Acheson, Dean

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Acheson, Dean (Gooderham)

(1893–1971) diplomat, lawyer; born in Middletown, Conn. He was educated at Groton School and Yale, and received his law degree from Harvard in 1918. He served in the navy during World War I, then as private secretary to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1919–21). After serving briefly as undersecretary of the treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933), he returned to private practice before becoming assistant secretary of state (1941–43) and a council member of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) (1943). As undersecretary of state (1945–47), he helped formulate America's Cold War "containment" policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and was closely involved in the creation of the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine. As secretary of state (1947–53) he was instrumental in the creation of NATO, the rebuilding and rearming of Germany, formulation of atomic policy, and the non-recognition of Communist China. He advised Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and recommended withdrawal from Vietnam. His memoirs, Present at the Creation (1969), received a Pulitzer Prize (1970).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.