The history of the comptroller's office parallels Maryland's history. Both have been filled with great leaders, un-sung heroes, intrigue, and conflict. Like Maryland's other elected officials, the 30 people who have served as comptrollers have affected the lives of citizens in many ways since 1851.
The "Comptroller of the Treasury" was created by the state constitution of 1851 to have "general superintendence of the fiscal affairs of the state." More specifically, the Comptroller's Office was created to keep watch over the State Treasurer whose activities were going unchecked.
The first comptroller, Philip Francis Thomas, had a salary of $2,500 and a staff of one clerk. This first office provided the money and accounting that made the government work and still does today. Comptroller Thomas and his early counterparts put together fiscal reports, printed piles of forms and collected revenue from lotteries and property taxes as well as license fees for peddling, hunting and fishing and getting married. The first comptrollers also spent a lot of their time signing forms until the office was able to obtain an official signature stamp in 1858.
Maryland's comptrollers have been lawyers, doctors, bankers, miners, newspapermen, teachers and farmers and all of them have been men. Some have had a huge impact on how we live today. Some have made a difference in a quieter way.
Today, under the leadership of Peter Franchot, the comptroller's office collects billions of dollars in revenue, enforces laws relating to these revenues, pays the state's bills and keeps its financial accounts. The Comptroller of Maryland keeps the state running in vital ways and will keep doing so for many more years.