The U.S. Secret Service is marking its 150th anniversary. But it was only after the assassinations of three U.S. presidents that the agency was tasked with providing protection to the nation's chief executive.
Left: Secret Service agents guard President Theodore Roosevelt at his Inauguration in 1905.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
Got Your Back
President Barack Obama on a trip to Ottawa, Canada.
"When you're on the job you're thinking two feet in front of you," Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told CBS News. "You're not thinking about history; you're not thinking about speeches or anything along those lines. You're looking for where the next threat may be."
Left: President George W. Bush visits Ground Zero three days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.
"All of these iconic pictures in history of this nation, we've been in the background in many cases, helping to secure those venues," said longtime agent Lee Clancy, recently named to head the agency.
"You're the ever-present face in the crowd that nobody really knows," said CBS News' Lee Cowan.
"And we're happy not to be known," said Clancy. "We're happy to be in the background.
President Abraham Lincoln created the Secret Service as part of the Treasury Department 150 years ago, signing the bill (ironically) on the very day he was shot. But the Secret Service's original mandate did not involve presidential protection; rather, it was to battle the rise of counterfeit currency, which by 1865 amounted to as much as a third of all the money in circulation.
During its first year, the Secret Service shut down more than 200 counterfeiting operations.
Left: A counterfeiter's press.
In 1867 the mandate of the Secret Service was broadened to include investigations into fraud against the government, such as mail robbery, smuggling, and land fraud.
Left: A counterfeit note by Emanuel Ninger, nicknamed "Jim the Penman." He prospered faking bank notes for nearly 20 years (telling his neighbors that his wealth derived via a pension from the Prussian army) until he was captured by the Secret Service in March 1896.
Supporters testified at his trial that Ninger's bills were works of art, worth more as collectors' items than the bills' stated value.
Not until 1901 was the Secret Service charged with protecting the U.S. President, following the assassination of William McKinley as the president greeted the public in Buffalo.
McKinley eschewed personal protection, often appearing in public or going on drives alone, but after his murder Congress directed the Secret Service to protect the President and Vice President of the United States.
The first Secret Service operative to die on duty was William Craig (left, boarding carriage), a 6-foot-4 former member of the British military who served as President Theodore Roosevelt's personal bodyguard. On September 3, 1902, while on a trip in Pittsfield, Mass., the president's open carriage was struck by a speeding trolley car. The president was thrown clear of the wreck, only suffering bruises. Craig, however, was killed.
Though he died in an accident, Craig was aware of other dangers posed to himself and the man he guarded. "The danger lies in some fanatic getting up to the president and shooting or stabbing so quietly that it cannot be prevented," he told the Worcester Telegram shortly before he was killed. "If no outsiders are allowed within 10 feet of the president - and 25 feet is still better - the danger is greatly lessened."
He added that whenever he was standing close to the president, he kept his hand in his coat, holding his revolver, ready to fire at any moment.
In The Field
U.S. Secret Service Agents in the field, 1903.
Secret Service Men
Secret Service operatives in 1905.
The President's Guests
The Service Secret is also charged with guarding the immediate families of the president and vice president, visiting heads of state and other distinguished foreign visitors, and official representatives of the U.S. traveling abroad.
Left: President William Howard Taft welcomes a visitor to the White House in 1912.
U.S. Secret Service agents Joe Murphy (left), John Slye (third from left), and Richard "Dick" Jervis (right), with President Woodrow Wilson and his daughter, Eleanor McAdoo, c. 1914.
Secret Service agents ride with President Warren Harding in Utah.
White House Police Force
Members of the White House Police Force in 1923.
In 1930 the force was merged with the U.S. Secret Service.
FDR Rides To Congress
On May 22, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt rode to the Capitol to hand-deliver his veto of the Patman Bonus Bill to a Joint Session of Congress. Col. E.W. Starling, chief of the White House Secret Service detail, stands on the running board of the president's car.
An alarm system for the U.S. Secret Service, 1938.
Members of the White House Police and Secret Service are photographed in a new target range constructed in the sub-basement of the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., June 1940.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II, the Secret Service was charged with safely delivering such precious documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox for safekeeping.
FDR In North Africa
President Franklin D. Roosevelt reviews American troops in Casablanca, Morocco in January 1943. Among his contingent are Secret Service Agents James "Jim" Rowley, Wilmer Deckard, John Marshall, Elmer Hipsley, Charles Fredericks, Guy Spaman, and Jack Willard.
Armed Secret Service agents.
Keeping Up The Pace
President Harry S. Truman, an inveterate walker, is photographed with a Secret Service agent in the streets of Washington, D.C., August 15, 1946.
President Harry S. Truman and Mexican President Miguel Aleman (seated in back of car) leave Washington's National Airport in an open limousine, with Secret Service agents on the bumper and running boards, April 29, 1947.
A Dip In The Bay
President Harry S. Truman (second from the right) swims alongside the presidential yacht USS Williamsburg in Chesapeake Bay, c. 1946. Accompanying him in the water is Captain James Foskett (third from right) and two unidentified Secret Service agents.
Killed In The Line Of Duty
White House Police Officer Leslie Coffelt, the only agent to be shot and killed while protecting a president, was mortally wounded on November 1, 1950, when two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to fire their way into Blair House, where President Truman was staying while the White House was being refurbished.
Not thinking of his own injuries, Coffelt stood up, steadied himself, and took a shot, hitting one assailant in the ear and killing him. Coffelt died of his wounds a few hours later.
A mob of protesters in Caracas, Venezuela, is seen attacking the car carrying Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, on a goodwill tour of South America, May 13, 1958. As Nixon's convoy was stuck in a traffic jam, the mob began pounding on the car, smashing glass and trying to overturn the vehicle.
Secret Service agents covered the vice president's body, hitting back at the throng wielding pipes and clubs, before the Venezuelan police (whom the Secret Service reported did not intervene) could clear a path for the car to drive ahead.
Kennedy in Montana
A child is raised above the crowd during President John F.Kennedy's visit to Montana in 1963.
Dallas, November 22, 1963
President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Secret Service Agent Clint Hill jumps onto the back of the motorcade to protect Mrs. Kennedy, after the president was shot, in Dallas, November 22, 1963. Hill rode on the back of the limousine all the way to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
On September 5, 1975, in Sacramento, Calif, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a member of the Manson Family, tried to kill President Gerald Ford outside the California State Capitol, but she had failed to load a bullet into the firing chamber. Secret Service agents dragged Ford away. Fromme received a life sentence, but was released from prison in 2009.
Less than three weeks later, on September 22, 1975, Sara Jane Moore tried to kill Ford in San Francisco. Having had her .44 caliber revolver confiscated by police the previous day, Moore purchased a .38 caliber revolver the morning of the 22nd. Standing in a crowd outside the St. Francis Hotel, Moore was spotted by a former Marine, Oliver Sipple, who tackled Moore as she fired. She was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 2007.
The Secret Service began its canine program in 1975. Dogs are used for protection and to detect explosives.
Dogs have to train for 17 weeks, and then are required to come back for training one week out of every month.
President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, get out of their limousine and walk following his Inauguration, January 20, 1977.
Tim McCarthy, who joined the Secret Service right out of college and stayed for 22 years, was assigned to protect President Carter for one year. He also protected President Ronald Reagan for six years, and spent a year with President Bush.
"He was a good runner," McCarthy said of Carter. "He sometimes pushed too hard, I'll tell ya that, but that's only because he was competitive. And I used to run with him quite regularly, along with the other agents."
Agent Tim McCarthy (far right) was at the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981. "We just about got to the car, and everyone is naturally screaming 'Mr. President! Mr. President!'" he told CBS News' Lee Cowan. "All I saw was what I thought was a flash of the gun and exactly where it was coming from."
McCarthy never saw the face of John Hinckley Jr. as he fired upon President Reagan. "I knew where the shot was coming from, there was no doubt in my mind, and I turned in that direction." McCarthy spread his body in front of Reagan. The .22 caliber bullet hit McCarthy in the rib, then went down through his lung, liver, diaphragm, and lower back.
Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty and James Brady, the White House Press Secretary, were also wounded, along with the president.
McCarthy recovered, and was back on the job in a few months - a decision, he says, his family did not entirely support.
Despite protecting Reagan from a mortal wound, McCarthy still sensed that the agents failed. "In spite of everything that was done, he was still shot. So that's a failure."
On The Road
President Bill Clinton speaks to the crowd at Independence Square in Accra during a state visit to Ghana, March 23, 1998.
Secret Service agents were part of evidence recovery teams sifting through material brought to the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island from the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Building 7 of the WTC complex housed offices of the Secret Service.
The Pope's Visit
Pope Benedict visits Washington in April 2008.
The Pope's Visit
A U.S. Secret Service agent is seen during Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. in April 2008.
Women have served as agents in the Secret Service since 1923, when Florence Bolan was promoted to the position of special operative.
The first female Secret Service agent killed in the line of duty was Special Agent Julie Cross. On June 4, 1980, while conducting counterfeit surveillance near Los Angeles International Airport, she and her partner were confronted by two men and shot. Cross was pronounced dead at the scene. Twelve years later, her killer - then serving time for triple-homicide - was convicted and sentenced to death.
President George W. Bush conducts the ceremonial coin toss before the start of the 109th Army-Navy college football game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
President Barack Obama is seen at the commencement ceremony of Note Dame University, May 17, 2009.
A Secret Service agent stands watch over President Barack Obama.
Today fighting counterfeiters remains the Secret Service's primary investigative mission, although now it includes hacking and data breaches as well.
"I think we will continue to see the emerging threats, and we have to keep up with those emerging threats," said Joseph Clancy. "The threats are more varied than they were years ago. Today with the technology we have to stay one step ahead.
"The idea, of course, is at first detect them, and then mitigate them."
For more info:
U.S. Secret Service (Official site)