Who was the 1st Secretary of State?









The Articles of Confederation’s office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs were reestablished by the 1st Federal Bicameral Congress and signed into law by George Washington on July 27, 1789. The new US Constitution law was titled, An Act for Establishing an Executive Department, to be Denominated The Department of Foreign Affairs. John Jay, Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Articles of Confederation,  turned down the cabinet appointment by President George Washington. John Jay, however, agreed to remain as Secretary of Foreign Affairs until his replacement was nominated, confirmed by the U.S. Senate and took the oath of office. 


An Act for Establishing an Executive Department, to be Denominated The Department of Foreign Affairs - July 27, 1789 image courtesy of Historic.us


On September 15, 1789, before a new Secretary was appointed, Washington signed into law An Act to provide for the safe-keeping of the Acts, Records and Seal of the United States, and for other purposes was passed. This law changed the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State and added several domestic powers and responsibilities to both the office of secretary and the department. The name of the office was also changed from "Secretary of Foreign Affairs" to "Secretary of State." Consequently, John Jay became the acting Secretary of State on September 15th, 1789.


An Act to provide for the safe-keeping of the Acts, Records and Seal of the United States, and for other purposes - September 15, 1789 image courtesy of Historic.us



On September 24, 1789 John Jay was nominated by President Washington as the United States Chief Justice. The Senate confirmed the appointment on September 26, 1789, and on that same day, President Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, then Minister to France, as Secretary of State. Jefferson had joined John Adams and Benjamin Franklin in Paris in 1784 to negotiate commercial treaties with European powers. The following year, he succeeded Franklin as Minister to France. Jefferson did not return to the United States to assume his duties until March 22, 1790. 


During this period, September 26, 1789, to March 21, 1790, Chief Justice John Jay served as the acting United States Secretary of State. John Jay's acting office, however, was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate nor did Jay take the oath of office to serve as Secretary of State. Therefore, Thomas Jefferson was the first U.S. Secretary of State, swearing the oath of office on March 22nd, 1790.  

Capitals of the United States and Colonies of America

Philadelphia
Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
Philadelphia
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Baltimore
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
Philadelphia
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
Lancaster
September 27, 1777
York
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
Philadelphia
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
Princeton
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Annapolis
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Trenton
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
Jan. 11, 1785 to Nov. 13, 1788
New York City
October 6, 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
Philadelphia
December 6,1790 to May 14, 1800                               
Washington DC
November 17,1800 to Present




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