DEAN ACHESON Biography - Polititians


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Dean Gooderham Acheson was born in 1893 and died in 1971. Acheson was an American diplomat, politician, and lawyer. He was appointed Secretary of State in 1949 and developed a policy of using economic and military aid to contain Communist expansion. Dean Acheson played an important role in developing NATO. His attempt to disassociate the USA from Chiang Kai-Shek and seeming breaches of security in his department led to his resignation. He returned to politics advise President Kennedy, particularly over the Vietnam War.


This interview with Acheson from The Truman library site is fairly extensive. Here are a couple of quotes to give a flavour of Acheson’s straight-talking. Firstly:


“You see, you all start with the premise that democracy is some good. I don’t think it’s worth a damn. I think Churchill is right, the only thing to be said for democracy is that there is nothing else that’s any better, and therefore he used to say, “Tyranny tempered by assassination, but lots of assassination.” People say, “If the Congress were more representative of the people it would be better.” I say the Congress is too damn representative. It’s just as stupid as the people are; just as uneducated, just as dumb, just as selfish. You know the Congress is a perfect example, and created to be a perfect example.”


And here’s a second example:


“Two days ago, Monday, former President Sachar of Brandeis University was here and talked about President Truman. He started off by saying, “Let me read you two or three paragraphs here about Mr. Truman, criticize that.”


“And I said, “All right.”


“And he began about how with totally inadequate preparation, education, and everything else, Mr. Truman was turning out to be one of the best Presidents, and went on and said, “What do you think of this?”


“I said, “I think it’s the goddamndest collection of cliches I ever heard in my life, and none of it is true.”


“Well, he said, “You agree that he didn’t have any education.”


“I said, “I don’t agree to that at all; he had a remarkable education.” My younger daughter had TB at 19, after she had been in college one month, and just been married and her husband went off to the war, and she spent five years in Saranac and lost her lung; and in the course of that time she spent in bed she read and read and read and talked to all kinds of people. And she’s far better educated than I am. I went to the best school, the best college, the best law school. That isn’t the way you get educated. The point is what enters into your innards.


“Suppose somebody sits under John Kenneth Galbraith for three years to get an education; a hell of a waste of time. Mr. Truman read every book in the Independence library, which had about 3,500 to 5,000 volumes including three encyclopedias, and he read them all the way through. He took in a hell of a lot more out of that effort, which he took out of farming when he did it, than he would listening to all of this crap that goes on at Yale and Harvard, and perhaps in other places…”