#TBT: Madeleine Albright sworn in

It only took the U.S. 217 years to name its first female Secretary of State.

When Madeline Albright became the first female secretary of state

The day after her unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Madeline Albright is sworn in as America’s first female secretary of state by Vice President Al Gore at the White House. As head of the U.S. State Department, Albright was the highest ranking female official in U.S. history, a distinction that led some to declare that the “glass ceiling” preventing the ascension of women in government had been lifted.

Biography of the Secretary

Albright was born Maria Jana Korbelova in Czechoslovakia in 1937 and fled to the United States with her family in 1948 after the communist takeover. She studied law and government at Columbia University in New York City and graduated with a Ph.D. During the 1970s, she served as a staff member on the National Security Council and at the White House and in 1989 became president of the nonprofit Center for National Policy. In January 1993, she was appointed the permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations by President Bill Clinton, where she earned a reputation as a tough, straight-talking negotiator with a personal touch. In December 1996, she was nominated by Clinton to replace Warren Christopher as secretary of state, the most important and powerful post in the president’s Cabinet.

Swearing in ceremony with President Clinton

“America is strong, our principles are ascendant, and our leadership both respected and welcome in most corners of the world. But if we are complacent or timid, or unwilling to look beyond our borders, our citizens will not prosper and the framework of American leadership and the foundation of American security we have built could crumble with twenty-first century speed. I will do all I can to validate your trust, and thus of the United States Senate. Because of your leadership, and the courage and productivity of our people I will begin my service as Secretary of State with the wind at my back” cited from THIS DAY IN HISTORY.

Madam Secretary

On January 26, 2005, Condoleezza Rice was sworn in by President George W. Bush as the nation’s second female secretary of state. Hillary Clinton became the third in 2009. Albright paved the way for future female secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice Hillary Clinton.