U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets and shakes hands with the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong. Kerry and Tong, leader of an island nation threatened by sea level rise, were attending the "Our Ocean" international conference in Washington, D.C.
Photograph by United States Department of State

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  • On July 27, 1789, the new government of the United States established its first federal agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs, led by the Secretary of State. The first Secretary of State was Thomas Jefferson. Today, this agency is known as the Department of State.
    The State Department is responsible for international relations and American diplomacy. Diplomacy is the art and science of maintaining peaceful relationships between nations, groups, or individuals. Often, diplomacy refers to representatives of different groups discussing such issues as conflict, trade, the environment, technology, or security.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    Department of State Noun

    department of U.S. government responsible for international relations, whose mission is to "Create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community."

    diplomacy Noun

    art and science of maintaining peaceful relationships between nations, groups, or individuals.

    Encyclopedic Entry: diplomacy
    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    federal Adjective

    having to do with a nation's government (as opposed to local or regional government).

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    international Adjective

    having to do with more than one country.

    nation Noun

    political unit made of people who share a common territory.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nation
    representative Noun

    someone or something who acts in place of a group of people.

    responsible Adjective

    having accountability, authority, or liability in a situation.

    security Noun

    safety or stability.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

    trade Noun

    buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.