The U.S. secretary of state is perhaps the most important and often the most visible member of the president’s cabinet.
That person serves as the United States’ top diplomat, heads up the Department of State, and is often at the center of the most memorable events in world history.
Some secretaries of state, including Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, James Monroe and Martin Van Buren, went on to become president. Others, Like Hillary Clinton, attempted but failed.
Here are Newsmax’s picks for the best Republican-appointed secretaries of state, listed in chronological order.
William H. Seward (under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, 1861-1869): Seward successfully kept England and France from recognizing the Confederacy as a sovereign nation during the Civil War. He also persuaded France to withdraw its troops from Mexico when the war ended.
He’s best known for negotiating the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. At the time it was ridiculed as “Seward’s folly,” but it turned out to be one of the best bargains in land purchase in history.
John Hay (under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, 1898-1905): During the McKinley administration, Hay promoted a trade system with China that was equally open to all countries, which became known as the Open Door Policy.
After McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt kept Hay on as secretary of state, and Hay was successful in negotiating the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty, signed Nov. 18, 1903, by the United States and Panama. The agreement established the Panama Canal Zone and granted the United States the license to construct the canal connecting the world’s two greatest oceans.
Elihu Root (under Theodore Roosevelt, 1905-1909): After Hay’s death, Roosevelt appointed Root, who hit the ground running by persuading South American countries to participate in the Hague Peace Conference in 1906. He also negotiated the Root-Takahira Agreement in 1908, which limited U.S. and Japanese fortifications in the Pacific.
Root has been described by historians as being the figure most responsible for transforming the United States into a world power.
Charles Evans Hughes (under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, 1921-1925): Hughes was concerned about the naval arms race engaged in especially by the nations of Japan, Great Britain and the United States. In response, he organized the Washington Naval Conference, conducted separately from the League of Nations.
The Washington Naval Conference resulted in the Five-Power Treaty, which established a ratio of naval strength among the five largest naval powers. Hughes also served as arbiter of disputes among Western Hemisphere nations, and thus increased U.S. prestige in Latin America.
John Foster Dulles (under Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1959): Dulles focused on preventing the expansion of the Soviet Union, as well as communism, believing it to be a “godless terrorism.”
Accordingly, he worked to forge alliances with non-communist countries and helped build up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.
In an article he wrote for Life magazine, he described his policy, as "The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art."
Henry Kissinger (under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, 1973-1977): Kissinger became the only foreign-born U.S. secretary of state after serving as a special adviser on national security affairs during Nixon’s first term.
As secretary of state he was able to relax tensions with communist China and promote trade with both China and the former Soviet Union. He traveled tens of thousands of miles to conduct most of his negotiations in person in what became known as “shuttle diplomacy.”
George P. Shultz (under Ronald Reagan, 1982-1989): Shultz faced a number of challenges early on, including striking a delicate balance in U.S. negotiations with mainland China and Taiwan, escalating tensions with the Soviet Union, and unrest in the Middle East, including a war in Lebanon.
The State Department's official history reports that "by the summer of 1985, Shultz had personally selected most of the senior officials in the Department, emphasizing professional over political credentials in the process [...] The Foreign Service responded in kind by giving Shultz its 'complete support,' making him one of the most popular secretaries since Dean Acheson (under Harry Truman)."
James A. Baker (under George H.W. Bush, 1989-1992): Baker oversaw U.S. foreign policy during one of the most interesting and turbulent times in history — during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.
Baker was also largely charged with putting together the massive coalition of forces charged with driving Saddam Hussein and Iraqi troops out of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War.
Condoleezza Rice (under George W. Bush, 2005-2008): “Condi” Rice was appointed secretary of state during Bush-43’s second term in office, after previously serving as director of Soviet and East European Affairs on the National Security Council.
As secretary, she supported and practiced "Transformational Diplomacy," a term she coined that was a method of responding to new threats facing the United States and world by redistributing U.S. diplomats to areas of severe social and political unrest.
Rice also successfully negotiated several international agreements during her tenure, primarily affecting the Middle East. They include the August 14, 2006 ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and organizing the Annapolis Conference of 2007, which focused on finding a two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian differences.
Mike Pompeo (under Donald Trump, 2018-present): As the 70th and current U.S. secretary of state, it may be inappropriate to include him on this list, but to not include him would be to ignore his significant accomplishments during his brief time in office.
In March 2018, Trump nominated Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson, and after he was sworn into office on April 23, he set to work negotiating details for the 2018 North Korean-United States Summit held in Singapore in June of that year.
Pompeo has often been critical of foreign civil rights abuses, including the Xinjiang re-education camps in China directed against minorities like the Uighurs and the military crackdown of Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar Army.
Most recently, Pompeo signed an agreement to redeploy troops from Germany to Poland in response to Berlin’s repeated default of its responsibilities to the NATO defense budget, and secured Slovenia’s support for his “Clean Network” campaign against Chinese technology.
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