The State Department is headquartered in the Harry S Truman Building, a few blocks away from the White House, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C.; "Foggy Bottom" is thus sometimes used as a metonym for the Department. Its duties include implementing the foreign policy of the United States, operating the nation's diplomatic missions abroad, negotiating treaties and agreements with foreign entities, and representing the United States at the United Nations.
The State Department is led by the Secretary of State, a member of the Cabinet who is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In addition to administering the Department, the Secretary of State serves as the nation's chief diplomat and representative abroad. The Secretary of State is the first Cabinet official in the order of precedence and in the presidential line of succession, after the Vice President of the United States, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President pro tempore of the Senate.
The U.S. Constitution, drafted in Philadelphia in September 1787 and ratified by the 13 states the following year, gave the President the responsibility for the conduct of the nation's foreign relations.
The House of Representatives and Senate approved legislation to establish a Department of Foreign Affairs on July 21, 1789, and President Washington signed it into law on July 27, making the Department of Foreign Affairs the first federal agency to be created under the new Constitution. This legislation remains the basic law of the Department of State. In September 1789, additional legislation changed the name of the agency to the Department of State and assigned to it a variety of domestic duties.
These responsibilities grew to include management of the United States Mint, keeper of the Great Seal of the United States, and the taking of the census. President George Washington signed the new legislation on September 15. Most of these domestic duties of the Department of State were eventually turned over to various new Federal departments and agencies that were established during the 19th century. However, the Secretary of State still retains a few domestic responsibilities, such as being the keeper of the Great Seal and being the officer to whom a President or Vice President of the United States wishing to resign must deliver an instrument in writing declaring the decision to resign.