Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Cordell Hull (1933–1944): Secretary of State

Cordell Hull was born October 2, 1871, in Olympus, Tennessee. He graduated from the law department of Cumberland University (Tennessee) and was admitted to the Tennessee state bar in 1891. He began his political career in the Tennessee House of Representatives (1893-1897) before serving as a captain in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. He then restarted his law practice and sat as a judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Tennessee (1903-1907).

Hull served as a U.S. Representative from Tennessee from 1907 to 1921. After briefly losing his House seat in 1920, Hull acted as chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee (1921-1924). He returned to Congress from 1923 to 1931 before accepting a nomination to the U.S. Senate following the death of Senator Lawrence D. Tyson (1931-1933).

While in Congress, he was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, author of the Federal Income Tax Bill (1913), and also author of the Federal State and Inheritance Tax Bill (1916).

Hull became FDR's secretary of state in 1933 and served in that capacity until 1944. He was instrumental in promoting Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor" policy in Latin America and in the creation of a postwar peace organization modeled after the League of Nations. Nicknamed the "Father of the United Nations," Hull received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945. Cordell Hull died on July 23, 1955, in Bethesda, Maryland.