U.S. Department of State: A Reference History

By Elmer Plischke | Go to book overview

ams and was appointed as his Secretary of State. Whereas Clay excelled and enjoyed his work in Congress, his service as Secretary probably was his least congenial public office, in part because he lacked prior diplomatic and administrative experience and because he had to deal not only with critical treaty negotiations but also with an unfriendly Congress. President Adams was inclined to impose his foreign policy views on his Secretary, and they differed in their dispositions and on a number of diplomatic nominations, but overall they maintained friendly relations in the cause of American foreign interests and diplomacy, and Clay generally enjoyed good relations with American diplomats abroad.

Thus, during this period involving wars, extensive territorial expansion, and stabilizing the status and role of the United States in foreign affairs, the country was fortunate to have a series of able statesmen at the helm in both the presidency and the Department of State. The major misfortune was the appointment of Robert Smith as Secretary in 1809.


NOTES
1
Madison was dissatisfied with Smith's manner of drafting important papers and the functioning of the diplomatic service in a number of key capitals. In addition, he was troubled by the factional differences between Smith and Secretary of the Treasury Gallatin in the Cabinet, which came to a head in March 1811. Gallatin tendered his resignation, declaring that either he or Secretary Smith needed to resign, but President Madison refused to accept Gallatin's resignation, solicited from James Monroe his willingness to become Secretary of State, informed Smith that he did not measure up to expectations, and offered him an alternative appointment as Minister to Russia, which Smith rejected.
2
In the presidential election of 1824, in which the candidates were John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay, Jackson received the largest popular vote, but none received a majority of the Electoral College vote. Adams was elected by the House of Representatives. Clay supported Adams in House of Representatives voting and was rewarded with this appointment as Secretary of State.
3
In addition, to this time two of the eight Chief Clerks were Virginians. After Monroe only two Secretaries of State to the time of World War II were from Virginia ( Abel P. Upshur, 1843-44, and Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., 1944-45).
4
Early in 1821, when Congress sought to retrench the national administration, Secretary Adams argued that the Department of State needed more, rather than fewer, clerks and that they were inadequately compensated for their qualifications and responsibilities.

On January 14, 1826, Secretary Clay sent a message to the House of Representatives Ways and Mean Committee requesting additional staff for the Department. In it he stressed the increase in the number of American diplomatic missions to foreign governments and the burden of translating documents not only from French but also from other languages.

5
To indicate departmental differences for 1798, for example, whereas the Department of State had only a Secretary and a Chief Clerk as its top-level management staff, whose combined salaries totaled $4,300, the Treasury Department, in addition to the

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