Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Gardner Cox (American, 1906-1988)
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 34 1/4 in x 24 1/4 in; 86.995 cm x 61.595 cm
This portrait of Dean Acheson, which was painted from life, was purchased by the Department of State from Mr. Cox on January 13, 1950.
Signed "Gardner Cox 1950"
Credit Line
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number


Dean Gooderham Acheson (1893–1971) was born in Middletown, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale College and Harvard Law School, practicing law until appointed under secretary of the treasury by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. In 1941, Acheson began his career at the Department of State, serving as assistant secretary and under secretary before he was appointed secretary of state by President Harry S Truman in 1949.

As secretary, Acheson played an important role in shaping U.S. policy during the early Cold War. He supported the containment of communism, recognizing that the Soviet Union, as an ideological opponent, was a challenge to U.S. interests in the world. He supported the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, a defensive alliance to counter Soviet expansionism in Europe. During Acheson’s tenure the threat of communism grew, with the Soviets detonating their first atomic bomb, the fall of mainland China to communist forces in 1949, and communist North Korea’s invasion of democratic South Korea, igniting the Korean War.

At the end of the Truman administration Acheson returned to his private law practice, but he continued to influence U.S. foreign policy. He was called back to serve on the Executive Committee created by President John F. Kennedy to address the Cuban Missile Crisis and later as an adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson on the Vietnam War.