Skip to main content

Protecting The President

June 2024
1min read

THE SECRET SERVICE

Arts & Entertainment Video, four videocassettes, 50 minutes each .

If you have ever watched the President’s limo fleet roar by or met the cold eye of one of his bodyguards, you’ve seen the Secret Service at familiar work. You may find it a surprise to learn that the Service was actually formed by the Treasury Department in 1865 to fight counterfeiting. Guarding the U.S. currency remained the Service’s main job until Congress changed the law in 1901, after the death of President McKinley. Since then the Secret Service has kept watch over Presidents, saving several, tragically losing one, and making possible the Presidency itself for one, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Not only did FDR survive an assassination attempt in 1933, but the Secret Service helped him disguise his disability from the public by building him ramps, customizing his plane and railroad car, helping him appear to walk on stage, and quick-changing his clothes for him on a mattress between appearances. One of FDR’s old agents describes seeing a projectile fly into the President’s open car during a rainy tour of New York City in 1944: he lunged in after it and flung himself on what turned out to be a bagel. Color home movies show the tunnels and bomb shelters dug between the White House and Treasury Building during World War II. The former agent Glint Hill painfully remembers slipping while trying to reach Mrs. Kennedy on the back of the President’s Lincoln in Dallas in 1963. Michael Deaver, over whose right shoulder John Hinckley, Jr., fired his shots at President Reagan, co-produced the series, and the veteran reporter Ike Pappas, in whose presence Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald, narrates.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.

Donate