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How the Assassination of McKinley Gave Birth to the Secret Service


After President McKinley was shot, Teddy Roosevelt became president and the first to have round the clock protection by the Secret Service. But why did it take Congress 25 presidencies and three assassinations to make that happen?


Why do we even have a Secret Service?

In the mid-19th century, as much as half of American currency might have been fake. Money was kind of like driver's licenses -- many states were making their own, so it was relatively easy for counterfeiters to manufacture bills without being caught.

So on April 14, 1865, the Secret Service was created by President Abraham Lincoln. They would be the Treasury Department's army, tasked with fighting financial crime. Later that day, another blind spot in the federal government's layers of protection became obvious. The President was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, and no one was there to prevent it from happening.

Two dead presidents later, Congress decided it might be prudent to make the Secret Service's duties, "protect money . and the president." Teddy Roosevelt became the first president to have the full protection of the Secret Service.

The idea had some beta-testing before 1901, however. President Grover Cleveland had asked for protection from the Secret Service, and had a few detectives protecting him part-time over the course of his presidency. William McKinley succeeded him, and had similar protection. Guards were placed at the White House, and people milling around in the premises at the start of the 20th century were monitored for suspicious activity.

McKinley did not like this. Ten days before he was assassinated, the Washington Post printed a story about how the president wanted everyone to chill out. The American people loved him, and would never harm him, he said.

Then there were rumors of an anarchist plot to kill him.

When he moved into the White House, he asked to have sentry boxes on the front lawn removed. He would go on walks around the White House by himself in the early morning. He would drive buggies around Washington unattended. The only Secret Service agent that Mr. McKinley seemed to like having around was an old man from Ohio named George Foster.

The article ended: "Capt. Vallelay told The Post reporter of his other experiences in guarding the President, and declared that absolutely no trouble of any sort was anticipated during the visit to Buffalo."

When the remains of President McKinley returned to the White House, he was accompanied by multiple Secret Service agents.

Teddy Roosevelt did not like the idea of being watched all the time, but he and those who followed in his place didn't have much of a choice. The New York Times wrote on September 29,

And thus the modern Secret Service was born. The job's proximity to the president made it somewhat of a dream job too, and the Treasury Department started getting lots of applications. Not all applicants were qualified for the job, such as the astrologist who argued he would have been able to protect the president by foreseeing his impending assassination.

Despite the Secret Service's new responsibilities, they were still tasked with looking into government fraud. During the 19th-century, they had investigated the Ku Klux Klan, mail robbers, and, of course, counterfeiters. During the Spanish-American War and World War I, they even did a bit of espionage. Over time, the Secret Service's purview in investigating fraud has grown broader as technology has advanced and laws have grown more complex. After the New Deal they began watching out for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and more recently, they have launched some high-profile missions against hacking, credit card fraud and identity theft. The Patriot Act gave the Secret Service the authority to partner with law enforcement and other entities to help suppress Internet crimes, as a Congressional Research Service report from earlier this year notes.

The aftermath of 9/11 also sent the Secret Service to a new home. After being wedded to the Treasury Department for over a century, the Secret Service was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. Since then, plenty of officials have wondered if the Secret Service should be divorced from its founding purpose forever. The Secret Service has been fighting to keep this role. As Marc Ambinder wrote in his great peek at the interworkings of the Service in 2011: "It may be true that if you designed the entire national-security apparatus from scratch, investigating financial crimes would fall outside the purview of the Secret Service. But from the agency’s point of view, its hybrid nature is a feature, not a bug."

Most Americans are likely oblivious to the fact that the Secret Service has any other face than the one it wears in public, the grim-with-glasses look of the men and women near the president. The Secret Service's responsibilities in this respect have grown astronomically too. After Robert. F. Kennedy's assassination in 1968, the Service began offering protection to presidential candidates. Former presidents were given lifetime protection -- which ended for a spell and has now been reinstated, despite budget concerns. Vice presidents and visiting foreign leaders are also offered extensive protection. If McKinley thought that having one or two Secret Service agents around was bad, he would have loathed the system in place today. When J.F.K. was shot in Dallas more than 50 years ago, there were around 38 agents present. Any big event Obama attends today requires hundreds of agents.

After the past few weeks of intense attention, the Secret Service is probably destined to change in new -- and big -- ways, but it seems doubtful that would mean a return to its earlier days, or a agency-wide reconsideration of the value of astrologists.


What changed after the Reagan shooting

New York (CNN) -- Ronald Reagan was shot 30 years ago Wednesday. His grace under fire helped him solidify the support and affection of the American people. It also helped propel his economic policies through a Democratic-controlled Congress and put American politics on a different trajectory.

"Rawhide Down," a new book by Washington Post reporter Del Quentin Wilber, captures the fateful 70th day of the Reagan presidency in cinematic detail. It is still striking to read how the severely wounded president insisted on walking himself through the doors of the emergency room, where he collapsed. It is a revelation to find how much closer he came to death than was widely known. And it is inspiring to read the notes he wrote to doctors and nurses throughout the ordeal, such as "All in all, I'd rather be in Phil.," referencing an old W.C. Fields line.

As the late, great David Broder wrote at the time, "The honeymoon has ended and a new legend has been born. . As long as people remember the hospitalized president joshing his doctors and nurses -- and they will remember -- no critic will be able to portray Reagan as a cruel or callous or heartless man."

Today, Reagan is the only modern president who receives high marks from Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. A look at the polls can quantify the roots of this enduring good will.

Despite an electoral landslide over Jimmy Carter with a 44-state win in 1980, Reagan won with a narrow popular margin of 50.7%. Moreover, Gallup's valuable presidential poll tracker shows that Reagan's approval ratings were significantly split along partisan lines after his 1981 inauguration, with 74% Republican support and 53% from independents but 38% from Democrats.

In the wake of the assassination attempt, Reagan's approval ratings jumped -- providing a new baseline that propelled his legislative agenda forward and helped translate to his broad-based re-election. By the 100th day of his administration, 51% of Democrats supported him and 70% of independents in addition to 92% of Republicans.

When Reagan came back to the Capitol on April 28 to push for his Economic Recovery Tax Act, he was greeted by a hero's welcome and a three-minute standing ovation. He leveraged his political capital to help pass his agenda. Before the end of the summer, the Reagan tax cuts had passed the House of Representatives, led by Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill, and the Republican-controlled Senate, reducing top tax rates from a confiscatory 70% and unleashing an entrepreneurial era. "That guy," one House Democrat said of Reagan, "is damned formidable. Even the Democrats back home want him to succeed."

In 1984, Reagan won an historic 49 states and 59% of the popular vote.

The director of the Reagan Presidential Library, Duke Blackwood, cautions against the revisionist impulse of some historians looking back at this grim anniversary. "Americans love a hero Ronald Reagan survived an assassin's bullet. However, that can't take away the fact that Ronald Reagan was already on a trajectory of real change with the support of the people. The attempted assassination perhaps gave him a temporary boost. Make no mistake though, it was his leadership and vision that made it all happen, not the result of what a deranged man vainly attempted. Ronald Reagan was destined to lead our country and he did."

The issue of destiny did emerge from this ordeal. Reagan, like his fellow committed anti-communist, Pope John Paul II, who also survived an assassination attempt, felt that his life had been spared for a divine purpose: "Perhaps having come so close to death made me feel I should do whatever I could in the years God had given me to reduce the threat of nuclear war."

Soon after leaving the hospital, he wrote a letter to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev expressing his desire for "a meaningful and constructive dialogue which will assist us in fulfilling our joint obligation to find lasting peace."

It is worth remembering that Reagan's survived John Hinckley Jr.'s "Devastator" bullets less than 20 years after the traumatic assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the deaths of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

It closed the chapter on a period of bloodshed in our politics unlike anything seen since the 40 years of the late 19th century in which three American presidents were assassinated: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley. Reagan's strength, good luck, the professionalism of the Secret Service and the advance of medicine gave us a reprieve and the start of a new era.

Another legacy of the attempted assassination was Reagan's support of some modest gun policies such as the Brady bill (advocated for by the family of Reagan's fallen press secretary, Jim Brady) and a federal waiting period.

In a New York Times op-ed published in 1991, Reagan wrote movingly of that day in which "lives were changed forever and all by a Saturday-night special -- a cheaply made .22 caliber pistol -- purchased in a Dallas pawnshop by a young man with a history of mental disturbance. This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now -- the Brady bill -- had been law back in 1981."

For some contemporary conservative activists, the mere mention of this aspect of Reagan's beliefs is controversial because it departs from established orthodoxy. But Reagan's rugged individualism stood in contrast to group-think. We don't need to whitewash him to honor him.

And this is a day to honor a man who became a great American president, a happy warrior who loved his country and always kept his eye on the horizon. It is a time for giving thanks that we got to know him as well as we did -- not for 70 days, but for eight years in the Oval Office.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John P. Avlon.


What is the U.S. Secret Service? Strategic Goals

Understanding the strategic goals of the U.S. Secret Service is one of the most effective ways of learning about the role and mission of this federal law enforcement agency. The United States Secret Service Strategic Plan (FY2008-FY3013) outlines the agency’s strategic goals for achieving its dual mission of protection and investigation:

Investigations

    • To protect the nation’s financial infrastructure by reducing losses associated with counterfeit currency, identity theft, and financial and electronic crimes. Strategies include:
      • Cataloguing and analyzing data and providing expertise to law enforcement partners
      • Utilizing advances in fingerprint detection and other forensic sciences as to carry out effective counterfeiting investigations
      • Improving currency design through collaborative efforts with the Department of Treasury, the U.S. Mint, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
      • Strengthening partnerships with private industry as to limit the availability of commercial printers and copiers that can product counterfeit currency
      • Increase training and collaborative efforts as to prevent and detect foreign manufactured, counterfeit U.S. currency
      • To reduce financial losses from electronic crimes, financial crimes, computer crimes, identity theft, and compromised payment systems. Strategies include:
        • Prioritizing investigative cases and focusing efforts on those cases that have a significant impact on the economy and the nation’s critical financial infrastructure
        • Deploying cutting-edge technology to prevent investigative financial and electronic crimes
        • Preventing fraud by recommending safeguards based on identifying systemic weaknesses within the financial payment industry
        • Increasing the deployment of personnel to investigate financial and electronic crimes
          • To ensure the safety and security of national leaders, major candidates for President and Vice President, and visiting heads of state and government. Strategies include:
            • Ensuring the continuity of protective operations in the event of a crisis
            • Expanding and coordinating specialized teams to address a number of evolving threats
            • Developing and deploying cutting-edge technologies to enhance the protective environment for Secret Service protectees
            • Enhancing and deploying portable countermeasures to ensure comprehensive protection for protectees when traveling throughout the country and abroad
            • Refining the threat assessment process
            • Ensuring protective intelligence processes and systems to support the protective mission
            • Partnering with academia and law enforcement partners at all levels to examine individual and group behaviors that may indicate targeted violence
            • Developing and maintaining new task forces and fusion centers to strengthen collaborations across all functional areas
            • Developing and implementing the Emergency Preparedness Program
            • To safeguard the White House complex and other high-profile sites. Strategies include:
              • Assessing and enhancing physical security measures to prevent the use of conventional and unconventional weapons
              • Deploying overt countermeasures to deter threats
              • Using covert methods to detect site-specific threats
              • Increasing efficiency using innovative technologies for the deployment of security measures
              • Developing formal, regional, protective staffing procedures and leveraging state and local law enforcement resources
              • Expanding productive relationships with the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Park Police, and other law enforcement and public safety agencies

              U.S. Secret Service

              Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

              U.S. Secret Service, federal law-enforcement agency within the United States Department of Homeland Security tasked with the criminal investigation of counterfeiting and other financial crimes. After the assassination of Pres. William McKinley in 1901, the agency also assumed the role of chief protective service for national leaders, their families, and visiting dignitaries.

              In the final days of the American Civil War, it was estimated that as much as half of circulating U.S. currency was counterfeit. In 1865 the Secret Service was established as a specialized branch of the Department of the Treasury to combat this threat to the economy. As a result, the widespread use of fraudulent banknotes was seriously curtailed, and the organization’s mandate was expanded to include the policing of other federal crimes, including bootlegging, mail theft, and smuggling. Jurisdiction over many of these matters passed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation when that agency was created in 1908, but crimes against the financial or banking sector, including cybercrime, remain within the purview of the Secret Service.

              The second, and perhaps more visible, role of the Secret Service involves the protection of prominent political figures and government officials. This includes the president, the vice president, the first family, and visiting foreign heads of state, as well as major presidential and vice presidential candidates within 120 days of a general election. While all such candidates may request protection, the Secret Service applies a series of criteria—which include a base level of success in party primary elections and fund-raising efforts, the national prominence of the individual, and the performance of the candidate’s party in previous presidential elections—to determine who will receive it.

              On rare occasions, large public gatherings (such as the Super Bowl) or major political events (such as party conventions or major speeches) may be designated National Special Security Events. In these cases the Secret Service works with local and federal law-enforcement organizations to secure the event and the surrounding airspace. In March 2003 the Treasury Department ceded control of the Secret Service to the Department of Homeland Security. A scandal rocked the agency in 2012 when it was revealed that agents performing advance work for a presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia, had taken prostitutes back to their hotel rooms. An investigation was launched to analyze what was seen as a male-dominated culture within the agency, and in 2013 Pres. Barack Obama appointed Julia Pierson as the first female Secret Service director. A series of security lapses in 2014, including one in which an armed intruder scaled the White House fence and gained access to the interior of the executive mansion, led to Pierson’s resignation.


              William McKinley Funeral

              Shot by anarchist Leon F. Czolgosz while he was standing in a receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., on September 6, 1901, President McKinley would die eight days later after gangrene ravaged his wounded organs. McKinley's funeral train arrived in Washington, D.C., in the evening of Monday, September 16, 1901. The coffin was lifted out of the palace car and taken to the East Room, where an honor guard surrounded it through the night. It was banked in flowers. Palms and fruit trees were interspersed between the masses of floral tributes that lined the transverse hall. First Lady Ida McKinley went alone to the East Room to pray at the coffin, holding up with remarkable strength. On Tuesday, the coffin was removed to the Capitol for the state funeral. After the service Mrs. McKinley followed the flag-draped coffin down the long east steps of the Capitol and joined a funeral procession to the train depot. President McKinley's remains were borne back to Canton, Ohio, where he was buried.

              Stereoscopic view of William McKinley's coffin in state in the East Room, September 17, 1901.

              William McKinley's funeral procession, September 17, 1901.

              Copyright Washington Post Reprinted by permission of the D.C. Public Library


              How the Assassination of McKinley Gave Birth to the Secret Service - HISTORY

              By Carl M. Cannon - October 5, 2014

              Two U.S. Secret Service directors have retired in the past 18 months. It&rsquos a good start.

              The vaunted reputation of the agency&mdashpreviously an elite unit of the Treasury Department&mdashhas always been better than its track record. The Secret Service knew it, too, but this image of competence was cultivated partly as a deterrent. After September 11, 2001, things changed because edifices and agencies that symbolically projected American power were themselves possible targets, so the nation&rsquos security systems were hardened.

              Or so we thought. Now Americans learn that despite spending $1.5 billion annually to put 6,700 officers and agents in the field, a bungling Secret Service&mdashnow housed uncomfortably inside the sprawling U.S. Department of Homeland Security&mdashhas actually put this country at risk. How did this happen?

              Let&rsquos start with the image-making. Hollywood films have traditionally portrayed the president&rsquos protective detail as brave, resourceful, and dedicated agents confronting a confounding trio of obstacles: amazingly skilled bad guys, the reluctant cooperation of the first family, and the hidebound brass of their own agency. Except for the first conceit&mdashwould-be assassins tend to be unstable bunglers&mdashthis portrayal accurately reflects both the public&rsquos perception and reality of life in the Secret Service, an agency that only gets noticed for its mistakes.

              &ldquoIn the Line of Fire,&rdquo the tautly written 1993 thriller starring Clint Eastwood as agent Frank Horrigan, centers on this dichotomy. Horrigan was a rookie in the Dallas detail the day President Kennedy was killed. Corrigan is determined tragedy not happen again. He&rsquos willing to buck his superiors and give his life for the president, knowing that&rsquos he protecting not just a person&mdashor democracy itself&mdashbut his agency&rsquos reputation. But he&rsquos not mawkish about it.

              &ldquoI normally prefer not to get to know the people I&rsquom protecting,&rdquo he tells a young female agent.

              &ldquoWell, you never know,&rdquo Eastwood deadpans. &ldquoYou might decide they&rsquore not worth taking a bullet for.&rdquo

              This tension between the protectors and the protectees is at the heart of &ldquoGuarding Tess,&rdquo the charming Nicolas Cage-Shirley MacLaine buddy movie that came out the following year. But such images have been crowded out of our minds by recent stories, most of them revealed in investigative reports the past few days in The Washington Post or in two recent books on the Secret Service by journalist Ronald Kessler.

              In February 2013, Secret Service Director Mark J. Sullivan was nudged into retirement after a stormy tenure remembered for State Dinner gate crashers and tales of agents consorting with hookers while on overseas assignments. But what few Americans knew until recently is that when shots were fired into the White House residence in 2011, the Secret Service mishandled everything. Supervisors at a nearby command center informed agents in the White House&mdashwho knew better&mdashthat no shots had been fired. They changed their story to say that two rival D.C. gangs had been in a shootout. Who concocted such fictions is still unknown, and when questioned on Capitol Hill last week, Sullivan&rsquos successor, the now-deposed Julia Pierson, seemed clueless.

              Members of Congress were only asking these questions because they&rsquod read about it in The Post the reason congressional hearings were being held in the first place is because a man carrying a knife managed to scale the White House fence, enter the White House residence and run through much of the main floor being tackled by an off-duty agent who just happened to be there.

              The initial response to this appalling breach by Pierson&rsquos agency was to praise itself for showing &ldquotremendous restraint&rdquo&mdashapparently for not shooting the suspect. This bizzaro statement prompted an almost unique response on Capitol Hill: The most conservative Republicans and the most liberal Democrats on the House Oversight Committee were equally incensed.

              &ldquo&lsquoTremendous restraint&rsquo is not what we&rsquore looking for,&rdquo Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz told Pierson. &ldquoDon&rsquot let somebody get close to the president.

              Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said he was so upset by Pierson&rsquos testimony he had trouble sleeping that night. He homed in on a &ldquoculture of intimidation&rdquo described by Kessler in which Secret Service management rewards those who foster the agency&rsquos &ldquoinvincible&rdquo myth, while punishing those who point out security lapses.

              Even before the latest episode, Congress had concluded that this administration was in denial about what it takes to protect a president. Alarms set to ring when an intruder breached the White House perimeter had been turned down at the behest of the White House usher&rsquos office, a request that would typically come from a member of the first family. More tellingly, the administration requested a $1.49 billion appropriation for all Secret Service functions for the fiscal year, a decline of $60 million. Even stingy House Republicans who closed the federal government last year found this inexplicable, and restored the funds.

              Pierson is gone, and Sullivan, too. But fixing the Secret Service is going to take congressional action, a change of culture at the agency Service, and a new attitude inside the White House itself. This last point is not a trivial one.

              The Secret Service began operations in 1865, the year Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, but not to protect the president. It was created to protect the U.S. currency from counterfeiters. Guarding the leader of the nation? That task was left to Lincoln&rsquos onetime law partner and self-appointed bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon, a friend who warned the president in an impassioned letter to stop going to the theater unprotected.

              But Ward Lamon was in Richmond the fateful night the following April when Lincoln went to Ford&rsquos Theater. Yet it still took Congress and the American people&mdashand presidents themselves&mdashfar too long to recognize the danger. That failure is inexplicable: Between 1865 and 1901 three American presidents were gunned down by strangers. Only after the last of these, the assassination of William McKinley, did Congress authorize the Secret Service to protect the president.

              It has had a checkered record doing so. Theodore Roosevelt, only in office because of McKinley&rsquos murder, was surprised to find himself in the Red Room with a visitor who&rsquod talked his way past a guard&mdashand was carrying a concealed handgun.

              While campaigning in 1912, Roosevelt was shot in the chest&mdasha folded up 50-page speech in his breast pocket saved his life&mdashand two decades later President-elect Franklin Roosevelt was the target of a gunman who killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak instead. Harry Truman was the target of an organized assassination plot by Puerto Rican nationals, who killed an agent instead. Between1963 and 1981, President Kennedy and his brother were both assassinated two different women tried to shoot President Ford and Ronald Reagan and his press secretary were both seriously wounded by a gunman.

              Today, the Secret Service&rsquos carefully constructed reputation is in tatters. Hollywood reflected this, too, in &ldquoWhite House Down,&rdquo a preposterous film starring Channing Tatum as the action hero.The villain is James Woods, the agent heading the president&rsquos protective detail. He not only shoots his colleagues&mdasha clever metaphor itself&mdashbut the president himself. It&rsquos time for a remake.

              Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.


              We play a critical role in protecting U.S. and visiting world leaders, safeguarding U.S. elections through protection of candidates and nominees, and ensuring the security of key facilities and major, national-level events.

              Our protective mission dates back to 1901, after the assassination of President William McKinley. Following the tragedy the Secret Service was authorized to protect the President of the United States. In 1906, Congress passed legislation and funds for the Secret Service to provide presidential protection. Over the years the number of our protectees and the scope of the protective mission has expanded in response to the evolving threat environment.

              Advanced Countermeasures

              Using advanced countermeasures, we deter, minimize and decisively respond to identified threats and vulnerabilities.

              Total Environment

              Our total protective environment includes airspace security, counter-surveillance, medical emergency response, hazardous agent mitigation and magnetometer capabilities.

              Specialized Resources

              Our specialized resources provide protection from threats, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials and explosive devices.

              Protective Intelligence

              We rely on meticulous advance work and threat assessments to identify potential risks to protectees. Our protective work starts long before our physical presence.


              How the Assassination of McKinley Gave Birth to the Secret Service - HISTORY

              The U.S Secret Service in History

              A s President, Bill Clinton deals with many major issues that affect all of us -- crime, drugs, and the environment, just to name a few. However, when our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865), was in office, times were very different. President Lincoln is well known for his leadership during the Civil War and for signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves. However, did you know that he also established the United States Secret Service?

              W hen the United States Secret Service (USSS) was established, its main duty was to prevent the illegal production, or counterfeiting, of money. In the 1800s, America's monetary system was very disorganized. Bills and coins were issued by each state through individual banks, which generated many types of legal currency. With so many different kinds of bills in circulation, it was easy for people to counterfeit money. During President Lincoln's Administration, more than a third of the nation's money was counterfeit. On the advice of Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch, President Lincoln established a commission to stop this rapidly growing problem that was destroying the nation's economy, and on April 14, 1865, he created the United States Secret Service to carry out the commission's recommendations.

              T he Secret Service officially went to work on July 5, 1865. Its first chief was William Wood. Chief Wood, widely known for his heroism during the Civil War, was very successful in his first year, closing more than 200 counterfeiting plants. This success helped prove the value of the Secret Service, and in 1866 the National Headquarters was established in the Department of the Treasury building in Washington, D.C.

              D uring the evening of the same day President Lincoln established the Secret Service, he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., by John Wilkes Booth. The country mourned as news spread that the President had been shot. It was the first time in our nation's history that a President had been assassinated. As cries from citizens rang out, Congress began to think about adding Presidential protection to the list of duties performed by the Secret Service. However, it would take another 36 years and the assassination of two more Presidents -- James A. Garfield (March 4, 1881-September 10, 1881) and William McKinley (1897-1901) -- before the Congress added protection of the President to the list of duties performed by the Secret Service.


              President Theodore Roosevelt's son Archie salutes as his brother Quentin stands at ease during a roll call of the White House Police. The White House Police eventually came to be known as the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service. Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

              S ince 1901, every President from Theodore Roosevelt on has been protected by the Secret Service. In 1917, threats against the President became a felony (a serious crime in the eyes of the law), and Secret Service protection was broadened to include all members of the First Family. In 1951, protection of the Vice President and the President-elect was added. After the assassination of Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) authorized the Secret Service to protect all Presidential candidates.

              T oday's Secret Service is made up of two primary divisions -- the Uniformed Division and the Special Agent Division. The primary role of the Uniformed Division is protection of the White House and its immediate surroundings, as well as the residence of the Vice President, and over 170 foreign embassies located in Washington, D.C. Originally named the White House Police, the Uniformed Division was established by an Act of Congress on July 1, 1922, during President Warren G. Harding's Administration (1921-1923).

              T he Special Agent Division is charged with two missions: protection and investigation. During the course of their careers, special agents carry out assignments in both of these areas. Their many investigative responsibilities include counterfeiting, forgery, and financial crimes. In addition to protecting the President, the Vice President, and their immediate families, agents also provide protection for foreign heads of state and heads of government visiting the United States.
              The Secret Service protects President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) and his motorcade. Photo Courtesy of the National Archives


              Feature Presidential Security

              Who protects the President? Well, before the Secret Service, it was sometimes the Army, sometimes the local police.

              But lots of times, it was no one.

              Tom Jefferson walked to his own inauguration, unguarded.

              Martin Van Buren walked to church on Sundays, alone.

              Before Lincoln, the only serious attempt to kill a President was a would-be assassin who fired two shots at Andrew Jackson.

              But even after that, presidential protection remained, at best, sporadic.

              On the night Lincoln was assassinated, a local Washington patrolman had been assigned to protect the President.

              But he abandoned his post. to get a better view of the play.

              The Secret Service was created four months after Lincoln's assassination- not to protect the President, but to protect the economy.

              Its agents were charged with fighting counterfeiting.

              At the time, over one-third of the paper currency in the United States was counterfeit.

              Two more presidents would be assassinated before presidential protection became a full-time national priority.

              One gunman killed President Garfield at a Washington train station in 1881 and another gunman shot President McKinley at the Pan-Am Expo in Buffalo in 1901.

              After three assassinations in less than forty years, Congress finally assigned the Secret Service responsibility for the safety of the President at all times.

              Today, the duties of the Secret Service include protecting the President, Vice-President, future presidents, past presidents, presidential families, visiting heads of states, and other distinguished foreign visitors.

              They still continue to fight counterfeiting, as well as credit card, telemarketing, and cell phone fraud. In other words, they stay busy.

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                Watch the video: 10 Hidden Details The Secret Service Doesnt Want You To Know (January 2022).