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United States Department of State

logo of the Department of State

The Department of State is the executive department of the United States government that handles U.S. relations with other governments. The head of the department is the Secretary of State, the senior member of the President's Cabinet. The Secretary and the department advise the President on foreign relations and provide information about conditions in other countries.

The official Department of State website is www.state.gov.

Functions and Duties

The State Department plans United States actions in dealing with other governments, and is responsible for carrying out foreign policy. It also coordinates the actions of other executive departments that affect foreign policy.

The department negotiates treaties and agreements with other governments; handles official business with foreign embassies in Washington; speaks for the United States in the United Nations and other international organizations; and arranges for U.S. participation in international organizations.

The Secretary of State is the official custodian of the Great Seal of the United States, which is affixed to all presidential proclamations.

The department also promotes public understanding of United States foreign policy through information services and publications.

Organization

SECRETARY OF STATE
--Deputy Secretary of State
--United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations
--Agency for International Development
--Broadcasting Board of Governors
--Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
--Bureau of Intelligence and Research
--Bureau of Legislative Adviser
--Bureau of Resource Management
----Chief Financial Offer
--Chief of Mission
--Chief of Staff
--Civil Service Ombudsman
--Counselor of the Department
--Counterrorism
--Executive Secretariat
--Foreign Service Grievance Board
--Global AIDS Coordinator
--Office of Civil Rights
--Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization
--Office of Inspector General
--Office of the Legal Adviser
--Office of Protocol
--Operations Center
--Policy Planning Staff
--Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security
----Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
----Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
----Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Bureau
------Nonprolifieration and Arms Control Technology Working Group
------Nuclear Risk Reduction Center
--Undersecretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
----Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
----Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
----Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
------Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
----Senior Coordinator for Woman's Issues
--Undersecretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs
----Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
------Office of Commercial and Business Affairs
--Undersecretary for Management
----Bureau of Administration
----Bureau of Consular Affairs
------Office of Overseas Citizens Services
----Bureau of Diplomatic Security
------Antiterrorism Assistance Program
------Office of Foreign Missions
------Rewards for Justice Program
----Bureau of Human Resources
------Office of Medical Services
------Director of the Foreign Service
------Director of Human Resources
----Bureau of Information Resource Management
----Foreign Service Institute
------National Foreign Affairs Training Center
--Undersecretary for Political Affairs
----Bureau of African Affairs
----Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
----Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
----Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
----Bureau of International Organizations
----Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
----Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
----Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
--Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
----Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
------Office of International Information Programs
----Bureau of Public Affairs
------Office of the Historian
------Office of Policy, Planning and Resources for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

History
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The Department of State is the oldest executive office of the United States government. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress dealt with other countries through its Committee on Secret Correspondence. This committee was established in 1775 with Benjamin Franklin as its first chairman. In 1777, the group was renamed the Committee for Foreign Affairs.

On January 10, 1781, the Continental Congress created a Department of Foreign Affairs. Robert Livingston became the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and John Jay succeeded him in 1784. After the adoption of the Constitution, Congress set up the Department of Foreign Affairs on July 27, 1789, as an executive agency under the President. Congress changed its name to the Department of State on September 15, 1789. The department was initially charged with performing such domestic duties as operating the mint, issuing patents, and taking the census. Most domestic duties have since been transferred to other departments.

President George Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson as the first Secretary of State in 1789.

Secretaries of State

Name Took Office Under President(s)
Thomas Jefferson
Edmund Randolph
Timothy Pickering
John Marshall
James Madison
Robert Smith
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Henry Clay
Martin Van Buren
Edward Livingston
Louis McLane
John Forsyth
Daniel Webster
Abel P. Upshur
John C. Calhoun
James Buchanan
John M. Clayton
Daniel Webster
Edward Everett
William L. Marcy
Lewis Cass
Jeremiah S. Black
William H. Seward
Elihu B. Washburne
Hamilton Fish
William M. Evarts
James G. Blaine
F.T. Frelinghuysen
Thomas F. Bayard
James G. Blaine
John W. Foster
Walter Q. Gresham
Richard Olney
John Sherman
William R. Day
John M. Hay
Elihu Root
Robert Bacon
Philander C. Knox
William J. Bryant
Robert Lansing
Bainbridge Colby
Charles E. Hughes
Frank B. Kellogg
Henry L. Stimson
Cordell Hull
Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.
James F. Byrnes
George C. Marshall
Dean G. Acheson
John Foster Dulles
Christian A. Herter
Dean Rusk
William P. Rogers
Henry A. Kissinger
Cyrus R. Vance
Edmund S. Muskie
Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
George P. Shultz
James A. Baker, III
Lawrence S. Eagleburger
Warren M. Christopher
Madeline K. Albright
Colin L. Powell
Condoleeza Rice
Hillary Rodham Clinton
John Kerry
Rex W. Tillerson
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The Robinson Library >> Political Science >> International Relations

This page was last updated on 04/12/2017.