Secretaries of State Since WWII

This section gives information on each Secretary of State since World War II.  In addition to brief text and references, video clips on several are also included.



Colin Powell -- 2001-2005

One of America’s most admired individuals, Colin Powell became Secretary of State under President George W. Bush after having reached served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A combat decorated war veteran and promoted to four-star general in 1989, he was known for his cautious approach to the use of military force and helping plan the successful U.S. operations during the First Persian Gulf War in 1990. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq consumed his (and the nation’s) attention during most of his tenure. He was also a driving force to increase global efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to promote good governance in Third World countries through development assistance under the Millennium Challenge Account. Within the State Department, where he was the first African American to serve as Secretary, he raised morale through his open management style, his securing expanded Congressional funding for his “Diplomatic Readiness Initiative” and his efforts to promote greater diversity within the Foreign Service ranks.

  • Powell, Colin L. (with Joseph Persico). My American Journey: An Autobiography. New York: Random House, 1995.
  • Steins, Richard. Colin Powell: A Biography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003.