President Abraham Lincoln signed the law to create the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) on the day he was assassinated. The service officially started working about a month later. Contrary to popular belief, the USSS was originally created to deal with counterfeit money rather than presidential protection. It was only after the assassination of President William McKinley that Congress informally requested the USSS to protect the president, and it became formally responsible for presidential protection a year later, in 1902.
More facts about the Secret Service:
- The first USSS agent to die in the line of duty was agent William Craig. He was killed when a speeding trolley car hit the carriage in which President Teddy Roosevelt was riding. The president walked away with superficial wounds.
- The USSS is known for assigning code names to their protectees. Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy was referred to as "Lace," and Ronald Reagan was "Rawhide," Barack Obama was "Renegade," and Al Gore was "Sawhorse" and later "Sundance."
- The USSS employs more than 5,000 people, many of whom are technicians and administrators. The stereotypical men in black suits with sunglasses and earpieces comprise only a small part of the USSS.