By Chris Morris
March 13, 2018

Donald Trump’s decision to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday came as somewhat of a shock, even though the president had reportedly been considering removing the one-time Exxon CEO from the post since November. Tillerson’s departure just over a year into the Trump administration puts him on a short list of high-level government officials whose tenure have been incredibly brief.

While he only held the job for roughly 14 months, Tillerson wasn’t the shortest serving secretary of state in history (who was fired). That dubious honor goes to Edward Stettinius Jr., who filled the role for just seven months under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

James G. Blaine didn’t do much better. He held the job for just nine months.

But in the modern era, no head of the State Department has come and gone anywhere close to the speed at which Tillerson left. The last three first-term Secretaries of State—Warren Christopher, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton—all remained in their posts for the entire term.

Since 1949, the only first-term Secretary of State who lasted less than three years was Alexander Haig, who held the role for 18 months under President Ronald Reagan.

(Editor’s note: This story originally stated James G. Blaine was the shortest serving Secretary of State. The error has been corrected.)


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