Based on the Judiciary Act of Sept. 24, 1789, President George Washington appointed the first 13 U.S. Marshals. This act makes the U.S. Marshals the oldest Federal Law Enforcement Agency.
There exist more than 4,500 U.S. Marshals Service employees nationwide and they celebrated the agency's 215th anniversary on Friday, Sept. 24, 2004.
Annually, investigations carried out by the U.S. Marshals result in the capture of approximately 34,000 federal fugitives. More federal fugitives are arrested by Marshals than all other federal agencies combined.
Some milestones on their way from the past to the future:
From 1861 to 1864 the U.S. Marshals were the helping hand of the Union in order to identify Confederate spies and to confiscate any property that was used to support the confederacy.
But the 'U.S. Marshals' of the past had mainly the duty to bring federal law & order to the new frontiers in the 'untamed' western territories. Many Hollywood movies picked up their work and fight against unlaws.
The most spectacular job was perhaps the Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, where Deputy Wyatt Earp, his brothers U.S. Marshal Virgil and Deputy Morgan and Doc Holiday, had their show-down with the Clanton and McLowrey Brothers.
Everybody knows that the Clanton Gang lost on this October 26, 1881, and you can find Tom and Bill McLowrey's as well as Billie Clanton resting on the Boot Hill Cemetery.
A special were assigned to a very special task when World War I began. On April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared war against Germany. Having his troops overseas he decided to assign the U.S. Marshals the duty to protect the home soil against foreign enemies, set-up detention places for prisoners and prevent sabotage acts. Among other tasks they also arrested deserters.
With the ratification of the 18th amendment to the Constitution in 1920 the U.S. Marshals were confronted with a task never-seen-before: the enforcement of the prohibition laws. In 1927 the Bureau of Prohibition was created and took formally over but the agents had still to help and support.
The 1960's brought massive civil rights movements to the streets and certainly problems where the U.S. Marshals could step in. In 1962 James Meredith actually enrolled as the first black person at the University of Mississippi and 127 deputy marshals had to protect him for 1 year. In 1964 four Marshals had to escort the 6-year-old Ruby Bridges to a New Orleans Public School where she was one of the first black students attending a public school.
On October 21st, 1967, the U.S. Marshals had to protect the Pentagon when 35.000 Anti-Vietnam-War demonstrators marched towards and into the building.
In 1970 the Witness Security Program was launched. It based upon the Organized Crime Control Act and was later (1984) amended by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. U.S. Marshals have the responsibility to assign new identities and protect these people and their family members. More than 7 500 witnesses and nearly 10.000 family members profited from this program since.
In 1981 the so-called FIST operations were introduced. FIST stands for Fugitive Investigative Strike Teams and the teams task is to capture violent fugitives wanted by Federal or local law enforcement agencies.
215 years U.S. Marshals
The best place to view U.S. Marshal artifatcs which are dating back to nearly the beginning of the service *was* the National U.S. Marshals Museum in Laramie, Wyoming, which was situated within the Wyoming Territorial Park in the 'Horse Barn Theater'.
Unfortunately, the museum was closed down in 2003 - the U.S. Marshal Service is in the process of finding a new home for the museum exhibitions.