George W. Ball

Ball headshot
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, George Wildman Ball (1909-1994) graduated in 1930 from Northwestern University where he majored in English, founded a literary magazine, and earned a law degree in 1933. Ball worked in the Farm Credit Bureau and the Treasury Department in Washington but returned to Chicago in 1935 to join a tax law firm, where Adlai Stevenson was a partner. Stevenson helped Ball join the Lend-Lease Administration as a lawyer in 1942. Ball then headed the US Strategic Bombing Survey in London in 1944-45, where he met Jean Monnet who would become the driving force for European integration.

As a founding partner of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Ball, a law firm which represented European institutions, Ball pushed for Britain to join the Common Market. When Governor Stevenson of Illinois ran for President in 1952, Ball joined his campaign as chief of volunteers. In 1960, Ball backed John F. Kennedy who made him Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and in November 1961, Under Secretary of State, a position he kept in the Johnson Administration and in which he argued forcefully against US involvement in Vietnam and mediated crises in Cyprus, Pakistan and the Congo. Ball was a member of President Kennedy's inner circle during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

He resigned in 1966 to join the investment banking firm of Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb in New York, from which he retired in 1982 as senior managing director. While in the private sector, Ball advised several Presidents, including when the Pueblo was captured by North Korea in January 1968. In May 1968, President Johnson named Ball US delegate to the United Nations, a position he resigned after three months.

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