Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1893-04-11
Death 1971-10-12
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

U.S. secretary of state; b. Dean Gooderham Acheson.

From the description of Papers, 1931-1971. (Harry S Truman Library). WorldCat record id: 70939613

Dean Acheson was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on April 11, 1893. After being educated at Yale University (1912-1915) and Harvard Law School (1915-18) he became private secretary to the Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis from 1919 to 1921. A supporter of the Democratic Party, Acheson worked for a law firm in Washington, D.C., before President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him Under Secretary of the Treasury in 1933. During World War II (1941), Acheson served as Assistant Secretary in the Department of State. In 1945 Harry S. Truman selected Acheson as his Under Secretary of State. Over the next two years, Acheson played a role in devising both the Truman Doctrine and the European Recovery Program (ERP), developed a strong personal relationship, with the President often consulting Acheson in the area of foreign policy. Later, Acheson accepted an appointment to the newly created Commission on the Reorganization of the Executive Branch, better known as the Hoover Commission. He was one of four appointments made by Truman to the twelve-member bipartisan commission. He became Truman's Secretary of State in 1949 and served in that position until 1953. Dean Acheson died in Sandy Spring, Maryland, on October 12, 1971.

From the description of Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10580590

Diplomat.

From the description of Reminiscences of Dean Acheson : oral history, 1958. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122308209

From the description of Reminiscences of Dean Acheson : lecture, 1959. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122619581

Dean Gooderham Acheson was born on April 11, 1893, in Middletown, Connecticut. He was a lawyer, author, secretary of state in the Truman administration, and member of the Yale Corporation. Acheson attended Groton, Yale College, and the Harvard Law School. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis before joining the Washington law firm of Covington & Burling. He served for more than twelve years at the U.S. State Department (1941-1953), first as assistant and under secretary of state and then as secretary of state during President Truman's second term. During these years Acheson was instrumental in forging the NATO alliance, the Truman Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan; in developing America's postwar posture towards Germany, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China; and in diplomatic negotiations during the Korean Conflict. Following his retirement as secretary of state, Acheson returned to his law practice, served as advisor to John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon, and wrote several books including the Pulitzer Prize winning Present at the Creation. He died on October 12, 1971.

Dean Gooderham Acheson was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on April 11, 1893, to Edward Campion and Eleanor Gertrude Gooderham Acheson. His father was the Episcopal bishop of Connecticut. Acheson graduated from the Groton School in 1911 and entered Yale University, where he was in the same class (Y1915) with Archibald MacLeish. Acheson would hold his college ties dear, and in later years he would serve as a member of the Yale Corporation and a confidant of President A. Whitney Griswold.

From New Haven, Acheson moved to the challenging intellectual climate of the Harvard Law School. Here he came under the influence of Felix Frankfurter. He received his law degree in 1918 and then worked for two years as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis. In 1921, Acheson joined the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. Acheson would continue to be affiliated with the law firm, or its successors Covington, Burling and Rublee, and Covington, Burling, Acheson and Shorb for the remainder of his life.

In May 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt named Acheson to the post of under secretary of the Treasury. Acheson resigned five months later following a disagreement over Roosvelt's gold-purchasing program and resumed his Washington law practice.

Acheson returned to government service in 1941 as assistant secretary of state for economic policy. In this position he helped manage the Lend-Lease program and he was instrumental in the development of several postwar institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the Bretton Woods agreement, which led to the creation of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).

From 1945 to 1947, Acheson held the post of under secretary, often functioning as the acting secretary of state for the absent James Byrnes. Acheson became a trusted advisor to President Truman and in 1949, following a short term away from the State Department, President Truman asked Acheson to be his secretary of state, replacing George C. Marshall. In this post war period, Acheson became the principal architect of United States' Cold War foreign policy. He helped to forge an alliance between America and Western Europe to oppose the Soviet Union and the expansion of Communism.

Acheson feared that the Soviet Union would be able to expand its sphere of influence over the Middle East, and in 1947 he orchestrated military and economic aid to the governments of Greece and Turkey under what came to be known as the Truman Doctrine. In that same year, he outlined the main points of the Marshall Plan for war-ravaged Europe. Forecasting that political and social upheaval might result if conditions did not improve quickly, Acheson advocated a massive American economic aid package to stabilize and rehabilitate seventeen western and southern European nations.

Acheson also believed that collective defense would be necessary to stop further Soviet advances, and one of his first accomplishments as secretary of state was to facilitate the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). When Communist North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, Acheson immediately labeled this an act of aggression and moved swiftly to secure a United Nations Security Council emergency session resolution condemning the North Korean attack. For the first time an international organization sanctioned a military response to halt an infringement on another country's sovereignty, and American troops, under UN authority and General Douglas MacArthur's direction, entered combat in Korea. War on the Korean peninsula would command the attention of Truman and his advisors for the duration of the administration.

Acheson was a controversial government official and a lighting rod for criticism. During his time in the State Department, the governments in countries in Eastern Europe and China became Communist. Acheson was accused of being "soft on communism." Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy declared that the State Department was harboring communists, and Acheson's refusal to testify against Alger Hiss brought calls for his resignation.

After leaving public office, Acheson continued to voice his opinions on foreign policy through his lectures and writing. He gamely played the role of elder statesman and would serve as an unofficial advisor to the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. His book, Present at the Creation, won a Pulitzer Prize.

In 1917, Acheson had married Alice Stanley. They had three children: Jane Stanley (later wife of Dudley B. W. Brown), David Campion (later husband of Patricia Castles), and Mary Campion (later wife of William P. Bundy). Acheson died suddenly from a stroke at the age of seventy-eight on October 12, 1971.

From the guide to the Dean Gooderham Acheson papers, 1898-1989, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Dean Gooderham Acheson was born on April 11, 1893, in Middletown, Connecticut. He was a lawyer, author, secretary of state in the Truman administration, and member of the Yale Corporation. Acheson attended Groton, Yale College, and the Harvard Law School. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis before joining the Washington law firm of Covington & Burling. He served for more than twelve years at the U.S. State Department (1941-1953), first as assistant and under secretary of state and then as secretary of state during President Truman's second term.

During these years Acheson was instrumental in forging the NATO alliance, the Truman Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan, in developing America's postwar posture towards Germany, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China, and in diplomatic negotiations during the Korean Conflict. Following his retirement as secretary of state, Acheson returned to his law practice, served as advisor to John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon, and wrote several books including the Pulitzer Prize winning Present at the Creation. He died on October 12, 1971.

From the description of Dean Gooderham Acheson papers, 1898-1989 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702153818

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Subjects:

  • Korean War, 1950-1953
  • Presidents--United States
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975
  • presidents
  • Diplomacy
  • German reunification question (1949-1990)
  • Diplomatic and consular service, American
  • Disarmament
  • Diplomats--Interviews
  • World politics--1945-1989
  • Press and politics
  • Law

Occupations:

  • Journalists
  • Lawyers
  • Cabinet officers--United States
  • Public officers
  • Diplomats

Places:

  • Indochina (as recorded)
  • Middle East (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Mexico (as recorded)
  • South Africa (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • South Africa (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Indochina (as recorded)
  • Middle East (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Zimbabwe (as recorded)
  • Zimbabwe (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Mexico (as recorded)