Diplomatic Couriers - History

"None Is Swifter Than These"

The motto of the U.S. Diplomatic Courier Service -- “None is swifter than these” -- is taken from Greek historian Herodotus’ description of the mounted messenger service used by the king of Persia in 430 BC.

The Diplomatic Courier Service traces its origin to 1918, when the U.S. Army established its “Silver Greyhounds” courier team.

Date: 1918 Description: 1918:  Fifteen U.S. Army Officers assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Paris served as message couriers for U.S. Expeditionary Forces in France during the First World War, and afterwards for President Wilson and the U.S. delegation at the Versailles peace negotiations in 1919.  As such, they were among the early forerunners of today's diplomatic couriers.  (Source: DS Records) © DS Records
Among the early forerunners of today’s Diplomatic Couriers, U.S. Army Officers served as couriers for U.S. Expeditionary Forces in France during the First World War and for President Wilson and the U.S. delegation during the Versailles peace negotiations in 1919. (Source: Bureau of Diplomatic Security Files)

Date: 03/11/2016 Description: In March 1918, General John J. ''Black Jack'' Pershing, frustrated by the slow transit of correspondence between Paris and Washington, authorized U.S. Army Major Amos J. Peaslee (pictured) to organize a military courier service. © U.S. Army U.S. Army Major Amos J. Peaslee (U.S. Army photo)

In March of that year, U.S. Army Gen. John Pershing authorized U.S. Army Major Amos J. Peaslee to organize a military courier service, the “Silver Greyhounds”, to carry sensitive correspondence between Paris and Washington during World War I and during the U.S.-led peace conference that followed.

Within three weeks, transit times for U.S. correspondence between Paris and Washington dropped from roughly five weeks to less than two weeks.

In November 1918, the Silver Greyhounds’ consignments shifted from being primarily military to being primarily diplomatic. Thus, the Silver Greyhounds became the first U.S. organization dedicated specifically to the movement of diplomatic pouches.

In December 1918, the Silver Greyhounds formally began to support the U.S. Department of State in advance of the Paris Peace Conference delegation in early 1919. 

In 1985, the Diplomatic Courier Service became part of the DSS during a Department of State consolidation that included the creation of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

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