John Foster Dulles

Most Popular

Washington, D.C.
Birth Sign
Washington, D.C.

John Foster Dulles was a powerful US Secretary of State under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration. He was a vehement anti-Communist and a major figure during the early Cold War era, negotiating a number of alliances and treaties. He backed France’s fight against the Viet Minh, but he opposed the Geneva Accords, which France and other Communist countries signed. He backed South Vietnam after the Geneva Conference. He was a senior partner and an international lawyer with the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm on Wall Street. As a member of the ‘Reparations Commission and Economic Council,’ he attended the ‘Paris Peace Conference.’ During the ‘Japanese Peace Treaty,’ he negotiated as a consultant to President Harry S. Truman, but later grew critical of the administration’s foreign policies. He was instrumental in the founding of the United Nations.

Childhood and Adolescence

John Foster Dulles was born in Washington, D.C., on February 25, 1888, to Allen Macy Dulles and Edith Dulles.
He was born into a family with a long history of political ties. His paternal grandfather, John Welsh Dulles, was a Presbyterian missionary in India while his father was a Presbyterian preacher. Under Benjamin Harrison and Woodrow Wilson, his maternal grandpa John W. Foster and uncle Robert Lansing both served as ‘Secretaries of State.’

He had his early schooling at public schools in Watertown, New York.
In 1908, he enrolled at ‘Princeton University’ and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
He studied for two years at ‘The George Washington University Law School’ in Washington, D.C. after attending the ‘Sorbonne’ in Paris.

John Foster Dulles’s Career

In 1911, John Foster Dulles joined Sullivan and Cromwell, a Wall Street-based international legal company, where he focused on international law.
Due to his bad eyesight, he was unable to join the US Army during World War I. He was, nonetheless, commissioned as a Major of the ‘War Industries Board’ by the Army.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him as a legal adviser to the United States delegation to the ‘Versailles Peace Conference.’ He worked for his uncle, Robert Lansing, who was Secretary of State at the time. He earned a name for himself as a junior ambassador by strongly opposing reparations for Germany. Later, he was a member of the ‘War Reparations Committee.’

He was a founder of the ‘League of Free Nations Associations,’ which eventually became known as the ‘Foreign Policy Association.’ The group pushed for the United States to join the ‘League of Nations.’

In 1920, he joined the law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell, as a partner. He was a key architect of the ‘Dawes Plan,’ which reduced Germany’s restitution payments. He made sure that American corporations lent money to German states and private entities in order to temporarily alleviate the restitution burden. The gains from such investments were paid to France and the United Kingdom as reparation money, which was then utilized by these two countries to repay US war loans.

Dulles was a devout Christian who defended Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick in a church trial in 1924. Fosdick’s opponents accused him of heresy.
He became the head of Sullivan and Cromwell in 1927.
His career of broking and documentation on international loans came to a halt in 1929, following the Wall Street Crash.

After 1931, Germany stopped making many of its scheduled payments, and in 1934, it stopped making payments on private borrowings, which were mostly managed by John Foster Dulles. After the Nazis took control in Germany in 1933, his junior partners at Sullivan & Cromwell, led by his brother Allen, forced him to cut all ties with the country.

During the 1944 and 1948 presidential campaigns, he served as the chief foreign policy adviser to Republican contender Thomas E. Dewey. As a senior Republican, he was instrumental in creating the Republican goal of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine in 1944.

As an assistant to Arthur H. Vandenberg, he attended the ‘San Francisco Conference’ in 1945 and assisted in the development of the ‘United Nations Charter preamble.

He attended the ‘United Nations General Assembly’ in 1946, 1947, and 1950 as a delegate of the United States.
He despised the United States’ atomic assaults on Japan, and under the auspices of the ‘United Nations,’ he published a manifesto supporting international nuclear energy control.

He was appointed by Governor Dewey as an interim U.S. Senator from New York on July 7, 1949, following the resignation of Democrat Robert F. Wagner. He held the position until November 8, 1949, when he was defeated in a special election to replace the vacancy by Democrat Herbert Lehman.

In the late 1940s, he devised the Republican Party’s ‘rollback’ policy in opposition to the Democrats’ ‘containment’ approach in order to combat international Communism. His critical study of America’s ‘containment’ policy, published as ‘War or Peace’ in 1950 during the Democratic President Harry S. Truman’s administration, was praised.

President Dwight Eisenhower appointed John Foster Dulles as the ‘Secretary of State’ in January 1953. He continued former President Harry S. Truman’s ‘containment’ policy, which was established after the Treaty of Peace with Japan to neutralize the Taiwan Strait throughout the Korean War. Under his supervision, the ‘Japanese Peace Treaty,’ which restored Japan’s full autonomy under US terms and conditions, was accomplished.

As Secretary of State, he established various accords and alliances, notably NATO and the ANZUS Treaty.
Communism was regarded by him as “Godless Terrorism.” In March 1953, he supported Eisenhower’s decision to authorize the ‘Central Intelligence Agency,’ run by Dulles’ brother Allen, to devise plans to depose Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

He was a proponent of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, which allowed for collective action in the face of the attack in 1954. Representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Thailand signed it.

In November 1956, following the ‘Suez Crisis,’ he fiercely opposed the Anglo-French involvement in the Suez Canal zone.
He stopped Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser from getting weaponry from the United States in 1958.
He was one of the original members of the ‘Council of Foreign Relations.’

He also chaired the ‘Commission on a Just and Durable Peace’ of the ‘Federal Council of Churches in America, subsequently known as the ‘National Council of Churches.’
He was Chairman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a Trustee of the ‘Rockefeller Foundation.’
He was posthumously awarded the ‘Medal of Freedom and the ‘Sylvanus Thayer Award’ in 1959.

Personal History and Legacy

On June 26, 1912, he married Janet Pomeroy Avery.

John W.F. Dulles, his eldest son, was a professor at the ‘University of Texas in Austin. Avery Dulles, his younger son, and a converted Roman Catholic became the first American theologian to be appointed as a Cardinal. Lillias Dulles Hinshaw, his daughter, was a Presbyterian pastor.

His younger brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, was the Director of ‘Central Intelligence.’ His sister Eleanor Lansing Dulles, who worked for the State Department, was instrumental in the successful postwar rehabilitation of Europe’s economy.

Colon cancer was discovered in John Foster Dulles. Over the years, he underwent multiple surgery and treatment, but the return of cancer worsened his health. He died on May 24, 1959, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
His funeral was place on May 27, 1959, in the ‘Washington National Cathedral,’ and he was laid to rest at the ‘Arlington National Cemetery.’

Estimated Net worth

John is one of the wealthiest politicians and one of the most well-known. John Foster Dulles’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


Time Magazine awarded him “Man of the Year” in 1954.
As a symbol of respect, many sites and institutions were named after him, including the ‘Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, the ‘John Foster Dulles Elementary School’ in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the ‘Dulles Avenue’ in Sugar Land, Texas.