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
    + 67
    - 24

    Braintree, Massachusetts, USA James Monroe, 1817-1825

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  2. 2
    + 72
    - 30

    Uniontown, Pennsylvania, USA Harry S. Truman, 1947-1949

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  3. 3
    + 53
    - 17

    Florida, New York, USA Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, 1861-1869

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  4. 4
    + 76
    - 35

    Shadwell, Virginia, USA George Washington, 1790-1793

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  5. 5
    + 47
    - 18

    Monroe Hall, Virginia, Virginia James Madison, 1811-1817

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  6. 6
    + 43
    - 16

    Port Conway, Virginia, USA Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809

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  7. 7
    + 101
    - 61

    Fürth, Germany Gerald Ford, 1973-1977

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  8. 8
    + 37
    - 16

    Salisbury, New Hampshire, USA William Harrison, 1841, John Tyler, 1841-1843, and Millard Fillmore, 1850-1852

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  9. 9
    + 70
    - 44

    Houston, Texas, USA George H. W. Bush, 1989-1992

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  10. 10
    + 50
    - 28

    New York City, New York, USA Ronald Reagan, 1982-1989

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  11. 11
    + 37
    - 20

    Middletown, Connecticut, USA Harry S. Truman, 1949-1953

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  12. 12
    + 34
    - 18

    Virginia, USA John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829

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  13. 13
    + 20
    - 8

    Germantown, Virginia, Virginia John Adams, 1800-1801

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  14. 14
    + 24
    - 12

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

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  15. 15
    + 18
    - 7

    New York City, New York, USA Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877

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  16. 16
    + 20
    - 9

    Glens Falls, New York, USA Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover, 1921-1925

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  17. 17
    + 23
    - 12

    Tennessee, USA Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1944

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  18. 18
    + 36
    - 24

    Washington, D.C., USA Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1959

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  19. 19
    + 26
    - 15

    New York City, New York, USA Herbert Hoover, 1929-1933

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  20. 20
    + 68
    - 54

    Smíchov, Czech Republic Bill Clinton, 1997-2001

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  21. 21
    + 30
    - 20

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA George H. W. Bush, 1992-1993

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  22. 22
    + 17
    - 8

    Clinton, New York, USA Theodore Roosevelt, 1905-1909

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  23. 23
    + 18
    - 9

    Potsdam, New York, USA Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, 1925-1929

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  24. 24
    + 19
    - 10

    Kinderhook, New York, USA Andrew Jackson, 1829-1831

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  25. 25
    + 103
    - 89

    Birmingham, Alabama, USA George W. Bush, 2005-2009

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  26. 26
    + 21
    - 12

    Charleston, South Carolina, USA Harry S. Truman, 1945-1947

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  27. 27
    + 59
    - 49

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

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  28. 28
    + 20
    - 12

    Paris, France Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959-1961

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  29. 29
    + 18
    - 12

    Norfolk, New York, USA Richard Nixon, 1969-1973

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  30. 30
    + 26
    - 20

    Georgia, USA John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, 1961-1969

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  31. 31
    + 29
    - 23

    Scranton, North Dakota, USA Bill Clinton, 1993-1997

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  32. 32
    + 35
    - 29

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

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  33. 33
    + 118
    - 112

    Chicago, Illinois, USA Barack Obama, 2009-2013

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  34. 34
    + 13
    - 8

    Salem, Massachusetts, USA George Washington, 1795-1800

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  35. 35
    + 8
    - 3

    Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857

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  36. 36
    + 9
    - 4

    Livermore, Maine, USA Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1869

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  37. 37
    + 9
    - 4

    Williamsburg, Virginia, USA George Washington, 1794-1795

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  38. 38
    + 16
    - 12

    Brownsville, Pennsylvania, USA William Howard Taft, 1909-1913

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  39. 39
    + 10
    - 6

    Oxford, Massachusetts, USA Grover Cleveland, 1895-1897

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  40. 40
    + 8
    - 4

    Virginia, USA John Tyler, 1843-1844

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  41. 41
    + 8
    - 4

    Wilmington, Delaware, USA Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889

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  42. 42
    + 8
    - 4

    Exeter, New Hampshire, USA James Buchanan, 1857-1860

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  43. 43
    + 7
    - 3

    Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, 1834-1841

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  44. 44
    + 7
    - 3

    Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA James Madison, 1809-1811

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  45. 45
    + 19
    - 16

    Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, USA James K. Polk, 1845-1849

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  46. 46
    + 18
    - 15

    Salem, Illinois, USA Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1915

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  47. 47
    + 10
    - 7

    Lancaster, Ohio, USA William McKinley, 1897-1898

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  48. 48
    + 6
    - 4

    Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts Millard Fillmore, 1852-1853

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  49. 49
    + 20
    - 19

    Rumford, Maine, USA Jimmy Carter, 1980-1981

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  50. 50
    + 18
    - 17

    Clarksburg, West Virginia, USA Jimmy Carter, 1977-1980

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