David Dean Rusk (February 9, 1909 – December 20, 1994) was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the second-longest serving Secretary of State, behind Cordell Hull.
He married Virginia Foisie [1937-06-19] and they had three children.
He returned to America to work briefly for the War Department in Washington. He joined the Department of State in February 1945 working for the office of United Nations Affairs. In the same year, he suggested splitting Korea into a sphere of U.S. and one of Soviet influence at the 38th parallel north. He was made Deputy Under Secretary of State in 1949. He was made Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs in 1950 and played an influential part in the US decision to become involved in the Korean War, and also Japan's postwar compensation for victorious countries, such as the Rusk documents. However he was a cautious diplomat and always sought international support.
As Secretary of State he was a believer in the use of military action to combat Communism. During the Cuban missile crisis he supported diplomatic efforts. Early in his tenure, he had strong doubts about US intervention in Vietnam, but later his vigorous public defense of US actions in the Vietnam War made him a frequent target of anti-war protests. Outside of his work against communism, he continued his Rockefeller Foundation ideas of aid to developing nations and also supported low tariffs to encourage world trade. Rusk also drew the ire of supporters of Israel after he let it be known that he believed the USS Liberty incident was a deliberate attack on the ship, rather than an accident.
As he recalled in his autobiography, As I Saw It, Rusk didn't have a good relationship with President Kennedy. He repeatedly offered his resignation, but it was never accepted. Shortly after the John F. Kennedy assassination, Rusk offered his resignation to the new President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. It has been suggested that President Johnson asked him to stay and that the two became friends. When Johnson died in 1973, he eulogized the former President when he lay in state.
Rusk Eating House, the first women’s eating house at Davidson College, was founded in 1977 and is named in his honor.
Dean Rusk Middle School, located in Canton, Georgia, was named in his honor.