Presidential Madness (Round 1): Favorite historical secretary of state

Here at Constitution Daily, madness in March doesn’t just apply to the NCAA—it’s also an excuse to give the bracket treatment to the executive branch of government. That’s right, it’s time for Presidential Madness.

This March, help us pick the best presidential Cabinet of all time—the top public servants who have guided the leader of the free world for more than 225 years, from George Washington to Barack Obama, courtesy of the system set up by Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

lincolns cabinet

Lincoln’s cabinet.

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Round 1: Historical secretary of state

Today’s vote is one of the toughest of our two-week contest: the best secretary of state before 1900!

In the early days of our country, the secretary of state was the second most powerful person in the U.S. government and often became the next president (at least until Andrew Jackson came along). James Buchanan was the last secretary of state to eventually become president.

Other secretaries from the early years included John Marshall, John Jay, James Monroe, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, James Blaine, and John Hay.

Here are the five nominees for best historical secretary of state, along with a quick bio of their time in office:

1. John Quincy Adams. Served 1817 – 1825. A better secretary of state than president by most accounts, Adams acquired Florida and established the Monroe Doctrine during his eight years at State.

2. William Seward. Served 1861 – 1869. Steered the State Department for two presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, in times of war and reconstruction.

3. Hamilton Fish. Served 1869 – 1877. Reformed the State Department and handled many delicate international situations during the Grant administration.

4. Thomas Jefferson. Served 1790 – 1793. Founding Father, minister to France, and George Washington’s first secretary of state, Jefferson left office after arguing with Alexander Hamilton.

5. James Madison. Served 1801 – 1809. As Jefferson’s secretary of state for eight years, Madison helped arrange the Louisiana Purchase and maintain the peace with Europe.

Pick your favorite in our poll below, and check back each day for the latest Presidential Madness vote!

Note: If you can’t see the poll above, use this link: http://poll.fm/45mgv

 

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