Revenue Cutter Service
In 1790, Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the Treasury, formed
the Revenue Cutter Service to collect customs duties and tonnage
taxes, counter smuggling and favor U.S. goods and ships.
The system of cutters existed under various names, Revenue Service, and
Revenue-Marine. The name officially became Revenue Cutter Service
(USRCS) in 1863. The Revenue Cutter Service was combined
with other maritime agencies to form the modern U.S. Coast Guard in 1915.
The Coast Guard, through the Revenue Cutter Service, is the oldest
continuous seagoing service and has fought in almost every war since the
Constitution became the law of the land in 1789. Following the War of
Independence (1776-83), the Continental Navy was disbanded.
From 1790 until 1798, when the U.S. Navy was created, the revenue
cutters were the only national maritime service. The Acts establishing
the Navy also empowered the President to use the revenue cutters to
supplement the fleet when needed. Laws later clarified the relationship
between the Coast Guard and the Navy.