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John Foster Dulles
Senator John Foster Dulles (R-NY).jpg
52nd United States Secretary of State
In office
January 26, 1953 – April 22, 1959
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Dean Acheson
Succeeded by Christian Herter
United States Senator
from New York
In office
July 7, 1949 – November 8, 1949
Appointed by Thomas E. Dewey
Preceded by Robert F. Wagner
Succeeded by Herbert H. Lehman
Personal details
Born (1888-02-25)February 25, 1888
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Died May 24, 1959(1959-05-24) (aged 71)
Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Janet Pomeroy Avery
(1891 - 1969)
Children Avery Dulles
John W. F. Dulles
Lilias Dulles Hinshaw
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 Republican 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 negotiated numerous treaties and alliances that reflected this point of view. He advocated support of the French in their war against the Viet Minh in Indochina but rejected the Geneva Accords that France and the Communists agreed to, and instead supported South Vietnam after the Geneva Conference in 1954.

Early life[edit]

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 (née Foster). His paternal grandfather, John Welsh Dulles, had been a Presbyterian missionary in India. His maternal grandfather, John W. Foster doted on Dulles and his brother Allen. The brothers attended public schools in Watertown, New York.

Dulles attended Princeton University and graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1908.[1] At Princeton, Dulles competed on the American Whig-Cliosophic Society debate team.[2] He then attended The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.

Marriage and family relationships[edit]

Both his grandfather Foster and his uncle Robert Lansing, the husband of Eleanor Foster, had held the position of Secretary of State. His younger brother Allen Welsh Dulles served as Director of Central Intelligence under President Eisenhower, and his younger sister Eleanor Lansing Dulles was noted for her work in the successful reconstruction of the economy of post-war Europe during her 20 years with the State Department.

On June 26, 1912, Dulles married Janet Avery with whom he had two sons and a daughter. Their older son John W. F. Dulles (1913–2008) was a professor of history and specialist in Brazil at the University of Texas at Austin.[3] Their daughter Lillias Dulles Hinshaw (1914–1987) became a Presbyterian minister. Their son Avery Dulles (1918–2008) converted to Roman Catholicism, entered the Jesuit order, and became the first American theologian to be appointed a Cardinal.


Early legal career[edit]

Upon graduating from law school and passing the bar examination, Dulles joined the New York City law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he specialized in international law. After the start of World War I, Dulles tried to join the United States Army, but was rejected because of poor eyesight. Instead, Dulles received an Army commission as Major on the War Industries Board. Dulles later returned to Sullivan & Cromwell and became a partner with an international practice.


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, Secretary of State Robert Lansing. 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 Wilson's request. He was also an early member, along with future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, of the League of Free Nations Association, founded in 1918 and after 1923 known as the Foreign Policy Association, which supported American membership in the League of Nations.

As a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell, Dulles expanded upon his late grandfather Foster's expertise, specializing in international finance. He played a major role in designing the Dawes Plan, which reduced German reparations payments and temporarily resolved the reparations issue by having American firms lend money to German states and private companies. Under that compromise, the money was invested and the profits sent as reparations to Britain and France, which used the funds to repay their own war loans from the U.S. In the 1920s Dulles was involved in setting up a billion dollars' worth of these loans.

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 his denomination (the event which sparked the continuing Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy in the international Christian Churches over the literal interpretation of Scripture versus the newly developed "Historical-Critical" method including recent scientific and archeological discoveries). The case settled when Fosdick, a liberal Baptist, resigned his pulpit in the Presbyterian Church congregation, which he had never joined.


After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Dulles' previous practice brokering and documenting international loans ended. After 1931 Germany stopped making some of its scheduled payments. In 1934 Germany unilaterally stopped payments on private debts of the sort that Dulles was handling.[citation needed] In 1935, with the Nazis in power, Sullivan & Cromwell's junior partners forced Dulles to cut all business ties with Germany. Dulles was then prominent in the religious peace movement and an isolationist, but the junior partners were led by his brother Allen, so he reluctantly acceded to their wishes.[4][5]


Dulles was a prominent Republican and a close associate of Thomas E. Dewey, who became the Republican presidential candidate in the elections of 1944 and 1948. During the elections Dulles served as Dewey's chief foreign policy adviser. In 1944, Dulles took an active role in establishing the Republican plank calling for the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine.[6]

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

Dulles strongly opposed 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:[7]

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, but 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. These convinced him that the communist bloc was pursuing expansionist policies.[8]

Governor Dewey appointed Dulles to the United States Senate 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. He lost the special election to fill the senate vacancy to Democrat Herbert Lehman.


In 1950, Dulles published War or Peace, a critical analysis of the American policy of containment, which at the time the foreign policy elite in Washington favored, particularly in the Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman, whose foreign policy Dulles criticized. Dulles instead advocated a policy of "liberation".

Secretary of State[edit]

Dulles with President Eisenhower in 1956

When Dwight Eisenhower became President in January, 1953, Dulles was appointed and confirmed 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. Dulles also supervised the completion of the Japanese Peace Treaty, in which full independence was restored to Japan under United States terms.[9]

As Secretary of State, Dulles spent considerable time building up NATO and forming other alliances (a phenomenon described as his "Pactomania") as part of his strategy of controlling Soviet expansion by threatening massive retaliation in event of a war. In 1950, he worked alongside Richard Nixon to reduce the French influence in Vietnam as well as asking the United States to attempt to cooperate with the French in the aid of strengthening Diem's Army. Over time Dulles concluded that it was time to "ease France out of Vietnam".[10] In 1950 he also helped instigate the ANZUS Treaty for mutual protection with Australia and New Zealand.

Dulles strongly opposed communism, believing it was "Godless terrorism".[11] One of his first major policy shifts towards a more aggressive position against communism occurred in March 1953, when Dulles supported Eisenhower's decision to direct the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), then headed by his brother Allen Dulles, to draft plans to overthrow the Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran.[12] This led directly to the coup d'état via Operation Ajax in support of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.

In 1954, Dulles became the architect of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). 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 1953-54 Dulles supported Eisenhower's decision to use the CIA to help rebels in Guatemala overthrow the government, which Washington thought was veering toward Communist control. Dulles played a minor role.[13]

Dulles was named Time's Man of the Year for 1954.[14]

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."[15] Dulles' hard-line alienated many leaders in the non-aligned movement, many of whom were upset 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."[16] Throughout the 1950s Dulles was in frequent conflict with those non-aligned statesmen he deemed excessively sympathetic to Communism, including India's V.K. Krishna Menon.

In November 1956, Dulles was strongly opposed to the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in response to the Suez Crisis, although during the most crucial days he was hospitalized after surgery and did not participate in U.S. decision-making.[17] By 1958 Dulles had become an outspoken opponent of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and prevented him from receiving arms from the United States. This policy enabled 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, Dulles 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 worst 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".[18][19]

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 (later the National Council of Churches), the Chairman of the Board for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1935 to 1952. Dulles was also a founding member of Foreign Policy Association and Council of Foreign Relations.

Death and legacy[edit]

Dulles developed colon cancer for which he was first operated in November 1956 when it had caused a bowel perforation.[20] He experienced abdominal pain at the end of 1958 and was hospitalized with a diagnosis of diverticulitis. In January 1959, Dulles returned to work, but with more pain and declining health underwent abdominal surgery in February at Walter Reed Hospital when the cancer's recurrence became evident. After recuperating in Florida, Dulles returned to Washington for work and radiation therapy. With further declining health and evidence of bone metastasis, he resigned from office on April 15, 1959.[20]

Dulles died at Walter Reed on May 24, 1959, at the age of 71.[21] Funeral services were held in Washington National Cathedral on May 27, 1959, and Dulles was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.[22]

Dulles was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom and the Sylvanus Thayer Award in 1959. A central West Berlin road was named John-Foster-Dulles-Allee in 1959 with a ceremony attended by Christian Herter, Dulles' successor as Secretary of State.

The Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia and John Foster Dulles High, Middle, and Elementary Schools in Sugar Land, Texas were named in his honor, as is John Foster Dulles Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio.[23] New York named the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown, New York in his honor. In 1960 the U.S. Post Office Department issued a commemorative stamp honoring Dulles.

Carol Burnett rose to prominence in the 1950s singing a novelty song, "I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles".[24]

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.[25] 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.[26][27]

This quote is sometimes attributed to Dulles: "The United States of America does not have friends; it has interests." The words were spoken by Charles De Gaulle, but when Dulles traveled to Mexico in 1958, anti-American protesters held up signs reading "The U.S. has no friends, only interests."[28]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Dulles, Arlington National Cemetery Website, accessed Oct 11, 2009
  2. ^ "Freshman Debate". Daily Princetonian. May 19, 1905. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  3. ^ "90-year-old Still Active at University", The Daily Texan
  4. ^ Peter Grose, Gentleman Spy, The Life of Allen Dulles (1994), pp 91-3, 119-22
  5. ^ Ronald W. Pruessen, John Foster Dulles: The Road to Power (1982), pp. 115, 123
  6. ^ Isaac Alteras, Eisenhower and Israel: U.S.-Israeli Relations, 1953–1960 (University Press of Florida, 1993), ISBN 0-8130-1205-8, pp 53–55
  7. ^ John Lewis Gaddis (1999). Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945. Oxford University Press. p. 65. 
  8. ^ Neal Rosendorf, "John Foster Dulles' Nuclear Schizophrenia," in John Lewis Gaddis et al., Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy since 1945 (Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 64–69
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ Immerman, Richard H.John Foster Dulles: Piety, Pragmatism, and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, 1999), p. 98
  11. ^ Gary B. Nash, et al., The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, Combined Volume (6th Edition). New York: Longman, 2007, p 829
  12. ^ The C.I.A. in Iran
  13. ^ Richard H. Immerman, ed., John Foster Dulles and the Diplomacy of the Cold War (1990), pp. 174-77
  14. ^ TIME.com: Man of the Year – Jan. 3, 1955 – Page 1
  15. ^ Stephen E. Ambrose (2010). Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938, Ninth Revised Edition. Penguin. p. 109. 
  16. ^ Ian Shapiro (2009). Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror. Princeton University Press. pp. 145–. 
  17. ^ Cole Christian Kingseed (1995). Eisenhower and the Suez Crisis of 1956. LSU Press. p. 117. 
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Granville, Johanna (2004). The First Domino: International Decision Making During the Hungarian Crisis of 1956. Texas A & M University Press, College Station, Texas. ISBN 1-58544-298-4. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ UPI< Year in Review, http://www.upi.com/Audio/Year_in_Review/Events-of-1959/Death-of-John-Foster-Dulles/12295509433704-3/
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ Adir, Karin (1988). The Great Clowns of American Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 51–2. 
  25. ^ United States and Germany in the era of the Cold War, 1945–1990 a handbook. New York: Cambridge UP, 2004.
  26. ^ Coulter, Ann. 2003. Treason. Crown Forum. New York. pp. 156–157, ISBN 1-4000-5030-8
  27. ^ "Kennan and Containment, 1947". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  28. ^ "Dulles in Rio". New York Times. August 10, 1958. 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Robert F. Wagner
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from New York
Served alongside: Irving Ives
Succeeded by
Herbert H. Lehman
Political offices
Preceded by
Dean Acheson
U.S. 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.

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Foster_Dulles — Please support Wikipedia.
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12128 videos foundNext > 

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John Foster Dulles Speech on Korea

I am providing this video for informational and historical purposes. I do not share Dulles' views or endorse his policies and actions.

John Foster Dulles

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12128 videos foundNext > 

4641 news items

Dissident Voice
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:33:45 -0700

18 There's definitely something to this as the figures responsible for creating the CIA, men like Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles, were heavily linked to Wall Street.19 This is only logical as the global nature of espionage during World War II ...


Mon, 01 Sep 2014 06:05:20 -0700

After the war, Bush's fellow Nazi sympathizers, brothers Allen and John Foster Dulles, were busy laundering much of the Nazi loot through their New York law firm Sullivan and Cromwell. John Foster ran the State Department, and his brother the newly ...

Center for Research on Globalization

Center for Research on Globalization
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:15:00 -0700

John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State while his brother, Allen Dulles, was director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Federal elections were held in Germany on 5 March 1933. As a result of lavish donations coming in from abroad, the ruling ...
The Recorder
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:36:40 -0700

A recent article in your editorial page described in broad detail the book, “The Brothers,” the actions of Allen Dulles, head of the CIA and his brother John Foster Dulles, head of our state department. It is sickening to even guess how many lives were ...
Alvarado Star
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 08:00:00 -0700

Raised in Brazoria County on the Gulf Coast, Juroska's family moved during his junior high school years to an adjacent county where he graduated from John Foster Dulles High School in the Sugar Land-Dulles ISD. Juroska attended Concordia Lutheran ...

Falls Church News Press

Falls Church News Press
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:16:22 -0700

Try Allen or John Foster Dulles. You'd the closer than where the misdirection is leading now. In the course of the prosecution of World War II and the Korean conflict, U.S. and British intelligence operations – the OSS and then the CIA – learned from ...

New York Times (blog)

New York Times (blog)
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:17:15 -0700

He had a meeting scheduled the next day with John Foster Dulles, then a high-level official at the State Department, and brother to Allen Dulles, who was soon to run covert operations at the C.I.A. While visiting my grandfather, Whittemore borrowed ...
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:30:00 -0700

The Dulles State Office Building in Watertown is named for John Foster Dulles, who served as secretary of state under President Dwight Eisenhower. His brother, Allen, was the first civilian director of the CIA. His sister, Eleanor, was an economic ...

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