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.



James Francis Byrnes -- 1945-1947

James Byrnes had been a well-regarded Senator from South Carolina, a one-year Supreme Court Justice and a close advisor to President Roosevelt before President Harry S Truman brought him into the cabinet in June 1945. The appointment of such an experienced politician (the only person in American history to have occupied prominent positions in all three branches of government) was considered very wise, particularly in view of the disastrous relations between President Woodrow Wilson and the Senate after the end of World War I. Byrnes joined Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference and was at Truman’s side at Potsdam. Although at one time seen as favoring warmer relations with the USSR, he became increasingly anti-Soviet. His “Speech of Hope” in Stuttgart on September 6, 1946, set the tone for a non-punitive U.S. policy toward Germany that sought its rapid rehabilitation. When his relations with Truman gradually soured, the President replaced him with the universally-admired George Marshall.

  • Byrnes, James F. All in One Lifetime. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958.
  • Byrnes, James F. Speaking Frankly. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1947.
  • Messed, Robert. The End of an Alliance: James Byrnes, Roosevelt, Truman and the Origins of the Cold War. Chapel Hill, NC: North Carolina Press, 1982.