United States Secretary of State
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United States Secretary of State
Secretary of State of the United States
Seal of the United States Secretary of State.svg
Seal of the Secretary of State
Flag of the United States Secretary of State.svg
Flag of the Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson official portrait.jpg
Rex Tillerson

since February 1, 2017
United States Department of State
Style Mr. Secretary
Member of Cabinet, National Security Council
Reports to The President
Seat Washington, D.C.
Appointer The President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length Appointed
Constituting instrument 22 U.S.C. § 2651
Precursor United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Formation July 27, 1789; 228 years ago (1789-07-27)
First holder John Jay (acting)
Thomas Jefferson
Succession Fourth[1]
Deputy John Sullivan
Salary $205,700 annually[2]  (Executive Schedule I)[3]
Website www.state.gov

The Secretary of State is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America, and as head of the U.S. Department of State, is principally concerned with foreign policy and is considered to be the U.S. government's equivalent of a Minister for Foreign Affairs.[4][5]

The Secretary of State is nominated by the President of the United States and, following a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is confirmed by the United States Senate. The Secretary of State, along with the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, and Attorney General, are generally regarded as the four most important Cabinet members because of the importance of their respective departments.[6] Secretary of State is a Level I position in the Executive Schedule and thus earns the salary prescribed for that level (currently $205,700).[3]

The current Secretary of State is former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the 69th person to hold office since its creation in 1789.

Duties and responsibilities

The stated duties of the Secretary of State are as follows:[7]

  • "Supervises the United States Foreign Service" and "administers the Department of State"
  • Advises the President on matters relating to U.S. foreign policy including the appointment of diplomatic representatives to other nations and on the acceptance, recall, or dismissal of representatives from other nations
  • "Negotiates, interprets, or terminates treaties and agreements" and "conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs"
  • "Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies"
  • Provides information and services to U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad such as providing credentials in the form of passports
  • "Ensures the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries"
  • "Supervises the administration of the U.S. immigration policy abroad"
  • Communicates issues relating the U.S. foreign policy to Congress and to U.S. citizens
  • "Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the U.S. and other countries"

The original duties of the Secretary of State include some domestic duties such as:[]

  • Receipt, publication, distribution, and preservation of the laws of the United States
  • Preparation, sealing, and recording of the commissions of Presidential appointees
  • Preparation and authentication of copies of records and authentication of copies under the Department's seal
  • Custody of the Great Seal of the United States
  • Custody of the records of former Secretary of the Continental Congress except for those of the Treasury and War departments

Most of the domestic functions of the Department of State have been transferred to other agencies. Those that remain include storage and use of the Great Seal of the United States, performance of protocol functions for the White House, and the drafting of certain proclamations. The Secretary also negotiates with the individual States over the extradition of fugitives to foreign countries.[8] Under Federal Law,[9] the resignation of a President or of a Vice President is only valid if declared in writing, in an instrument delivered to the office of the Secretary of State. Accordingly, the resignations of President Nixon and of Vice-President Spiro Agnew, domestic issues, were formalized in instruments delivered to the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.

As the highest-ranking member of the cabinet, the Secretary of State is the third-highest official of the executive branch of the Federal Government of the United States, after the President and Vice President and is fourth in line to succeed the Presidency, coming after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate. Six Secretaries of State have gone on to be elected President. Others, including John Kerry, William Seward, Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan and Hillary Clinton have been unsuccessful presidential candidates, either before or after their term of office as Secretary of State.

The nature of the position means that Secretaries of State engage in travel around the world. The record for most countries visited in a secretary's tenure is 112 by Hillary Clinton.[10] Second is Madeleine Albright with 96.[11] The record for most air miles traveled in a secretary's tenure is 1.380 million miles by John Kerry.[12] Second is Condoleezza Rice's 1.059 million miles, and third is Clinton's 956,733 miles.[10]

What are the Qualifications of a Secretary of State? He ought to be a Man of universal Reading in Laws, Governments, History. Our whole terrestrial Universe ought to be summarily comprehended in his Mind.
--John Adams[13]

List of Secretaries of State


  1. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". Cornell Law School. 
  2. ^ "Pay & Leave: Salaries & Wages". Salary Table No. 2015-EX. United States Office of Personnel Management. January 1, 2015. Retrieved 2016. 
  3. ^ a b 5 U.S.C. § 5312.
  4. ^ "Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers for Foreign Affairs", Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  5. ^ NATO Member Countries, NATO. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  6. ^ Cabinets and Counselors: The President and the Executive Branch (1997). Congressional Quarterly. p. 87.
  7. ^ "Duties of the Secretary of State". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved . 
  8. ^ "Duties of the Secretary of State of the United States". www.state.gov. United States Department of State. January 20, 2009. Retrieved 2010. 
  9. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 20 - Resignation or refusal of office". 
  10. ^ a b Mark Landler (January 4, 2013). "Scare Adds to Fears That Clinton's Work Has Taken Toll". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Lee, Matthew (June 28, 2012). "Frequent flier Hillary Clinton hits 100-country mark". Detroit Free Press. Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 28, 2012. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (April 6, 2016). "Kerry breaks record for miles traveled by secretary of state". Fox News. 
  13. ^ Ford, Worthington C., ed. (1927). Statesman and Friend: Correspondence of John Adams with Benjamin Waterhouse, 1784-1822. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company. p. 57. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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