Dean Acheson
Overview
 
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 in the administration of President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Acheson helped design the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 and played a central role in the development of the Truman Doctrine
Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere...

 and creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Acheson's most famous decision was convincing President Truman to intervene in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 in June 1950.
Quotations

I am willing to join in your statement on the ground that I feel about the future of the United States whenever the President starts out on his travels the way the Marshal of the Supreme Court does when he opens a session of that Court. You will recall that he ends up his liturgy by saying "God save the United States for the Court is now sitting."

Grapes from Thorns (1972), p. 67.

Vietnam was worse than immoral — it was a mistake.

Reported in Alistair Cooke, Letter from America: 1946-2004 (2004), p. 378. Sometimes errantly reported in the present tense, e.g. "It is worse than immoral, it's a mistake".

"The experiences of the years...have brought the country, particularly its young people, to a mood of depression, disillusion, and withdrawal from the effort to affect the world."

In response, Acheson wrote to "tell a tale of large conceptions, great achievements...Its hero is the American people."

"Plainly plenty of work was waiting to be done. The question was: would the State Department do it? I proposed to have a shot at finding out."

General Marshall was "impatient with a type of nonsense particularly prevalent in the State Department known as 'kicking the problem around.' All of us who have work with General Marshall have reported a recurring outburst of his: 'Don't fight the problem, gentlemen, solve it!' With him the time to be devoted to analysis of a problem, to balancing 'on the one hand' against 'on the other hand,' was definitely limited. The discussion he wanted was about plans of action "

"I must plead guilty as any of escaping into immediate busywork to keep the far harder task of peering into a dim future, which, of course, should be one of a diplomat's main duties."

"My memory...is of a department without direction, composed of a lot of busy people working hard and usefully but as a whole not functioning as a foreign office. It did not chart a course to be furthered by the success of our arms, or to aid or guide our arms. Rather it seems to have been adrift carried hither and yon by the currents of war or pushed about by collisions with more purposeful craft."

"Among the roles the Budget Bureau (now OMB) was that of constant critic and improver of administration in the federal executive branch. In my day this work had fallen to the products of graduate schools in civil administration. Their ideas...seemed to me theoretical nonsense."

Encyclopedia
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 in the administration of President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Acheson helped design the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 and played a central role in the development of the Truman Doctrine
Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere...

 and creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Acheson's most famous decision was convincing President Truman to intervene in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 in June 1950. He also persuaded Truman to dispatch aid and advisors to French forces in Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

, though in 1968 he finally counseled President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 to negotiate for peace with North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

. During the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

, President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 called upon Acheson for advice, bringing him into the executive committee (ExComm
ExComm
The Executive Committee of the National Security Council was a body of United States government officials that convened to advise President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962...

), a strategic advisory group.

In the late 1940s Acheson came under heavy attack over Truman's policy toward China, and for Acheson's defense of State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 employees (such as Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss was an American lawyer, government official, author, and lecturer. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and U.N. official...

) accused during the anti-Communist Red Scare
Red Scare
Durrell Blackwell Durrell Blackwell The term Red Scare denotes two distinct periods of strong Anti-Communism in the United States: the First Red Scare, from 1919 to 1920, and the Second Red Scare, from 1947 to 1957. The First Red Scare was about worker revolution and...

investigations of Senator Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 and others.

Early life and career

Dean Gooderham Acheson was born in Middletown, Connecticut
Middletown, Connecticut
Middletown is a city located in Middlesex County, Connecticut, along the Connecticut River, in the central part of the state, 16 miles south of Hartford. In 1650, it was incorporated as a town under its original Indian name, Mattabeseck. It received its present name in 1653. In 1784, the central...

. His father, Edward Campion Acheson, was an English-born Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 priest who, after several years in Canada, moved to the U.S. to become Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut. His mother, Eleanor Gertrude Gooderham, was a granddaughter of prominent Canadian distiller William Gooderham (1790–1881), founder of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Like his father, he was a staunch Democrat and opponent of prohibition.

Acheson attended Groton School
Groton School
Groton School is a private, Episcopal, college preparatory boarding school located in Groton, Massachusetts, U.S. It enrolls approximately 375 boys and girls, from the eighth through twelfth grades...

 and Yale College
Yale College
Yale College was the official name of Yale University from 1718 to 1887. The name now refers to the undergraduate part of the university. Each undergraduate student is assigned to one of 12 residential colleges.-Residential colleges:...

 (1912–1915), where he joined Scroll and Key
Scroll and Key
The Scroll and Key Society is a secret society, founded in 1842 at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. It is the wealthiest and second oldest Yale secret society...

 Society, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Delta Kappa Epsilon is a fraternity founded at Yale College in 1844 by 15 men of the sophomore class who had not been invited to join the two existing societies...

 fraternity (Phi chapter). At Groton and Yale he had the reputation of a partier and prankster; he was somewhat aloof but still popular with his classmates. Acheson's well-known, reputed arrogance—he disdained the curriculum at Yale as focusing on memorizing subjects already known or not worth knowing more about—was early apparent. At Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

 from 1915 to 1918, however, he was swept away by the intellect of professor Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.-Early life:Frankfurter was born into a Jewish family on November 15, 1882, in Vienna, Austria, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Europe. He was the third of six children of Leopold and Emma Frankfurter...

 and finished fifth in his class, while rooming with songster Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Cole Albert Porter was an American composer and songwriter. Born to a wealthy family in Indiana, he defied the wishes of his domineering grandfather and took up music as a profession. Classically trained, he was drawn towards musical theatre...

.

During wartime service in the National Guard, in 1917 he married Alice Stanley. She loved painting and politics and served as a stabilizing influence throughout their enduring marriage; they had three children: David, Jane, and Mary. At that time, a new tradition of bright law students clerking for the U.S. Supreme Court had been begun by Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 Justice Louis Brandeis
Louis Brandeis
Louis Dembitz Brandeis ; November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939.He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish immigrant parents who raised him in a secular mode...

, for whom Acheson clerked for two terms from 1919 to 1921. Frankfurter and Brandeis were close associates, and future Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter suggested that Brandeis take on Acheson.

Economic diplomacy

A lifelong Democrat
History of the United States Democratic Party
The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the oldest political party in the United States and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world....

, Acheson worked at a law firm in Washington D.C., Covington & Burling
Covington & Burling
Covington & Burling LLP is an international law firm with offices in Beijing, Brussels, London, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Diego, and Washington, DC. The firm advises multinational corporations on significant transactional, litigation, regulatory, and public policy matters...

, often dealing with international legal issues before Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed him Undersecretary of the United States Treasury in 1933. When Secretary William H. Woodin fell ill, Acheson suddenly found himself acting secretary despite his ignorance of finance. Because of his opposition to FDR's plan to inflate the dollar by controlling gold prices, he was forced to resign in November 1933 and resumed his law practice. In 1939-1940 he headed a committee to study the operation of administrative bureaus in the federal government.

World War II

Brought back as assistant secretary of state in 1941, Acheson implemented much of United States economic policy aiding Great Britain and harming the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

. Acheson implemented the Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 policy that helped re-arm Great Britain and the American/British/Dutch oil embargo that cut off 95 percent of Japanese oil supplies and escalated the crisis with Japan in 1941.

In 1944, Acheson attended the Bretton Woods Conference as the head delegate from the State department. At this conference the post-war international economic structure was designed. The conference was the birthplace of the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was negotiated during the UN Conference on Trade and Employment and was the outcome of the failure of negotiating governments to create the International Trade Organization . GATT was signed in 1947 and lasted until 1993, when it was replaced by the World...

, the last of which would evolve into the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

.

Cold War diplomacy

Later, in 1945, Harry S. Truman selected Acheson as his Undersecretary
Under Secretary of State
The Under Secretary of State, from 1919 to 1972, was the second-ranking official at the United States Department of State , serving as the Secretary's principal deputy, chief assistant, and Acting Secretary in the event of the Secretary's absence...

 of United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

; he retained this position working under Secretaries of State Edward Stettinius, Jr.
Edward Stettinius, Jr.
Edward Reilly Stettinius, Jr. was United States Secretary of State under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, serving from 1944 to 1945....

, James F. Byrnes
James F. Byrnes
James Francis Byrnes was an American statesman from the state of South Carolina. During his career, Byrnes served as a member of the House of Representatives , as a Senator , as Justice of the Supreme Court , as Secretary of State , and as the 104th Governor of South Carolina...

, and George Marshall
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

. And, as late as 1945 or 1946 Acheson sought détente with the Soviet Union. In 1946, as chairman of a special committee to prepare a plan for the international control of atomic energy, he wrote the Acheson–Lilienthal report. At first Acheson was conciliatory towards Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

.

The Soviet Union's attempts at regional hegemony in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and in Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwest Asia or Southwestern Asia are terms that describe the westernmost portion of Asia. The terms are partly coterminous with the Middle East, which describes a geographical position in relation to Western Europe rather than its location within Asia...

, however, changed Acheson's thinking. From this point forward, one historian writes, "Acheson was more than 'present at the creation' of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

; he was a primary architect." Acheson often found himself acting Secretary during the Secretary's frequent overseas trips, and during this period he cemented a close relationship with President Truman. Acheson devised the policy and wrote Truman's 1947 request to Congress for aid to Greece and Turkey, a speech which stressed the dangers of totalitarianism rather than Soviet aggression and marked the fundamental change in American foreign policy that became known as the Truman Doctrine
Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere...

. Acheson designed the economic aid program to Europe that became known as the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

. Acheson believed the best way to contain Stalin's Communism and prevent future European conflict was to restore economic prosperity to Western Europe, to encourage interstate cooperation there, and to help the American economy by making its trading partners richer.

On June 30, 1947 Acheson received the Medal for Merit from President Truman.

In 1949, Acheson was appointed Secretary of State. In this position he built a working framework for containment
Containment
Containment was a United States policy using military, economic, and diplomatic strategies to stall the spread of communism, enhance America’s security and influence abroad, and prevent a "domino effect". A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet...

, first formulated by George Kennan
George F. Kennan
George Frost Kennan was an American adviser, diplomat, political scientist and historian, best known as "the father of containment" and as a key figure in the emergence of the Cold War...

, who served as the head of Acheson's Policy Planning Staff
Policy Planning Staff
The Policy Planning Staff is the chief strategic arm of the United States Department of State. It was created in 1947 by renowned Foreign Service Officer George F...

. Acheson was the main designer of the military alliance NATO, and signed the pact for the United States. The formation of NATO was a dramatic departure from historic American foreign policy goals of avoiding any "entangling alliances."

The White Paper Defense

During the summer of 1949 the state department, headed by Acheson, produced a study of recent Sino-American relations
Sino-American relations
For the article on U.S.-Taiwan relations, see Republic of China – United States relations.Sino-American or People's Republic of China–United States relations refers to international relations between the United States of America and the government of People's Republic of China...

. The document known officially as United States Relations with China with Special Reference to the Period 1944-1949, which later was simply called the China White Paper
White paper
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to...

, attempted to dismiss any misinterpretations of Chinese and American diplomacy toward each other. Published during the height of Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

's takeover, the 1,054 page document argued that American intervention in China was doomed to failure. Although Acheson and Truman had hoped that the study would dispel rumors and conjecture, the paper helped to convince many critics that the administration had indeed failed to check the spread of communism in China.

Korean war

Acheson's speech on January 12, 1950, before the National Press Club did not mention the Korea Peninsula as part of the all-important "defense perimeter" of the United States, an omission that critics subsequently took to mean that the United States would not defend the ROK from communist attack. Critics of Acheson have argued that the speech seemed to say that South Korea was beyond the American defense line, so that American support for the new Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee or Yi Seungman was the first president of South Korea. His presidency, from August 1948 to April 1960, remains controversial, affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the...

 government in South Korea would be limited. Critics later charged that the speech provided Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

 with reason to believe the US would not intervene if they invaded the South. However, evidence from Korean and Soviet archives provides some evidence that Stalin and Kim's decisions were not influenced by Acheson's speech.

The "loss of China" attacks

With the Communist takeover of mainland China in 1949, that country switched from a close friend of the U.S. to a bitter enemy—the two powers were at war in Korea by 1950. Critics blamed Acheson for what they called the "loss of China" and launched several years of organized opposition to Acheson's tenure; Acheson ridiculed his opponents and called this period in his outspoken memoirs "The Attack of the Primitives." Although he maintained his role as a firm anti-communist, he was attacked by various anti-communists for not taking a more active role in attacking communism abroad and domestically, rather than hew to Acheson's policy of containment of communist expansion. Both he and Secretary of Defense George Marshall
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

 came under attack from men such as Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

; Acheson became a byword to some Americans, who tried to equate containment with appeasement. Congressman Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, who later as President would call on Acheson for advice, ridiculed "Acheson's College of Cowardly Communist Containment." This criticism grew very loud after Acheson refused to 'turn his back on Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss was an American lawyer, government official, author, and lecturer. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and U.N. official...

' when the latter was accused of being a Communist spy, and convicted (of perjury for denying he was a spy).

Potential Supreme Court nomination

Acheson came under fire from congressional Republicans for being "soft on communism" at the end of 1950, culminating in their resolving unanimously on December 15, 1950, that he be removed from office. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 Chief Justice
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 Fred M. Vinson
Fred M. Vinson
Frederick Moore Vinson served the United States in all three branches of government and was the most prominent member of the Vinson political family. In the legislative branch, he was an elected member of the United States House of Representatives from Louisa, Kentucky, for twelve years...

 was briefly mentioned as the new Secretary of State and Acheson as the new Chief Justice. This speculation died down when President Truman retained Acheson at the State Department.

Return to private life

He retired as secretary of state on Jan. 20, 1953, and served on the Yale Board of Trustees along with Senator Robert A. Taft, one of his sharpest critics. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1955.

Acheson returned to his private law practice. Although his official governmental career was over, his influence was not. He was ignored by the Eisenhower administration but headed up Democratic Policy Groups in the late 1950s. Much of President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

's flexible response
Flexible response
Flexible response was a defense strategy implemented by John F. Kennedy in 1961 to address the Kennedy administration's skepticism of Dwight Eisenhower's New Look and its policy of Massive Retaliation...

 policies came from the position papers drawn up by this group.

Acheson's law offices were strategically located a few blocks from the White House and he accomplished much out of office. He became an unofficial advisor to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. During the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

, for example, he was dispatched by Kennedy to France to brief French President Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 and gain his support for the United States blockade. Acheson so strongly opposed the final decision merely to blockade that the crusty Cold Warrior resigned from the Executive Committee. (LaFeber 234)
During the 1960s, he was a leading member of a bipartisan group of establishment elders known as The Wise Men
The Wise Men
The Wise Men were a group of government officials and members of the East Coast foreign policy establishment who, beginning in the 1940s, developed the containment policy of dealing with the Communist bloc and crafted institutions and initiatives such as NATO, the World Bank, and the Marshall Plan...

 who initially supported the Vietnam War, but then turned against it at a critical meeting with President Lyndon Johnson in March 1968. He reconciled with his old foe Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 and quietly became a major advisor to Nixon when he was president.

In 1964, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

. In 1970, he won the Pulitzer Prize for History
Pulitzer Prize for History
The Pulitzer Prize for History has been awarded since 1917 for a distinguished book upon the history of the United States. Many history books have also been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography...

 for his memoirs of his tenure in the State Department, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department. The Modern Library
Modern Library
The Modern Library is a publishing company. Founded in 1917 by Albert Boni and Horace Liveright as an imprint of their publishing company Boni & Liveright, it was purchased in 1925 by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer...

 placed the book at #47 on its top 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century.

In 1971, Dean Acheson died of a massive stroke at his farm in Sandy Spring, Maryland
Sandy Spring, Maryland
Sandy Spring, Maryland is an unincorporated community in Montgomery County, Maryland.The community was founded by Quakers who arrived in the early 18th century searching for land where they could grow tobacco and corn. One of the very early land owners in the Sandy Spring area was Richard Snowden,...

, at the age of 78. He was survived by a son, David C. Acheson, and a daughter, Mary Acheson Bundy, wife of William P. Bundy.

Primary sources

  • Acheson, Dean. A Democrat Looks at His Party (1955)
  • Acheson, Dean. A Citizen Looks at Congress (1957)
  • Acheson, Dean. Sketches from Life of Men I Have Known (1961) highly revealing memoir; won the Pulitzer prize; excerpt and text search
  • Acheson, Dean. The Korean War (1971),
  • McLellan, David S., and David C. Acheson, eds. Among Friends: Personal Letters of Dean Acheson (1980)

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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