WASHINGTON Hillary Rodham Clinton formally resigned Friday as America's secretary of state, capping a four-year tenure that saw her shatter records for the number of countries visited. John Kerry was sworn in to replace her.
In a letter sent to President Barack Obama shortly before she left the State Department for the last time in her official capacity, Clinton thanked her former opponent for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination for the opportunity to serve in his administration. Clinton said it had been an honor to be part of his Cabinet.
"I am more convinced than ever in the strength and staying power of America's global leadership and our capacity to be a force for good in the world," she said in the letter.
Her resignation became effective at 3 p.m., when Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan swore in John Kerry as the top U.S. diplomat. The former Massachusetts senator and 2004 presidential candidate is the 68th secretary of state.
"I'm just very, very honored to be sworn in and I'm very anxious to get to work," Kerry told reporters after the private ceremony at the Capitol. "I'll be reporting Monday morning at 9 o'clock to do my part," he said, but he refused to say what global hotspot he would visit first.
In the State Department's main lobby, Clinton pushed through a throng of American foreign service workers who clamored for handshakes and smartphone photos with her and gave an emotional goodbye speech.
She told them to continue to "serve the nation we all love, to understand the challenges, the threats and the opportunities that the United States faces and to work with all our heart and all of our might to make sure that America is secure, that our interests are promoted and our values are respected."
Read more on this story in Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.