Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2012

Federal Bureau of Investigation seal

July 26, 1908: The Bureau of Investigation (BOI or BI) is formed. In 1886 the case of Wabash, St. Louis, & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois was decided by the Supreme Court. They passed down the decision giving states no power to regulate interstate commerce. The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 made it a federal responsibility to control commerce between state entities. The Justice Department hired a few men to investigate and enforce the law. Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte got cooperation from other federal agencies such as the Secret Service. However, staffing shortages remained.

Bonaparte began a separate investigative team – the Bureau of Investigation and staffed it with special agents. Twelve men from the Secret Service became the first BOI agents. The Mann Act was passed in 1910 and was concerned with “White Slave Traffic” or prostitutes being forced to work against their wills and transported across state lines for “immoral acts”. The law was written in ambiguous language and was used to discredit many men who were simply in the company of the “wrong women” and harassed. However, the BOI’s first task was to survey houses of prostitution.

In 1932 the BOI was renamed to the United States Bureau of Investigation and the following year it was linked to the Bureau of Prohibition and renamed the Division of Investigation (DOI). The entity finally became independent of the Department of Justice in 1935 and was granted one more name change to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The director of the BOI followed along with all the name changes. J. Edgar Hoover was the first FBI Director and served for 48 years in total, across all the different nomenclatures. After his death, tenure was reduced to a maximum of ten years.

Today, the FBI is an agency of the US Department of Justice serving as both a federal criminal investigative body and internal intelligence agency. They have jurisdiction concerning more than 200 categories of federal crimes. Their office is headquartered in the spectacularly ugly J. Edgar Hoover building located in Washington, DC. They also have 56 field offices and more than 400 resident agencies in the US and over 50 international offices. They have 35,437 employees and a $7.9 billion budget (2011 figure).

We are a fact-gathering organization only. We don’t clear anybody. We don’t condemn anybody.

Just the minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo.

The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.

Truth telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in 40 years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: every single one was a liar. – all from J. Edgar Hoover

Also on this day:

The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man commits his first robbery
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on July 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

    About “between state entities”: The federal law stated between state governments themselves not other entities operating the physical boundaries of any particular state. Good example of what I speak of is the recent Arizona state law that stated that the State of Arizona directed activities of city and county law enforcement agencies to do specific acts to control “illegal” immigration- that part was struck down as being the area of responsibility of the federal government by the US Supreme Court- BUT- the Supreme Court ruled that the individuals could work to curb the illegal activity- the State of Arizona cannot direct them to do so because of what this article is about. Having seen the supreme court act as it did, local governments in Arizona and in elsewhere know where they stand so they have stepped up their own efforts on the subjects of illegal immigration- that is what the governor of Arizona was referring to as the win in the US Supreme Court ruling. I recognize this because here in California, for about 40 years, city and county law enforcement daily have loaded up US Immigration busses for US Immigration to transport mexican illegal into the interior of mexico- note that there is no envolvement of the State of California. Smaller California cities that cannot afford their own busses are helped by twice daily runs by US Immigration busses.

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