It may surprise you to learn that this August one of the oldest federal organizations will be celebrating its 225th anniversary: the U. S. Coast Guard. Do you know much about its history?
It was on August 4, 1790, that President George Washington signed the Tariff Act that allowed for the creation of 10 ships to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling. The fleet was then called the “Revenue Cutter Service,” better known today as the Coast Guard, which currently boasts over 1,400 ships.
With 225 years now under its belt, the Coast Guard predates even the Navy, which didn’t exist until eight years later in 1798. That means for several years the Coast Guard was the only armed force afloat. In 1915, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service and was renamed the Coast Guard, making it the only maritime service dedicated to saving lives and enforcing laws.
Throughout its history, the Coast Guard has belonged to several different departments, including the Navy, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Transportation. In 2003, the Coast Guard was put entirely into the Department of Homeland Security, where it still remains today.
The Coast Guard’s current responsibilities include enforcing the nation’s laws at sea, protecting the marine environment and nation’s coastline and ports and, finally, saving lives. Although the Coast Guard looks vastly different than it did in 1790, it still is a vital branch of the U.S. government and one that is greatly valued!