On July 5, 2015, the United States Secret Service (USSS) will celebrate its 150th year of service to the American people. Well known for its higher-profile mission of protecting the President and other government VIPs, the Secret Service actually started as the name implies—operating in secret.
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The year was 1865, and our nation was reeling from the aftermath of the Civil War. One of the results of the war was a broken economy, based in large measure on undervalued or fake money. In an attempt to undermine the Union’s economy, the Confederacy had become prolific counterfeiters of Union “greenbacks.”
On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln put into motion the solution to that problem. In a meeting with Treasury Department officials, President Abraham Lincoln gave verbal consent for the formation of a new covert unit within the Department to combat counterfeiting—later to be known as the Secret Service.
Later that night, however, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, setting off a series of assassinations of U.S. Presidents that in 1901 would ultimately lead to the Secret Service being given the mission of protecting the President of the United States.
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Over its 150 years in existence, the U.S. Secret Service’s mission profile has expanded and in every way honors its core values of integrity, loyalty, duty, honor and courage.