A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

9 Things You Never Knew About the Secret Service

Updated: Aug. 04, 2021

Read on for surprising facts about one of America's most private agencies.

1 / 9

Abraham Lincoln created the agency the day he was assassinated

The 16th president of the U.S. created the Secret Service on April 14, 1865. Too bad John Wilkes Booth shot the president while attending the theater later that day.

2 / 9
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

However, the original mission of the Secret Service was not to protect the president

The agency was created as a division of the Treasury Department. Its mission? To crack down on the proliferation of counterfeit currency, an epidemic that threatened to destroy the American economy. Don’t miss these secret operations the government doesn’t want you to know about.

3 / 9
H. William Tetlow/Getty Images

Only after attacks on the president happened did the agents’ duties expand

Following the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley, Secret Service agents began watching over presidents full time. After Sirhan Sirhan shot and killed presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, agents took on the job of protecting presidential and vice-presidential candidates as well. In fact, the Service offered Barack Obama protection a year and a half before election day, the earliest of any candidate in history.

4 / 9
Keystone/Getty Images

Only one member of the Secret Service has died protecting the President

On November 1, 1950, two Puerto Rican nationalists stormed the house that President Harry Truman was living in while the White House underwent renovations. In their attempt to assassinate Truman, they shot Private Leslie Coffelt, a member of the Secret Service, three times. Before he died from his injuries, Coffelt returned fire, shooting one would-be assassin in the head.

5 / 9
Pool/Getty Images

They’ve never had a traitor in the Secret Service

Although the FBI, CIA, and NSA have all been infiltrated by foreign spies, the Secret Service has never discovered a spy or traitor in its ranks. Find out which 13 celebrities you never knew had FBI files.

6 / 9
John Moore/Getty Images

Agents are more than bodyguards

In addition to tracking nearly 1,500 presidential death threats per year, the Secret Service also investigates credit fraud, financial crimes, identity theft, counterfeiting, and computer fraud. Check out these 14 secret code works you’re not meant to know.

7 / 9
McCabe/Getty Images

They use quirky code names

The United States Secret Service uses code names for U.S. presidents, first ladies, and other prominent people and places. John and Jackie Kennedy were known as “Lancer” and “Lace”; Ronald and Nancy Reagan went by “Rawhide” and “Rainbow.” Agents call the Pentagon “Calico,” and refer to The White House as “Castle.” Here are more clever code names the Secret Service gave to U.S. presidents.

8 / 9
Pool/Getty Images

The Secret Service has more than 6,500 employees

About 3,200 agents work in 150 offices in the U.S. and abroad, and around 1,300 of those agents are members of the Uniformed Division, responsible for offering protection to the White House.

9 / 9
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The FBI grew out of the Secret Service

In 1908, the Department of Justice hired Secret Service agents to conduct national investigations. The nine agents formed the Bureau of Investigation, later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Next, learn the secrets the FBI doesn’t want you to know.