Fake Money and Hot Lead: The Historical Secret Service Origins

Posted by on May 14, 2008

From the 1800’s through today, the United Secret Service continues it’s mission of protecting the President as well as investigating all sorts of financial fraud such as counterfeiting. Although it’s best known for the protection aspect, the other mission of the Secret Service is just as vital. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the origins, including Pinkerton as well as talking about counterfeiters and protection.

Tracing back to the Civil War, the idea of a “secret service” can be attributed to the leadership of Allan Pinkerton, who’s conferences with Lincoln led to the establishment of agents, who were used throughout the south to gain information and knowledge about the Confederacy.


Established as a formal agency following the Civil War, it’s primary mission was one of protecting the currency and guarding again counterfeiters and their ilk.


However, this singular role would soon shift to a plural one with the additional responsibilities of protecting the President of the United States. Becoming almost a “second family” we have all seen images of the agents riding on the President’s car and escorting him through crowded public venues.


Even when not publicly seen, they are still in attendance at various functions:


One of the more famous incidents, besides the Kennedy assassination, was the attempt on Truman’s life at Blair house in the beginning of the 1950’s. In this incident, the President was protected successfully, however, at the cost of a life.

Have a great day and don’t forget to check the links below for more information and details!

See you tomorrow!


Blair House Assassination: Wikipedia

United States Secret Service History Page

United States Secret Service: Wikipedia

Pinkerton: American Memory Project

History of the United States Secret Service (Civil War: Full Book: Google Books)

Memoirs of the United States Secret Service (Civil War: Full Book: Google Books)


(1) American Memory Project: Today in History

(2-4) Nara


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