The Best Former US Secretaries of State of All Time

Voting Rules
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 even went on to become President of the United States of America. These men and women have served in one of the most important and prominent positions in the world.

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 in foreign affairs, and advises the President on such matters, participates in negotiations with other countries, deals with immigration, and is responsible for regulating Americans working, traveling, or serving overseas. 

Serving as Secretary of State means a job filled with lots of travel - something that the 2013 Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, did impressively. Clinton visited a record 112 countries during her time in the office, and helped foster a rapport between the US and other countries's leaders. Only one other Secretary of State logged more travel miles, and not by much. Condoleeza Rice, who served as Secretary of State 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.
Ranked by
  • John Quincy Adams
    861 votes
    Dec. at 80 (1767-1848)
    James Monroe, 1817-1825
  • George Marshall
    1,017 votes
    Dec. at 78 (1880-1959)
    Harry S. Truman, 1947-1949
  • William H. Seward
    716 votes
    Dec. at 71 (1801-1872)
    Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, 1861-1869
  • Thomas Jefferson
    934 votes
    Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)
    George Washington, 1790-1793
  • James Madison
    566 votes
    Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)
    Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809
  • James Monroe
    539 votes
    Dec. at 73 (1758-1831)
    James Madison, 1811-1817