The Secretary holds the most senior position in the President’s Cabinet. If the President were to resign or die, the Secretary of State is fourth in line of succession after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the President pro tempore of the Senate.
There have been 71 Secretaries of State in the nation’s history. Three have been women and two have been African-Americans. In early American history, the position of Secretary was seen as a stepping stone to the Presidency. Six of the early Secretaries of State went on to become President. Secretaries of State have also typically been highly educated. Four had doctoral degrees, and four have won the Nobel Peace Prize.