Great Diplomats in American History

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11215

Would you like to live in a foreign country? Sound exotic? What if you were responsible for how our countries get along? Learn what diplomats do, and decide how they would handle today's world issues!


United States

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


You can classify the people in your life into different categories:

Some people are friends, tried and true. You know they won't let you down.

Some people are proven enemies; you know from experience they can't be trusted.

Then there are frenemies, people who may or may not be there for you, depending on their interests and needs at the moment.

Countries classify other countries as well.

Write down your thoughts on the following questions:

  • Who are America's friends? What makes you think so?
  • Who are America's enemies? What makes you think so?
  • Does America have "frenemies"? Who might they be?

Imagine yourself in the driver's seat of American diplomacy. Surely you would have a significant impact.

  • How would you change America's relationships with other countries? Why?

The phone rings on a chilly morning in late November.

It is the president-elect of the United States, and he or she asks you to become the new Secretary of State -- the leader of the State Department and America's diplomatic efforts worldwide.

Whoa! That's a big responsibility.

  • Where do you even begin to understand the job?

Let's take a look at some of the people who have held this position before to try to understand the nuts and bolts of the job.

Print the Diplomats of American History Grid found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Explore Secretaries of State from the Office of the Historian, and select at least six figures from the links listed there. As you read the profiles, record any information and ideas you find in the Diplomats of American History Grid.

Reflect on these questions and write your responses. Share your reflections and discoveries with a parent or teacher:

  1. What were the main responsibilities of these individuals as diplomats?
  2. What kinds of training and education do you think they needed to do their job? What makes you think so?
  3. What patterns or common themes do you see in their lives and careers?

The people you read about in these profiles laid the groundwork for decades or even centuries of American diplomacy.

  • Wouldn't it be interesting to know their thoughts on today's issues in foreign diplomacy?

Continue on to the Got It? section to dig deeper into the diplomats' decisions!

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