The Origins of the Secret Service – by Kristy McCaffrey

Counterfeiting was a serious issue at the end of the Civil War. Nearly one-third of all currency in circulation was fake. In 1865 the Secret Service was established to deal with this issue, acting as a bureau in the Treasury Department to stabilize America’s financial system. They were the first domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency in the United States.

During this time, America’s monetary system was very disorganized. Individual banks could legally generate their own currency, but with so much variation in circulation it was easy to counterfeit money.

The first agency chief was William Wood, who was widely known for his heroism in the Civil War. During his first year in charge, he was successful in closing more than 200 counterfeiting plants.

In addition to investigating paper money forgeries, the agency also monitored groups committing fraud, which included the Ku Klux Klan, mail robbers, smugglers, and bootleggers. The United States Marshals Service didn’t have the manpower to investigate all crimes under federal jurisdiction, so the Secret Service also handled bank robberies, illegal gambling, and murders.

President Abraham Lincoln established the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, the same day he was assassinated, after which Congress considered adding presidential protection to the duties of the Secret Service. But it would be another 36 years before the Secret Service was officially put in charge of protecting the president. In 1894, they began informally protecting President Grover Cleveland. In 1901, the agency took over full-time protection of the president after the assassination of President William McKinley. In 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was created and took over intelligence responsibilities from the Secret Service.

In my new release, THE STARLING, Pinkerton Detective Henry Maguire is investigating a possible counterfeiting scheme in the household of wealthy entrepreneur Arthur Wingate. Partnering with new agent Kate Ryan and posing as a married couple, they uncover more than Henry planned when information regarding his deceased father, Hugh Maguire, a Secret Service agent, comes to light.

Colorado 1899

Kate Ryan has always had a streak of justice in her. When she decides to apply to the Pinkerton Detective Agency, nothing will stand in her way. Initially hired in a clerical position, she quickly works her way up to field agent with the help of her mentor, Louise Foster. When Louise is injured, Kate gets her first assignment and the opportunity of a lifetime.

Henry Maguire has been undercover in the household of wealthy entrepreneur Arthur Wingate. Employed as a ghostwriter to pen the man’s memoir, Henry is also searching for clues to a lucrative counterfeiting scheme. When Henry’s “wife” shows up, he’s taken aback by the attractive woman who isn’t Louise. Now he must work with a female agent he doesn’t know and doesn’t necessarily trust. And because he has another reason for coming into Wingate’s world, Kate Ryan is unavoidably in his way.

Kate Ryan is the daughter of Matt and Molly from THE WREN, and THE STARLING is the first of five novels featuring the second generation of Ryans in the Wings of the West series.

The Starling is now available in eBook and paperback. Find buy links and read Chapter One here:



I’m giving away an eBook from my backlist—winner’s choice. To be entered, leave a comment and let me know what great show(s) you’ve been watching lately (any good western series?). I’m always looking for new stuff to view.

See all my books here:

Kristy McCaffrey writes contemporary adventure stories packed with smoldering romance and spine-tingling suspense, as well as award-winning historical western romances brimming with grit and emotion. Her work is filled with compelling heroes, determined heroines, and her trademark mysticism. She likes sleeping-in, eating Mexican food, and doing yoga at home in her pajamas. An Arizona native, she resides in the desert north of Phoenix with her husband and their rescue Bulldog, Jeb. Sign up for Kristy’s newsletter at
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41 thoughts on “The Origins of the Secret Service – by Kristy McCaffrey”

  1. I don’t watch television anymore. I spend to much time reading, listening to Audible, and writing. Something had to go to fit everything into my schedule.

  2. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend the Magnificent Seven TV series from the early 90s. It’s fantastic and ended way too soon. For current stuff, we’re finally watching Cobra Kai and it’s been a lot of fun. (I’m just on season 2 and trying to avoid spoilers.)

  3. I watched westerns on TV while growing up. Every now and then I will catch a glance of a western on TV my husband is watching. I don’t watch must TV anymore, I rather read or be doing something else.

  4. I don’t watch any new westerns, but there used to be a western as a series years ago on about secret service. There were two mens on an train (1800s). The name escapes me, but Will Smith starred in a remake.

  5. thank you for sharing this wonderful and intersting post. I love learning about this kind of stuff. I also love the pinkertons. We saw a wonderful movie recently: Purple Hearts he is a new marine and she is a singer

    • Is this a new movie? I only ask because there was a movie with the same name that came out years ago with Cheryl Ladd and Ken Wahl. It was set during WWII and was a romance and was sooo good. I don’t think it’s the movie you mentioned though. lol

      • No, Kristy, this one is set during the war with Afghanistan. It’s really good. It’s a marriage of convenience story. She can’t afford to buy insulin and he marries her so she can get it from on base. Really good.

  6. Kristy – I’m so happy you’re here! And congrats on the new release. Your books are always so good. I look forward to this one, too!

    Fascinating blog. I have always been intrigued by the Secret Service. How ironic that President Lincoln established the SS on the day he was assassinated!

    I don’t watch much TV. Only after I’m in my jammies at the end of the day will I find an hour or two to sit and watch, but I tend toward veterinary shows like Dr. Pol and Dr. Jeff. I love how good they are saving animals!

    Thanks for visiting us today!

  7. Welcome, Kristy! It’s great to have you. I love your blog because the Secret Service is so interesting. I grew up loving The Wild, Wild West with Robert Conrad who played Secret Service agent Jim West. That was such an interesting series and I sort of had a crush on Robert Conrad. He made my girlish heart flutter. I guess in the early days of the organization they handled a little of everything. Now, everything is compartmentalized into various agencies. Your new book The Starling sounds so good!! I’m fascinated by instances where partners have to pretend to be a married couple. That leads to some fun situations. Wishing you tons of success, dear friend.

  8. I am watching Purple Hearts and it is really good. I watched the the prequel to Yellowstone and it was called 1883 and it is so very good! Have a great weekend and stay safe.

  9. I enjoy a lot of British dramas and mysteries. Lately I’ve been watching Death in Paradise on PBS, and before that I really enjoyed the latest season of Endeavor.

  10. I have not been watching television. My husband is watching West Wing off of DVD’s. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  11. Thank you for the interesting information on the Secret Service.
    There just aren’t any western programs on TV anymore. We don’t get the premium channels so don’t have access to the few that are available. We tend to watch the science and history shows (NOT the “reality” shows) on National Geographic Channels, Discovery, PBS. We enjoyed most of Shark Month and Week this year on a couple channels. The Hallmark Channels always have enjoyable movies.

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