Department of State

The United States Department of State is a federal body mandated with the task of handling foreign policy and diplomatic issues within the country, including advising the President on policy issues regarding foreign policy. This is one of the most critical departments in the Federal Government, since it essentially defines the way the United States will interact with other nations in the world.

The Department of State is equivalent to foreign ministries in other nations, such as in the commonwealth. In addition to providing information that is used in foreign policy formation, the Department of State is also tasked with negotiating with foreign entities when drawing up treatises and agreements. The Department of State also represents the United States during all UN meetings. The department is the depository for more than 200 multilateral treaties, which are agreements that the country has made with other nations in issues such as preferential trade.

The Department of State was initiated in 1787, and holds the distinction of being the first department ever established in the United States. At the time, the mandate of the Department of State was to be the keeper of the Great Seal of the United States, as well as to manage the US Mint. Today, it has its headquarters in Washington DC, in the Harry Truman Building.

The US Department of State is headed by the Secretary of State, a position nominated by the president, and then confirmed by the Senate before they can embark on their task. In the presidential line of succession, it is the Secretary of State who holds the office after the President pro tempore of the Senate.