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About

1800-1899

June 15, 1800 - George Hadfield�s Treasury Building opened in Washington, D.C. with 69 employees beginning work in the nation�s new permanent capital.

January 20, 1801 - The Treasury Building was damaged by fire. President John Adams joined the bucket brigade.

May 14, 1801 - President Thomas Jefferson appointed Albert Gallatin as 4th Secretary of the Treasury. Gallatin served for nearly 13 years, the longest term ever served by a Secretary of the Treasury. He left his post on February 8, 1814.

July 11, 1804 - Former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr dueled in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr mortally wounded Hamilton, who died on July 12, 1804.

February 10, 1807 - The Coast Survey is established in the Department of the Treasury. It is the oldest scientific organization in the Federal Government.

September 3, 1807 - Robert Fulton registered the Clermont, the first successful steamboat, with the United States Customs Service in New York City.

December 22, 1807 - The Embargo Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Jefferson. The Act was passed in response to an incident between the USS Chesapeake and the HMS Leopold in which the Leopold fired upon the American ship, killing three and wounding 8. After boarding the Chesapeake, the British impressed four American sailors who they claimed were deserters.  

April 25, 1812 - An Act of Congress established the General Land Office under the Department of the Treasury to survey new lands, specifically the Louisiana Territory.

August 24, 1814 - Following the defeat of the American militia at the Battle of Bladensburg, the British entered Washington D.C. unopposed and burned the Main Treasury Building and the White House.

April 13, 1816 - The Second Bank of the United States was chartered five years after the charter of the First Bank of the United States expired against the wishes of Secretary Albert Gallatin. President James Madison and Secretary Alexander Dallas pushed for the creation of the bank after large financial problems during and after the War of 1812, which may have been avoided if the First Bank still existed because Gallatin planned to borrow $20 million from it in a time of war.  

May 19, 1828 - Congress passed the Tariff of Abominations, which taxed imported manufactured goods in an attempt to protect Northern industry, leading to the Nullification Crisis. South Carolina, upset by the harshness of a tariff that placed a 62 percent tax on over 90 percent of imported goods, claimed a right to nullify federal laws if it deemed them unconstitutional. The state threatened secession if the federal government attempted to enforce the tariff. The state mobilized 25,000 troops and was on the brink of war with the United States before a compromise tariff was passed in early 1833.  

March 29, 1830 - A Report of the Senate decided against legislating a national currency.

July 10, 1832 - President Jackson vetoed the attempt to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States.

March 31, 1833 - Harry and Richard White burned the second Treasury Building trying to destroy records proving they committed pension fraud.

June 28, 1834 - An Act of Congress redefined the amount of gold in a dollar, making coins minted prior to July 31, 1834 worth 5.2 percent less than their stated value.

January 30, 1835 - Richard Lawrence, an unemployed painter who suffered from severe mental illness, attempted to kill President Andrew Jackson in front of the Capitol. Lawrence had two pistols misfire at point blank range before Jackson helped subdue his attacker by beating him with his cane. Had Jackson been killed, the Second Bank of the United States may never have closed. Having a central bank would have decreased the severity of the Panic of 1837. In the 1930s, the Smithsonian test fired the two pistols used by Lawrence and both fired on the first attempt. The odds of both guns misfiring during the attempt were estimated to be 1 in 125,000.

March 3, 1835 - An Act of Congress authorized the creation of the Charlotte Mint in North Carolina, the New Orleans Mint in Louisiana and the Dahlonega Mint in Georgia. The Charlotte and Dahlonega Mints closed permanently in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. The New Orleans Mint closed in 1861 as well, but reopened from 1879 to 1909.

June 23, 1836 - An Act of Congress required the Secretary of the Treasury to designate one bank in each state and territory as a �pet bank�. These banks were used for the deposit of government funds and were to take on the former duties of the Second Bank of the United States.

July 4, 1836 - Congress authorized the construction of a fireproof Main Treasury Building. The requirement of fireproofing was due to the fact that the two previous buildings had suffered massive fire damage, most famously in the War of 1812

July 6, 1836 - President Jackson made Robert Mills architect of public buildings in Washington, D.C. The position would later become the Office of the Supervising Architect in the Department of the Treasury.

May 10, 1837 - The Panic of 1837 began when all the banks in New York City suspended specie payments. The panic was the second worst depression in the history of the United States and lasted until 1843.

June 9, 1837 - The Republic of Texas authorized the issue of $500,000 of its own currency.

September 4, 1837 - In response to the Panic of 1837, President Van Buren called for a special session of Congress. Van Buren called for Congress to take the final step of President Jackson�s bank divorce policy by establishing an independent treasury, eliminating any connection to state run banks. The independent treasury was established but was eliminated by the Whigs when Van Buren left office in 1841, only to be re-established by President Polk in 1846.

October 2, 1837 - The payment of the Treasury surplus to the states was suspended by Congress in response to the Panic of 1837.

March 28, 1838 - The first coinage bearing a mint mark, gold half-eagle coins, were produced at the Charlotte Mint.

August 31, 1839 - The Treasury Building on 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue was ready for partial occupancy. Designed by Robert Mills, the Treasury is one of the finest examples of high Greek Revival architecture in America.  

February 4, 1841 - The Second Bank of the United States shuts down for the final time, five years after losing its charter.

August 16, 1841 - President Tyler vetoed the creation of the Third Bank of the United States, leading to rioting outside the White House by fellow Whig party members. The riot led to the formation of the District of Columbia police force.

September 11, 1841 - Most of President Tyler�s cabinet resigned in protest of his veto of the creation of the Third Bank of the United States in a move designed by Henry Clay, who hoped to force Tyler to resign. Only Secretary of State Daniel Webster stayed in his position.

August 9, 1842 - The Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed in the old State Department building, which was later demolished and replaced by the Treasury Building�s north wing. The treaty defined the border between Maine and New Brunswick and set the border between the United States and Canada west of the Mississippi River at the 49th parallel.

August 26, 1842 - Congress established that the fiscal year would begin on July 1 and end on June 30 instead of coinciding with the calendar year. The fiscal year was later changed in 1974 and now begins on October 1 and ends September 30.

December 3, 1845 - Secretary Robert J. Walker submitted his famous free trade Annual Report. The report is considered one of the best arguments for free trade over protectionism ever written.

April 3, 1846 - Nathaniel Hawthorne was appointed as Surveyor of the Port of Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne introduced his famous book, The Scarlet Letter, with a preamble titled �The Custom-House�, in which the narrator claimed to have found evidence about the characters of the story at the customhouse Hawthorne worked at.
 
August 6, 1846 - President Polk signed the Second Independent Treasury Act. The independent treasury prevented the massive inflation and economic booms seen during the War of 1812 and the Civil War from happening during the Mexican-American War. The prevention of inflation and the artificial economic boom also prevented a postwar financial panic, something that occurred following the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

January 24, 1848 - James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter�s Mill in California. Despite attempts to keep the discovery a secret, word got out and the largest gold rush in the world began within months.

March 3, 1849 - Congress passed the Gold Coinage Act of 1849, approving the creation of the $1 gold coin and the $20 Double Eagle gold coin.

March 3, 1849 - Congress approved the creation of the Assistant Secretary position for the Department of the Treasury. The Secretary of the Treasury was given appointment power until March 3, 1857. Since then, the president has held appointment power.

August 13, 1849 - Former Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin died in Long Island, New York. He was the longest serving Secretary and was the first member of any cabinet to be photographed.  

March 3, 1851 - Congress authorized the creation of the 3 cent coin, the smallest denomination silver coin ever produced.

July 3, 1852 -  An Act of Congress established a mint in California, authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to choose the location.

March 3, 1853 - An Act of Congress established an Assay Office in New York City. The office was placed on Wall Street and was where people could deposit raw minerals such as gold and silver in exchange for money.

March 3, 1855 - Appropriation act provided for expansion of the Treasury Building. The plan of architect Thomas U. Walter was used.

February 19, 1857 -  An Act of Congress authorized the Flying Eagle design for the one-cent coin and discontinued use of the half-cent coin.

February 21, 1857 - An Act of Congress removed the legal tender properties of foreign coins that were established in 1793.  

March 9, 1861 - The Confederate States of America authorized the printing of $50, $100, $500 and $1000 notes.

May 21, 1861 - Confederate troops seized the Charlotte Mint, turning it into a base of operations for the remainder of the war.

July 15, 1861 - The Senate confirmed James Pollack as the 10th Director of the United States Mint. Pollack was the first director to serve non-consecutive terms. He was first in office from 1861 to 1866 and became director again from 1869 to 1873.

July 17, 1861 - An Act of Congress ordered the issue of currency to help fund the Civil War. Known as greenbacks, they were the first non-interest bearing notes created by the government. 

August 5, 1861 - The U.S. government levied the first income tax to help pay for the Civil War. All incomes over $800 were taxed three percent until the year 1872, when the tax was repealed.

August 29, 1861 - The first United States currency was separated and sealed by hand by two men and four women in the basement of the Treasury. The currency was in the form of $1 and $2 United States Notes.

November 13, 1861 - Secretary Chase received a letter from Rev. M.R. Watkinson that was instrumental in adding the motto �In God We Trust� to United State money.

November 20, 1861 - Secretary Chase instructed the Director of the Philadelphia Mint to develop an appropriate motto to be used on United States coins.

March 17, 1862 - Greenbacks, which have been issued since the start of the Civil War, were officially made legal tender.

April 21, 1862 - An Act of Congress authorized the United States Assay Office in Denver, Colorado. The office became the Denver Mint in 1906.

July 1, 1862 - The Revenue Act of 1862 established a permanent tax collection agency and the office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Income was taxed at a rate of three percent or five percent depending on salary.

July 11, 1862 - An Act of Congress empowered the Secretary of the Treasury to purchase equipment and hire employees to engrave and print currency notes in the Department of the Treasury. This later became the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

July 17, 1862 - An Act of Congress authorized postage stamps as currency for debts under five dollars.

August 21, 1862 - Fractional Currency was issued for the first time. The first issue was made up of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent notes.

February 25, 1863 - Congress passed the National Banking Act, establishing new national banks to create a uniform national currency and help fund the Civil War. The act also created the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to regulate the national banking system. Senator John Sherman, future Secretary of the Treasury, introduced the bill into the Senate first because it was feared the House would vote down the bill if it didn�t already have Senate approval.

March 3, 1863 - An Act of Congress established the Carson City Mint in Nevada. It was in operation from 1870 until 1893.

October 10, 1863 - The second issue of fractional currency was released into circulation. It consisted of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent notes.

December 9, 1863 - Secretary Chase approved the proposal of the Director of the Philadelphia for the mottoes on United States coins. However, he suggested that �God, Our Trust� be changed to �In God We Trust�.

February 17, 1864 - The Confederate States of America authorized the seventh, and final, printing of currency.

March 14, 1864 - Congress approved of a second Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. The Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury was established. The Supervising Architect had a great influence on American architectural style and was responsible for the building of many post offices and government buildings.

June 3, 1864 - The National Bank Act of 1864 provided a lasting framework for national bank charters, fixing problems that became apparent in the National Bank Act of 1863.

June 30, 1864 - An Act of Congress provided for the second issue of fractional currency.

December 6, 1864 - Former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Lincoln.

January 30, 1865 - A murder occurred at the Treasury. Mary Harris shot and killed Treasury clerk Adoniram Judson Burroughs as he left his office. She shot him because he had married another woman after being engaged to her. A jury found her not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

March 3, 1865 - An Act of Congress authorized the placement of the motto In God We Trust on any gold or silver coins. The director of the mint was given the power to place the motto at his discretion. However, the Secretary of the Treasury could overrule the director.

April 14, 1865 - President Abraham Lincoln approved of Secretary Hugh McCulloch�s plan to create an anti-counterfeiting unit within the Treasury, the United States Secret Service. It was one of Lincoln�s last official acts.

April 14, 1865 - John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln at Ford�s Theater. Booth caught his spur on the Treasury Guard flag while jumping off the balcony, causing him to land awkwardly on stage and break his leg.

April 15, 1865 - President Andrew Johnson was sworn in and began using the Treasury as his de facto White House, allowing Mrs. Lincoln time to grieve and plan her departure. He used Secretary McCulloch�s reception room as his office until May 24, 1865.

July 5, 1865 - The United States Secret Service began operating as an anti-counterfeiting unit within the Department of the Treasury.

November 13, 1865 - The first gold certificates were issued.

April 7, 1866 - An Act of Congress stated that only a portrait of a deceased person could appear on currency. The Act was caused by an uproar over the actions of the Chief of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Spencer Clark. Clark placed himself on a five cent note and had a large quantity of them printed before it was noticed. Due to Clark�s actions the already prepared 15 cent note featuring Sherman and Grant was never released.

May 16, 1866 - Congress authorized the creation of the nickel five-cent coin to replace the smaller silver half-dime.

December 5, 1866 - Herman Melville, famous for writing Moby Dick, was appointed Customs Inspector in New York City.

March 30, 1867 - The Alaska Purchase Treaty was signed. The United States agreed to pay Russia 7.2 million dollars.

September 17, 1868 - The Bureau of Engraving and Printing became the official title for the currency production bureau.

February 19, 1869 - An Act of Congress authorized the United States Assay Office in Boise, Idaho. By 1895 the office received annual deposits of gold, silver, and lead worth over one million dollars. It closed in 1933.

March 4, 1869 - The First Inaugural Ball of President Ulysses S. Grant was held in the Treasury's unfinished marble Cash Room.

September 24, 1869 - An attempt to corner the gold market caused the Black Friday financial panic.  

February 14, 1870 - The Currency Bureau, predecessor to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, was relocated from the basement to the attic of the Treasury Building.

June 7, 1872 - An Act of Congress provided, among other things, that Customs Collectors protect seaman at certain ports.

February 12, 1873 - Congress passed the Coinage Act, authorizing the Treasury Department to place the motto "In God We Trust" on all United States coins.

February 12, 1873 - The Coinage Act established the Bureau of the Mint as a part of the Treasury Department. The act put all mint and assay office activities under the Bureau of the Mint. Prior to the act, the United States Mint was an independent agency.

January 29, 1874 - The United States Mint was authorized to produce coins for foreign governments. The first foreign coins struck were made for Venezuela.

June 18, 1874 - The United States Customs Service was charged with enforcing sections of the Copyright Act.

June 20, 1874 - Congress authorized the creation of the Life Saving Medal, an award to be given to those who risked their lives saving others at sea. The Department of the Treasury initially gave the award, but today the United States Coast Guard awards it through the Department of Homeland Security.

November 25, 1874 - The Greenback Party was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana. It opposed Treasury policies, advocated the suppression of bank notes and the payment of the national debt in greenbacks.

March 3, 1875 - An Act of Congress authorized the creation of a 20 cent coin. The coin only circulated for two years. Production ended completely in 1878 because people complained about the coin being too much like a quarter.

December 9, 1875 - Secretary Benjamin H. Bristow broke the Whiskey Ring, investigating without the knowledge of President Grant or the Attorney General. Businessmen and IRS officials were siphoning off millions of governmental dollars from the whiskey tax for personal purposes.

February 15, 1876 - The last fractional currency was issued. Fractional currency was first issued in 1862 because there was a shortage of coins during the Civil War.

June 19, 1876 - Three brothers, Lucian, Hubbard and A.J. Clemons, were the first recipients of the Life Saving Medal. They rescued two people from a shipwrecked boat in Lake Erie.

November 6, 1876 - The Secret Service thwarted an attempt to rob President Lincoln�s grave. The men who attempted to steal the body were planning to use it as a bargaining chip to get a counterfeiter out of prison.

March 3, 1877 - The Bureau of Engraving and Printing became the exclusive printer of U.S. currency.

February 28, 1878 - Congress passed the Bland-Allison Silver Purchase Act, providing for the issue of silver certificates and the coining of silver dollars.

May 31, 1878 - An Act of Congress forbade further retirement of U.S. legal tender notes. Previously, the Secretary of the Treasury had been allowed to retire U.S. legal tender notes from circulation.

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September 26, 1880 - An Act of Congress mandated that coin designs remain in use for a minimum of 25 years.

February 1, 1881 - An Act of Congress authorized the United States Assay Office in St. Louis, Missouri. The office closed in 1911.

July 1, 1881 - The United States Assay Office in St. Louis, Missouri opened. The office closed on June 30, 1911.

November 10, 1881 - Former Senator Blanche K. Bruce, the first African-American to serve in a high-level Treasury office, issued his first report as Register of the Treasury.

March 11, 1882 - The Treasury was authorized to purchase the Freedman�s Savings Bank building for use by the U.S. Government. Founded on March 3, 1865, the Bank was closed on June 29, 1874. The Treasury Annex is currently located on the site.

April 8, 1886 - The House of Representatives voted against the Free Coinage of Silver Bill. The bill would have allowed the depositing of silver in assay offices in exchange for silver dollars in the same way that gold could be deposited in exchange for gold dollars.

August 2, 1886 - The Oleomargarine Act established the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms laboratory system within the Treasury Department.  

July 2, 1890 - The Sherman Anti-Trust Act became law. It is the first U.S. law to limit monopolies and is the oldest piece of anti-trust legislation.

July 14, 1890 - The Sherman Silver Purchase Act was enacted. The act required the government to purchase 4.5 million ounces of silver bullion every month with currency that was backed by both gold and silver. This caused people to sell their silver and then demand gold for the notes they received, depleting the U.S. gold reserves.

January 29, 1891 - William Windom, the 39th Secretary of the Treasury, died in New York City right after finishing a speech. He was the only Secretary to die in office.

March 3, 1891 - The Office of Superintendent of Immigration was established in the Department of the Treasury by Congress. The office became the Bureau of Immigration in 1895 and the Treasury was responsible for running Ellis Island until 1903.

February 8, 1895 - President Grover Cleveland authorized the selling of $62 million worth of bonds to J.P. Morgan in exchange for gold purchased from foreign investors, saving the Treasury from disaster. At the time, the Treasury�s gold supply had been reduced to only $41 million because of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.

February 20, 1895 - An Act of Congress designated the Assay Office in Denver, Colorado as the Denver Mint. The new mint was authorized to coin gold and silver.

April 22, 1896 - Congress purchased the site for the new Denver Mint for $60,000. Assay operations moved to the new building in September 1, 1904 and the mint began operation on February 1906.

March 2, 1897 - The Office of the Supervising Tea Examiner was established. It later developed into part of the Food and Drug Administration.

January 26, 1898 - The Senate confirmed George E. Roberts as the 17th Director of the U.S. Mint. He served from February 1898 to July 1907. He also served from July 1910 to November 1914, making him the third and final Director of the U.S. Mint to serve non-consecutive terms.

April 20, 1898 - The United States Assay Office in Deadwood, South Dakota opened. Assay offices historically functioned as places that received gold and silver deposits from miners. The assay office in Deadwood closed on June 30, 1927.  

 
Last Updated: 10/2/2010 5:10 PM

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