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The Treasurer

The Treasurer of the United States has direct oversight over the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and Fort Knox and is a key liaison with the Federal Reserve. In addition, the Treasurer serves as a senior advisor to the Secretary in the areas of community development and public engagement.
​Over the years the Office of the Treasurer has seen tremendous changes and reflected the often turbulent history of our nation. It is the only office in the Treasury Department that is older than the Department itself. Originally, the Continental Congress created joint treasurers of the United Colonies on July 29, 1775. At that time, the Continental Congress appointed Michael Hillegas and George Clymer to serve. They were instructed to reside in Philadelphia, which was the home of the Continental Congress. Their major responsibility was to raise money for the Revolutionary War. Unlike today's Treasurer, neither of their signatures appeared on the "continentals" as the paper money was then called.
 
On August 6,1776, George Clymer resigned and the Continental Congress appointed Michael Hillegas as the sole Continental Treasurer. After the name of our nation was changed from the United Colonies to the United States, on September 9, 1776, Michael Hillegas continued as the Treasurer of the United States, although his title was not officially changed to reflect the new reality until March 1778. Treasurer Hillegas served the new nation until September 11, 1789 and was succeeded by Samuel Meredith who served until October 3, 1801 (for a complete list of U.S. Treasurers, please visit our index of Treasurers of the United States).
 
Both before and after the Revolutionary War, the United States recognized the need to safeguard the integrity of its currency and to prevent counterfeiting. Just as today, the new government realized that it needed to stay ahead of counterfeiters by employing technology to design bank notes. At that time, though, private printers produced the notes that were then issued to banks. Benjamin Franklin came up with several simple but ingenious methods to slow down counterfeiters. On one design for a bank note, he deliberately misspelled the name "Philadelphia." But his most original idea was to create a print of a leaf design on the currency. The intricacy of the leaf's pattern was impossible to duplicate because no two leaves are ever exactly alike in design. An example of the "leaf note" remains in the Smithsonian collection.
 
The job of fighting counterfeiting continued during the Civil War. At that time, the government took over the printing of currency from private banks and printers to standardize the design of the money, which was quickly dubbed "greenbacks." On July 17, 1861, Congress passed the first federal law authorizing the U.S. Government to issue paper money.
 
At that time, Frances Spinner was serving as Treasurer, under Abraham Lincoln, and he stirred up a great deal of controversy by hiring the first female employees at Treasury. In 1862, he hired Jennie Douglas to cut and trim paper. This was a hand operation that had previously been done entirely by men. Treasurer Spinner was so pleased with his experiment that he remarked, "the first day Miss Douglas spent on the job settled the matter in her behalf and in women's favor." He subsequently appointed many women to positions in the Treasury.
 
Treasurer Spinner came under a lot of criticism from opponents. The tax collector of Kalamazoo declared, "I do not think the service of females could be made efficient in the collecting department or be brought within the range of propriety."
 
A New York tax assessor joined in, "if the nerves and firmness of a man can rarely be found to withstand the wily exactions of dishonest taxpayers, I doubt the wisdom of filling their places with females."
 
The women, however, were not without support. The assessor of Manchester wrote, "female clerks are more attentive, diligent and efficient than males and make better clerks. I intend very soon to have none but females in my office."
 
Treasurer Spinner declared that the women in the Treasury were "hardworking, efficient, had excellent work habits and integrity." For his innovation and his spirited defense of female employees, the women of New York erected a statue of him in his hometown of Herkimer, New York.
 
Meanwhile, at the same time that we were taking steps to protect our money by standardizing and printing it at in the basement of the Treasury building, the government was engaged in efforts to destabilize the Confederate currency.
 
Over the years, the Office of the Treasurer grew and under various reorganizations, reported to various senior executives. By 1921, Secretary Andrew Mellon assigned the Treasurer to report directly to the newly created position of Under Secretary of the Treasury, the second ranking official in the Treasury Department. At the same time, the role of the Treasurer greatly expanded until in the 1940s the Treasurer was reporting to the Fiscal Assistant Secretary. The Treasurer's Office continued to receive and disburse government funds. By the 1970s, the Treasurer's Office had a staff of over 1,000 employees to fulfill these responsibilities.
 
In a reorganization on February 14, 1974, the Office of the Treasurer was separated from the Fiscal Service and the Treasurer undertook new duties and responsibilities. On July 21, 1974, Francine Neff was sworn in as Treasurer and was the first Treasurer to fill the newly defined position. Her first responsibility was to manage the Treasury-wide bicentennial Program. On January 6, 1975, the Treasurer was also named head of the Savings Bonds Division with the title National Director. Francine Neff was the first Treasurer to hold the position of National Director and to manage a bureau. The new treasurer reported directly to the Undersecretary for Monetary Affairs.
 
Although the duties and responsibilities of the office did not change, on September 12, 1977, history was made once again when Azie Taylor Morton was named the first African American Treasurer.
 
The Office of the Treasurer underwent further reorganization in 1981 when the Treasurer was given supervision of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint. As a result, both directors now reported directly to the Treasurer, who then reported to the Deputy Secretary.
 
In another major change in 1993 the Savings Bonds Division was abolished and their functions and employees were put under the supervision of the Bureau of Public Debt in an effort to streamline the federal government. 
 
In 2002, the Office of the Treasurer underwent further reorganization. The U.S. Treasurer advises the Secretary on matters relating to coinage, currency and the production of other instruments by the United States.  In addition, the Treasurer serves as a senior advisor and representative of the Treasury on behalf of the Secretary in the areas of community development and public engagement.
The Treasurer of the United States has direct oversight over the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and Fort Knox and is a key liaison with the Federal Reserve. In addition, the Treasurer serves as a senior advisor to the Secretary in the areas of community development and public engagement.

WH Council on women and girls

Treasurer Rosie Rios is the Treasury Department's designee to oversee the work of the White House Council on Women and Girls

Treasury Fact Sheet

​If you would like to contact the Office of the Treasurer, please write to:
 
The Department of the Treasury
Office of the Treasurer
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Room 2134
Washington, DC 20220
 
If you would like to invite the Treasurer to an event, please include the following information: the nature of the event, how many people you expect to attend, whether it is open to the press, the location of the event, the name and nature of your organization, type of attire and the contact person. Please include the contact person's phone, fax number and e-mail address.
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Last Updated :8/13/2013 5:05 PM

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