Bundy, McGeorge

born March 30, 1919, Boston, Mass., U.S.
died Sept. 16, 1996, Boston

U.S. public official and educator.

He served in World War II as an intelligence officer. He joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1949 and became dean of arts and sciences in 1953. As special assistant for national security to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, he was a forceful advocate of expanding U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He resigned to become president of the Ford Foundation (1966–79) and later taught at New York University (1979–89).

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▪ 1997

      U.S. government official (b. March 30, 1919, Boston, Mass.—d. Sept. 16, 1996, Boston), as national security adviser (1961-66) to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, was one of the principal architects of U.S. foreign policy. He played a major role in the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis, the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the intervention in the revolution in the Dominican Republic. Bundy graduated (1940) from Yale University and became (1941) a junior fellow at Harvard University. Because he was very nearsighted, he memorized the eye-test chart so that he could serve in the army during World War II. After the war Bundy collaborated with former secretary of war Henry L. Stimson on the latter's memoirs, worked with Thomas E. Dewey on the 1948 presidential campaign, and in 1949 joined the department of government at Harvard. He became dean of arts and sciences in 1953 and remained in that post until he joined the Kennedy administration. Bundy helped formulate the strategy for escalating the Vietnam War, and even after leaving (1966) government service and becoming president of the Ford Foundation, he continued to support the war. By 1968, however, he had come to believe that the war could not be won. Bundy remained at the Ford Foundation until 1979 and then served (1979-89) as professor of history at New York University. In 1990 he went to the Carnegie Corporation of New York, where he chaired the committee on reducing the danger of nuclear war and, at the time of his death, was scholar-in-residence. Bundy's books include The Strength of Government (1968) and Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (1988).

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▪ United States government official
born March 30, 1919, Boston, Mass., U.S.
died Sept. 16, 1996, Boston

      American public official and educator, one of the main architects of U.S. foreign policy in the administrations of presidents John F. Kennedy (Kennedy, John F.) and Lyndon B. Johnson. (Johnson, Lyndon B.)

      Bundy's father had served as assistant secretary of state under Henry L. Stimson, and his mother was the daughter of the lawyer-educator A. Lawrence Lowell. A boyhood classmate of John F. Kennedy, Bundy graduated from Groton Preparatory School (1936) and Yale University (B.A., 1940) and began postgraduate study at Harvard University in 1941. During World War II, he served as an intelligence officer and participated in the planning of the invasions of Sicily and France. After the war he worked closely with Stimson in preparing the latter's memoirs, On Active Service in Peace and War (1948). In 1949 he joined the department of government at Harvard University, becoming dean of arts and sciences there in 1953.

      Bundy supported Kennedy for president in 1960 and in 1961 was made special assistant for national security affairs, a post he retained in the Johnson administration. Under Johnson, Bundy was a forceful advocate of expanding the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War. In February 1965, after visiting South Vietnam, he wrote a crucial memorandum calling for a policy of “sustained reprisal,” including air strikes, against North Vietnam if it did not end its guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese government. Later, however, after he had left government service, he advised Johnson against further escalation of the war. He resigned in early 1966 to become president of the Ford Foundation, a position he held until 1979. From 1979 to 1989 he was a professor of history at New York University (emeritus thereafter).

      Bundy was the author of several books, including The Strength of Government (1968) and Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (1988).

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Universalium. 2010.

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