With President’s Day coming here’s a look at some of the men and women who proved pivotal to the administrations of the Presidents of the United States. Many of those Secretaries may not be household names here in the 21st Century but they would definitely stand out on any staff. Here is an examination of sixteen such figures in chronological order. Figures like James G Blaine, William Seward, and Henry Kissinger are so well-known that they are not included on this list.
Served under: Presidents George Washington and John Adams
Noted for: Conspiring with Alexander Hamilton to undermine some of the policies of the Washington and Adams administrations. When Adams discovered this he ordered Pickering to resign, but Pickering refused, forcing Adams to fire him. Pickering remains the only Secretary of State to officially be fired by the President.
2. HENRY CLAY (1825-1829)
Served under: President John Quincy Adams
Noted for: Fighting a duel with Senator John Randolph, one of Clay’s critics who felt he had struck a “corrupt bargain” with Adams to get this prized cabinet position. Also for completing the first commerce treaties between the young United States and the various nations in Scandinavia and Latin America.
3. JOHN FORSYTH (1834-1841)
Served under: Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren
Noted for: Obtaining long-disputed reparations from France for U.S. commercial losses suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. Also for threatening to resign early in Van Buren’s administration before his relationship with the new president improved. Continue reading