many honorary degrees of Doctor of Law. In 1927 he received the Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal. Spain honored him with the Grand Cross of Royal Order of Isabel the Catholic (1921); from China he received the White Grand Cordon with red Borders of the Order of the Jade (1938).
In February of 1951 the Society of International Law of the University of Virginia was named in honor of John Bassett Moore. “The society is well named, for it has been said that during his life, John Bassett Moore won a deserved place beside Hugo Grotius, the great Dutch jurist of the 17th Century, sometimes described as the ‘Father of International Law’.” (See: Virginia Journal of International Law, vol. 1, no. 2, p.5)