Robert Cutler

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Robert Cutler
1st and 3rd United States National Security Advisor
In office
January 6, 1957 – June 24, 1958
PresidentDwight Eisenhower
Preceded byWilliam Harding Jackson (Acting)
Succeeded byGordon Gray
In office
January 20, 1953 – April 2, 1955
PresidentDwight Eisenhower
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byDillon Anderson
Corporation Counsel of Boston
In office
October 25, 1940 – July 28, 1942
Preceded byHenry Parkman Jr.
Succeeded byRobert H. Hopkins
Personal details
Born(1895-06-12)June 12, 1895
Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedMay 8, 1974(1974-05-08) (aged 78)
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationHarvard University (BA, LLB)
Cutler's identification card during World War I

Robert Cutler (June 12, 1895 – May 8, 1974) was an American government official who was the first person appointed as the president's National Security Advisor. He served US President Dwight Eisenhower in that role between 1953 and 1955 and from 1957 to 1958.

Early life[edit]

He was born on June 12, 1895, in Brookline, Massachusetts.[1] He was the youngest of five sons born to George C. and Mary F. Wilson Cutler. His brothers were Elliott Carr Cutler, a professor at the Harvard Medical School and a surgeon, Harvard quarterback Johnny Cutler, Roger W. Cutler, a US Navy officer and the husband of Leslie Bradley Cutler, and George C. Cutler Jr.[2]

Cutler attended Harvard College and planned on becoming an English teacher and writer.[1] He was class poet, wrote the baccalaureate hymn, and graduated second in his class in 1916.[3] After graduating, he taught at Harvard and Radcliffe College and authored two novels: Louisburg Square (1917) and The Speckled Bird (1923).[1][2]

During World War I, he volunteered with the American Expeditionary Forces. He served in France as a first lieutenant with the 76th Division. After the war, he spent eight, months as an adjutant of the 3rd Army Military Police with the Army of Occupation. In 1922, he graduated from Harvard Law School.[2]

Early career[edit]

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Cutler went to work for the firm of Herrick, Smith, Donald & Farley.[1] He also served as treasurer of Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and as president of Community Chests and Councils, Inc., chairman of the 1937 Greater Boston Community Fund Drive and was a director of the Saco-Lowell Shops and the Old Colony Trust Company.[2][4]

On October 25, 1940, Cutler was appointed corporation counsel for the city of Boston by Mayor Maurice J. Tobin.[4]

World War II[edit]

On July 28, 1942, Cutler resigned as corporation counsel to join the US Army.[5] US President Franklin Roosevelt nominated Cutler for the position of head occupational analyst of the Army Specialist Corps (ASC) with the rank of colonel.[6] After the ASC had been disbanded, Cutler served as chief of the Procurement Division.[1] During the 1944 presidential election, he served as executive officer of the War Ballot Commission.[3] He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in December 1944.[7]

In 1945, he worked on special assignments for US Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and the US Army Chief of Staff George Marshall.[1] In October, he was promoted to brigadier general and was awarded the Legion of Merit for "his foresight and careful planning, consummate tact, unusual ability and vigor" during his service with the Legislative and Liaison Division of the War Department Special Staff.[8] He received his discharge on December 9, 1945.[7]

Postwar career[edit]

On January 9, 1946, Cutler succeeded Channing H. Cox as president of the Old Colony Trust Company.[7] He was later elected president of Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.[9] From 1947 to 1949, he headed the largest survey of hospital, health, and welfare facilities in New England.[1]

1952 presidential campaign[edit]

In 1952, Cutler served as Eisenhower's personal secretary on the campaign train, a position that had him perform a number of tasks, including speechwriting and advising.[3] U.S. News & World Report described Cutler as "emerging as the right-hand man of the General" and "probably closer to the candidate in a personal sense than Gov. Sherman Adams, who is generally regard as top man."[10]

National Security Advisor[edit]

On December 29, 1952, President-elect Eisenhower appointed Cutler as assistant to the president for national security affairs.[11] In that position, Cutler played a major role in turning the National Security Council into a top policy making body. He tendered his resignation on March 8, 1955, and was succeeded by Dillon Anderson on April 1.[12] On March 31, 1955, he received the Medal of Freedom for his "outstanding contribution to the security and defense of our nation.[13]

Cutler oversaw the drafting of Eisenhower's Executive Order 10450, signed on April 27, 1953, contributing language that identified "sexual perversion" as grounds for exclusion from employment by the federal government. It represented an attempt to fulfill Eisenhower's campaign promise, made in response to charges made by Senator Joseph McCarthy, to remove "subversives" from the federal government. The order initiated the years-long purge of gays and lesbians from employment by the federal government, the Lavender Scare component of the Red Scare witch hunts of the 1950s.[14]

Cutler resigned his post in 1955 apparently for fear that the disclosure of his secret homosexuality might harm the Eisenhower administration. His homosexuality was known to some Washington insiders, including the prominent columnist Joseph Alsop, a closet gay himself, and Charles Bohlen, whose nomination as ambassador to Moscow had been threatened by McCarthy's innuendo about his sexuality.[14]

In May 1955, Cutler returned to the National Security Council as a part-time consultant[15] and took its leadership position, then called the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, on January 6, 1957. He was succeeded by Gordon Gray on June 24, 1958.[16]

Later life[edit]

In 1958, Cutler was nominated for a seat on the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges by Governor Foster Furcolo. His nomination was rejected by the Massachusetts Governor's Council by a 4-3 vote on the grounds that the position should go to a Democrat.[17] Furcolo submitted Cutler's nomination again, and on December 30, the Council approved his appointment by a 6-2 vote.[18]

On October 14, 1959, Eisenhower announced that he would nominate Cutler to serve a three-year term as an executive director of the new Inter-American Development Bank.[19] He was sworn in by Eisenhower on February 2, 1960.[20] He resigned effective July 15, 1962.[21]

He published his memoirs, No Time for Rest, in 1966.[1]

He died on May 8, 1974, in Concord, Massachusetts.[22] Never married and predeceased by all of his brothers, Cutler left no immediate survivors but was survived by several nieces and nephews, including Elliott C. Cutler Jr., Robert B. Cutler and Roger W. Cutler Jr.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Buchanan, William (May 9, 1974). "Robert Cutler dies; aide to Ike". The Boston Globe.
  2. ^ a b c d Wayman, Dorothy G. (October 27, 1940). "Boston's Famous Cutlers in News Again, Robert as City Counsel, Roger as Navy Aviation Officer". The Boston Daily Globe.
  3. ^ a b c Leviero, Anthony (January 30, 1955). "'Untouchable, Unreachable and Unquotable': That sums up Robert Cutler, the President's alter ego on the National Security Council, where 'cold way' policy is hammered into shape". The New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Cutler Appointed as Corporation Counsel by Tobin". The Boston Daily Globe. October 27, 1940.
  5. ^ "Cutler Resigns as City Counsel to Take Army Job". The Boston Daily Globe. July 29, 1942.
  6. ^ "Army Analyst is Named". The New York Times. July 31, 1942. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Gen Robert Cutler Elected President of Old Colony Trust". The Boston Daily Globe. January 10, 1946.
  8. ^ "Citation Here New Chapter for Cutlers, 20 in Service". The Boston Daily Globe. October 20, 1945.
  9. ^ "Cutler Named Head of Hospital Council for Boston Area". The Boston Daily Globe. May 25, 1949.
  10. ^ "Cutler Slated for Ike Cabinet, Says Magazine". The Boston Daily Globe. October 23, 1952.
  11. ^ "Ike Names Gen Cutler to Top Pst". The Boston Daily Globe. December 30, 1952.
  12. ^ Harris, John (March 9, 1955). "Cutler Resigns as Aid to Ike, Effective April 1". The Boston Daily Globe.
  13. ^ "Cutler Gets Medal". The Boston Daily Globe. April 1, 1955.
  14. ^ a b Isikoff, Michael (November 29, 2018). "In The Closet In The White House: The Tortured History Of The Gay Man Who Touched Off The Purge Of Gays In Government". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  15. ^ "Cutler Accepts Part-Time Post in Government". Boston Daily Globe. June 5, 1955.
  16. ^ "Gray is Appointed President's Aide". The New York Times. June 25, 1958. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  17. ^ "Council Rejects Robert Cutler For State Post". The Boston Daily Globe. December 17, 1958.
  18. ^ "Cutler Named To College Post In 6-2 Vote". The Boston Daily Globe. December 31, 1958.
  19. ^ "President to Name Cutler To Inter-American Bank". The Boston Daily Globe. October 15, 1959.
  20. ^ "Cutler Takes Post On Inter-American Development Bank". The Boston Daily Globe. February 2, 1960.
  21. ^ "Cutler to Leave Development Bank". The Boston Globe. June 20, 1962.
  22. ^ "Robert Cutler Is Dead at 78. Aided Eisenhower on Security". New York Times. May 10, 1974. Retrieved November 27, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Bostonian at Work", Time, June 4, 1953. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  • No Time for Rest, by Robert Cutler, published by Little, Brown, 1966.
  • Ike’s Mystery Man, the Secret Lives of Robert Cutler, by Peter Shinkle, published by Steerforth Press, 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
New office National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Preceded by National Security Advisor
Succeeded by