Cordell Hull

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Secretary Hull

Cordell Hull (October 2, 1871July 23, 1955) served as United States Secretary of State from 1933-1944 under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945.

Born in Pickett County, Tennessee, Hull attended National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio, from 1889 until 1890. He served as delegate to the Tennessee Democratic Convention in 1890. At the age of 19, Hull became the elected Chairman of the Clay County Democratic Party. In 1891, he graduated from Cumberland University Law School and was admitted to the bar the same year. His political career began in the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1893. He served in that body until 1897. During the Spanish-American War Hull served in Cuba as a captain in the Fourth Regiment of the Tennessee Volunteer Infantry.

From 1903 until 1907, Hull served as judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Tennessee. After this, he became a member of the United States House of Representatives where he served 11 terms (1907 - 1921 and 1923 - 1931) totalling 22 years. (During the two years interruption he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.) While a Representative, he fought for low tariffs, and authored the first Federal Income Tax Bill in 1913 (as well as a revision of that bill in 1916) and the Federal and State Inheritance Tax Law in 1916. He left the House for the Senate in 1931, having secured election as a Senator the previous year. In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt chose Hull as his Secretary of State in his first administration. Hull's policies encouraged trade and helped to lower tariffs, and his cautionary approach to the developments in East Asia in the 1930s helped prepare the U.S. government for the impending war with Japan. In his role as Secretary of State, he had a close involvement in the unsuccessful attempt at a peaceful diplomatic resolution with the Empire of Japan in 1940 - 1941. Assessments of Hull's efforts at this time range widely among historians, some lauding his work as strong and necessary, others deriding it as overly aggressive and war-inciting. In 1943, Hull served as United States delegate to the Moscow Conference. He became instrumental in having Wernher von Braun, a German rocket scientist, and his team form the foundation of America's post-war rocketry program, Operation Paperclip, which eventually became one of the foundations of NASA's exploration of space.

Hull achieved general note as one of the conceivers and most ardent supporters of the United Nations. He provided the main impetus pushing the State Department to write the "Charter of the United Nations", which it accomplished by mid-1943. Hull resigned the position of Secretary of State in November, 1944 because of failing health — Roosevelt portrayed Hull upon his departure as "the one person in all the world who has done this most to make this great plan for peace [the United Nations] an effective fact". The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored Hull with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 in recognition of his efforts for peace and understanding in the Western Hemisphere, his many international trade agreements, and his work to establish the United Nations. Many observers believe that Hull's dedication to bipartisanship allowed the Republican Party to support the United States' entry into the United Nations (the Republicans had previously prevented U.S. entry into the League of Nations), and he is often called "Father of the United Nations".

When Hull left the position of Secretary of State in 1944 he had served 11 years, nine months in that position — a longer term as Secretary of State than any other American, before or since. He died at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland on July 23, 1955. Several things bear his name to honor him, notably the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cordell Hull Dam on the Cumberland River near Carthage, Tennessee.



Preceded by:
Henry L. Stimson
United States Secretary of State Succeeded by:
Edward Stettinius Jr.
de:Cordell Hull



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