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The USA's 69 Secretaries of State: from Thomas Jefferson to Rex Tillerson, 1789 - 2017

Updated on February 20, 2017

America began having a President and a Secretary of State in 1789, 13 years after the nation's birth in 1776.

The Secretary of State plays a critical role in the executive branch of the American government. Whomever holds that title becomes a key member of the president's cabinet of close advisors, as well as being considered the top American diplomat.

Secretaries of State are highly regarded in America as skilled negotiators and "elder statesmen" within the government.

The first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, wrote America's Declaration of Indepence thirteen years earlier. Another man, Daniel Webster, served two non-consecutive terms, in the early 1840's under presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, and again, three presidents later, under Millard Fillmore, in the early 1850's.

Q: Did any become president?

A: Yes, 6 Secretaries of State later became President, and 1 almost became President: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan all served as Secretary of State and later became President. Notice that these six became president relatively early in the nation's history. In fact, no Secretary of State has become president since James Buchanan in the late 1850s. However, Hillary Clinton was the only US Secretary of State to nearly become President. She ran for President in 2016 and won the popular vote, only to lose the electoral vote to Donald J. Trump.

Note: over 30 additional people NOT listed here served as "acting secretary of state" for a minimal period of time (a few days, weeks, or months) until a successor to the previous secretary could be named.

Here's the list of America's Secretaries of State:

31.  James G. Blaine (1889 - 1892) [Benjamin Harrison]

32.  John W. Foster (1892 - 1993) [Benjamin Harrison]

33.  Walter Q. Gresham (1893 - 1895) [Grover Cleveland]

34.  Richard Olney (1895 - 1897) [Grover Cleveland]

35.  John Sherman (1897 - 1898) [William McKinley]

36.  William R. Day (1898) [William McKinley]

37.  John M. Hay (1898 - 1905) [William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt]

38.  Elihu Root (1905 - 1909) [Theodore Roosevelt]

39.  Robert Bacon (1909) [Theodore Roosevelt]

40.  Philander C. Knox (1909 - 1913) [William H. Taft}

# - name (term) [president]

1.  Thomas Jefferson (1789 - 1793) [George Washington]

2.  Edmund Randolph (1794 - 1795) [George Washington]

3.  Timothy Pickering (1795 - 1800) [George Washington, John Adams]

4.  John Marshall (1800 - 1801) [John Adams]

5.  James Madison (1801 - 1809) [Thomas Jefferson]

6.  Robert Smith (1809 - 1811) [James Madison]

7.  James Monroe (1811 - 1814 and 1815 - 1817) [James Madison]

8.  John Quincy Adams (1817 - 1825) [James Monroe]

9.  Henry Clay (1825 - 1829) [John Quincy Adams]

10.  Martin Van Buren (1829 - 1831) [Andrew Jackson]

41. William Jennings Bryan (1913 -1915) [Woodrow Wilson]

42. Robert Lansing (1915 - 1920) [Woodrow Wilson]

43. Bainbridge Colby (1920 - 1921) [Woodrow Wilson]

44. Charles Evans Hughes (1921 - 1925) [Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge]

45. Frank B. Kellogg (1925 - 1929) [Calvin Coolidge, Herber Hoover]

46. Henry L. Stimson (1929 - 1933) [Herbert Hoover]

47. Cordell Hull (1933 - 1944) [Franklin D. Roosevelt]

48. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. (1944 - 1945) [Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman]

49. James F. Byrnes (1945 - 1947) [Harry S. Truman]

50. George C. Marshall, Jr. (1947 - 1949) [Harry S. Truman]

11.  Edward Livingston (1831 - 1833) [Andrew Jackson]

12.  Louis McLane (1833 - 1834) [Andrew Jackson]

13.  John Forsyth (1834 - 1841) [Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren]

14.  Daniel Webster (1841 - 1843) [William Henry Harrison, John Tyler]

15.  Abel Upshur (1843 - 1844) [John Tyler]

16.  John C. Calhoun (1844 - 1845) [John Tyler]

17.  James Buchanan (1845 - 1849) [James K. Polk]

18.  John M. Clayton [1849 - 1850) [Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore]

19.  Daniel Webster (1850 - 1852) [Millard Fillmore]

20.  Edward Everett (1852 - 1853) [Millard Fillmore]

51.  Dean C. Acheson (1949 - 1953) [Harry S. Truman]

52.  John Foster Dulles (1953 - 1959) [Dwight Eisenhower]

53.  Christian A. Herter (1959 - 1961) [Dwight Eisenhower]

54.  David Dean Rusk (1961 - 1969) [John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson

55.  William P. Rogers (1969 - 1973) [Richard Nixon]

56.  Henry A. Kissinger (1973 - 1977) [Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford]

57.  Cyrus R. Vance (1977 - 1980) [Jimmy Carter]

58.  Edmund S. Muskie (1980 - 1981) [Jimmy Carter]

59.  Alexander M. Haig, Jr. (1981 - 1982) [Ronald Reagan]

60.  George P. Schultz (1982 - 1989) [Ronald Reagan]

 

21.  William L. Marcy (1853 - 1857) [Franklin Pierce]

22.  Lewis Cass (1857 - 1860) [James Buchanan]

23.  Jeremiah S. Black (1860 - 1861) [James Buchanan]

24.  William H. Seward (1861 - 1869) [Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson]

25.  Elihu B. Washburne (1869) [Ulysses Grant]

26.  Hamilton Fish (1869 - 1877) [Ulysses Grant]

27.  William M. Evarts (1877 - 1881) [Rutherford Hayes

28.  James G. Blaine (1881) [James Garfield, Chester Arthur]

29.  Frederick T. Frelinguysen (1881 - 1885) [Chester Arthur]

30.  Thomas F. Bayard, Sr. (1885 - 1889) [Grover Cleveland]

61. James A. Baker III (1989 - 1992) [George H. W. Bush]

62. Lawrence S. Eagleburger (1992 - 1993) [George H. W. Bush]

63. Warren Christopher (1993 - 1997) [Bill Clinton]

64. Madeleine K. Albright (1997 - 2001) [Bill Clinton]

65. Colin L. Powell (2001 - 2005) [George W. Bush]

66. Condolezza Rice (2005 - 2009) [George W. Bush]

67. Hillary Rodham Clinton (2009 - ) [Barack Obama]

68. John Kerry (2013 - 2017) [Barack Obama]

69. Rex Tillerson (2017 - present) [Donald J. Trump]

Copyright(C) 2009-2012 Thomas R. Zarecki. All Rights Reserved.

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    • Didge profile image

      Didge 

      6 years ago from Southern England

      Really informative hub. Great job!

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