|United States Secretary of State|
Seal of the Secretary of State
Flag of the Secretary of State
|United States Department of State|
National Security Council
|Reports to||President of the United States|
with Senate advice and consent
|Constituting instrument||22 U.S.C. § 2651|
|Precursor||Secretary of Foreign Affairs|
|Formation||July 27, 1789|
|First holder||Thomas Jefferson|
|Deputy||Deputy Secretary of State|
|Salary||Executive Schedule, level I|
The secretary of state is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America and the head of the United States Department of State. The secretary of state's duties are principally concerned with foreign policy, and the secretary is considered to be the U.S. government's minister of foreign affairs.
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. 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).
The stated duties of the secretary of state are to supervise the United States foreign service, immigration policy, and administer the Department of State. They must also advise the president on U.S. foreign matters such as the appointment of diplomats and ambassadors. They also advise the president of the dismissal and recall of these individuals. The secretary of state can conduct negotiations, interpret, and terminate treaties relating to foreign policy. They also can participate in international conferences, organizations and agencies as a representative of the United States. The secretary of state communicates issues relating to the U.S. foreign policy to Congress and U.S. citizens. They also provide services to U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad such as providing credentials in the form of passports. Doing this, they also ensure the protection of U.S. citizens themselves, their property, and interests in foreign countries.
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 U.S., the secretary serves as the channel of communication between foreign governments and the federal government and the states.
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. Under Federal Law, 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 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 Henry Clay, William Seward, James Blaine, William Jennings Bryan, John Kerry, 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. Second is Madeleine Albright with 96. The record for most air miles traveled in a secretary's tenure is 1,417,576 miles by John Kerry. Second is Condoleezza Rice's 1,059,247 miles, and third is Clinton's 956,733 miles.
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
Ambassadors from the United States
(while at their posts)
| Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of State
Ambassadors to the United States
(in order of tenure)
Otherwise Barack Obama
as Former President
Otherwise António Guterres
as Secretary-General of the United Nations
|U.S. presidential line of succession|
President pro tempore of the Senate
|4th in line||Succeeded by|
Secretary of the Treasury