WASHINGTON — So here is a trivia question: How many secretaries of state have political roots in Massachusetts? (Not including Senator John F. Kerry, who is expected to win speedy confirmation to be America’s top diplomat.)
There was future president John Quincy Adams, from 1817 to 1825, whose signature diplomatic achievement was the Monroe Doctrine, a foundation of American foreign policy.
Senator Daniel Webster, a gifted orator who served as secretary of state from 1841 to 1843, and again from 1850 to 1852, established the definitive eastern border between the Unites States and Canada, along the Maine-New Brunswick frontier.
And who could forget Levi Lincoln of Hingham? He helped draft the Massachusetts Constitution, served as Thomas Jefferson’s attorney general, and was acting secretary of state for two months in 1801, while James Madison was making his way to Washington to fill the post. Despite the short length of that stint, Lincoln advised Jefferson on the Louisiana Purchase.
A number of others from the Bay State became America’s top diplomat in the 19th century.
There was Dorchester native, Bay State governor, and one-time Harvard president Edward Everett, who filled out Webster’s term upon his death in 1852. One of Everett’s most historic speeches, however, is nearly forgotten to history. He spoke for two hours at Gettysburg in 1863, right before Abraham Lincoln’s much shorter and far better remembered Gettysburg Address.
Some of the even more obscure include William F. Wharton, who was acting secretary of state twice in the early 1890s. He is so forgotten that he does not even have his own Wikipedia page. Richard Olney of Oxford, who was secretary of state from 1895 to 1897 following a stint as attorney general, elevated US foreign diplomatic posts to embassies.
The only secretary of state with political roots in Massachusetts in the 20th century was Christian Herter, a former congressman and Massachusetts governor who was President Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of state from 1959 to 1961.
That brings the total to seven. Kerry is preparing to be number eight.
If he is confirmed he will also become the fifth chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to get the Cabinet post — after Henry Clay, John Forsyth, John Sherman, and James Buchanan.
But Kerry will be the only sitting chairman to get the post.
- Bryan Bender
House Democrats support Violence Against Women Act
WASHINGTON — A day after the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was reintroduced in the Senate, House Democrats declared that they would do everything in their power to ensure that it also passes the House.
The bill, which reauthorizes a 1994 law that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence, is similar to a bill the Senate passed last year that expired in the House. House Republicans offered their own bill, which excluded protections for gay, bisexual, and transgender victims of abuse and stripped provisions related to undocumented immigrants.