John Foster Dulles

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Dulles, John Foster

(dŭl`əs), 1888–1959, U.S. secretary of state (1953–59), b. Washington, D.C.; brother of Allen DullesDulles, Allen Welsh
, 1893–1969, U.S. public official, b. Watertown, N.Y.; brother of John Foster Dulles. The Dulles brothers, born into America's political establishment, became extremely influential governmental figures, and during the cold war they played principal
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, grandson of John Watson FosterFoster, John Watson,
1836–1917, American diplomat, b. Pike co., Ind.; grandfather of John Foster Dulles. Foster practiced law (1857–61) at Evansville, Ind., and then served (1861–65) with the Union army in the Civil War.
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, secretary of state under President Benjamin Harrison, and nephew of Robert LansingLansing, Robert,
1864–1928, U.S. Secretary of State (1915–20), b. Watertown, N.Y. An authority in the field of international law, he founded the American Journal of International Law in 1907 and remained an editor of it until his death.
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, 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 warcold war,
term used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist bloc from the end of World War II until 1989. Of worldwide proportions, the conflict was tacit in the ideological differences between communism and
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. 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. WagnerWagner, Robert Ferdinand
, 1877–1953, American legislator, b. Germany. He arrived with his family in the United States in 1885 and grew up in poor surroundings in New York City.
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 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. EisenhowerEisenhower, Dwight David
, 1890–1969, American general and 34th President of the United States, b. Denison, Tex.; his nickname was "Ike." Early Career

When he was two years old, his family moved to Abilene, Kans., where he was reared.
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, 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 MatsuMatsu
or Ma-tsu
, Taiwanese island group, administered as Lienchiang co. (2010 pop 14,604), in the East China Sea, off Fujian prov., China, E of Fuzhou, and c.100 mi (160 km) from Taiwan.
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 and QuemoyQuemoy
, Chin. Chinmen, Kinmen, or Jinmen, Taiwanese island group (2010 pop. 56,703), Taiwan Strait, just off Fujian prov., China, and c.150 mi (240 km) W of Taiwan.
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 off the coast of Communist China and initiated the policy of strong U.S. backing for the South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh DiemDiem, Ngo Dinh
, 1901–63, president of South Vietnam (1955–63). A member of an influential Roman Catholic family, he was a civil servant before World War II and was connected with the nationalists during the war.
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. 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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dulles, John Foster


Born Feb. 25, 1888, in Washington, died there May 24, 1959. US government figure and diplomat; a lawyer by profession.

Dulles was closely linked with influential monopolistic circles and for a number of years (beginning in 1927) headed the large law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which arranged deals, in particular, between American and German monopolies in the 1920’s and 1930’s. He was director of the international monopoly International Nickel Company, a member of the board of directors of the New York City Bank, and chairman of the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation. Dulles began his diplomatic activity in 1907 as secretary to the US delegation at the Second Hague Conference. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20, Dulles was an adviser to the American delegation. In 1924 he participated in drawing up the Dawes plan. After World War II (1939–45) he played a very active role in the preparation of the so-called Marshall Plan and in the organization of the North Atlantic Pact (1949). Between 1953 and 1959 he was US secretary of state. All Dulles’ foreign policy activity was directed against the USSR and the other socialist countries. He initiated and carried out such policies as “[acting] from a position of strength” and “balancing on the brink of war.”


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Dulles, John Foster

(1888–1959) lawyer, diplomat, public official; born in Washington, D.C. (brother of Allen Dulles). A prominent international lawyer, he became President Eisenhower's secretary of state (1953–59). Advocating "Christian" ideals, he was the principal architect of cold war anti-Soviet/Chinese foreign policy. He strengthened NATO, established the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), and authored the "massive retaliation" nuclear weapons policy and "brink of war" diplomacy strategies to "contain" what he considered the moral evil of communism.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.