Protecting the POTUS

Protecting the POTUS graphic discusses the establishment of the Secret Service to protect the President of the United States (POTUS) and the history of assassinations and attempts in the US.

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Protecting the POTUS or President of the United States

Frequency of Assassinations and Attempts

From George Washington to 1864, assassination attempts were made on 1 in 4 presidents, and 1 in 16 presidents were killed. Since 1865, there was the same rate of assassination attempts, but 1 in 7 were killed. 

In the last 30 years, there have been three attacks on the presidents. However, none of these were successful. So, the frequency of assassination attempts has remained the same while the success rate has nearly doubled.

Establishment of the Secret Service

Early on, there was little concern for the safety of the POTUS. The first police presence in Washington began in 1805. The mayor appointed a high constable and 40 deputies. No one took threat letters seriously, and presidents did not have protective escorts. For example, Andrew Jackson received many threatening letters. However, he endorsed the letters and sent them for publication in the Washington Globe.

The Secret Service was formed in 1865 to seek out counterfeit currency. In 1901, it expanded to systematic, continuous presidential protection after someone shot William McKinley. Presidential security had been intermittent before then. The Secret Service began protecting the president-elect in 1908. Roosevelt also transferred some SS agents to the Department of Justice to form what would become the FBI.

Secret Service Protecting the POTUS Today

Today the Secret Service protects the President and vice president, the president-elect, and vice president-elect. Additionally, they also protect immediate family members the before mentioned, former presidents and their spouses and children up to age 16. In addition, the SS protects visiting heads of foreign governments and their spouses. And other individuals per Executive Order of the President and for National Special Security Events.

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