Celebrating 230 Years of Diplomacy

3 minutes read time
Secretary Pompeo speaks behind a podium
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks to State Department Employees on the 230th Anniversary of the Founding of the State Department, on July 29, 2019 at the U.S. Department of State. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha)

Celebrating 230 Years of Diplomacy

On July 29, the U.S. Department of State marked its 230th Anniversary with an all-day celebration at the Harry S. Truman building in Washington, D.C., featuring remarks by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Former Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. In his remarks, Secretary Pompeo affirmed that in its 230 years of history, the State Department has used diplomacy to defend unalienable rights—not just for Americans, but for people around the world.

Secretary Pompeo chats with Dr. Henry Kissinger, the 56th Secretary of State, at the Department's 230th anniversary celebration. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha)

Secretary Pompeo stated, “We negotiate agreements with friends and foes alike to avert military conflict, and thereby prevent innocent civilians from dying… We assist nations eager to preserve their independence from foreign influence. And we are blessed in that we stand grounded in the unique moral authority of American values, in defense of the voiceless, when we see human rights abuses.”

Secretary Pompeo reflected on past heroes of American diplomacy: Stephen Pleasanton, a clerk who in 1814 protected the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights when the British invaded Washington; George Waller, the Charge d’Affaires in Luxembourg who issued life-saving visas to hundreds of Jews during World War II; and, Kitty Herrick, the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to France during World War I who helped launch the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris. The State Department’s diplomatic heroes laid a foundation for today’s institution by protecting freedom, and by being a true example of service.

The 230th Anniversary proved to be more than an opportunity to reflect on the past. Secretary Pompeo emphasized that it is our turn to pave the way for those who will come after, focused on “one team, one mission, and dedicated towards one future.” This philosophy has formed the foundation of the Department’s new Professional Ethos, which lays out commitments that unite every single person who is working on behalf of the State Department: a commitment to the Constitution, to protecting the American people, to serving with professionalism and integrity, and to taking responsibility for each and every action that each person takes.

Secretary Pompeo cuts a celebratory cake with former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha)

Secretary Pompeo concluded his remarks by noting that while the State Department’s story began long ago, it will extend long after we are gone with future generations of diplomats. He encouraged today’s State Department employees, “Let’s set a shining example for them. Let’s protect the American principles that have made our nation the greatest in the history of the world.”

Read Secretary Pompeo's full remarks here.