Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The United States Treasury
Civil War to Civil Rights
—Downtown Heritage Trail —
and a bunker
for the president
The grand, pillared United States Treasury building that stands before you, its first section designed by Robert Mills in 1836, was the financial command center for the Union. It was here between 1861 and 1865 that the Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase raised the unprecedented sum of $2.7 billion to finance the government and the war.
Chase issued bonds, instituted internal revenue taxes, printed paper money called "greenbacks" and created the first personal income tax in the United States. He also developed the nation's first system of national banks to provide financial stability - a network that remained in place until our present Federal Reserve System was devised early in the 20th century.
Activity swirled around this building throughout the war. The 5th Massachusetts camped out here, cooking in the courtyard, and the basement became a bunker for the president and his cabinet in case of Confederate attack. It was here, also, that the federal government, of necessity, hired large numbers of women for the first time. These "lady clerks,"
In 1863, the Treasury Building provided the setting for an experiment devised by President Lincoln. Here all loyal slave owners in the District of Columbia were paid to free their slaves - a model never carried out anywhere else in the country.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.5.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 38° 53.809′ N, 77° 2.027′ W. Marker was in Downtown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker was at the intersection of 15th Street Northwest and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, on the left when traveling north on 15th Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker was at or near this postal address: 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. A different marker also named The United States Treasury (a few steps from this marker); Frederick Douglass 1817 - 1895 (a few steps from this marker); Dr. Edgar J. Helms (a few steps from this marker); Paul Harris 1868 - 1947 (within The Hotel Washington (within shouting distance of this marker); The Extra Mile (within shouting distance of this marker); Edgar Allen 1862 - 1937 (within shouting distance of this marker); Alexander Hamilton Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Downtown.
More about this marker. This marker was replaced by a new one also named The United States Treasury (see nearby markers).
Regarding The United States Treasury. Picture captions:
For the pictures in center left:
Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, whose restored office is seen above, is pictured “bleeding” funds from a willing United States in an1862 cartoon at right. (Library of Congress; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.)
Secretary Chase hired “lady clerks” to hand cut his new greenbacks. (Library of Congress.)
Lower left picture:
Treasury’s north front, under construction, 1867. (Library of Congress.)
Lower right picture:
Branche K. Bruce, a U.S. Senator from Mississippi became the first African American Register of the Treasury in the administration of President
Also see . . .
1. U.S. Department of the Treasury. National Park Service site detailing the history of the Treasury offices. (Submitted on August 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Wikipedia entry for Blanche K[elso] Bruce. Bruce is featured in the picture on the lower right of the marker. (Submitted on April 8, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Reconstruction
Categories. • African Americans • Government • Peace • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 15, 2019. This page originally submitted on August 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,547 times since then and 23 times this year. Last updated on February 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1. submitted on August 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 2. submitted on February 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on April 7, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 4, 5. submitted on August 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.