United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs


United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs

The United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs was a position that existed in the United States government from January 10, 1781 to September 15, 1789.

The Articles of Confederation permitted the Continental Congress to select "such committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States." On August 10, 1781, seven months after the congressional resolution of January 10, 1781, Congress selected Robert R. Livingston, a delegate from New York, as the first Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Livingston was unable to take office until October 20, 1781. He served until June 4, 1783 when he was succeeded by John Jay, who served until March 3, 1789, when the government under the Articles of Confederation gave way to the government under the Constitution.

The office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs were reinstated by a law signed by George Washington on July 27, 1789. However, before the office was filled, on September 15, 1789, Washington signed into law another act which changed the name of the office from "Secretary of Foreign Affairs" to "Secretary of State", changed the name of the department to the Department of State, and added several domestic powers and responsibilities to both the office of secretary and the department.

Secretaries for Foreign Affairs


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