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The dissertation is essentially a biography of John Foster Dulles, who was United States Secretary of State from 1953 until his death in 1959. This study, however, covers his life from birth in 1888 and stops in 1937, a decisive and important year in his personal development. Previous biographies have either focused almost exclusively on his years as Secretary of State or else, when they covered his early life, failed to see him in the full context of the era in which he lived or failed to fully explore some important primary sources. While beginning in a formal sense with Dulles' birth, the dissertation also examines the influence of several influential relatives, which include: his maternal grandfather, John Watson Foster, Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison; his uncle, Robert Lansing, Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson; and his father, Allen Macy Dulles, a prominent pastor and theologian. This study seeks to address those short-comings by using a full range of secondary sources on various historic events in which he was either a keen observer or participant, including the attempt at forming a canon of international law, World War I, the Versailles Peace Conference, the Washington Conference, the Dawes Plan and the Berlin Debt discussions of 1934, to name a few. The dissertation also examines closely Dulles' career as a international lawyer and financier with the prestigious Wall Street law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell. In addition to a full range of secondary sources on the aforementioned topics, the dissertation relies heavily upon the papers of John Foster Dulles, including the John Foster Dulles Oral History Project, housed at the Seeley G. Mudd Library at Princeton University. In addition to a vast collection of personal papers, the study also draws on the extensive body of published articles and books that Dulles authored. The objective of the study is to seek a deeper understanding of Dulles' philosophy and character. During his years as Secretary of State, and in most of the literature that followed, Dulles was castigated as an aggressive Cold War nationalist who was the chief proponent of President Eisenhower's approach to foreign policy, generally summed up as the “New Look,” but also characterized as “brinksmanship” and “massive retaliation.” Because the “New Look” was often seen as one-sided and uncreative, Dulles has often been depicted in the same light, high on jingoism but low on creativity. The study demonstrates that throughout his life, Dulles was thoughtful, philosophic and sincere in seeking creative approaches to the avoidance of war and the maintenance of peace. It is posited here that a more fair and balanced understanding of Dulles' life and motivations will unlock a more sophisticated understanding of his role in the Cold War of the 1950s, in which he played so vital a role.