What Is the History of the U.S. Department of the Treasury?


Quick Answer

The U.S. Department of the Treasury was founded in 1789 by Congress to manage the federal government's finances. Alexander Hamilton was appointed the first Secretary of the Treasury by George Washington on Sept. 11, 1789.

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Full Answer

When the U.S. Treasury Department was established, the federal government was headquartered in Philadelphia. When the government relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1800, the U.S. Treasury moved there as well. In 1814, much of Washington D.C. was burned by British troops, including the U.S. Treasury. The Treasury was rebuilt in one of four identical buildings adjacent to the White House containing the four original U.S. Departments: State, Navy, War and Treasury. The Treasury building was burned again by arsonists in 1833 and reconstructed over a 36-year period, with its completion coming in 1869. Today, it is the oldest departmental building in Washington.

President Andrew Johnson used the Secretary of the Treasury's office temporarily before moving into the White House following President Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865.

Responsibilities that were later assigned to other U.S. departments yet to be established fell under the Treasury for a period of time, including the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation. The comptroller duties of the Treasury have also since been reassigned to the Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

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