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The U.S. Department of State is the federal executive department responsible for U.S. foreign relations and international affairs. Its two principal responsibilities are to develop and implement U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad as well as advise the president on foreign policy matters. During times of war or in situations that might lead to war, the State Department is tasked with exploring all diplomatic options and foreign policy implications. This entry reviews the history of the State Department from its inception to the present day.

Early Years

Drafted in Philadelphia in 1787 and ratified by the states a year later, the U.S. Constitution gave the president complete authority to conduct the nation’s foreign relations. It soon became clear, however, that President George Washington could not undertake this ...

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