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United States Marshals Service 225th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MILLER of North Carolina. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The Offices of the U.S. Marshals and Deputy Marshal were created by the first Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789, the same legislation that established the Federal judicial system. The marshals were given extensive authority to support the Federal courts within their judicial districts and to carry out all lawful orders issued by judges, by Congress, or by the President.

Their first duty was to support the Federal courts, and they served summons, subpoenas, writs, warrants, and other processes issued by the courts, made any arrests necessary, and handled the prisoners. They disbursed the money. The marshals paid the fees and expenses of the court clerks, the U.S. Attorneys, the jurors, the witnesses. They rented the courtrooms, the jail space, hired the bailiffs, the criers--what we probably would now call a bailiff--the janitors, and on and on. They ensured the courts functioned smoothly. They took care of the details so that the judges and the lawyers could concentrate on the cases before them. They made sure that the water pitchers were filled, the prisoners were present, the jurors were available, and the witnesses were on time.

But that was really only part of what the marshals did.

When George Washington set up his first administration and Congress first convened, they both quickly discovered a gap in the constitutional design of our government. It had no provision for any administrative structure throughout the country. Both the Congress and the Executive were housed in the Nation's capital, and no agency was established or designed to represent the Federal Government anywhere else. The need for a national organization quickly became apparent.

Congress and the President solved that in part by creating specialized agencies, like customs and revenue collectors to levy taxes and tariffs, but there were still many other jobs in the Federal Government that needed to be done and no one to do them. The only officers available to do it were the marshals and their deputies.

So the marshals were pretty much the Federal Government throughout much of the country, and they pretty much did everything. They took the national census every 10 years until 1870; they distributed Presidential proclamations, collected a variety of statistical information on commerce and manufacturing; they supplied the names of government employees for the national register; and they performed other routine tasks that were really necessary for the central government, the Federal government, to function effectively.

Over the past 200 years, Congress and the President have called on the marshals to do all manner of things: to carry out unusual and extraordinary missions like registering enemy aliens in time of war, capturing fugitive slaves from that lamentable period of our history, sealing the American border against armed expeditions aimed at foreign countries, and swapping spies with the Soviet Union. They remained a law enforcement agency.

Within the last decade, the marshals retrieved North Carolina's, my State's, copy of the Bill of Rights in a sting operation. North Carolina's copy had been stolen by Sherman's men when Sherman's army came through Raleigh after they went through Atlanta and treated Raleigh with the same loving attention and care that they had shown Atlanta. We are proud now to have our copy back and thank the marshals for having done it.

Madam Speaker, I support this deserved honor for our Marshals service.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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