Friday, Oct. 07, 2011

Cordell Hull

A man who perhaps embodies the word controversial more than anyone on this list, Cordell Hull received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his prominent role in establishing the U.N. While his efforts to start the U.N. were admirable, his actions six years earlier caused widespread consternation. Hull was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of State during the S.S. St. Louis crisis when 950 Jewish refugees, seeking asylum from Nazi persecution, set sail for the U.S. from Hamburg. Despite FDR showing willingness to help, Hull, together with Southern Democrats, voiced strong opposition and threatened to withdraw support for FDR in the forthcoming election if he didn't follow suit. On June 4, 1939, the President denied the ship entry, forcing it to return to Europe, where more than a quarter of its passengers subsequently died in the Holocaust.