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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The United States Treasury

Civil War to Civil Rights

 

—Downtown Heritage Trail —

 
The United States Treasury Marker [Front] image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, February 27, 2019
1. The United States Treasury Marker [Front]
Inscription.  Billions for the war
and a bunker
for the president


The grand, pillared United States Treasury building that stands before you was the financial command center for the Union during the Civil War. It was here between 1861 and 1865 that 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 revived the nation's early but short-lived system of national banks to provide financial stability — a network that remained in place until our present Federal Reserve System was established in 1913.

The first section of the Treasury was designed by Robert Mills in 1836. Throughout the Civil War, activity swirled here. The 5th Massachusetts camped 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 short-handed federal government hired large numbers of women for the
The United States Treasury Marker [Reverse] image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, February 27, 2019
2. The United States Treasury Marker [Reverse]
first time. These "lady clerks," as they were called, hand-trimmed the huge sheets of paper greenbacks invented by Secretary Chase.

In 1863 the Treasury 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 property. The concept, however, was never taken to other slave-holding communities.

(Captions, counter-clockwise from the top left)
Secretary Chase hired "lady clerks" to hand-cut his new greenbacks.

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase's restored office.

This 1862 political cartoon captures Treasury Secretary Chase as "bleeding" funds from a willing United STates. At this time, a common method for treating illness was to drain some of the patient's blood.

Treasury's north front under construction, 1867.

Blanche K. Bruce, a U.S. senator from Mississippi, later served President James A. Garfield as the first African American Register of the Treasury. Born a slave, Bruce exemplified the civil rights gains made by African Americans as a result of the war and Reconstruction.
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.5.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail marker series.
 
Location.
The United States Treasury Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, February 27, 2019
3. The United States Treasury Marker
38° 53.804′ N, 77° 2.024′ W. Marker is in Downtown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on 15th Street Northwest north of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20220, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. Edgar J. Helms (a few steps from this marker); Frederick Douglass 1817 - 1895 (a few steps from this marker); The Hotel Washington (within shouting distance of this marker); The Extra Mile (within shouting distance of this marker); Paul Harris 1868 - 1947 (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); Site of Rhodes Tavern (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Downtown.
 
Categories. African AmericansWar, US CivilWomen
 
Construction of the Treasury Building image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
4. Construction of the Treasury Building
Men standing in front of Treasury Building; Column being raised into position Sept. 16, 1867.
15-inch Rodman Gun image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
5. 15-inch Rodman Gun
Photograph shows a team of oxen hauling a 15 inch Rodman at the intersection of 15th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. photographed between 1861 and 1865, printed later.
Blanche Bruce image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
6. Blanche Bruce
Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi 1884 by John Wesley Cromwell
 
More. Search the internet for The United States Treasury.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 15, 2019. This page originally submitted on March 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 52 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   4, 5, 6. submitted on March 3, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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