Madeleine Albright: First Woman Secretary of State


Madeleine Albright: First Woman Secretary of State

"I, Madeleine Albright, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitute of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take the obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

With those words, Madeleine Albright, an immigrant, became the 64th U.S. Secretary of State, the first time in American history a woman would head the State Department. She would be charged with working with then President Bill Clinton and other government officials to plan the way the United States acts and communicates with other nations, its foreign policy.

The first Secretary of State was Thomas Jefferson, appointed by President George Washington in 1789. The Secretary of State is the fourth in order of succession to the presidency after the vice president, the speaker of the House, and the president pro tempore. Because she was not born in the U.S., Madeleine Albright was not eligible to become president.

The journey to her confirmation as Secretary of States spanned two continents and 20 years of government service. She earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in public law and government, served as professor of foreign policy before being appointed American ambassador to the U.N.

Madeleine Albright was born Marie Jana Korbelova in Prague, Czechoslovakia on May 15, 1937, the oldest of three children of Josef and Anna (Speeglova) Korbel.

Her father, Josef, was a diplomat with the Czechoslovakian government before the outbreak of World War II. When he was just five years old, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. This sets off a series of cascading declarations that lead to World War I, which ended up in the death of more than 8.5 million soldiers, and as many as 12.5 million civilians in the four years of battle. At the age of 9, he was living in a free country for the first time.

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.

Struggles which shaped Czechoslovakia include Hitler and the Nazi party taking control of Germany in 1933. In 1938, Britain, Italy and France made a treaty, the Munich Agreement, which allowed Germany to occupy a Czech territory in which more than half of the population was German. This granted Germany 38% of Czechoslovakia's land.

Madeleine Albright was two at the time and living in Belgrade. Hitler soon took complete control of the country. German tanks rolled into Prague on March 15, 1939. Targeted by the Gestapo, the family went into hiding before finally granted permission to leave the country.

The Korbels arrived in New York in late 1948.

Albright first became involved in politics while campaigning for Edmund Muskie during his 1968 run for presidency. She lived foreign policy as a refugee from oppression, studied and taught it as a professor, nurtured its development as an advisor to politicians and diplomats.

Her job at the United Nations, the term coined by Franklin D. Roosevelt, originated after World War II, when nations of the world had a strong desire to never again engage in a war of such proportions.

Among the United Nations’ pledges are to "save humanity from the scourge of war," "protect human right and the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small," "promote justice and respect for international law," and "promote social progress, better standards of life, and freedom."

Before her confirmation hearing as U.S. representative to the U.N. on January 21, 1993... Albright admitted in her opening statement that while the United Nations is important, it also has many problems. "The United Nations remains bogged down by an unwieldly and inefficiently administered staff, overlapping responsibilities, and a financial crisis."

Under President Bill Clinton, she became the country’s representative to the United Nations (1993-97) and secretary of state (1997-2001), making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of American government at the time.

In 2001, she founded what is now the Albright Stonebridge Group, an international consulting firm, and in 2005 the Albright Capital Management, focusing on emerging markets.

Madeleine Albright, a champion of women’s rights internationally and a vocal advocate for Democratic women in U.S. politics, died March 23, 2022 at the age of 84.

"My most joyful experience was marriage and raising a family. My most painful was divorce and finding a way to move on and up. The most riveting was learning about my Jewish heritage. The saddest was discovering that my grandparents died in concentration camps."

You know, they say in foreign policy business that we aren't to let ourselves be influenced by emotions, but how can forget that murdered children are not emotions, but that they are human beings whose potential contributions are forever lost.

Like this post? Stop by and read Francis Perkins: The First Woman to Sit in the Cabinet of the United States.” Frances Perkins was the secretary of labor under President Franklin Roosevelt, the first female cabinet secretary, the longest serving secretary of labor and one of the architects of Roosevelt’s New Deal economic policies.

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