On August 10, 1781, Congress selected Robert R. Livingston, a delegate from New York, as the first Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Livingston was unable to take office until October 20, 1781. He served until June 4, 1783 when he was succeeded by John Jay, who served until March 4, 1789, when the government under the Articles of Confederation gave way to the government under the Constitution.
The office of Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs were reinstated by a law signed by George Washington on July 27, 1789. John Jay retained the post on an interim basis, pending the return of Thomas Jefferson from France. However, on September 15, 1789, before Jefferson could return to take the post, Washington signed into law another act which changed the name of the office from "Secretary of Foreign Affairs" to "Secretary of State," changed the name of the department to the Department of State, and added several domestic powers and responsibilities to both the office of secretary and the department.