United States Secretary of State

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United States Secretary of State
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
Daniel Bennett Smith ambassador.jpg
Incumbent
Daniel Bennett Smith
Acting

since January 20, 2021
United States Department of State
StyleMr./Madam Secretary
(informal)
The Honorable[1]
(formal)
His/Her Excellency[2]
(diplomatic)
Member ofCabinet
National Security Council
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatWashington, D.C.
AppointerPresident of the United States
with Senate advice and consent
Constituting instrument22 U.S.C. § 2651
PrecursorSecretary of Foreign Affairs
FormationJuly 27, 1789; 231 years ago (1789-07-27)
First holderThomas Jefferson
SuccessionFourth[3]
DeputyDeputy Secretary of State
SalaryExecutive Schedule, Level I[4]
Websitewww.state.gov

The United States secretary of state implements foreign policy for the U.S. government as the head of the U.S. Department of State. Created in 1789, the Cabinet position is analogous to a foreign minister in other countries.[5][6]

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 crucial Cabinet members because of the importance of their respective departments.[7] Secretary of State is a Level I position in the Executive Schedule and thus earns the salary prescribed for that level (currently US$210,700).[4]

The current acting secretary of state is Daniel Bennett Smith, who assumed acting status following the inauguration of Joe Biden. Antony Blinken is expected to succeed Smith once his nomination goes to the Senate.

Duties and responsibilities[edit]

The stated duties of the secretary of state are to supervise the United States foreign service and immigration policy and administer the Department of State. The secretary must also advise the president on U.S. foreign matters such as the appointment of diplomats and ambassadors, advising the president of the dismissal and recall of these persons. The secretary of state can conduct negotiations, interpret, and terminate treaties relating to foreign policy. The secretary also can participate in international conferences, organizations, and agencies as a representative of the United States. The secretary communicates issues relating to the U.S. foreign policy to Congress and citizens. The secretary also provides services to U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad such as providing credentials in the form of passports. Doing this, the secretary also ensures the protection of citizens, their property, and interests in foreign countries.[8]

Secretaries of state also have domestic responsibilities, entrusted in 1789, when the position was first created. These include the protection and custody of the Great Seal of the United States, and the preparation of some presidential proclamations. In the process of extraditing fugitives to or from the country, the secretary serves as the channel of communication between foreign governments, the federal government, and the states.[8]

Most of the domestic functions of the Department of State have been transferred to other agencies.[when?][why?] Those that remain include storage and use of the Great Seal, 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.[9] Under federal law,[10] 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 Richard Nixon and of Vice President Spiro Agnew were formalized in instruments delivered to then-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 U.S. federal government, after the president and vice president, and is fourth in line to succeed the presidency, after the vice president, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the president pro tempore of the Senate. Six past secretaries of state -- Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Van Buren and Buchanan -- have gone on to be elected president. Others, including Henry Clay, William Seward, James Blaine, William Jennings Bryan, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have also campaigned as presidential candidates, either before or after their term of office as Secretary of State, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

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[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". Cornell Law School.
  4. ^ a b 5 U.S.C. § 5312.
  5. ^ "Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers for Foreign Affairs", Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  6. ^ NATO Member Countries, NATO. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  7. ^ "Cabinets and Counselors: The President and the Executive Branch" (1997). Congressional Quarterly. p. 87.
  8. ^ a b "Duties of the Secretary of State". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "Duties of the Secretary of State of the United States". www.state.gov. United States Department of State. January 20, 2009. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  10. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 20 - Resignation or refusal of office".
  11. ^ 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.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg, ed. The American secretaries of state and their diplomacy (19 vol., 1963( scholarly biographies.
  • Graebner, Norman A., ed. An Uncertain Tradition: American Secretaries of State in the Twentieth Century (1961) scholarly essays on John Hay through John Foster Dulles.
  • Hopkins, Michael F. "President Harry Truman's Secretaries of State: Stettinius, Byrnes, Marshall and Acheson." Journal of Transatlantic Studies 6.3 (2008): 290–304.
  • Mihalkanin Edward, ed. American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell (2004); short scholarly articles by experts; 572pp online

External links[edit]

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Ambassadors from the United States
(while at their posts)
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Ambassadors to the United States
(in order of tenure)
Preceded by
Otherwise Barack Obama
as Former President
Succeeded by
Otherwise António Guterres
as Secretary-General of the United Nations
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
President pro tempore of the Senate
Patrick Leahy
4th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of the Treasury
TBD