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John Foster Dulles

Dulles, John Foster (dŭlˈəs) [key], 1888–1959, U.S. secretary of state (1953–59), b. Washington, D.C.; brother of Allen Dulles, grandson of John Watson Foster, secretary of state under President Benjamin Harrison, and nephew of Robert Lansing, secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson. The Dulles brothers were born into America's political establishment and became extremely influential government officials; they did much to develop and implement America's interventionist foreign policy during the cold war. A graduate (1908) of Princeton, Dulles was admitted (1911) to the bar and was counsel to the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace Conference (1919). He soon achieved prominence as an international lawyer and attended various international conferences in the interwar years. He was appointed (1945) adviser to the U.S. delegation at the San Francisco Conference (1945), and served (1945–49) as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. He was appointed (1949) to finish the unexpired term of Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York, but was defeated (1950) in a general election for the seat. In 1951, as ambassador at large, Dulles negotiated the peace treaty with Japan. Appointed (1953) secretary of state by Dwight D. Eisenhower, he emphasized the collective security of the United States and its allies and the development of nuclear weapons for "massive retaliation" in case of attack. Regarding Communism as a moral evil to be resisted at any cost, he firmly upheld the Chinese Nationalist defense of Matsu and Quemoy off the coast of Communist China and initiated the policy of strong U.S. backing for the South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. Dulles helped develop the Eisenhower doctrine of economic and military aid to maintain the independence of Middle Eastern countries; under its terms U.S. forces were sent to Lebanon in 1958. He resigned from office a month before his death. Dulles wrote War, Peace, and Change (1939) and War or Peace (1950).

See biographies by M. A. Guhin (1972) and T. Hoopes (1973); S. Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (2013); studies by R. Goold-Adams (1962) and L. L. Gerson (1967); R. Drummond and G. Coblentz, Duel at the Brink (1960).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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