Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of the Secret Service whose original purpose was to investigate counterfeit money which accounted for almost half of all US currency. He was shot the same day.

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Didn’t know this piece of history. Big if true. Abraham Lincoln has a long history of dealing with the issue of our country’s currency.


via time:

Considering the Civil War had ended only a few days earlier, April 14, 1865, was a normal day in the White House. President Abraham Lincoln read his newspapers, ate his breakfast, met with his cabinet. He also signed a piece of legislation authorizing a government agency that would gain its fame for protecting the President of the United States. Ironically, Lincoln’s authorization of the United States Secret Service would be one of his last official acts—that evening, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while watching Our American Cousin in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Even if Lincoln had authorized the Secret Service earlier, it’s doubtful it could have prevented his assassination Though the job performance of Lincoln’s bodyguards will remain a subject of eternal debate, it was unthinkable that an actor in a play would try to murder the President. And though presidential security tightened after Lincoln’s death, the Secret Service he authorized wasn’t originally intended to guard the president at all. In fact, it had a much more mundane mission: investigate and stop counterfeit money.

By 1865, up to one-third or even one-half of American money in circulation was fake. This was partly due to an old system of relying on state banks to produce money using approved designs and paper provided by the Federal Government. But though the country adopted a national currency in 1863, federal dollars were as easy to counterfeit as state-produced ones. Spurred by the daredevil escape of counterfeiter Pete McCartney, who eluded federal guards and was rumored to have produced as much as $100,000 in faux cash, Lincoln called a commission to figure out a fix for the fake money problem. Treasury Secretary Hugh McCulloch came up with a solution—a “regular permanent force whose job it [would] be to put these counterfeiters out of business.”

At first, the Secret Service focused on money, but in 1867 its mission was broadened to include “detecting persons perpetrating fraud against the government.” Over the years, despite a lack of statutory funding, the Secret Service assumed more and more responsibility, gaining recognition as a distinct organization and being given badges and commissions. After the assassination of William McKinley, in 1901, Congress requested that the Secret Service protect the President himself….


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h/t Orangutan


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