Acheson, Dean Gooderham

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Acheson, Dean Gooderham

(ăch`ĭsən), 1893–1971, U.S. secretary of state (1949–53), b. Middletown, Conn., grad. Yale, Harvard Law School. He was (1919–21) private secretary to Louis BrandeisBrandeis, Louis Dembitz
, 1856–1941, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1916–39), b. Louisville, Ky., grad. Harvard law school, 1877. As a successful Boston lawyer (1879–1916), Brandeis distinguished himself by investigating insurance practices and by
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, became a successful lawyer, and served (1933) as undersecretary of the treasury until he resigned in disagreement with President Franklin D. RooseveltRoosevelt, Franklin Delano
, 1882–1945, 32d President of the United States (1933–45), b. Hyde Park, N.Y. Early Life

Through both his father, James Roosevelt, and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, he came of old, wealthy families.
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's fiscal policy. Having been assistant secretary of state (1941–45) and a key actor in the Bretton Woods ConferenceBretton Woods Conference,
name commonly given to the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held (July 1–22, 1944) at Bretton Woods, N.H., where 730 delegates representing 44 countries endeavored to create the rules for the post–World War II international
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, then undersecretary of state (1945–47), he was appointed (Jan., 1949) secretary of state. Beginning in 1946 Acheson became convinced of the necessity of resisting and restraining the Soviet Union. Under his direction the policy of using foreign economic and military aid to contain Communist expansion, as enunciated in the Truman Doctrine, was developed, and the Marshall PlanMarshall Plan
or European Recovery Program,
project instituted at the Paris Economic Conference (July, 1947) to foster economic recovery in certain European countries after World War II. The Marshall Plan took form when U.S. Secretary of State George C.
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 was implemented. He also played an important role in establishing (1949) the North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO), established under the North Atlantic Treaty (Apr. 4, 1949) by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States.
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Acheson's attempts to dissociate the United States from the Nationalist Chinese regime in Taiwan drew relentless attacks from congressmen of his own party as well as Republicans; his support of U.S. military commitments to South Korea also aroused much criticism. Moreover, his unwillingness to condemn Alger HissHiss, Alger
, 1904–96, American public official, b. Baltimore. After serving (1929–30) as secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Hiss practiced law in Boston and New York City.
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 brought personal abuse as well as attacks on his handling of loyalty and security policy at the Dept. of State. Returning to private practice in 1953, Acheson remained a Democratic spokesman on foreign policy and exerted considerable influence on the Kennedy administration. He wrote A Democrat Looks at His Party (1955), A Citizen Looks at Congress (1957), Power and Diplomacy (1958), Fragments of My Fleece (1971), and three autobiographical works, Morning and Noon (1965), Present at the Creation (1969), and Grapes from Thorns (1972).


See biographies by G. Smith (1972), D. S. McLellan (1976), D. Brinkley (1992), J. Chace (1998), and R. L. Beisner (2006).

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