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From State to the White House

By Laurie Bennett

April 5, 2013 at 7:46am

For former secretaries of State, the odds of landing a book contract are much higher than the odds of being elected president.

But over the course of American history, the White House odds are still fair.

Six former secretaries, shown in the Muckety map above, have attained the presidency. The first was Thomas Jefferson, who was secretary under George Washington. The last was James Buchanan, secretary in the James K. Polk administration.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Buchanan was president before the Civil War. So if we’re looking at recent history, the two offices are certainly not inexorably linked. (It goes without saying that no first lady has reached the Oval Office, except for an occasional chat or photo opp with the hubby.)

Book deals, on the other hand, are almost a sure thing.

Simon & Schuster announced Thursday that it will release a memoir by Hillary Rodham Clinton next year.

Although autobiographies typically precede presidential campaigns, sometimes they just make money for the authors. Clinton’s last memoir, published in 2003, reaped millions.

Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger

All of her recent predecessors have also written memoirs. You have to go back to Lawrence Eagleburger, who was acting secretary and then acting secretary for just 108 days during the George H.W. Bush presidency, to find a secretary who did not leave behind a memoir.

And of course, many of those who preceded Eagleburger wrote books.

Henry Kissinger made a second career of it. Indeed, the New York Times described his successful efforts for a multi-million-dollar book deal as his “final negotiation.”

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