What you may not know about the U.S. Secret Service

agent Tim_McCarthy_shot_edited-1

U.S. Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy after stopping an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Most people know that the Secret Service protects the President of the United States and other politicians.

But the original purpose of the Secret Service was the suppression of counterfeit currency.  In the aftermath of the Civil War, an estimated one-third of U.S. currency in circulation was counterfeit.  So on July 5, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln – in his last official act – signed the Secret Service into law as a branch of the United States Department of the Treasury.

It wasn’t until almost 30 years after its founding, however, that the Secret Service began protecting President Grover Cleveland.  And even then it was only on an informal, part-time basis whenever the president traveled. Not until 1902, following the assassination of President William McKinley, did the agency assume the responsibility of protecting the president around the clock.

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The “Cleveland Massacre”: how John D. Rockefeller created a monopoly and Ida Tarbell helped bust it

Ida in fur coat around 1925

 

John D. Rockeller, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, was one of the most powerful men of the Gilded Age.* Yet he was no match for journalist Ida Tarbell, the “muckraker“** who discovered and revealed Standard Oil’s unethical business practices.

The last 30 years of the 19th century in the United States (the “Gilded Age”) saw a huge growth of industry and wealth. But that growth was fueled by economic and political corruption.  No one represented both the highs and the lows of the Gilded Age better than Rockefeller and Standard Oil.  And not even Rockefeller could predict that his worse nemesis would turn out to be not his competitors, but a woman — and one born in a log home .

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