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Photograph of Dean Rusk

Rusk, Dean 1909- 1994

David Dean Rusk was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Biography

Photograph of Dean Rusk

Dean Rusk was born in Cherokee County, Georgia. He was educated in Atlanta, leaving school in 1925 to work for two years for a lawyer. Rusk then went to Davidson College in North Carolina, graduating in 1931 and then went to St. John's College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, he received the Cecil Peace Prize in 1933. From 1934 to 1940 he taught at Mills College in Oakland, California. He studied law at the University of California, Berkeley, class of 1940. In World War II he joined the infantry as a reserve captain (he had been a ROTC Cadet Lieutenant Colonel), he served in Burma and ended the war a colonel with the Legion of Merit and Oak Leaf Cluster.

He returned to America to work briefly for the War Department in Washington. He joined the Department of State in February 1945 working for the office of United Nations Affairs. He was made Deputy Under Secretary of State in 1949. He was made Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs in 1950 and played a influential part in the US decision to become involved in the Korean War. However he was a cautious diplomat and always sought international support. Rusk had become a Rockefeller Foundation trustee in April 1950 and in 1952 he left the Department of State in 1952 to succeed Chester L. Barnard as president of the Foundation. On December 12, 1960, Rusk was named Secretary of State, assuming his office in January, 1961.

As Secretary of State he was consistently hawkish, a believer in the use of military action to combat Communism. During the Cuban missile crisis he initially supported an immediate military strike, but he soon turned towards diplomatic efforts. His public defense of US actions in the Vietnam War made him a frequent target of anti-war protests. Outside of communism he continued his Rockefeller Foundation ideas of aid to developing nations and also supported low tariffs to encourage world trade.

Following his retirement, he taught international law at the University of Georgia in Athens (1970-1984).

He was the longest serving Secretary of State other than Cordell Hull.

He married Virginia Foisie in 1937 and they had three children.

Popular Documents

October 18, 1962

Telegram from Polish Embassy in Washington (Drozniak), 18 October 1962

Drozniak discusses the possibility of US military action against Cuba, as well as Cuba's foreign relations with the USSR and the US.

October 28, 1966

The Issue of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in the Conversations of Comrade Gromyko with US Government Officials During the 21st Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA)

This document includes accounts of several conversations between Soviet officials and US diplomats, including Andrei Gromyko for the Soviets, and Dean Rusk and Arthur Goldberg for the Americans. The most pressing topic discussed during these meetings was figuring out mutually acceptable language to mollify Soviet demands that the NPT contain explicit prohibitions on the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear countries not just directly but through a military alliance, namely, NATO, remembering previous US attempts to nuclearize NATO through the Multilateral Force (MLF). Some attention is paid to fears not just of the Soviet Union but the US and other NATO allies as well about the FRG acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition to the focus on the semantic differences in the Soviet and American drafts of the NPT, the document emphasizes that one key area of common ground between the Soviets and Americans is the importance that an agreement be reached sooner rather than later before more countries acquire nuclear capabilities.

October 20, 1962

Telegram from Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko to the CC CPSU

Gromyko relays the results of a meeting with Dean Rusk where the two discuss Cuba, issues in Latin America and American acts or aggression toward Cuba.

October 7, 1966

Note of Conversation between Foreign Minister of the Socialist Republic of Romania Corneliu Manescu and United States Permanent Representative to the UN Arthur Goldberg

Following a Romanian delegation to the 21st Session of the UN General Assembly, the Romanian Foreign Minister summarizes discussions between the Romanian delegation and Arthur Goldberg, US permanent representative to the UN.

December 2, 1962

Confidential Memo from Cuban Mission to the United Nations Concerning Anastas Mikoyan’s Conversations with US President John F. Kennedy (and Secretary of State Dean Rusk), with cover note from Cuban President Dorticos to Foreign Minister Roa

A report from the Cuban Mission to the UN concerning a conversation with Anastas Mikoyan and US President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. The three are mostly focused on discussing US-Latin American diplomatic relations, and concerns over American military presence in Latin America, specifically the US fly-overs. Kennedy continues to reiterate the US's position on 'no US invasion of Cuba.'