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Information on the History of American Money including Coins and Currency

Information and resources relating to United States Coins and Currency


Indian Head Cent History

The Indian Head one-cent coin was produced by the United States Mint from 1859 through 1909. It was designed by James Barton Longacre, the Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint. The obverse of the coin shows UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, an Indian head facing to the left, wearing a feather bonnet. The word LIBERTY is shown on the band across the bonnet, and shows the production date below.

The coin's reverse side shows ONE CENT within a laurel wreath. In 1860 the reverse design was changed slightly, showing ONE CENT within an oak wreath, with three arrows inserted under the ribbon that binds the two branches of the wreath. Above and between the ends of the branches is the shield of the United States.

The coins that were struck between 1859 and 1864 were composed of 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel, as required by law. In 1864, the weight of the coins was reduced from 72 grains to the present weight of 48 grains, and the alloy changed to 95 percent copper and 5 percent tin and zinc. Research in 1863 indicated that bronze was an excellent alloy for minor coins, and so the copper-nickel alloy was discontinued. Total production of the Indian Head cent was 1,849,648,000 pieces.

The Director of the Mint, James Ross Snowden, wrote a letter on November 4, 1858, to Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb, suggesting that a change be made in the design of the Flying Eagle cent. He pointed out that the relief of that coin was too high, and that the design did not seem too acceptable to the public. Snowden submitted models for a new design, and Secretary Cobb gave his approval to what later became the Indian Head Cent.

According to records at the United States Mint, the design of the Indian Head cent became official on January 1, 1859, and was first released into circulation early that year. When the coin was first produced, Longacre's initials did not appear on the coin, but beginning in 1864, a small "L" was added.

There is a popular rumor about the design of this coin, which states that Mr. Longacre used his daughter as his model for the Indian likeness on the cent. Unfortunately, this information has not been authenticated in United States Mint files.

Initially, the production of the five-cent nickel and the one-cent bronze coin was limited by law to the Philadelphia Mint. An Act of Congress passed on April 24, 1906, provided for the making of these denominations at other Mint facilities.

The manufacture of the Indian Head cent at the San Francisco Mint in November 1908 marked the first time this denomination of coins was minted outside of Philadelphia. One-cent coin production did not begin at the Denver Mint until 1911.

Women on United States Coins

Circulating Coins:


Sacagewea on the dollar coin: 2000-Present
Susan B. Anthony on the dollar coin: 1979,1980 and 1999

Commemorative Coins:


Dolley Madison on the Dolley Madison Silver Dollar: 1999
Queen Isabella of Spain on the Columbian Exposition Quarter Dollar: 1893
Eunice Kennedy Shriver on the Special Olympics Silver Dollar: 1995
Virginia Dare, with her mother Ellinor Dare, on the Roanoke Island, North Carolina Half Dollar: 1937

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History of the Lincoln Cent

When the Lincoln one-cent coin made its initial appearance in 1909, it marked a radical departure from the accepted styling of United States coins, introducing as it did for the first time a portrait coin in the regular series. A strong feeling had prevailed against using portraits on our coins, but public sentiment stemming from the 100th anniversary celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birth proved stronger than the long-standing prejudice.

The only person invited to participate in the formulation of the new design was Victor David Brenner. President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with the talents of this outstanding sculptor that Brenner was singled out by the President for the commission. The likeness of President Lincoln on the obverse of the coin is an adaptation of a plaque Brenner executed several years earlier which had come to the attention of President Roosevelt.

In addition to the prescribed elements on our coins -- LIBERTY and the date -- the motto In God We Trust appeared for the first time on a coin of this denomination. Of interest also is the fact that the Congress passed the Act of March 3, 1865, authorizing the use of this motto on our coins during Lincoln's tenure in office.

A study of three models for the coin's reverse resulted in the approval of a very simple design bearing two wheatheads in memorial style. Between these, in the center of the coin, are the denomination and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, while curving around the upper border is the national motto, E Pluribus Unum, which means "One out of Many."

Even though no legislation was required for the new design, approval of the Secretary of the Treasury was necessary to make the change. Franklin MacVeagh gave his approval on July 14, 1909, and not quite three weeks later, on August 2, 1909, the new coin was released to the public.

The original model bore Brenner's name. Before the coins were issued, however, the initials "VDB" were substituted because officials at the United States Mint felt the name was too prominent. After the coin was released, many protested that even the initials were conspicuous and detracted from the design. Because the coin was in great demand, and due to the fact that to make a change would have required halting production, the decision was made to eliminate the initials entirely. They were restored in 1918, and are to be found in minute form on the rim, just under the shoulder of Lincoln.

There are more one-cent coins produced than any other denomination, which makes the Lincoln cent a familiar item. In its life span, this coin has weathered two world conflicts, one of which changed it materially, because metals play a vital part in any war effort.

At the time of World War II, the one-cent coin was composed of 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. These metals were denied to the Mint for the duration of the war, making it necessary for the Mint to seek a substitute material. After much deliberation, even including consideration of plastics, zinc-coated steel was chosen as the best in a limited range of suitable materials.

Production of the war-time cent was provided for in an Act of Congress approved on December 18, 1942, which also set as the expiration date of the authority December 31, 1946. Low-grade carbon steel formed the base of these coins, to which a zinc coating .005 inch thick was deposited on each side electrolytically as a rust preventative. The same size was maintained, but the weight was reduced from the standard 48 grains to 42 grains, due to the use of a lighter alloy. Production commenced on February 27, 1943, and by December 31, 1943, the three Mint facilities had produced 1,093,838,670 of the one-cent coins. The copper released for the war effort was enough to meet the combined needs of 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers, 1,243 flying fortresses, 120 field guns and 120 howitzers, or enough for 1.25 million shells for our big field guns.

On January 1, 1944, the Mint was able to adopt a modified alloy, the supply being derived from expended shell casing which when melted furnished a composition similar to the original, but with a faint trace of tin. The original weight of 48 grains was also restored.

On February 12, 1959, a revised reverse design was introduced as part of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. No formal competition was held. Frank Gasparro, then Assistant Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, prepared the winning entry, selected from a group of 23 models that the engraving staff at the Mint had been asked to present for consideration. Again, only the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury was necessary to make the change because the design had been in use for more than the required 25 years.

The imposing marble Lincoln Memorial provides the central motif, with the legends E Pluribus Unum and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA completing the design, together with the denomination. The initials "FG" appear on the right, near the shrubbery.

The composition of the coin was changed again in 1962. Mint officials felt that deletion of the tin content would have no adverse effect on the wearing qualities of the coin, whereas, the manufacturing advantages to be gained with the alloy stabilized at 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc would be of much benefit. Congressional authority for this modification is contained in an Act of Congress approved on September 5, 1962. In 1982, the coin's composition changed again to copper-plated zinc. These coins, which are still being produced today, contain 97.6 percent zinc and 2.4 percent copper. This coin is identical in size and appearance to the predominantly copper cent issued before 1982, but this modification saves the Government an estimated $25 million in metal costs every year.

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History of 'In God We Trust'

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, and read:

Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances. One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.

As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto, in a letter dated November 20, 1861: Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.

It was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. In December 1863, the Director of the Mint submitted designs for new one-cent coin, two-cent coin, and three-cent coin to Secretary Chase for approval. He proposed that upon the designs either OUR COUNTRY; OUR GOD or GOD, OUR TRUST should appear as a motto on the coins. In a letter to the Mint Director on December 9, 1863, Secretary Chase stated: I approve your mottoes, only suggesting that on that with the Washington obverse the motto should begin with the word OUR, so as to read OUR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY. And on that with the shield, it should be changed so as to read: IN GOD WE TRUST. The Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.

Another Act of Congress passed on March 3, 1865. It allowed the Mint Director, with the Secretary's approval, to place the motto on all gold and silver coins that "shall admit the inscription thereon." Under the Act, the motto was placed on the gold double-eagle coin, the gold eagle coin, and the gold half-eagle coin. It was also placed on the silver dollar coin, the half-dollar coin and the quarter-dollar coin, and on the nickel three-cent coin beginning in 1866. Later, Congress passed the Coinage Act of February 12, 1873. It also said that the Secretary "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto."

The use of IN GOD WE TRUST has not been uninterrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938. Since 1938, all United States coins bear the inscription. Later, the motto was found missing from the new design of the double-eagle gold coin and the eagle gold coin shortly after they appeared in 1907. In response to a general demand, Congress ordered it restored, and the Act of May 18, 1908, made it mandatory on all coins upon which it had previously appeared. IN GOD WE TRUST was not mandatory on the one-cent coin and five-cent coin. It could be placed on them by the Secretary or the Mint Director with the Secretary's approval.

The motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on the ten-cent coin since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since July 1, 1908.

A law passed by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956, the President approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States. IN GOD WE TRUST was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. The first paper currency bearing the motto entered circulation on October 1, 1957. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) was converting to the dry intaglio printing process. During this conversion, it gradually included IN GOD WE TRUST in the back design of all classes and denominations of currency.

As a part of a comprehensive modernization program the BEP successfully developed and installed new high-speed rotary intaglio printing presses in 1957. These allowed BEP to print currency by the dry intaglio process, 32 notes to the sheet. One-dollar silver certificates were the first denomination printed on the new high-speed presses. They included IN GOD WE TRUST as part of the reverse design as BEP adopted new dies according to the law. The motto also appeared on one-dollar silver certificates of the 1957-A and 1957-B series.

BEP prints United States paper currency by an intaglio process from engraved plates. It was necessary, therefore, to engrave the motto into the printing plates as a part of the basic engraved design to give it the prominence it deserved.

One-dollar silver certificates series 1935, 1935-A, 1935-B, 1935-C, 1935-D, 1935-E, 1935-F, 1935-G, and 1935-H were all printed on the older flat-bed presses by the wet intaglio process. P.L. 84-140 recognized that an enormous expense would be associated with immediately replacing the costly printing plates. The law allowed BEP to gradually convert to the inclusion of IN GOD WE TRUST on the currency. Accordingly, the motto is not found on series 1935-E and 1935-F one-dollar notes. By September 1961, IN GOD WE TRUST had been added to the back design of the Series 1935-G notes. Some early printings of this series do not bear the motto. IN GOD WE TRUST appears on all series 1935-H one-dollar silver certificates.

Below is a listing by denomination of the first production and delivery dates for currency bearing IN GOD WE TRUST:

DENOMINATION PRODUCTION DELIVERY $1 Federal Reserve Note February 12, 1964 March 11, 1964 $5 United States Note January 23, 1964 March 2, 1964 $5 Federal Reserve Note July 31, 1964 September 16, 1964 $10 Federal Reserve Note February 24, 1964 April 24, 1964 $20 Federal Reserve Note October 7, 1964 October 7, 1964 $50 Federal Reserve Note August 24, 1966 September 28, 1966 $100 Federal Reserve Note August 18, 1966 September 27, 1966

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History of the Denver Mint

Established by an Act of Congress on April 21, 1862, the Denver Mint opened for business in 1863 as a United States Assay Office. Operations began in the facilities of Clark, Gruber & Company, a private mint then located at 16th and Market Streets and acquired by the Government for $25,000.

Unlike Clark, Gruber & Company, though, the Denver plant performed no coinage of gold as first intended. One reason given by the Director of the Mint for the lack of coinage at Denver was, "... the hostility of the Indian tribes along the routes, doubtless instigated by rebel emissaries (there being a Civil War) and bad white men."

Gold and nuggets brought to there by miners from the surrounding area were accepted by the Assay Office for melting, assaying, and stamping of cast gold bars. The bars were then returned to the depositors as unparted bars stamped with the weight and fineness of the gold. Most of the gold came from the rich beds of placer gold found in the streams and first discovered in 1858, the same year Denver was founded.

When the supply of gold was exhausted from the streams, miners turned to lode mining, uncovering veins of ore with a high percentage of gold and silver. By 1859, the yearly value of the gold and silver deposited at the Assay Office was over $5.6 million. During its early years as an Assay Office, the Denver plant was the city's most substantial structure.

On February 20, 1895, there was new hope for branch mint status when Congress provided for the establishment of a mint at Denver for gold and silver coin production. The site for the new mint at West Colfax and Delaware streets was purchased on April 22, 1896, for approximately $60,000. Construction began in 1897.

Appropriations to complete and equip the plant were insufficient, and the transfer of assay operations to the new building were delayed until September 1, 1904. Coinage operations finally began in February 1906, advancing the status of the Denver facility to Branch Mint. In addition, before the new machinery to be used at the Mint was installed for use, it was first sent to the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 for display.

In 1906, gold coins were again minted in Denver and, for the first time, silver coins were also produced there. During the first year, 167 million coins were produced, including $20 gold (double eagle) coins, $10 gold (eagle) coins, $5 gold (half eagle) coins, and assorted denominations of silver coins.

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Act of Congress Establishing the Treasury Department

Chapter XII. An Act to establish the Treasury Department. (a)

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be a Department of Treasury, in which shall be the following officers, namely: a Secretary of the Treasury, to be deemed head of the department; a Comptroller, an Auditor, a Treasurer, a Register, and an Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury, which assistant shall be appointed by the said Secretary.

Section 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to digest and prepare plans for the improvement and management of the revenue, and for the support of public credit; to prepare and report estimates of the public revenue, and the public expenditures; to superintend the collection of revenue; to decide on the forms of keeping and stating accounts and making returns, and to grant under the limitations herein established, or to be hereafter provided, all warrants for monies to be issued from the Treasury, in pursuance of appropriations by law; to execute such services relative to the sale of the lands belonging to the United States, as may be by law required of him; (b) to make report, and give information to either brach of the legislature, in person or in writing (as he may be required), respecting all matters referred to him by the Senate or House of Representatives, or which shall appertain to his office; and generally to perform all such services relative to the finances, as he shall be directed to perform.

Section 3. And be it futher enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Comptroller to superintend the adjustment and preservation of the public accounts; to examine all accounts settled by the Auditor, and certify the balances arising thereon to the Register; to countersign all warrants drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury, which shall be warranted by law; to report to the Secretary the official forms of all papers to be issued in the different offices for collecting the public revenue, and the manner and form of keeping and stating the accounts of the several persons employed therein. He shall moreover provide for the regular and punctual payment of all monies which may be collected, and shall direct prosecutions for all delinquencies of officers of the revenue, and for debts that are, or shall be due to the United States. (c)

Section 4. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Treasurer to receive and keep the monies of the United States, and to disburse the same upon warrants drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury, countersigned by the Comptroller, recorded by the Register, and not otherwise; he shall take receipts for all monies paid by him, and all receipts for monies received by him shall be endorsed upon warrants signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, withouth which warrant, so signed, no acknowledgement for money received into the public treasury shall be valid. And the said Treasurer shall render his accounts to the Comptroller quarterly (or oftener if required,) and shall transmit a copy thereof, when settled, to the Secretary of the Treasury. He shal. moreover, on the third day of every session of Congress, lay before the Senate and the House of Representatives, fair and accurate copies of all accounts by him from time [to time] rendered to, and settled with the Comptroller as aforesaid, as also, a true and perfect account of the state of the Treasury. He shall, at all times, submit to the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Comptroller, in the sum of one hundred and fify thousand dollars, payable to the United States, with condition for the faithful performance of the duties of his office, and for the fidelity of the persons to be by him employed, which bond shall be lodged in the office of the Comptroller of the Treasury of the United States.

Section 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Auditor to receive all public accounts, and after examination to certify the balance, and transmit the accounts with the vouchers and certificate to the Comptroller for his decision thereon: Provided, That if any peson whose account shall be so audited, be dissatisfied therewith, he may within six months appeal to the Comptroller against such settlement. (d)

Section 6. And be it further enacted, That is shall be the duty of the Register to keep all accounts of the receipts and expenditures of the public money, and of all debts due to or from the United States; to receive from the Comptroller the accounts which shall have been finally adjusted, and to preserve such accounts with their vouchers and certificates; to record all warrants for the receipt or payment of monies at the Treasury, certify the same thereon, and to transmit to the Secretary of the Treasury, copies of the certificates of balances of accounts adjusted as is herein directed.

Section 7. And be it further enacted, That whenever the Secretary shall be removed from office by the President of the United States, or in any oter case of vacancy in the office of Secretary, the Assistant shall, during the vacancy, have the charge and custody of the records, books, and papers appertaining to the said office.

Section 8. And be it futher enacted, That no person appointed to any office instituted by the Act, shall directly or indirectly be concerned or interested in carrying on the business of trade or commerce, or be owner in whole or in part of any sea-vessel, or purchase by himself, or anoter in trust for him, any public lands or other pulic property, or be concerned in the purchase or disposal of any public securities of any State, or of the United States, or take or apply to his own use, any emolument or gain for negotiating or transacting any business in the said department, other than what shall be allowed by law; and if any person shall offend against any of the prohibitions of this Act, he shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and forfeit to the United States te penalty of three thousand dollars, and shall upon conviction be removed from office, and forever therafter incapable of holding any office under the United States: Provided, That if any other person that a public prosecutor shall give information of any such offence, upon which a prosecution and conviction shall be had, one half the aforesaid penalty of three thousand dollars, when recovered, shall be for the use of the person giving such information.

APPROVED: September 2, 1789.Persons appointed to office under this act. Prohibition upon.

(a) The acts, in addition to this act which have been passed relating to the Treasury Department, have been: Act of March 3, 1791; Act of May 8, 1792; Act of March 3, 1809, chap.28; Act of November 22, 1814; Act of March 3, 1817, chap.45; Act of February 24, 1819, chap. 43; Act of May 1, 1820, chap. 50; act of May 15, 1820, chap. 107. (return to text)

(b) By "an Act for the establishment of a general land office in the Department of the Treasury," passed April 25, 1812, the direction of the sales of public lands was assigned to the Secretary of the Treasury. By "an Act to provide for the collection, safe keeping, transfer and disbursement of the public revenue," passed July 4, 1840, chap. 18, sec.1, the fire-proof vaults and safes provided by the Treasurer in the new building erected at the seat of government, were "constituted and declared to be the Treasury of the United States." This act was repealed by the Act of August 13, 1841, chap.7. (return to text)

(c) See the Act of March 3, 1809, chap. 28, sec. 2. The Comptroller of the Treasury has a right to direct the marshal to whom he shall pay money received on executions, and payment according to such directions is good. (return to text)

(d) See Act of May 8, 1792; Act of March 3, 1809, chap. 28. (return to text)

U. S. Mint History

The U.S. Mint is over 200 years old. Soon after the Constitution's ratification, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton personally prepared plans for a national Mint. Since its creation on April 2, 1792, by an act of Congress, the Mint has grown to become a Fortune 500- sized manufacturing and international marketing enterprise with more than $1 billion annual revenues and 2,200 employees. It is the world's largest manufacturer of coins, medals and coin based consumer products.

The Mint annually produces 12-20 circulating coins, distributes them to Federal Reserve banks and branches, maintains physical custody and protection of the nation's $100 billion gold and silver assets. They also produce proof and uncirculated coins, commemorative coins and medals to the general public.

While the U.S. Mint headquarters are in Washington, DC, all U.S. coins and medals are manufactured in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point. Please visit the Mint web site for more in-depth information on the manufacture of coins.

Presently, the Mint has two very popular coin programs; the 50 State Quarter Program, which honors the individual states through a new series of circulating quarters being issued over the next decade; and the golden dollar, featuring the engraving of a young Native American woman who served as translator for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Visit the Mint web site for more information on these and other coin programs.

In Washington, DC, you can visit the U.S. Mint Sales Kiosk in the Main Hall of Union Station, on Massachusetts Avenue, NE. Their hours of operation are Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. Their phone is 202-289-0609. The next time you are visiting the nation's capitol, please feel free to stop by and see the many interesting and beautifully crafted products the Mint is now selling. They offers the latest commemorative and annual coins, the popular new state quarters, collector maps, medals and a variety of coin jewelry.

If you have mutilated coins that have been fused together or melted, you can send them to the following address:

Superintendent

U.S. Mint

Post Office Box 400

Philadelphia, PA 19105

Further questions about the Mint can be answered either in our FAQs, at theU.S. Mint web siteor by phoning the Public Affairs office at 202-354-7227.

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History of the Treasury Building

In the first years of the American republic's existence, the government was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The new capital city of Washignton, DC, was authorized in the Constitution and built on the banks of the Potomac River. In 1800, the government moved to Washington, DC and the Department of the Treasury moved into a porticoed Gregorian-style building designed by an English architect, George Hadfield.

This structure was partially destroyed by fire in 1801, and was burned by the British in 1814, but was rebuilt by White House architect James Hoban. This building was identical to three others located on lots adjacent to the White House, each housing one of the four original departments of the U.S. Government: the State Department, the War Department, the Navy Department, and the Treasury Department. The Treasury Building, to the southeast of the White House, was burned by arsonists on March 31, 1833, with only the fireproof wing left standing.

Apparently for the three years after the 1833 fire that destroyed the second Treasury Building, the Department was without a home of its own. On July 4, 1836, Congress authorized the construction of a "fireproof building of such dimensions as may be required for the present and future accommodations" of the Treasury Department.

This legislation authorized the East and Center Wings. They were partially occupied in August 1839 and were completed in 1842. They were designed by Robert Mills, who was also the architect of the Washington Monument and the Patent Office Building. The most architecturally impressive feature of the Mills design is the east front colonnade running the length of the building.

Each of the 30 columns is 36 feet tall and was carved out of a single block of granite. The material for the original Wing was Acquia Creek freestone, which was largely replaced with granite in 1908. The interior design of the east and center wings is classically austere, in keeping with the Greek Revival style. Perhaps the building when completed in 1842 was an imposing structure for the time, but it fell short of providing accommodations for the future. Having cost less than $700,000, the building, which is now only a part of the east wing, contained 150 rooms.

It was found necessary in a few years to enlarge the building, and on March 3, 1855, Congress granted authority to extend the building, by appropriating $100,000. Construction of what is now the South Wing was begun in July 1855 and completed and occupied in September 1861. The west wing from 1855 was completed and occupied in 1864. The preliminary design of the wings was provided by Thomas Ustick Walter, architect of the dome of the U.S. Capitol, but construction began under the supervision of Ammi B. Young and from 1862 until 1867 by Isaiah Rogers. They each refined the plans, designed the interior details. While the exterior of the building was executed along the lines of the original Mills wings, the interiors of the later wings reflect changes in both building technology and aesthetic tasts. Iron columns and beams reinforced the building's brick vaults, and the architectural detailing became much more ornate, following mid-nineteenth century fashion.

The Department continued to grow, and construction began on the North Wing, the final addition to the Treasury Building in 1867. The Government building housing the Department of State was removed from the north area of the site in 1866-67 to make room for the North Wing. The architect of the North Wing was Alfred B. Mullett, who subsequently designed the State Department, the War Department and the Navy Building (now the Old Executive Office Building) located on the West side of the White House.

Similar in construction and decor to the south and west wings, the north wing is unique as the site of the Cash Room -- a two-story marble hall in which the daily financial business of the U.S. Government was transacted. The room was opened in 1869 as the site of President Ulysses S. Grant's Inaugural Ball. This wing was completed in 1869. The Attic story, now the Treasury Building's fifth floor, was added in 1910.

The stone used in the South Wing, the West Wing and the North Wing, was quarried on Dix Island, near Rockland, Maine, and transported in sailing vessels. The facades are adorned by monolithic columns of the Ionic order, each 36 feet tall and weighing 30 tons. Each column cost $5,000.

There are 34 of these pillars on the east side of the building facing Fifteenth Street, 30 of them forming a colonnade 341 feet long. This colonnade has for many years provided viewing space for inaugural arades and other state functions. There are 18 columns on the west side and ten each on the noth and south sides.

Thus, after more than a third of a century, the Treasury Building became the magnificent structure originally intended. One of the results of its expansion, though, was the violation of the original plan for the city -- to leave unobstructed the view from the White House to the Capitol.

The building as it is today is estimated to have cost approximately $8 million. Because early planning had the entire official city facing the canal which at one time ran through downtown Washington where the mall is now located, the south entrances of the Treasury Building, along with the south entrance of the White House, is the historical front entrance of the building.

The Treasury Building is the oldest departmental building in Washington, and the third oldest Federally occupied building in Washington, preceded only by the Capitol and the White House. The Main Treasury Building covers five stories and a raised basement and sits on 5 acres of ground. The building measures 466 feet north to south by 260 feet east to west.

A Statue of Alexander Hamilton, the 1st Secretary of the Treasury, is located on the south patio of the building, while a statue of Albert Gallatin, the 4th Secretary of the Treasury, is located on the north patio. Gallatin served the longest as Secretary, from 1801 until 1814. The grounds of the building -- rose gardens at the north and south ends and grass, magnolia trees and other plantings gracing the west side -- add much to the beauty of the building.

The Treasury Building is used primarily for executive offices, the Secretary of the Treasury and Deputy Secretary occupying suites on the third floor. Despite its size, the Building can accommodate only about 10 percent of all Treasury personnel located in Washington.

In the basement, there are 15 vaults ranging in size from 10 feet by 16 feet to 50 feet by 90 feet. Stored within these vaults at one time were currency, coins, bonds and securities. Also, most of the Nation's gold and silver bullion was also stored in the vaults. They were securely protected by combination and time locks and by an electrical protection system which alerted the captain of the guard, the United States Secret Service, and local police headquarters to any attempt to tamper with the locks or otherwise violate the security of the system. Partially because of these vaults, the building was protected by the Treasury Guard Force, supervised by the United States Secret Service. The Treasury Building is now protected by the United States Secret Service Uniform Protection Division. The basement also houses a pistol range used by the United States Secret Service and other enforcement personnel to maintain marksmanship. The rest of the basement area is used for maintenance equipment and personnel and store rooms.

Among the many interesting architectural features of the building are the unique stairways that appear to be suspended in midair. Actually, the steps are cut-worked granite and/or marble blocks cantilevered from structural alls, primarilly supported by the arch action of the steps.

The Treasury Building has been the scene of many intriguing historic events:

For 55 days following the assassination of President Lincoln, President Andrew Johnson used of the offices (now the Andrew Johnson Suite) on the third floor. This allowed Mrs. Lincoln an opportunity to move from the White House. This room has changed little in appearance since President Johnson's administration.

The large Cash Room in the North Wing of the building was used on March 4, 1869, for the inaugural ball for President Grant's first inauguration. The Cash Room, the walls, window frames, and doors which are sold marble, is still a magnificent area, two stories high, with an atmosphere of dignity and tradition. When President Grant held his inaugural ball, gas jets along with North Columns spelled out "PEACE" in 9-ft. high letters of flame. During the Civil war, the Treasury Building was the point of last defense of the seat of government. The basement was converted into a fortress. Federal troops were billeted in the South Wing.

When General Jubal A. Early's Confederate forces attacked Fort Stevens on the outskirts of town, a traned force of Treasury officials and employees left their desks and marched to the Fort to aid the Union Army.

During World War II, the vaults in the Treasury Building were provisioned and kept in 24-hour readiness to provide ventilated bomb-proof subterranean quarters for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the event of air attack. These vaults were formerly used to store opium and precious metals.

One of the elevators dates from 1898. Once, after an important press conference, the elevator stalled between floors. The Secretary was rudely disturbed by the screams of the caged reporters. The Dow Jones man, who had taken the stairs, beat the AP man filing his story by 30 minutes that day.

Legend has it that the cornerstone of the Treasury Building contains a golden lock of hair of President Jackson's baby granddaughter, Mary Donelson, who was born at the White House.

In 1875, Mary, the then impoverished widow of Texas Congressman John A. Wilcox, walked from the railroad station to the White House to see President Grant. He appointed her to a position in the Treasury auditor's office, which she kept until her death in 1905. The first telephone was installed in the Treasury Building in 1877, as a private line from the White House.

On August 9, 1973, several murals were uncovered on the ceiling of a southweast office that was formerly occupied by the Secretary of the Treasury (the Salmon P. Chase Suite). These murals date from 1861 and resemble the mural art in the Capitol and may have been painted throughout offices in the South Wing.

The Main Treasury Building has had a great impact on the design of other government buildings. At the time of its completion, it was one of the largest office buildings in the world. It is unquestionably a monument of continuing architectural and historic significance. The Treasury Building was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark on October 18, 1972.

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All information provided is believed correct at the time of posting. We are not responsible for any products or services provided by advertisers. Much of the above information is courtesy of the United States Department of the Treasury.