Chief Clerks

Section 2 of the Act of Congress of Jul 27, 1789 (1 Stat. 28) establishing a Department of Foreign Affairs, authorized the Secretary to appoint a Chief Clerk, who would have custody of the Department’s records whenever the office of the Secretary should be vacant. From 1789 to 1853, when Congress created the position of Assistant Secretary of State, the Chief Clerk was the second-ranking officer of the Department of State, and was responsible for supervision of Department personnel, distribution of correspondence, and day-to-day operations. All Chief Clerks were designated, not commissioned. After 1853, the Chief Clerk’s duties included at various times custody of archives, distribution of correspondence, and supervision of Department personnel and property. The office was abolished Jan 26, 1939, re-established Aug 6, 1942, as the Office of the Chief Clerk and Administrative Assistant, and abolished in the reorganization of Jan 15, 1944. Chief Clerks who were not second-ranking officers of the Department are not included here.