Days: 1910 - 1921
the Bureau was established, there were few federal
crimes. The Bureau of Investigation primarily investigated
violations of laws involving national banking, bankruptcy,
naturalization, antitrust, peonage, and land fraud.
Because the early Bureau provided no formal training,
previous law enforcement experience or a background
in the law was considered desirable.
first major expansion in Bureau jurisdiction came
in June 1910 when the Mann ("White Slave")
Act was passed, making it a crime to transport women
over state lines for immoral purposes. It also provided
a tool by which the federal government could investigate
criminals who evaded state laws but had no other
federal violations. Finch became Commissioner of
White Slavery Act violations in 1912, and former
Special Examiner A. Bruce Bielaski became the new
Bureau of Investigation Chief.
the next few years, the number of Special Agents
grew to more than 300, and these individuals were
complemented by another 300 Support Employees. Field
offices existed from the Bureau's inception. Each
field operation was controlled by a Special Agent
in Charge who was responsible to Washington. Most
field offices were located in major cities. However,
several were located near the Mexican border where
they concentrated on smuggling, neutrality violations,
and intelligence collection, often in connection
with the Mexican revolution.
the April 1917 entry of the United States into World
War I during Woodrow Wilson's administration, the
Bureau's work was increased again. As a result of
the war, the Bureau acquired responsibility for the
Espionage, Selective Service, and Sabotage Acts,
and assisted the Department of Labor by investigating
enemy aliens. During these years Special Agents with
general investigative experience and facility in
certain languages augmented the Bureau.
J. Flynn, former head of the Secret
Service, became Director of the Bureau of Investigation
in July 1919 and was the first to use that title.
In October 1919, passage of the National Motor Vehicle
Theft Act gave the Bureau of Investigation another
tool by which to prosecute criminals who previously
evaded the law by crossing state lines. With the
return of the country to "normalcy" under
President Warren G. Harding in 1921, the Bureau of
Investigation returned to its pre-war role of fighting
the few federal crimes.