CORDELL HULL (October 2, 1871 – July 23, 1955) was an American
politician from the
U.S. state of
Tennessee . He is known as the
longest-serving Secretary of State , holding the position for 11 years
(1933–1944) in the administration of President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt during most of
World War II
World War II . Hull received the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1945 for his role in establishing the
United Nations , and
was referred to by President Roosevelt as the "Father of the United
* 1 Life and government
* 2 Early life
* 3 Early national career
* 4 U.S. Senate, Secretary of State
* 5 SS St. Louis incident
United Nations establishment
* 7 Later years
* 8 Legacy
* 9 Fictional appearance or mention
* 10 Notes
* 11 References
* 11.1 Primary
* 11.2 Secondary
* 12 External links
LIFE AND GOVERNMENT
Davis-Hull House in Carthage, Tennessee. The house was built
by merchant Calvin Davis in 1889, and purchased by William Hull (the
father of Cordell Hull) in 1906.
Cordell Hull was born in a log cabin in Olympus,
Tennessee , which is
now part of Pickett County,
Tennessee , but was then part of Overton
County . He was the son of Elizabeth (née Riley) and William Pascal
Hull. He became the elected chairman of the Clay County Democratic
Party at the age of 19.
Hull studied at
National Normal University
National Normal University (later merged with
Wilmington College, Ohio ) from 1889 until 1890 and was admitted to
the bar . In 1891, Hull graduated from
Cumberland School of Law at
Cumberland University . He served in the
Tennessee House of
Representatives from 1893 to 1897. During the
Spanish–American War ,
he served in
Cuba as a captain in the Fourth Regiment of the Tennessee
Hull served 11 terms in the
United States House of Representatives
(1907–1921 and 1923–1931) and authored the federal income tax laws
of 1913 and 1916 and the inheritance tax of 1916. After an electoral
defeat in 1920, Hull served as chairman of the Democratic National
Committee . He was returned to the House in 1922 and was then elected
to the Senate in 1930, but resigned upon being named Secretary of
State in 1933. Hull served for the senate and the house for 30 years
In 1934, Hull was appointed Secretary of State by Franklin D.
Roosevelt; he served 11 years until he retired from public office.
Hull became the underlying force and architect in the creation of the
United Nations , drafting, along with his staff, the United Nations
Charter in mid-1943. He resigned as Secretary of State in November
1944 because of failing health.
Cordell Hull was awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize for
"co-initiating the United Nations".
Hull died after suffering several strokes and heart attacks in 1955
Washington, D.C. , and is buried in the vault of the Chapel of St.
Joseph of Arimathea in the
Washington National Cathedral , which is an
There is now a
Cordell Hull Museum located near his birthplace in
Tennessee , which houses his papers and other memorabilia.
Cordell Hull's boyhood home in Olympus, Tennessee.
Hull was born in Olympus, Pickett County,
Tennessee , third of the
five sons of William Paschal Hull (1840–1923) and Mary Elizabeth
Riley Hull (1841–1903). His brothers were named Orestes (1868),
Sanadius (1870), Wyoming (1875), and Roy (1881).
Hull's father reportedly tracked down and killed a man because of a
blood feud . His mother was a descendant of Isaac Riley who was
granted 200 acres (0.81 km2) in Pickett County near Byrdstown for
Revolutionary War service (this land is still in the family), as well
as Samuel Wood who immigrated from Leicestershire, England on the ship
Hopewell and fought in the Virginia Militia. Hull's mother's family
(Riley-Wood) holds the DAR distinction of the most documented
ancestors to have fought in the Revolutionary War. Hull devoted a
section in his memoirs "Cabin on the Hill" to dispelling an old rumor
that his mother was part Cherokee Indian, and subsequent documented
family history has confirmed his ancestry.
Hull attended college from 1889 until 1890. He gave his first speech
at the age of 16. At the age of 19, Hull became the elected chairman
of the Clay County Democratic Party . In 1891, he graduated from
Cumberland School of Law at
Cumberland University and was admitted to
the bar . He served in the
Tennessee House of Representatives from
1893 to 1897.
Spanish–American War , Hull served in
Cuba as a captain
in the Fourth Regiment of the
Tennessee Volunteer Infantry.
At the age of 45, in 1917 he married a widow Rose Frances (Witz)
Whitney Hull (1875–1954), of an Austrian Jewish family of Staunton,
Virginia; the couple had no children. Mrs. Hull died at age 79, in
Washington, D.C. , in 1954.
EARLY NATIONAL CAREER
Cordell Hull as Secretary of State, from life TIME Magazine in
September 1944, before his resignation (November 30, 1944).
From 1903 to 1907, Hull served as a local judge; later he was elected
United States House of Representatives where he served 11 terms
(1907–1921 and 1923–1931) totaling 22 years. As a member of the
powerful Ways and Means committee , he fought for low tariffs and
claimed authorship of the federal income tax laws of 1913 and 1916 and
the inheritance tax of 1916. After his defeat in the congressional
election of 1920, he served as chairman of the Democratic National
Committee . He was one of several candidates for president at the 1928
Democratic National Convention , which ultimately chose
Al Smith as
nominee. Hull was influential in advising
Albert Gore, Sr. , then a
state legislator, to run for the U.S. Congress in 1938.
U.S. SENATE, SECRETARY OF STATE
Cordell Hull, flanked by, from left, Russell B. Kingman and
Joseph Ward on his right, and, on his left, Homcombe Ward and Richard
Dudley Sears, presided as representative of the U.S. over the drawing
of the matchups of 1938 Davis Cup tie against Japan (with unknown
Japanese representative) in
Washington, D.C. on February 3, 1938.
Hull was elected to the Senate in 1930. In 1933, Roosevelt named him
Secretary of State and appointed him to lead the American delegation
London Economic Conference . Hull strove to enlarge foreign
trade and lower tariffs. In 1943, Hull served as United States
delegate to the Moscow Conference . Signing of the United
States-Canada Trade Agreement. (Seated, L-R) by Cordell Hull, William
L. M. King and
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, on November 16,
In a speech in 1937, Mayor LaGuardia of New York said that
brown-shirted Nazis ought to be featured as the "climax" of a chamber
of horrors in the upcoming World's Fair. The Nazi government organ,
the Angriff , called the Mayor a "Jewish Ruffian" saying he had been
bribed by Jewish and Communistic agents and was a criminal disguised
as an officeholder. In the ensuing exchanges, Hull sent a letter of
regret to Berlin for intemperate comments on both sides, while also
explaining the principle of freedom of speech. As the response of Nazi
propaganda organs rose in pitch, to include characterizing American
women as "prostitutes", Hull sent a letter of protest to Berlin, which
elicited an "explanation" but no apology.
In 1938, Hull engaged in a famous dialog with Mexican Foreign
Minister Eduardo Hay concerning the failure of
Mexico to compensate
Americans who lost farmlands during the Agrarian reforms of the late
1920s. He insisted that compensation must be "prompt, adequate and
effective". Though the Mexican Constitution guaranteed compensation
for expropriation or nationalization , nothing had yet been paid.
While Hay admitted Mexico's responsibility, he replied that there is
"no rule universally accepted in theory nor carried out in practice
which makes obligatory the payment of immediate compensation..." The
so-called "Hull formula" has been adopted in many treaties concerning
international investment, but is still controversial, especially in
Latin American countries, which historically have subscribed to the
Calvo Doctrine , which among other things, suggests that compensation
is to be decided by the host country and that as long as there is
equality between nationals and foreigners and no discrimination, there
cannot be any claim in international law. The tension between the Hull
formula and the
Calvo Doctrine is still of importance today in the law
of international investment. Japanese Ambassador Admiral
Kichisaburō Nomura (left) and
Saburō Kurusu (right)
meet Hull on 17 November 1941, two weeks before the attack on Pearl
Harbor (7 December 1941).
Cordell Hull pursued the "
Good Neighbor Policy " with Latin American
nations, which has been credited with preventing Nazi subterfuge in
that region. Hull and Roosevelt also maintained relations with Vichy
France , which Hull credits with allowing General
Henri Giraud 's
forces to join allied forces in the
North African campaign against
Hull was responsible for
United States foreign relations before and
during the attack on Pearl Harbor . He sent the
Hull note to Japan
prior to the attack, which was formally titled "Outline of proposed
Basis for Agreement Between The
United States and Japan" but had been
part of the United States' attempt to open Chinese markets to U.S.
goods against Japanese interests there.
On the day of the attack, not long after it had begun, Hull received
the news that it was taking place while outside his office the
Kichisaburō Nomura and Japan's special envoy
Saburō Kurusu were waiting to see Hull with a fourteen-part message
from the Japanese government officially notifying of a breakdown in
Edwin T. Layton , at the time chief intelligence
officer to the commander of the Pacific Fleet, recounts:
"Roosevelt advised him not to tell them about the raid but 'to
receive them formally and coolly bow them out'.
"After he had glanced at their copy of the fourteen-part message,
Hull's anger burst forth. 'In all my fifty years of public service,'
he told the astonished diplomats, 'I have never seen such a document
that was more crowded with infamous falsehood and distortion.' Nomura
and Kurusu, who had not been told of the attack, bowed themselves out
in an embarrassed fluster. A department official overheard Hull
muttering under his breath as the door closed, 'Scoundrels and
Hull chaired the
Advisory Committee on Postwar Foreign Policy ,
created in February 1942.
"He was not one of Roosevelt's favorites...The President preferred to
deal with Under Secretary Sumner Welles...As a result,
Welles...usurped many of the Secretary's functions, and Hull did not
attend any of the summit meetings"
Free French Forces of
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle occupied the islands
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon south of Newfoundland in December 1941,
Hull lodged a very strong protest and even went as far as referring to
Gaullist naval forces as "the so-called Free French". His request
to have the Vichy governor reinstated was met with strong criticism in
the American press. The islands remained under the Free French
movement until the end of
World War II
World War II . The 26 United Nations
Flags from Dr. Francisco Castillo Najera, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Manuel Quezon, and the U.S. Secretary of State
Cordell Hull in July
SS ST. LOUIS INCIDENT
In 1939, Hull advised President Roosevelt to reject the SS St. Louis
, a German ocean liner carrying 936 Jews seeking asylum from Germany.
Hull's decision sent the Jews back to Europe on the eve of the Nazi
Holocaust . Many of the passengers were ultimately murdered by the
. . . there were two conversations on the subject between (Secretary
of the Treasury) Morgenthau and Secretary of State Cordell Hull. In
the first, 3:17 PM on 5 June 1939, Hull made it clear to Morgenthau
that the passengers could not legally be issued U.S. tourist visas as
they had no return addresses. Furthermore, Hull made it clear to
Morgenthau that the issue at hand was between the Cuban government and
the passengers. The U.S., in effect, had no role. In the second
conversation at 3:54 PM on June 6, 1939, Morgenthau said they did not
know where the ship was and he inquired whether it was "proper to have
the Coast Guard look for it". Hull responded by saying that he didn't
see any reason why it could not. Hull then informed him that he did
not think that Morgenthau would want the search for the ship to get
into the newspapers. Morgenthau said. "Oh no. No, no. They would
just—oh, they might send a plane to do patrol work. There would be
nothing in the papers." Hull responded, "Oh, that would be all right."
Hull and Chinese Ambassador
Wei Daoming at the State Department
exchanging ratifications of the treaty abolishing extraterritorial
rights of the
United States in China.
In September 1940, First Lady
Eleanor Roosevelt maneuvered with
another State Department official to bypass Hull's refusal to allow
Jewish refugees aboard a Portuguese ship, the
SS Quanza , to receive
visas to enter the U.S. Through Mrs. Roosevelt's efforts, the Jewish
refugees disembarked on September 11, 1940, in Virginia. In a similar
incident, American Jews sought to raise money to prevent the mass
murder of Romanian Jews. However, "In wartime, in order to send money
out of the United States, two government agencies had to sign a simple
release- the Treasury Department under Henry Morgenthau and the State
Department under Secretary Cordell Hull. Morgenthau signed
immediately. The State Department delayed, delayed, and delayed, as
more Jews were dying in the Transnistria camps."
In 1940, Jewish representatives in the USA lodged an official
complaint against the discriminatory policies the State Department was
using against the Jews; the results were fatal: The Secretary of State
gave strict orders to every USA consulate worldwide forbidding the
issuing of visas to Jews ... At the same time a Jewish congressman
petitioned the President , requesting his permission to allow twenty
thousand Jewish children from Europe to enter the USA. The President
totally ignored this petition as well as its sender. (The Australian
Jewish News, 6 May 1994, p. 9 (translated from the Yiddish).
UNITED NATIONS ESTABLISHMENT
Hull was the underlying force and architect in the creation of the
United Nations , as recognized by the 1945 Nobel Prize for Peace, an
honor for which
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated him. During World War
II, Hull and Roosevelt had worked toward the development of a world
organization to prevent a third World War. Hull and his staff drafted
the "Charter of the
United Nations " in mid-1943.
Cordell Hull at the St. Joseph of Arimathea Chapel,
Washington National Cathedral Church.
Hull resigned in November 1944 because of failing health as the
longest-serving Secretary of State, having served 11 years, nine
months in that post. Roosevelt described Hull upon his departure as
"the one person in all the world who has done his 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
Nobel Peace Prize in
1945 in recognition of his efforts for peace and understanding in the
Western Hemisphere , his trade agreements, and his work to establish
the United Nations.
He died on July 23, 1955, at age 83, at his home in Washington, D.C.
, after a lifelong struggle with familial remitting-relapsing
sarcoidosis (often confused with tuberculosis ). He is buried in the
vault of the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea in the Washington
National Cathedral .
Cumberland School of Law 's
Cordell Hull Moot Court
Room—portrait at head of room
Hull's memory is preserved by
Dam on the Cumberland
River near Carthage,
Tennessee . The dam impounds
Cordell Hull Lake ,
covering approximately 12,000 acres (49 km2).
His law school,
Cumberland School of Law , continues to honor him
Cordell Hull Speaker's Forum and the pictured
Moot Court Room.
Cordell Hull commemorative stamp issued in 1964
Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park , near Byrdstown,
Tennessee , was
established in 1997 to preserve Hull's birthplace and various personal
effects Hull had donated to the citizens of Pickett County , including
his Nobel Peace Prize.
A segment of
Kentucky highway routes 90, 63, and 163, from Interstate
Mammoth Cave National Park south to the
Tennessee State Line, is
Cordell Hull Highway".
The Shoreline School District in
Shoreline, Washington , formerly had
Cordell Hull Middle School; it was renamed in the mid-1990s to
Meridian Park Elementary, after a renovation.
Cordell Hull State Office Building . Located at the base of
Capital Hill, Nashville, Tennessee, is a secure 10 story building that
contains the offices of Attorney General, Health and Child Services.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Eisenhower Executive Office Building (formerly the Old Executive
Office Building) in Washington, DC, next to the White House, contains
the ornately decorated "
Cordell Hull Room" on the second floor, which
is used for meetings. The room was Cordell Hull's office when he
served as U.S. Secretary of State.
FICTIONAL APPEARANCE OR MENTION
* Hull is a significant character in the
Worldwar series of science
fiction/alternate history novels by
Harry Turtledove , and also plays
a background role in the same author's
Southern Victory Series volume
American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold .
* Hull was portrayed by veteran actor
George Macready in the 1970
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Charles Trowbridge played Hull in the 1941 film Sergeant
* Hull is one of the presidential cabinet members who are characters
in the musical Annie .
* During the scene at the dinner table in the 2005 film Wedding
Crashers , "Grandma" Mary Cleary (played by actress Ellen Albertini
Dow ) mentions Hull (though only by his cabinet position, rather than
by name) was "her late husband".
* There was a very small chain of hotels named after him (which he
allegedly owned or co-owned) in Middle
Tennessee and Southern
Kentucky, one of which was the
Cordell Hull Hotel in downtown
Gallatin, Tennessee, which c. 1971 was used to house the first-ever
classes of the new Volunteer State Community College while the campus
was being built. This was one of the hotel's last official uses.
* Hull is mentioned by name in the 1937 calypso song "FDR in
Trinidad " popularized by Attila the Hun , and also by
Ry Cooder on
his 1972 album
Into the Purple Valley .
* Hull is prominently featured in
Robert Ludlum 's novel The
Scarlatti Inheritance .
* ^ Hulen, Bertram D. (1946-10-25). "Charter Becomes \'Law of
Nations,\' 29 Ratifying It".
The New York Times
The New York Times . p. 1. Retrieved May
* ^ Gunther, John (1950). Roosevelt in Retrospect. Harper &
Brothers. p. 132.
* ^ "Hull gives Reich Official \'Apology\'". The New York Times.
March 5, 1937. pp. 1, 8. Retrieved May 5, 2014. The Angriff carries a
headline, 'Jewish ruffian La Guardia's new Insolence,'...
* ^ Michael Zalampas (1989). Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in
American Magazines, 1923–1939. Popular Press. p. 108. ISBN
* ^ Cordell Hull, Memoirs
* ^ Layton, Edwin T. (1985). "And I Was There": Pearl Harbor and
Midway—Breaking the Secrets. New York: William Morrow. p. 314. ISBN
* ^ Bohlen, Charles E. Witness to History 1929-1969, W. W. Norton &
Company, Inc. 1973
* ^ "What was the Coast Guard\'s role in the SS St. Louis affair,
often referred to as \'The Voyage of the Damned\'?". United States
Coast Guard. October 10, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
* ^ Buckley, Cara (July 8, 2007). "Fleeing Hitler and Meeting a
Reluctant Miss Liberty".
The New York Times
The New York Times .
* ^ Gruber, Inside of Time p. 159 (2003).
* ^ Annie Casting Information, Music Theatre International website
Archived October 7, 2007, at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ Granny from
Wedding Crashers on
* Cordell Hull. Memoirs (1948).
* The Papers of Cordell Hull
* Julius W. Pratt, Cordell Hull, 1933–44, 2 vol. (1964)
* Biography from U.S. Congress biography page
* Hull, Cordell by EB
* Butler, Michael A. (1998), Cautious Visionary:
Cordell Hull and
Trade Reform, 1933–1937, Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press,
ISBN 0-87338-596-9 .
* O'Sullivan, Christopher D. Sumner Welles, Postwar Planning and the
Quest for a New World Order. Columbia University Press, 2008. ISBN