United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the U.S. Department of State. The Secretary of State is the highest-ranking member of the President's Cabinet in both line of succession and order of precedence. The first Secretary of State was John Jay, under President George Washington. The current Secretary of State is John Kerry.
The Second Continental Congress created the office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs to head the Department of Foreign Affairs on January 13, 1781. Later that year, on July 27, President George Washington signed a law authorizing the executive department. On September 15 of the same year, the Department and Secretary of Foreign Affairs were renamed the Department and Secretary of State.
The title Secretary of State is of British origin. This title was given to senior members of the King's cabinet.
Secretary of State is one of the highest offices a non-national can obtain in the United States government. To date, two non-nationals have served in the position. Henry Kissinger (1973 - 1977) was born in Germany, while Madeleine Albright (1997 - 2001) was born in Czechoslovakia. While in office both of them would have been excluded from the Presidential Line of Succession.
In recent decades the post has seen a lot of historical "firsts". Albright was the first female Secretary of State. Her successor, Colin Powell, was the first African-American Secretary, while his successor Condoleezza Rice was the first African-American woman to hold the post. In 2009 another woman, Hillary Rodham Clinton took the post.
Original Domestic Duties
- Receipt, publication, distribution and preservation of laws of the U.S.
- Custody of the Great Seal of the United States
- Authentication of copies and preparation of commossions of executive branch appointments
- Final custody of the books, papers, and records of the Continental Congress including the Constitution itself and the Declaration of Independence
- Storage and use of the Great Seal of the United States
- Performance of protocol functions for the White House
- Drafting of certain proclamations
- Formally accepting notice of the president's resignation - this has only happened once, when President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974.
- Replies to inquiries
- Next in line of presidential succession after the President pro tempore of the Senate
List of Former Secretaries of State
|John Quincy Adams||1817-1825|
|Martin Van Buren||1829-1831|
|Daniel Webster||1841-1843, 1850-1852|
|Abel Parker Upshur||1843-1844|
|John C. Calhoun||1844-1845|
|John Middleton Clayton||1849-1850|
|William Learned Marcy||1853-1857|
|Jeremiah Sullivan Black||1860-1861|
|Elihu Benjamin Washburne||1869|
|William Maxwell Evarts||1877-1881|
|James Gillespie Blaine||1881, 1889-1892|
|Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen||1881-1885|
|Thomas Francis Bayard||1885-1889|
|John Watson Foster||1892-1893|
|Walter Quintin Gresham||1893-1895|
|William Rufus Day||1898|
|Philander Chase Knox||1909-1913|
|William Jennings Bryan||1913-1915|
|Charles Evans Hughes||1921-1925|
|Frank Billings Kellogg||1925-1929|
|Henry Lewis Stimson||1929-1933|
|Edward Rielly Stettinius, Jr.||1944-1945|
|James Francis Byrnes||1945-1947|
|George Catlett Marshall||1947-1949|
|John Foster Dulles||1953-1959|
|William Pierce Rogers||1969-1973|
|James Addison Baker III||1989-1992|
|Hillary Rodham Clinton||2009-2013|