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.



Madeleine Korbel Albright -- 1997-2001

Before taking on senior positions in the administration of President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright had been a well-connected professor and think tank researcher on security issues, a National Security Council staffer under President Jimmy Carter and a foreign policy advisor to Democratic presidential candidates, including Bill Clinton. She served during President Clinton’s first term as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. When appointed Secretary of State in 1997, the first woman to hold that position, she continued to assert an agenda that combined vigorous use of U.S. force and a strong commitment to human rights in resistance to tyranny. She gave high priority to the expansion of NATO and the inclusion of East European countries within the European community of nations, and played a leading role in formulating U.S. policies during the conflicts in Kosovo and Bosnia. In 1999, following a compromise worked out with Senator Jesse Helms of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to secure U.S. payment of its U.N. financial obligations, the United States Information Agency (USIA) and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) were abolished and their functions folded into the Department of State. In her final months as Secretary she made an official visit to Pyongyang, North Korea, in a last-ditch effort to improve relations with that country.

  • Albright, Madeleine K. (with Bill Woodward). Madam Secretary: A Memoir. New York: Miramax, 2003.
  • Albright, Madeleine K. The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World Affairs. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
  • Lippman, Thomas W Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000.