The Best Former US Secretaries of State Politicians
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The Best Former US Secretaries of State

List Criteria: Includes former and current Secretaries of State appointed by the President

People who've served as US Secretary of State include some of the biggest names in the history of American politics, many of the most talked-about politicians of today and even a handful of people who went on to take the highest office in the land as President of the United States of America. These men and women have served in one of the most important and prominent positions not only in the United States but as viewed from those abroad and most have done so excellently.

The office of the United States Secretary of State is the person in charge of the United States Department of State which deals primarily with foreign affairs. This person specializes on foreign affairs to advise the President on such matters, participate in negotiations with other countries, deals with immigration and is responsible for Americans working, traveling or serving overseas, among other duties.

Serving as Secretary of State means a job filled with lots of travel, something the 2013 outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did impressively as she visited a record 112 countries during her time in the office. Only one other Secretary of State logged more travel miles, and not by much. Condoleeza Rice, who served as Secretary of State immediately before Clinton under President George W. Bush, notched a record 1,059,247 miles traveling.

While many are appointed Secretary of State after losing presidential elections, others did it the other way around and went on to become President later. James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and Thomas Jefferson all served as Secretary of State as well as President. Clearly those lucky few who have been appointed Secretary of State, like John Kerry in 2013, are in good company.

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  1. 1
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    Braintree, Massachusetts, United States of America James Monroe, 1817-1825

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  2. 2
    + 70
    - 29


    Uniontown, Pennsylvania, United States of America Harry S. Truman, 1947-1949

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  3. 3
    + 72
    - 33


    Shadwell, Virginia, United States of America George Washington, 1790-1793

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  4. 4
    + 48
    - 17


    Florida, New York, United States of America Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, 1861-1869

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  5. 5
    + 44
    - 17


    Monroe Hall, Virginia, United States of America James Madison, 1811-1817

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  6. 6
    + 40
    - 16


    Port Conway, Virginia, United States of America Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809

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  7. 7
    + 93
    - 60


    Fürth, Germany Gerald Ford, 1973-1977

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  8. 8
    + 35
    - 16


    Salisbury, New Hampshire, United States of America William Harrison, 1841, John Tyler, 1841-1843, and Millard Fillmore, 1850-1852

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  9. 9
    + 66
    - 43


    Houston, Texas, United States of America George H. W. Bush, 1989-1992

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  10. 10
    + 47
    - 28


    New York City, New York, United States of America Ronald Reagan, 1982-1989

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  11. 11
    + 34
    - 20


    Middletown, Connecticut, United States of America Harry S. Truman, 1949-1953

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  12. 12
    + 31
    - 18


    Virginia, United States of America John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829

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  13. 13
    + 35
    - 23


    Washington, D.C., United States of America Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1959

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  14. 14
    + 17
    - 7


    New York City, New York, United States of America Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877

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  15. 15
    + 18
    - 8


    Germantown, Virginia, United States of America John Adams, 1800-1801

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  16. 16
    + 19
    - 9


    Glens Falls, New York, United States of America Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover, 1921-1925

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  17. 17
    + 22
    - 12


    Washington Township, Salem, Indiana William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, 1898-1905

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  18. 18
    + 110
    - 95


    Chicago, Illinois, United States of America Barack Obama, 2009-2013

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  19. 19
    + 21
    - 12


    Tennessee, United States of America Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1944

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  20. 20
    + 24
    - 15


    New York City, New York, United States of America Herbert Hoover, 1929-1933

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  21. 21
    + 64
    - 53


    Prague, Czech Republic Bill Clinton, 1997-2001

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  22. 22
    + 98
    - 86


    Birmingham, Alabama, United States of America George W. Bush, 2005-2009

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  23. 23
    + 16
    - 8


    Clinton, New York, United States of America Theodore Roosevelt, 1905-1909

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  24. 24
    + 17
    - 9


    Potsdam, New York, United States of America Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, 1925-1929

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  25. 25
    + 18
    - 10


    Kinderhook, New York, United States of America Andrew Jackson, 1829-1831

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  26. 26
    + 20
    - 12


    Charleston, South Carolina, United States of America Harry S. Truman, 1945-1947

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  27. 27
    + 19
    - 12


    Paris, France Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959-1961

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  28. 28
    + 27
    - 20


    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States of America George H. W. Bush, 1992-1993

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  29. 29
    + 29
    - 22


    Scranton, North Dakota, United States of America Bill Clinton, 1993-1997

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  30. 30
    + 54
    - 47


    Harlem, New York City, New York George W. Bush, 2001-2005

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  31. 31
    + 25
    - 19


    Georgia, United States of America John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, 1961-1969

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  32. 32
    + 18
    - 13


    Salem, Illinois, United States of America Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1915

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  33. 33
    + 33
    - 28


    Bala Cynwyd, Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania Ronald Reagan, 1981-1982

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  34. 34
    + 16
    - 11


    Brownsville, Pennsylvania, United States of America William Howard Taft, 1909-1913

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  35. 35
    + 17
    - 12


    Norfolk, New York, United States of America Richard Nixon, 1969-1973

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  36. 36
    + 13
    - 8


    Salem, Massachusetts, United States of America George Washington, 1795-1800

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  37. 37
    + 8
    - 4


    Livermore, Maine, United States of America Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1869

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  38. 38
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    - 4


    Williamsburg, Virginia, United States of America George Washington, 1794-1795

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  39. 39
    + 7
    - 3


    Southbridge, Massachusetts, United States of America Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857

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  40. 40
    + 18
    - 15


    Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, United States of America James K. Polk, 1845-1849

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  41. 41
    + 9
    - 6


    Oxford, Massachusetts, United States of America Grover Cleveland, 1895-1897

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  42. 42
    + 7
    - 4


    Exeter, New Hampshire, United States of America James Buchanan, 1857-1860

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  43. 43
    + 7
    - 4


    Wilmington, Delaware, United States of America Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889

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  44. 44
    + 7
    - 4


    Virginia, United States of America John Tyler, 1843-1844

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  45. 45
    + 6
    - 3


    Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts Millard Fillmore, 1852-1853

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  46. 46
    + 6
    - 3


    Virginia, United States of America Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, 1834-1841

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  47. 47
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    - 3


    Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States of America James Madison, 1809-1811

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  48. 48
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    Rumford, Maine, United States of America Jimmy Carter, 1980-1981

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  49. 49
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    - 16


    Clarksburg, West Virginia, United States of America Jimmy Carter, 1977-1980

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  50. 50
    + 9
    - 7


    Lancaster, Ohio, United States of America William McKinley, 1897-1898

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