Politics
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The Best Former US Secretaries of State of All Time

Updated April 25, 2019 20.0k votes 3.6k voters 61.3k views68 items

List RulesIncludes 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.
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  • George Marshall1
    637
    172

    George Marshall

    Dec. at 79 (1880-1959)
    Harry S. Truman, 1947-1949
  • John Quincy Adams2
    513
    131

    John Quincy Adams

    Dec. at 81 (1767-1848)
    James Monroe, 1817-1825
  • Thomas Jefferson3
    528
    200

    Thomas Jefferson

    Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)
    George Washington, 1790-1793
  • William H. Seward4
    431
    105

    William H. Seward

    Dec. at 71 (1801-1872)
    Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, 1861-1869
  • James Monroe5
    289
    104

    James Monroe

    Dec. at 73 (1758-1831)
    James Madison, 1811-1817
  • James Madison6
    314
    108

    James Madison

    Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)
    Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809
  • Dean Acheson7
    237
    128

    Dean Acheson

    Dec. at 78 (1893-1971)
    Harry S. Truman, 1949-1953
  • Daniel Webster8
    211
    95

    Daniel Webster

    Dec. at 70 (1782-1852)
    William Harrison, 1841, John Tyler, 1841-1843, and Millard Fillmore, 1850-1852
  • Henry Clay9
    189
    99

    Henry Clay

    Dec. at 75 (1777-1852)
    John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829
  • George P. Shultz10
    309
    198
    Ronald Reagan, 1982-1989
  • John Hay11
    180
    86

    John Hay

    Dec. at 67 (1838-1905)
    William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, 1898-1905
  • John Marshall12
    164
    81

    John Marshall

    Dec. at 80 (1755-1835)
    John Adams, 1800-1801
  • James Baker13
    396
    281
    George H. W. Bush, 1989-1992
  • Madeleine Albright14
    488
    341

    Madeleine Albright

    Age: 83
    Bill Clinton, 1997-2001
  • Henry Kissinger15
    611
    544
    Gerald Ford, 1973-1977
  • Cordell Hull16
    166
    88

    Cordell Hull

    Dec. at 84 (1871-1955)
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1944
  • Elihu Root17
    133
    82

    Elihu Root

    Dec. at 92 (1845-1937)
    Theodore Roosevelt, 1905-1909
  • John Foster Dulles18
    196
    159

    John Foster Dulles

    Dec. at 71 (1888-1959)
    Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1959
  • Colin Powell19
    431
    360
    George W. Bush, 2001-2005
  • Condoleezza Rice20
    568
    506
    George W. Bush, 2005-2009
  • Hamilton Fish21
    116
    76

    Hamilton Fish

    Dec. at 85 (1808-1893)
    Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877
  • Charles Evans Hughes22
    110
    75

    Charles Evans Hughes

    Dec. at 86 (1862-1948)
    Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover, 1921-1925
  • Edward Everett23
    84
    43

    Edward Everett

    Dec. at 71 (1794-1865)
    Millard Fillmore, 1852-1853
  • Hillary Clinton24
    836
    881
    Barack Obama, 2009-2013
  • James G. Blaine25
    69
    48

    James G. Blaine

    Dec. at 63 (1830-1893)
    Benjamin Harrison, 1889-1892, and James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur, 1881-1881