U.S. Secretaries of State

< What is the Office of Inspector General? < Inspector General, Department of State

The Secretary of State heads the U.S. Department of State and is principally concerned with foreign policy; the position is equivalent to a Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department and the Foreign Service.

The Secretary of State is appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate.

The Secretary of State is fourth in succession to the president and the first non-elected successor.

  1. Vice President
  2. Speaker of the House of Representatives
  3. President pro tempore of the Senate
  4. Secretary of State
  5. Secretary of the Treasury

Created in 1789 by Congress as the successor to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of State is the senior executive department of the United States Government.

The Secretary of State responsibilities include the following:

  • Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
  • Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
  • Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies;
  • Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
  • Supervises the administration of U.S. immigration laws abroad;
  • Informs the Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations;
  • Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the United States and other countries;
  • Administers the Department of State;
  • Supervises the Foreign Service;
  • Advises the President on the appointment of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other diplomatic representatives;
  • Advises the President regarding the acceptance, recall, and dismissal of the representatives of foreign governments.
Secretary of State President Home State Appointment
Thomas Jefferson George Washington Virginia 1789
Edmund Randolph George Washington Virginia 1794
Timothy Pickering George Washington
John Adams
Pennsylvania 1795
John Marshall John Adams Virginia 1800
James Madison Thomas Jefferson Virginia 1801
Robert Smith James Madison Maryland 1809
James Monroe James Madison Virginia 1811
John Quincy Adams James Monroe Massachusetts 1817
Henry Clay John Quincy Adams Kentucky 1825
Martin Van Buren Andrew Jackson New York 1829
Edward Livingston Andrew Jackson Louisiana 1831
Louis McLane Andrew Jackson Delaware 1833
John Forsyth Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
Georgia 1834
Daniel Webster William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Massachusetts 1841
Abel P Upshur John Tyler Virginia 1843
John C. Calhoun John Tyler
James Polk
South Carolina 1844
James Buchanan James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Pennsylvania 1849
John M. Clayton Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Delaware 1849
Daniel Webster Millard Fillmore Massachusetts 1850
Edward Everett Millard Fillmore Massachusetts 1852
William L. Marcy Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
New York 1853
Lewis Cass James Buchanan Michigan 1857
Jeremiah S. Black James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Pennsylvania 1860
William H. Seward Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
New York 1861
Elihu B. Washburne Ulysses S. Grant Illinois 1869
Hamilton Fish Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
New York 1869
William M. Evarts Rutherford B. Hayes
James Garfield
New York 1877
James G. Blaine James Garfield
Chester Arthur
Maine 1881
F.T. Frelinghuysen Chester Arthur
Grover Cleveland
New Jersey 1881
Thomas F. Bayard Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Delaware 1885
James G. Blaine Benjamin Harrison Maine 1889
John W. Foster Benjamin Harrison Indiana 1892
Walter Q. Gresham Grover Cleveland Indiana 1893
Richard Olney Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Massachusetts 1895
John Sherman William McKinley Ohio 1897
William R. Day William McKinley Ohio 1898
John Hay William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Washington D.C. 1898
Elihu Root Theodore Roosevelt New York 1905
Robert Bacon Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
New York 1909
Philander C. Knox William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Pennsylvania 1909
William J. Bryan Woodrow Wilson Nebraska 1913
Robert Lansing Woodrow Wilson New York 1915
Bainbridge Colby Woodrow Wilson New York 1920
Charles E. Hughes Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
New York 1921
Frank B. Kellogg Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Minnesota 1925
Henry L. Stimson Herbert Hoover New York 1929
Cordell Hull Franklin D. Roosevelt Tennessee 1933
E.R. Stettinius, Jr. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry Truman
New York 1944
James F. Byrnes Harry Truman South Carolina 1945
George C. Marshall Harry Truman Pennsylvania 1947
Dean G. Acheson Harry Truman Connecticut 1949
John Foster Dulles Dwight Eisenhower New York 1953
Christian A. Herter Dwight Eisenhower Massachusetts 1959
Dean Rusk John Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
New York 1961
William P. Rogers Richard Nixon New York 1969
Henry A. Kissinger Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Washington, D.C. 1973
Cyrus R. Vance Jimmy Carter New York 1977
Edmund S. Muskie Jimmy Carter Maine 1980
Alexander M. Haig, Jr. Ronald Reagan Connecticut 1981
George P. Schultz Ronald Reagan California 1982
James A. Baker, III George H. W. Bush Texas 1989
Lawrence S. Eagleburger George H. W. Bush Michigan 1992
Warren M. Christopher William Clinton California 1993
Madeleine Albright William Clinton New York 1997
Colin Powell George W. Bush New York 2001
Condoleezza Rice George W. Bush Alabama 2005
Hillary Clinton Barack Obama Illinois 2009
John Kerry Barack Obama Colorado 2013