Age of Imperialism saw countries all over the world seeking to expand their area of influence. The motivation was mainly economic and European Colonial Powers dominated the world. The Expansionist policies of Japan in the Far East led to wars with Russia, China and Korea. Protectionism often accompanied expansionism. The Age of American Imperialism was instrumental in creating the Super Power America. Many States were added to the Union and exorbitant tariffs protected the American industries.
These policies however made America very unpopular with its Latin American neighbours. Cordell Hull was the American statesman who set out to change the image of America from tyrant to Big Brother.
FACT 1: Cordell Hull was born in Tennessee on October 2, 1871 and died on July 23, 1955. He was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1892 and was appointed Circuit Judge in 1903. He then served on the Tennessee State Legislature.
FACT 2: Hull was passionate about politics. His political career extended from 1906, when he was elected to the US House of Representatives to 1944 when he resigned from his post of Secretary of State for reasons of ill health.
FACT 3: During his tenure as a Statesman USA evolved from a war torn nation to a global leader. The country struggled through issues of slavery, of racism, through two major wars and the Great Depression. America’s emergence as the world’s most powerful nation, despite all the setbacks was due mostly to enlightened statesmen like Cordell Hull.
FACT 4: American Imperialism had created an atmosphere of distrust in the countries bordering the United States on the Southern front. In an attempt to diffuse this mistrust President Roosevelt conceived the Good Neighbour Policy. Hull was an effective ambassador of this policy. His self-effacing attitude in dealing with the Latin American leaders and representatives created an atmosphere of good will. He acceded to the Latin American demand for US non-interference in their internal affairs. Thus he was able to create a United Front of American Republics against the Axis Powers, during World War II.
FACT 5: Another major contribution was Hull’s propagation of the reversal of high trade tariffs. Hull believed in liberal internationalism. He held that free trade was the key to international peace and prosperity. High tariff barriers were responsible for the Great Depression and the rise of Fascism.
FACT 6: On his watch as Secretary of State, the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act was passed in 1934. The Act gave the President the power to personally negotiate bilateral trade reductions. The Act was the predecessor of the international General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) started in 1948.
FACT 7: Hull was also a champion of international peace. He rejected the Japanese Munro Doctrine,which would have given Japan the power to expand its power in China. He advocated American neutrality in the build up to World War II, but eventually conceded that it was necessary for America to join the Allies as a deterrent to the aggression of the Axis Powers.
FACT 8: Even as the War continued to be fought fiercely, Hull worked towards post war peace. At the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers (1943) he got four nations to pledge a continuance of war time co operation in the post war period. The nations would co operate to form an organization dedicated to international peace and security.
FACT 9: President Roosevelt described Hull as the ‘Father of the United Nations’. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1945. Co-incidentally he is born on the same day as the world’s most famous champion of peace, Mahatma Gandhi.
FACT 10: Cordell Hull holds the honour of being the longest serving US Secretary of State (1933 to 1944)