Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Cyrus Vance (1977–1980): Secretary of State

Cyrus Roberts Vance was born in Clarksburg, Virginia, in 1917 and earned both his B.A. (1939) and LL.B. (1942) from Yale University. During World War II, he fought in the U.S. Navy; he then went on to practice law.

Vance became secretary of the army in the Kennedy administration (1961-1962), deputy secretary of defense (1964-1967), and U.S. negotiator to the Paris Peace Conference on the Vietnam War (1968-1969). He was also special envoy to Cyprus (1967) and then to Korea (1968).

Vance served as secretary of state in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1980, resigning in April 1980 over the armed attempt to extricate American hostages from Iran. After a stint as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (1988-1990), he headed the U.N. mission to negotiate an end to the violence that erupted after the dissolution of Yugoslavia (1991-1992). Cyrus Vance died on January 12, 2002.