U.S. Secretary of State

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
Mike Pompeo official photo (cropped).jpg
Mike Pompeo

since April 26, 2018
United States Department of State
StyleMr. Secretary
Member ofCabinet
National Security Council
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatWashington, D.C.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Constituting instrument22 U.S.C. § 2651
PrecursorSecretary of Foreign Affairs
FormationJuly 27, 1789; 229 years ago (1789-07-27)
First holderThomas Jefferson
DeputyDeputy Secretary of State
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level I[2]

The Secretary of State is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America, and as head of the United States 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.[3][4]

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.[5] Secretary of State is a Level I position in the Executive Schedule and thus earns the salary prescribed for that level (currently $210,700).[2]

The current Secretary of State is Mike Pompeo. On March 13, 2018, President Donald Trump dismissed Rex Tillerson and nominated Pompeo, then Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to replace Tillerson.[6][7] Tillerson announced later that day that his last day at the State Department would be March 31, 2018.[8]

Duties and responsibilities[]

The stated duties of the Secretary of State are as follows:[9]

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

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.[10] Under Federal Law,[11] 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 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.[12] Second is Madeleine Albright with 96.[13] The record for most air miles traveled in a secretary's tenure is 1,417,576 miles by John Kerry.[14] Second is Condoleezza Rice's 1,059,247 miles,[15] and third is Clinton's 956,733 miles.[16]

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[17]

List of Secretaries of State[]

See List of Secretaries of State of the United States


  1. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". Cornell Law School.
  2. ^ a b 5 U.S.C. § 5312.
  3. ^ "Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers for Foreign Affairs", Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  4. ^ NATO Member Countries, NATO. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  5. ^ "Cabinets and Counselors: The President and the Executive Branch" (1997). Congressional Quarterly. p. 87.
  6. ^ "Meet Mike Pompeo, Trump's Reported New Hardliner Secretary of State". Haaretz. March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  7. ^ "Rex Tillerson out as secretary of state; CIA Director Mike Pompeo will replace him". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  8. ^ "Trump fires Rex Tillerson as secretary of state". BBC News. March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  9. ^ "Duties of the Secretary of State". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 20 - Resignation or refusal of office".
  12. ^ Mark Landler (January 4, 2013). "Scare Adds to Fears That Clinton's Work Has Taken Toll". The New York Times.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/travel/index.htm
  15. ^ https://2001-2009.state.gov/secretary/trvl/index.htm
  16. ^ https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/trvl/264084.htm
  17. ^ 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[]

Current 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
Current U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
President pro tempore of the Senate
Orrin Hatch
4th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of the Treasury
Steve Mnuchin