John Foster Dulles

John Foster Dulles

Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Death 24 May 1959 (aged 71)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 21 Lot 31 Grid M/N-20.5
Memorial ID 306 · View Source
Suggest Edits

US Senator and Secretary of State. A member of the Republican Party, he served as US Senator from New York briefly from July to November 1949 and the 52nd US Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from January 1953 until April 1959. He was a significant political figure in the early Cold War era, advocating an aggressive stance against communism throughout the world. His father was a Presbyterian minister and the family moved to Watertown, New York where he attended public schools. He attended Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey and graduated in 1908, and then attended The George Washington Law School in Washington DC. Upon graduating from law school and passing the bar examination, he joined the New York City law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he specialized in international law. After the US entered World War I in April 1917 he tried to join the US Army, but was rejected because of poor eyesight. However, he received an Army commission as a major on the War Industries Board. In 1918 he was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson as legal counsel to the US delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference where he served under his uncle, US Secretary of State Robert Lansing. He 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 and 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. He then returned to Sullivan & Cromwell and became a partner with an international practice, specializing in international finance. During the 1920s he was involved in setting up a billion dollars' worth of loans to German states and private companies, for which the money was invested and the profits sent as reparations to England and France, which used the funds to repay their own war debts from the US. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, his previous practice brokering and documenting international loans ended and after 1931 Germany stopped making some of its scheduled payments. In 1935, with the Nazis in power, Sullivan & Cromwell's junior partners forced him to cut all business ties with Germany. A prominent Republican and a close associate of Thomas E. Dewey, who became the Republican presidential candidate in the elections of 1944 and 1948, he served as Dewey's chief foreign policy adviser. In 1944 he took an active role in establishing the Republican plank calling for the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. In July 1949 New York Governor Dewey appointed him to the US Senate from New York, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Democrat Robert F. Wagner. In November of that year he lost the special election to fill the senate vacancy to Democrat Herbert Lehman. In 1950 he 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. When Dwight Eisenhower became the US President in January 1953, he was appointed and confirmed as his Secretary of State. In that position he 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. Additionally, he supervised the completion of the Japanese Peace Treaty, in which full independence was restored to Japan under US terms. He 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. He was also a founding member of Foreign Policy Association and Council of Foreign Relations. During his term as US Secretary of State, he built up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and formed 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. He also helped to formulate the Australia, New Zealand, US (ANZUS) Treaty for mutual protection with Australia and New Zealand. In 1954 he 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 US, provided for collective action against aggression. He was named Time magazine's Man of the Year for 1954. In November 1956 he was strongly opposed to the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in response to the Suez Crisis and by 1958 he had become an outspoken opponent of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and prevented him from receiving arms from the US. He developed colon cancer for which he was first operated in November 1956 when it had caused a bowel perforation. Later, he 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 the following month when the cancer's recurrence became evident. Following his recuperating in Florida, he returned to his post and radiation therapy. However, with further declining health and evidence of bone metastasis, he resigned as Secretary of State on April 15, 1959 and died the following month at the age of 71. Following his death, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom and the Sylvanus Thayer Award. The Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia was named in his honor. In 1960 the US Post Office Department issued a commemorative stamp in his honor. His younger brother Allen Welsh Dulles served as Director of Central Intelligence under President Eisenhower. His youngest son Avery Robert Dulles, converted to Roman Catholicism, entered the Jesuit order, and became the first American theologian to be appointed a Cardinal.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

Family Members




How famous was John Foster Dulles?

Current rating:

118 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 306
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Foster Dulles (25 Feb 1888–24 May 1959), Find a Grave Memorial no. 306, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .