State, United States Department of: The Twentieth Century

The Twentieth Century

Before and during World War I, several new responsibilities were assumed during the tenures of William Jennings Bryan (1913–15) and Robert Lansing (1915–20). The Rogers Act of 1924 abolished the separate diplomatic and consular bureaus in favor of the Division of Foreign Service Information, and under the administrations of Frank B. Kellogg (1925–29) and Henry L. Stimson (1929–33) other new agencies were created. In 1931 the office of the solicitor—given charge through the years of such matters as extradition, naturalization, expatriation, passport problems, neutrality, and extraterritoriality—was superseded by the office of legal adviser.

During the long administration (1933–44) of Cordell Hull a variety of changes was effected, at first to meet the needs of recovery from economic depression, but later to face the rising tide of World War II. In 1938 the Division of Cultural Relations—soon to undergo several changes—was begun to stimulate cooperation with other nations through the various media of mass communication; the same year the Division of International Communication was started to meet problems concerned with worldwide telecommunications. Two reorganizations within the Dept. of State occurred in 1943 and 1944, and with the close of the war the department's machinery was geared to dispense information to foreign nations (e.g., the radio program “The Voice of America”), to establish strict secrecy concerning its operations, to integrate foreign policy with the economic-aid programs, and to bring about effective liaison between the United States and the United Nations.

In 1949 the Hoover Commission (Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government) criticized the fact that the Dept. of State and the Foreign Service were manned by a distinct and noninterchangeable corps of employees and urged amalgamation of the personnel of the two bodies. Opposition to this, especially from the Foreign Service, which considered itself an elite corps, was partly resolved in 1954, when a committee headed by Henry M. Wriston, president of Brown Univ., recommended integration rather than amalgamation of the personnel. The Foreign Service was greatly enlarged, and as a result it lost its semiautonomous position and was brought securely under the authority of the secretary of state. In 1961 the Agency for International Development and the Peace Corps were created as agencies within the Dept. of State. The Peace Corps was later removed from the department when it was merged (1971) with other volunteer service agencies.

In terms of policy formulation the department suffered a decline in the 20th cent., especially after the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was often said to be “his own secretary of state.” John Foster Dulles (1953–59), Henry M. Kissinger (1969–76), and James A. Baker 3d (1989–92) were, however, particularly strong secretaries. Madeleine Albright, President Bill Clinton's second secretary of state, was the first woman to hold the post, and Colin Powell, President George W. Bush's first secretary of state, was the first African American.

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