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.