United States Customs Service

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United States Customs Service
US-CustomsService-Seal.svg
Agency overview
DissolvedMarch 1, 2003
Superseding agencyHomeland Security Investigations, (of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Parent agencyUnited States Department of Homeland Security
Websitewww.customs.gov
 
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United States Customs Service
US-CustomsService-Seal.svg
Agency overview
DissolvedMarch 1, 2003
Superseding agencyHomeland Security Investigations, (of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Parent agencyUnited States Department of Homeland Security
Websitewww.customs.gov

The United States Customs Service was an agency of the U.S. federal government that collected import tariffs and performed other selected border security duties.

In March 2003, it was rolled into the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The United States Customs Service had three major missions: collecting tariff revenue, protecting the U.S. economy from smuggling and illegal goods, and processing people and goods at ports of entry.

History[edit]

Responding to the urgent need for revenue following the American Revolutionary War, the First United States Congress passed and President George Washington signed the Tariff Act of July 4, 1789, which authorized the collection of duties on imported goods. Four weeks later, on July 31, the fifth act of Congress established the United States Customs Service and its ports of entry.

As part of this new government agency, a new role was created for government officials which was known as "Customs Collector". In this role, one person would have responsibility to supervise the collection of custom duties in a particular city or region.

For over 100 years after its birth, the U.S. Customs Service was the primary source of funds for the entire government, and paid for the nation's early growth and infrastructure. Purchases include the Louisiana and Oregon territories; Florida and Alaska; funding the National Road and the Transcontinental Railroad; building many of the nation's lighthouses; the U.S. Military and Naval academies, and Washington, D.C.

Flag of the United States Customs Service

The flag of the Customs Service was designed in 1799 by Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr. and consists of 16 vertical red and white stripes with a coat of arms depicted in blue on the white canton. The original design had the Customs Service seal that was an eagle with three arrows in his left talon, an olive branch in his right and surrounded by an arc of 13 stars. In 1951, this was changed to the eagle depicted on the Great Seal of the United States.

Its actual name is the Revenue Ensign, as it was flown by ships of the Revenue Cutter Service, later the Coast Guard, and at customs houses.

In 1910, President William Howard Taft issued an order to add an emblem to the flag flown by ships from the one flown on land at customs houses. The version with the badge continues to be flown by Coast Guard Vessels. Until 2003, the land version was flown at all United States ports of entry.[1]

In the 20th century, as international trade and travel increased dramatically, the Customs Service transitioned from an administrative bureau to a federal law enforcement agency. Inspectors still inspected goods and took customs declarations from travelers at ports of entry, but customs agents used modern police methods—often in concert with allied agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and U.S. Border Patrol—to investigate cases often far from international airports, bridges and land crossings.

With the passage of the Homeland Security Act, the U.S. Customs Service passed from under jurisdiction of the Treasury Department to the Department of Homeland Security.

On March 1, 2003, parts of the U.S. Customs Service combined with the Inspections Program of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine from USDA, and the Border Patrol of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to form U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Federal Protective Service, along with the investigative arms of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, combined to form U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Examples of illegal items[edit]

Commissioners[edit]

This table lists all Commissioners of Customs, their dates of service, and under which administration they served.

CommissionerTermAdministration
Ernest W. Camp1927–1929Coolidge
Francis Xavier A. Eble1929–1933Hoover
James Henry Moyle1933–1939Roosevelt
Basil Harris1939-1940Roosevelt
William Roy Johnson1940-1947Roosevelt, Truman
Frank DowActing, 1947-1949Truman
Frank Dow1949-1953Truman
Ralph Kelly1954-1961Eisenhower
Philip Nichols, Jr.1961-1964Kennedy, Johnson
Lester D. Johnson1965–1969Johnson
Myles Joseph Ambrose1969–1972Nixon
Vernon Darrell Acree1972–1977Nixon, Ford
Robert E. Chasen1977–1980Carter
William Von Raab1981–1989Reagan
Carol B. Hallett1989–1993G.H.W.Bush
George J. Weise1993–1997Clinton
Raymond W. Kelly1998–2001Clinton
Robert C. Bonner2001–2003[2]G.W.Bush

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "U.S. Coast Guard Flags". United States Coast Guard. October 21, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  2. ^ When the U.S. Customs Service was merged into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on March 1, 2003, Robert C. Bonner became commissioner of the newly formed service and continued in that role until 2006.

External links[edit]