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HALL OF THE
SECRETARIES OF STATE

Duties of the Position


Under the Constitution, the President of the United States determines U.S. foreign policy. The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President's chief foreign affairs adviser. The Secretary carries out the President's policies through the Department of State and the Foreign Service of the United States. Created in 1789 by the Congress as the successor to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of State is the senior executive Department of the U.S. Government. The Secretary of State's duties relating to foreign affairs have not changed significantly since then, but they have become far more complex as international commitments multiplied. These duties--the activities and responsibilities of the Department of State--include the following:


In addition, the Secretary of State retains domestic responsibilities that Congress entrusted to the State Department in 1789. These include the custody of the Great Seal of the United States, the preparation of certain presidential proclamations, the publication of treaties and international acts as well as the official record of the foreign relations of the United States, and the custody of certain original treaties and international agreements. The Secretary also serves as the channel of communication between the Federal government and the States on the extradition of fugitives to or from foreign countries.

Fact Sheet released by the Bureau of Public Affairs, October 1997
U.S. Department of State


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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2001


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