This Day in History: Two Agencies become the United States Coast Guard

This Day in History: Two Agencies become the
United States Coast Guard

Writen by by Tara Ross
On this day in 1915, two agencies are consolidated into a new United States Coast Guard.

Of course, the foundations for the Coast Guard were laid long before 1915! In fact, the Coast Guard considers its real birthday to be August 4, 1790. On that day, President George Washington signed an act authorizing the construction of “so many boats or cutters, not exceeding ten” to “secure the collection of” tariffs. This system of cutters was known by various names over the years, including Revenue Service, Revenue-Marine, and the Revenue Cutter Service. Its job was to enforce federal trade laws and to fight smuggling along the coast. The cutters were placed under the control of the Treasury Department, which is why the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, is sometimes called the Father of the Coast Guard.

You’ll love Hamilton’s early orders to his new commanding officers! He reminded them that they are public servants. “[Officers] will always keep in mind that their countrymen are freemen,” he instructed, “and, as such, are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit. They will, therefore, refrain, with the most guarded circumspection, from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness, or insult.”

Until a regular navy was organized in 1798, the Revenue Marine cutters were the only armed ships protecting American waters.

Creating a force to protect the American coast and prevent smuggling might seem like a no-brainer to us, but it was less obvious back in the 1790s. Americans feared a standing army, remember.

What caused Americans to overcome this fear? The story continues HERE.

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About Kent Cannon

My passion is fishing and hunting as well as traveling throughout the Northwest and writing about those adventures. I was separated from my job a few years ago due to the still ongoing economic downturn. I had spent years working, focusing on things that really were not near and dear to my heart all the while scrambling and climbing to what I perceived as the top. I of course did not realize what I was doing, because I was caught up in the moment, focusing on what I thought was the American dream. Crashing and pushing ever forward like a Lemming headed for a cliff, oblivious the world around me. I was more than a little bitter over loosing my job; it was a good job as far as jobs go and I was making a lot of money so I could live according to the manner in which I wanted to be accustomed. In the process of trying to find another job in an unfavorable economic climate I found something that I had left behind many years ago. I found me! That is how and why I started this website, looking for myself and sharing things that I found along the way. Even though I am older now, suffering a little from arthritis and my hair is now somewhat graying I still have fire in my belly for the next adventure. The more that I seek out my next adventure, the more excited I become!

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