Cordell Hull (October 2, 1871 – July 23, 1955) was an American politician from Tennessee best known as the longest-serving U.S. 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. 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 Nations”.Born in Olympus, Tennessee, he pursued a legal career after graduating from the Cumberland School of Law. He won election to the Tennessee House of Representatives and served in Cuba during the Spanish–American War. He represented Tennessee in the United States House of Representatives from 1907 to 1921 and from 1923 to 1931. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Hull helped pass the Revenue Act of 1913 and the Revenue Act of 1916, which implemented the federal income tax and the federal estate tax. He served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1921 to 1924 and was a presidential candidate at the 1928 Democratic National Convention.
Hull won election to the Senate in 1930, but resigned from the Senate in 1933 to become Secretary of State. Roosevelt and Hull pursued the Good Neighbor policy, which sought to avoid U.S. intervention in Latin American affairs. In the aftermath of Mexican agrarian reforms, he developed the Hull Doctrine as a way to compensate foreign investors in the aftermath of nationalization. In November 1941, he presented the Hull note to Japan, demanding Japanese withdrawal from French Indochina and China. In 1943, Hull and his staff drafted the document that became the United Nations Charter. Hull resigned as Secretary of State due to poor health in 1944.
Hull served eleven 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 recorded thirty years of combined service in the House and the Senate.
In 1933, Hull was appointed Secretary of State by President 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 on November 30, 1944 because of failing health.
In 1945, Cordell Hull was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “co-initiating the United Nations”.
Hull died after suffering several strokes and heart attacks in 1955 in 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 Episcopal church.
There is now a Cordell Hull Museum located near his birthplace in Byrdstown, Tennessee, which houses his papers and other memorabilia.