History of the Secret Service

You may wonder why the US Secret Service has responsibilities as diverse as investigating fraud and protecting the President. At a recent conference, Tim Viertel of the US Secret Service shed some additional light on the history of the organization recorded here.

In 1865, President Lincoln authorized the formation of the Secret Service under the Department of Treasury to combat a huge counterfeit currency problem that had arisen following the Civil War. Lincoln was assassinated the day after this authorization.

In 1902, after the assassination of two more presidents, and with no other governmental police available, Congress expanded the responsibilities of the Secret Service to Presidential protection.

The Secret Service implicated a senator and two congressmen in the western land fraud of 1907. Congress decided the Secret Service had gotten too powerful, and created the FBI under the Department of Justice.

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Updated at: 31 October 2005 6:10 PM

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