History of the Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard has been an integral part of safety and security in the United States, going as far back as 1790. They are a distinct branch of the military that is comprised of more than 50,000 men and women. They are tasked with protecting the environment, saving lives, and providing protection for the United States waterways and coastlines.
United States Revenue Cutter Service
The Coast Guard was first established by the United States Department of Treasury on August 4, 1790, as the United States Revenue Cutter Service. They were first established as a system of cutters that would be used to enforce the tariffs of the newly formed country on any items brought by sea. Tariffs were a significant source of revenue to the republic and maritime commerce was vital to trade, and so the Service’s protection directly contributed to continued national operations. Cutters were staffed with revenue officers. Each was assigned to a specific part of the coast.
After the Continental Navy was disbanded in 1785, and before the United States Navy was created, the cutters were the only available naval force. They moved beyond simple enforcement of tariffs to include other acts reserved for military forces such as rescue missions, combating piracy, and eventually preventing slave trade from Africa to the United States. They were also used to enforce any embargo acts that were laid out by Congress or the presidency. Eventually, the Revenue Marines were involved in actual battles during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War.
Before the Coast Guard embarked on life-saving missions, the functions were performed by local coastal forces, such as the Massachusetts Humane Society. These groups would help to rescue shipwrecked mariners and perform other life-saving functions at sea. Congress formalized a life-saving service in 1871 with the construction of new stations are provisions of new crews. A superintendent led the division until it was formally merged with the Revenue Cutter Service in 1915.
The Modern-Day Coast Guard in Created
With the 1915 merger of the life-saving division and the Revenue Cutter Service, the modern-day coast guard was formed. By the time of the merger, the Coast Guard has officially had 255 officers, 3900 enlisted men, an academy, 280 lifeboat stations, and 45 cutters. While the Coast Guard is an important part of enforcement of coastal and waterway rules and regulations, they are now most associated with their life-saving efforts for boaters in distress.
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