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John Foster Dulles

In office
January 26, 1953 – April 22, 1959
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Dean Acheson
Succeeded by Christian Herter

In office
July 7, 1949 – November 8, 1949
Preceded by Robert F. Wagner
Succeeded by Herbert H. Lehman

Born February 25, 1888(1888-02-25)
Washington, D.C.
Died May 24, 1959 (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Princeton University
George Washington University Law School
Profession Lawyer, Diplomat, Politician
Religion Presbyterian
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Major

John Foster Dulles (February 25, 1888 – May 24, 1959) served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959. He was a significant figure in the early Cold War era, advocating an aggressive stance against communism throughout the world. He advocated support of the French in their war against the Viet Minh in Indochina and it is widely believed that he refused to shake the hand of Zhou Enlai at the Geneva Conference in 1954. He also played a major role in the Central Intelligence Agency operation to overthrow the democratic Mossadegh government of Iran in 1953 (Operation Ajax) and the democratic Arbenz government of Guatemala in 1954 (Operation PBSUCCESS).


Early life

Born in Washington, D.C., he was one of five children and the eldest son born to Presbyterian minister Allen Macy Dulles and his wife Edith (Foster). His paternal grandfather, John Welsh Dulles, had been a Presbyterian missionary in India. He attended public schools in Watertown, New York. After attending Princeton University, (Phi Beta Kappa, 1908),[1] and The George Washington University Law School he joined the New York City law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he specialized in international law. He tried to join the United States Army during World War I but was rejected because of poor eyesight. Instead, Dulles received an Army commission as Major on the War Industries Board.

Both his grandfather, John W. Foster, and his uncle, Robert Lansing, served as Secretary of State. He was also the older brother of Allen Welsh Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence under Eisenhower. On June 26, 1912, he married Janet Avery, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. One of their sons, Avery Dulles (1918–2008), converted to Catholicism, entered the Jesuit order and became the first American priest to be directly appointed Cardinal. He taught and resided at Fordham University in The Bronx, New York. His other son, John W. F. Dulles (1913–2008), was a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin.[2] His daughter, Lillias Hinshaw (1914–1987), was a Presbyterian minister.

Political career

In 1918, Woodrow Wilson appointed Dulles as legal counsel to the United States delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference where he served under his uncle, Robert Lansing, then Secretary of State. Dulles made an early impression as a junior diplomat by clearly and forcefully arguing against imposing crushing reparations on Germany. Afterwards, he served as a member of the War Reparations Committee at the request of President Wilson. Dulles, a deeply religious man, attended numerous international conferences of churchmen during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1924, he was the defense counsel in the church trial of Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, who had been charged with heresy by opponents in the denomination, a case settled when Fosdick, a liberal Baptist, resigned his pulpit in the Presbyterian Church, which he had never joined. Dulles also became a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, an international law firm. According to Karlheinz Deschner's book The Moloch Dulles ascribed assets of 1 billion dollars to the Nazi party in 1933 after Hitler's election, and according to Stephen Kinzer's 2006 book Overthrow, his firm benefited from doing business with the Nazi regime. Throughout 1934, Dulles was a very public supporter of Hitler. However, the junior partners, led by his brother Allen[3], were appalled by Nazi activities and threatened to revolt if Dulles did not end the firm's association with Hitler et al. In 1935, Dulles closed Sullivan & Cromwell's Berlin office; later he would cite the closing date as 1934, no doubt in an effort to clear his reputation by shortening his involvement with Nazi Germany.[4]

Dulles was a close associate of Thomas E. Dewey, who became the presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the 1944 election and 1948. During the elections Dulles served as Dewey's chief foreign policy adviser. In 1944, as Dewey's adviser, Dulles took an active role in establishing the Republican plank calling for the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine.[5]

In 1945, Dulles participated in the San Francisco Conference and worked as adviser to Arthur H. Vandenberg and helped draft the preamble to the United Nations Charter. He subsequently attended the United Nations General Assembly as a United States delegate in 1946, 1947 and 1950.

Although Dulles has a lasting reputation as a hawk and nuclear weapons proponent, he was strongly opposed to the US atomic attacks on Japan. In the immediate aftermath of the bombings he drafted a public statement that called for international control of nuclear energy under United Nations auspices. Dulles wrote, "If we, as a professedly Christian nation, feel morally free to use atomic energy in that way, men elsewhere will accept that verdict. Atomic weapons will be looked upon as a normal part of the arsenal of war and the stage will be set for the sudden and final destruction of mankind." Dulles never lost his anxiety about the destructive power of nuclear weapons. However, his views on international control and on employing the threat of atomic attack changed in the face of the Berlin blockade, the Soviet detonation of an A-bomb, and the advent of the Korean war, which convinced him that the communist bloc was pursuing expansionist policies.[6]

Dulles was appointed by Dewey to the United States Senate as a Republican from New York on July 7, 1949, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Democrat Robert F. Wagner. Dulles served from July 7, 1949, to November 8, 1949, when a successor, Herbert Lehman, was elected, having beaten Dulles in a special election to fill the senate vacancy.

In 1950, Dulles published War or Peace, a critical analysis of the American policy of containment, which at the time was favored by many of the foreign policy elites in Washington. Dulles criticized the foreign policy of Harry S. Truman. He argued that containment should be replaced by a policy of "liberation". When Dwight Eisenhower became President in January, 1953, he appointed Dulles as his Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, Dulles still carried out the “containment” policy of neutralizing the Taiwan Strait during the Korean War, which had been established by President Truman in the Treaty of Peace with Japan of 1951. He also supervised the completion of the Japanese Peace Treaty, in which full independence was restored to Japan under United States terms.[7]

Secretary of State

Dulles with president Eisenhower in 1956

As Secretary of State, Dulles spent considerable time building up NATO and forming other alliances (the "Pactomania") as part of his strategy of controlling Soviet expansion by threatening massive retaliation in event of a war, as well as building up friendships, including that of Louis Jefferson, who would later write a good-humored biography on Dulles. In 1950, he helped instigate the ANZUS Treaty for mutual protection with Australia and New Zealand. Dulles was strongly against communism, believing it was "Godless terrorism".[8] One of his first major policy shifts towards a more aggressive posture against communism, Dulles directed the CIA at this point now under the directorship of his brother Allen Dulles, in March 1953, to draft plans to overthrow the Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran [3]. This led directly to the Coup d'état via Operation Ajax in support of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.

After the war, the United Nations conducted a lengthy inquiry regarding the status of Eritrea, with the superpowers each vying for a stake in the state's future. Britain, the last administrator at the time, put forth the suggestion to partition Eritrea between Sudan and Ethiopia, separating Christians and Muslims. The idea was instantly rejected by Eritrean political parties as well as the UN.[9] The United States point of view was expressed by its then chief foreign policy advisor John Foster Dulles who said:

From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interests of the United States in the Red Sea Basin and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country [Eritrea] be linked with our ally, Ethiopia.
John Foster Dulles, 1952

A UN plebiscite voted 46 to 10 to have Eritrea be federated with Ethiopia which was later stipulated on December 2, 1950 in resolution 390 (V). Eritrea would have its own parliament and administration and would be represented in what had been the Ethiopian parliament and would become the federal parliament. In 1961 the 30-year Eritrean Struggle for Independence began, following the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I's dissolution of the federation and shutting down of Eritrea's parliament. The Emperor declared Eritrea the fourteenth province of Ethiopia in 1962.[10]

Dulles was also the architect of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) that was created in 1954. The treaty, signed by representatives of Australia, Britain, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States provided for collective action against aggression. In that same year, due to his relationship with his brother Allen Dulles, the Director of CIA and a former member of the Board Of Directors of the United Fruit Company, based in Guatemala, Foster Dulles was pivotal in promoting and executing the CIA-led Operation PBSUCCESS that overthrew the democratically elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán.

Dulles was one of the pioneers of massive retaliation and brinkmanship. In an article written for Life Magazine Dulles defined his policy of brinkmanship: "The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art." His critics blamed him for damaging relations with Communist states and contributing to the Cold War.

Dulles upset the leaders of several non-aligned countries when on June 9, 1956, he argued in one speech that "neutrality has increasingly become an obsolete and, except under very exceptional circumstances, it is an immoral and shortsighted conception."

In 1956, Dulles strongly opposed the Anglo-French invasion of the Suez Canal, Egypt (October–November 1956). However, by 1958, he was an outspoken opponent of President Gamal Abdel Nasser and stopped him from receiving weapons from the United States. This policy seemingly backfired, enabling the Soviet Union to gain influence in the Middle East.

Dulles focused more attention on the Suez Crisis than on the Hungarian revolution, which was occurring simultaneously. He misunderstood the Hungarian reformist leader Imre Nagy. On October 25, 1956, he sent a telegram to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade expressing his fears that the Imre Nagy-János Kádár government might take "reprisals" against the Hungarian "freedom fighters". By the next day, October 26, State Department officials in Washington assumed the worse about Nagy, asserting in a top secret memorandum: "Nagy's appeal for Soviet troops indicates, at least superficially, that there are not any open differences between the Soviet and Hungarian governments".[11][12]

Dulles also served as the Chairman and Co-founder of the Commission on a Just and Durable Peace of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (succeeded by the National Council of Churches), the Chairman of the Board for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1935 to 1952, and was a founding member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Death and legacy

Dulles developed colon cancer for which he was first operated in November, 1956 when it had caused a bowel perforation.[13]. He did well for the next two years but experienced abdominal pain at the end of 1958 and was hospitalized with a diagnosis of diverticulitis. In January 1959, he returned to work, but with more pain and declining health underwent abdominal surgery in February at Walter Reed Hospital when recurrence of the cancer became evident. After recuperation in Florida he returned to Washington, D.C. Dulles received radiation therapy but with further declining health and evidence of bone metastasis he resigned from office on April 15, 1959.[13] He died at Walter Reed Hospital on May 24, 1959, at the age of 71.[14]

Dulles is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[15] He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Sylvanus Thayer Award in 1959. A central Berlin road was (re-)named "John-Foster-Dulles-Allee" in 1959 in the presence of Christian Herter, Dulles' successor as Secretary of State.

The Washington Dulles International Airport (located in Dulles, Virginia) and John Foster Dulles High, Middle and Elementary School in Sugar Land, Texas were all named in honor of Dulles. John Foster Dulles Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio is named in honor of him.[16] Watertown, New York named the Dulles State Office Building in his honor.

In 1954, Dulles was named Man of the Year in Time Magazine.[17]

Carol Burnett first rose to prominence in the 1950s singing a novelty song, "I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles"; more recently, Gil Scott Heron commented "John Foster Dulles ain't nothing but the name of an airport now" in the song "B-Movie." In the book Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, Switters and Case both spit whenever they refer to John Foster Dulles.

Rollback emerged as the Republican party's direct counterpart to the Democrats' containment model. Behind the new strategy stood the idea of taking the offensive to push Communism back rather than just defensively containing it. The crucial initiator of the policy of rollback was John Foster Dulles.[18] Dulles' rollback policy was later implemented by the Reagan Administration during the 1980s and it is sometimes credited with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Communist Bloc in eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union itself.[19][20]

On December 1, 1958, Dulles and Dr. Milton Eisenhower attended Mexico's new president Adolfo Lopez Mateos' inauguration, where Dulles made the candid quote, "The United States of America does not have friends; it has interests". At the time the quote was actually interpreted positively, but has with time become infamous in some sectors due to the country's future foreign policies.


  • Biographies
    • Power and Peace: The Diplomacy of John Foster Dulles by Frederick Marks (1995) ISBN 0-275-95232-0
    • John Foster Dulles: Piety, Pragmatism, and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy by Richard H. Immerman (1998) ISBN 0-8420-2601-0
    • Devil and John Foster Dulles by Hoopes Townsend (1973) ISBN 0-316-37235-8.
    • The actor; the true story of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, 1953-1959 by Alan Stang, Western Islands (1968)
    • The John Foster Dulles Book of Humor by Louis Jefferson (1986), St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-44355-2
    • John Foster Dulles: The Road to Power. by Ronald W. Pruessen (1982), The Free Press ISBN 0-02-925460-4
  • General History
    • Kinzer, Stephen, Overthrow. Henry Holt and Company (2006). ISBN 0-8050-8240-9

See also


  1. ^ John Dulles, Arlington National Cemetery Website, accessed Oct 11, 2009
  2. ^ "90-year-old Still Active at University, The Daily Texan"
  3. ^ Grose, Peter. 1994. Gentleman Spy, The Life of Allen Dulles. Houghton Mifflin. New York.ISBN 0-395-51607-2
  4. ^ Kinzer, Stephen, Overthrow. Henry Holt and Company (2006), p. 114, ISBN 0-8050-8240-9
  5. ^ Isaac Alteras 1993 Eisenhower and Israel: U.S.-Israeli Relations, 1953-1960 University Press of Florida ISBN 0813012058 pp 53-55
  6. ^ Neal Rosendorf, "John Foster Dulles' Nuclear Schizophrenia," in John Lewis Gaddis et al., Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy since 1945 (Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 64-69.
  7. ^ Immerman, Richard H. John Foster Dulles Piety, Pragmatism, and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy (Biographies in American Foreign Policy). New York: SR Books, 1998. p, 37
  8. ^ Nash, Gary B., Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Peter J. Frederick, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana. The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, Combined Volume (6th Edition). New York: Longman, 2007, p 829.
  9. ^ 1950:Eritrea's Future : IN OUR PAGES:100, 75 AND 50 YEARS AGO - International Herald Tribune
  10. ^ Semere Haile The Origins and Demise of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Federation Issue: A Journal of Opinion, Vol. 15, 1987 (1987), pp. 9-17
  11. ^ Johanna Granville, "Caught With Jam on Our Fingers”: Radio Free Europe and the Hungarian Revolution in 1956”, Diplomatic History, vol. 29, no. 5 (2005): pp. 811-839.
  12. ^ Granville, Johanna (2004). The First Domino: International Decision Making During the Hungarian Crisis of 1956. Texas A & M University Press, College Station, Texas. ISBN 1585442984. 
  13. ^ a b Lerner BH. When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2006. p. 81ff. ISBN 0-8018-8462-4. 
  14. ^ UPI< Year in Review,
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ Man of the Year — Jan. 3, 1955 — Page 1
  18. ^ United States and Germany in the era of the Cold War, 1945-1990 a handbook. New York: Cambridge UP, 2004.
  19. ^ Coulter, Ann. 2003. Treason. Crown Forum. New York. pp. 156-157, ISBN 1-4000-5030-8
  20. ^ "Kennan and Containment, 1947". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Robert F. Wagner
United States Senator (Class 3) from New York
Served alongside: Irving Ives
Succeeded by
Herbert H. Lehman
Political offices
Preceded by
Dean Acheson
United States Secretary of State
Served under: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Succeeded by
Christian Herter
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Ernest O. Lawrence
Sylvanus Thayer Award recipient
Succeeded by
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

John Foster Dulles (February 25, 1888May 24, 1959) served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959. He was a significant figure in the early Cold War era, advocating an aggressive stance against communism around the world.


  • We have reconfirmed the unity and firmness of our position, the position expressed in the Joint Communique of the four powers at Paris on December 14th. We do not accept any substitution of East Germans for the Soviet Union in its responsibilities toward Berlin and its obligations to us. We are resolved that our position in, and access to, West Berlin shall be preserved.

External links

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Simple English

John Foster Dulles

United States Secretary of State
In office
1953 – 1959
President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Born February 25, 1888(1888-02-25)
Washington, DC
Died May 24, 1959 (1959-05-24) (age 51)
Nationality American
Political party Republican[1]
Spouse Janet Avery Dulles[2]

John Foster Dulles (25 February 1888—24 May 1959) was a US Secretary of State between 1953 and 1959 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Dulles was born on 25 February 1888 in Washington, DC. He went to public school in Watertown, New York, and also went to three different colleges. In 1908, he graduated from Princeton University, went to the Sorbonne in Paris for two years, and after this learned law at the George Washington University until 1911. That same year, he became a lawyer in New York City.[1]

He was part of the US Army in World War I in 1917 and 1918. After the war, he served as part of many groups involved in world and economic issues.[1]

On 7 July 1949, he became part of the United States Senate after Robert F. Wagner left the Senate. Dulles was part of the Senate until 8 November 1949, when an election for the position was held and he lost. In 1950, he was made a US representative to the United Nations.[1]

In 1953, he bacame Secretary of State, and served as such until 15 April 1959, when he left the position because of cancer.[1][2] He died on 24 May 1959.[2]

Awards and honors

In 1954, Dulles was named the "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine.[3] He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1959, just before he died.[2] Washington Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia is named for Dulles, as is the community of Dulles, Virginia


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "DULLES, John Foster, (1888 - 1959)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "John Foster Dulles". Arlington National Cemetary website. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  3. "THE NATION: Man of the Year". Time Magazine. 3 Jnauary 1955.,9171,892871-1,00.html. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 


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