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United States Secretary of State
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United States Secretary of State

The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet.

History

George Washington signed a congressional bill into law on July 27, 1789 (1 Stat. 28), creating an executive Department of Foreign Affairs headed by a Secretary of Foreign Affairs, whose position had existed since 1781 under the Articles of Confederation. Congress then passed another law giving certain additional domestic responsibilities to the new Department and changing its name to the Department of State and the name of head of the department to the Secretary of State, and Washington approved this act on September 15, 1789. The new domestic duties assigned to the newly renamed department were receipt, publication, distribution, and preservation of laws of the United States, custody of the Great Seal of the United States, authentication of copies and preparation of commissions of executive branch appointments, and finally custody of the books, papers, and records of the Continental Congress including the Constitution itself and the Declaration of Independence.

Functions

Most domestic functions have been transferred to other agencies. Those that remain in the Department are: storage and use of the Great Seal, performance of protocol functions for the White House, drafting of certain Presidential proclamations, and replies to public inquiries. In addition, the Secretary performs such duties as the President is required, in accordance with the United States Constitution, relating to correspondence, commission, or instructions to U.S. ministers or consuls abroad, and to conduct negotiations with foreign representatives. The Secretary has also served as principal adviser to the President in the determination and execution of U.S. foreign policy and in recent decades has become responsible for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the U.S. Government overseas, except for certain military activities.

As the highest ranking Cabinet member, the Secretary of State is fourth in line to succeed the Presidency, after the Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President pro tempore of the Senate. (See the entire United States presidential line of succession).

List of secretaries of state

Name Term of Office President(s) served under
Thomas Jefferson March 22, 1790December 31, 1793 George Washington
Edmund Randolph January 2, 1794August 20, 1795 George Washington
Timothy Pickering December 10, 1795May 12, 1800 George Washington, John Adams
John Marshall June 6, 1800February 4, 1801 John Adams
James Madison May 2, 1801March 3, 1809 Thomas Jefferson
Robert Smith March 6, 1809April 1, 1811 James Madison
James Monroe April 6, 1811September 30, 1814
February 28, 1815March 3, 1817
James Madison
John Quincy Adams September 22, 1817March 3, 1825 James Monroe
Henry Clay March 7, 1825March 3, 1829 John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren March 28, 1829March 23, 1831 Andrew Jackson
Edward Livingston May 24, 1831May 29, 1833 Andrew Jackson
Louis McLane May 29, 1833June 30, 1834 Andrew Jackson
John Forsyth July 1, 1834March 3, 1841 Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren
Daniel Webster March 6, 1841May 8, 1843 William Henry Harrison, John Tyler
Abel P. Upshur July 24, 1843February 28, 1844 John Tyler
John C. Calhoun April 1, 1844March 10, 1845 John Tyler, James K. Polk
James Buchanan March 10, 1845March 7, 1849 James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor
John Clayton March 8, 1849July 22, 1850 Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore
Daniel Webster July 23, 1850October 24, 1852 Millard Fillmore
Edward Everett November 6, 1852March 3, 1853 Millard Fillmore
William L. Marcy March 8, 1853March 6, 1857 Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan
Lewis Cass March 6, 1857December 14, 1860 James Buchanan
Jeremiah S. Black December 17, 1860March 5, 1861 James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward March 6, 1861March 4, 1869 Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson
Elihu B. Washburne March 5, 1869March 16, 1869 Ulysses S. Grant
Hamilton Fish March 17, 1869March 12, 1877 Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes
William M. Evarts March 12, 1877March 7, 1881 Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield
James G. Blaine March 7, 1881December 19, 1881 James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen December 19, 1881March 6, 1885 Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland
Thomas F. Bayard March 7, 1885March 6, 1889 Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison
James G. Blaine March 7, 1889June 4, 1892 Benjamin Harrison
John W. Foster June 29, 1892February 23, 1893 Benjamin Harrison
Walter Q. Gresham March 7, 1893May 28, 1895 Grover Cleveland
Richard Olney June 10, 1895March 5, 1897 Grover Cleveland, William McKinley
John Sherman March 6, 1897April 27, 1898 William McKinley
William R. Day April 28, 1898September 16, 1898 William McKinley
John Hay September 30, 1898July 1, 1905 William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt
Elihu Root July 19, 1905January 27, 1909 Theodore Roosevelt
Robert Bacon January 27, 1909March 5, 1909 Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft
Philander C. Knox March 6, 1909March 5, 1913 William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson
William Jennings Bryan March 5, 1913June 9, 1915 Woodrow Wilson
Robert Lansing June 24, 1915February 13, 1920 Woodrow Wilson
Bainbridge Colby March 23, 1920March 4, 1921 Woodrow Wilson
Charles Evans Hughes March 5, 1921March 4, 1925 Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge
Frank B. Kellogg March 5, 1925March 28, 1929 Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover
Henry L. Stimson March 28, 1929March 4, 1933 Herbert Hoover
Cordell Hull March 4, 1933November 30, 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Edward Stettinius Jr December 1, 1944June 27, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman
James F. Byrnes July 3, 1945January 21, 1947 Harry S. Truman
George C. Marshall January 21, 1947January 20, 1949 Harry S. Truman
Dean Acheson January 21, 1949January 20, 1953 Harry S. Truman
John Foster Dulles January 21, 1953April 22, 1959 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Christian Herter April 22, 1959January 20, 1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dean Rusk January 21, 1961January 20, 1969 John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson
William P. Rogers January 22, 1969September 3, 1973 Richard M. Nixon
Henry A. Kissinger September 22, 1973January 20, 1977 Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford
Cyrus Vance January 23, 1977April 28, 1980 Jimmy Carter
Edmund S. Muskie May 8, 1980January 18, 1981 Jimmy Carter
Alexander M. Haig, Jr January 22, 1981July 5, 1982 Ronald Reagan
George P. Shultz July 16, 1982January 20, 1989 Ronald Reagan
James Baker January 25, 1989August 23, 1992 George H. W. Bush
Lawrence Eagleburger December 8, 1992January 19, 1993 George H. W. Bush
Warren Christopher January 20, 1993January 17, 1997 Bill Clinton
Madeleine Albright January 23, 1997January 19, 2001 Bill Clinton
Colin Powell January 20, 2001–present George W. Bush

If the Secretary resigns, he is replaced by the United States Deputy Secretary of State who then becomes acting Secretary of State until the President and Congress approve a formal replacement.

Acting Secretaries of State
Name Year Acted from
John Jay 1790 March 4–22
Timothy Pickering 1795 August 20 to December 9
Charles Lee 1800 May 13 to June 5
John Marshall 1801 February 4 to March 4
Levi Lincoln 1801 March 5 to May 1
John Graham 1817 March 4–9
Richard Rush 1817 March 10 to September 22
Daniel Brent 1825 March 4–7
James A. Hamilton 1829 March 4–27
Jacob L. Martin 1841 March 4–5
Hugh S. Legaré 1843 May 9 to June 20
William S. Derrick 1843 June 21–23
Abel P. Upshur 1843 June 24 to July 23
John Nelson 1844 February 29 to March 31,
Charles M. Conrad 1852 October 25 to November 5
William Hunter 1853, 1860 March 4–7, December 15–16
William F. Wharton 1892, 1893 June 4–29, February 24 to March 6
Edwin F. Uhl 1895 May 28 to June 9
Alvey A. Adee 1898 September 17–29
Francis B. Loomis 1905 July 1–18
Robert Lansing 1915 June 9–23
Frank L. Polk 1920 February 14 to March 12
Joseph C. Crew 1945 June 28 to July 3
H. Freeman Matthews 1953 January 20–21
Livingston T. Merchant 1961 January 20–21
Charles E. Bohlen 1969 January 20–22
Kenneth Rush 1973 September 3–22
Philip C. Habib 1977 January 20–23
Warren Christopher 1980, 1980 April 28 to May 2, May 4–8
David Newsom 1980 May 2–3, May 3–4
Richard N. Cooper 1980 May 3
Walter J. Stoessel, Jr 1982 July 5–16
Michael H. Armacost 1989 January 20–25
Lawrence Eagleburger 1992 August 23, to December 8
Arnold Lee Kantor 1993 January 20
Frank G. Wisner 1993 January 20

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