The United States Marshal Service is the country's oldest federal law enforcement agency. It was created by the first Congress under terms established in the Judiciary Act of 1789, the same act that established the federal judicial system. At the time, they were granted extensive authority in order to support the federal courts within their judicial districts and to carry out all lawful orders issued by judges, Congress, and the President. In addition, the Marshals duties included serving subpoenas, summonses, writs and warrants. They made all arrests and handled all prisoners.

The Marshals main purpose was to provide local representation for the federal government within their assigned districts. Within this capacity, their duties included distribution of Presidential proclomations, collecting various statistics on commerce and manufacturing, supply name of government employees for the national register and up until 1870, conduct the national census every 10 years.

In today's world, the Director, Deputy Director and 94 U. S Marshals, all appointed by either the President or Attorney General are in charge of 95 district offices that cover the entire continental United States, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. There are about 4,000 Deputy Marshals that perform the day to day operations.

The function of the Marshals has changed drastically over the years. They no longer perform most of the services that were listed earlier. Today they are largely involved in fugitive investigations, protection of the courts, the custody and transportation of prisoners, witness security, asset seizure and other special operations.

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