Secretaries of State Since WWII

This section gives information on each Secretary of State since World War II.  In addition to brief text and references, video clips on several are also included.



Dean Gooderham Acheson -- 1949-1953

Dean Acheson, who had been the highly-regarded Under Secretary (1945-47) in the early postwar period, returned to the Department of State for President Harry S Truman’s second term. As he put it in his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, he was “present at the creation” of the major instruments and instrumentalities of strength, security and leadership after World War II. He played a key role in the final negotiations creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and secured that treaty’s ratification by the Senate. His brilliance and widespread influence throughout the early years of the Cold War was such that many claimed that Acheson was more responsible for the Truman Doctrine than President Truman and more responsible for the Marshall Plan than George Marshall. A staunch anti-Communist himself, Acheson was faulted by some for not having more vigorously defended the State Department during Senator Joseph McCarthy's attacks on the institution.

  • Acheson, Dean G. Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department. New York: W.W. Norton, Inc., 1969.
  • Beisner, Robert L. Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Brinkley, Douglas Dean Acheson and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: St. Martin Press, 1993.
  • Brinkley, Douglas. Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years 1953-71. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.
  • Chase, James. Acheson: The Secretary of State Who Created the American World. New York: Simon & Shuster, 2002.