Illustration for article titled Most Influential U.S. Secretaries Of Stateem/emem/em

President Trump’s controversial firing of his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, partially due to disagreements over foreign policy, has put the spotlight on the role of the head of the U.S. State Department. The Onion looks back at some of the most influential U.S. secretaries of state.


Thomas Jefferson (1790-1793):

America’s first secretary of state set the tone for a successful and scandal-free tenure by never once sending or receiving an email.

John Quincy Adams (1817-1825):

Made one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in U.S. history by acquiring Florida.


Henry Clay (1825-1829):

The first person to be secretary of state under the nation’s time-honored tradition of giving the post to some halfwit who had tried and completely failed to be elected president.


Hamilton Fish (1869-1877):

The myriad notable accomplishments of Ulysses S. Grant’s and Rutherford B. Hayes’ top diplomatic advisor are so deeply ingrained in the American consciousness that there’s no real need to reiterate them here.


Cordell Hull (1933-1944):

The longest-serving secretary of state to date, Hull advised Franklin D. Roosevelt throughout WWII, helped form the United Nations, and made crackling noises with his mouth to simulate flames during the president’s fireside chats.


Henry Kissinger (1973-1977):

While Kissinger won a Nobel Peace Prize during his tenure, some critics maintain his legacy could be tarnished by literally everything he ever did.


George P. Shultz (1982-1989):

After serving as secretary of labor and secretary of the treasury under Nixon, Shultz pulled off the Secretary Triple Crown when he was chosen as Reagan’s secretary of state.


Colin Powell (2001-2005):

Notable as the first African American to lie the U.S. into a catastrophic and unnecessary war.


Condoleezza Rice (2005-2009):

Her time in office was primarily spent trying to clean up the mess caused by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.


Hillary Clinton (2009-2013):

Leaving an Obama administration with an approval rating over 60 percent offered Clinton virtually unlimited opportunities to accomplish anything she ever wanted to do.


Share This Story

Get our newsletter