These include the acceptance of the resignation of the U.S. President, the use and custodianship of the Great Seal, and the execution of the White House's protocol functions. As may be deduced from the stated, therefore, the office of the Secretary of State is an extremely influential one, with its associate powers reaching far beyond those assigned to the Vice-President. It is precisely because of this that, even though the Secretary of State is fourth in line to the succession of the presidency, this particular office has been traditionally viewed as a stepping stone to the Presidency. Indeed, several secretaries of state, including Thomas Jefferson, were later elected to the Presidency (DeConde, 1962). Given the importance of the defined office, it is useful to research the occupation of those who filled this position and comparatively analyze the historical retention rate of Secretaries of State between Democratic and Republican Administrations.
Focusing on the time period from 1897 to the present, history shows that there were thirty-two U.S. Secretaries of State. Many had had a career in politics prior to their appointment and, several had been appointed to various offices in previous administrations. Only three of the thirty-two had had an army career which, in light of this office's primarily being a diplomatic one, is understandable.