John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) served as Secretary of State
under Dwight D. Eisenhower
. A lifelong scholar and master of international politics, Dulles led America's State Department through crucial times. He took a very staunch position against Communism
and had no qualms about bringing the United States to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union
. Despite the fact that he insisted on such aggressive policies, he was one of the finest Secretaries of State to this day.
Dulles was born on February 25, 1888, in Washington, D. C. Dulles was in the right family for a career in international politics. His grandfather, John Watson Foster, served as Secretary of State in the administration of Benjamin Harrison. His uncle, Robert Lansing, was Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State. He was introduced to international dealings at a very young age and took quite a liking to it. He was a talented scholar and graduated from Princeton University in 1908. He supplemented this education with studies at George Washington University and the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1911, he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in New York state.
Dulles's first true political assignment was at the Versailles Treaty Conference after World War I. Though he did not have a major role here, he gained valuable experience serving in a very important historical event. In the years that followed, Dulles gained a great reputation as an expert on foreign policy. He became the senior advisor for the United States at the San Francisco Conference in 1945, and served as a United Nations delegate for four years after that. He was viewed very favorably by many Republicans, especially Thomas Dewey. When Dewey ran for President, he intended to make Dulles Secretary of State if elected. He lost that election by a very slim margin to Harry S Truman. Dewey, Governor of New York, appointed Dulles to be a Senator after the resignation of Senator Robert F. Wagner in 1949. Though he served well, Dulles lost his bid for re-election the next year.
Though he was a Republican, Dulles's expertise stretched across party lines. Harry Truman called upon Dulles to negotiate peace with Japan. Dulles handled to situation very well, and retained American rights to use Japanese land for military bases. This became important during the Korean War, which began in 1950. When the Korean War began, Dulles was enthusiastic about America's commitment to stopping Communism. When Truman ordered troops not to invade North Korea, Dulles was confused and disappointed. He felt that this new policy of containment was too weak and that the United States should be more aggressive.
When Dwight D. Eisenhower won the Presidency, he appointed Dulles Secretary of State. He tried his best to make United States foreign policy more aggressive, but more conservative members of the government prevented this. Though Eisenhower had a huge amount of respect for Dulles, he thought that some of Dulles's ideas went a little overboard. Dulles was in favor of developing a massive nuclear arsenal that could wipe out the Soviet Union if necessary. A devout Christian, Dulles thought of Communism as an intense evil and wanted to see it eradicated.
Dulles developed cancer in 1958, and his doctors told him that it would kill him. He continued to serve as Secretary until he became too ill. He died about a month later, on May 24, 1959.