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William J. Burns

William J. Burns

William J. Burns
August 22, 1921 - June 14, 1924

William J. Burns was born around 1860 in Baltimore, Maryland and educated in Columbus, Ohio. As a young man, Mr. Burns performed well as a Secret Service agent and parleyed his reputation into the William J. Burns International Detective Agency. A combination of good casework and an instinct for publicity made Mr. Burns a national figure. His exploits made national news, the gossip columns of New York newspapers, and the pages of detective magazines, in which he published “true” crime stories based on his exploits. Well qualified to direct the Bureau and friends with Warren Harding’s Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty, Burns was appointed Director of the Bureau of Investigation on August 22, 1921. Under Mr. Burns, the Bureau shrank from its 1920 high of 1,127 personnel to around 600 three years later. He resigned in 1924 at the request of Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone because of his role in the Teapot Dome Scandal. This scandal involved the secret leasing of naval oil reserve lands to private comanies.

Mr. Burns retired to Florida and published detective and mystery stories based on his long career for several years. He died in Sarasota, Florida in April 1932.

Directors, Then and Now

- James B. Comey, 2013-Present
- Robert S. Mueller, III, 2001-2013
- Thomas J. Pickard (acting), 2001
- Louis J. Freeh, 1993-2001
- Floyd I. Clarke (acting), 1993
- William S. Sessions, 1987-1993
- John E. Otto (acting), 1987
- William H. Webster, 1978-1987
- James B. Adams (acting), 1978
- Clarence M. Kelley, 1973-1978
- William D. Ruckelshaus (acting), 1973
- L. Patrick Gray (acting), 1972-1973
- J. Edgar Hoover, 1924-1972
- William J. Burns, 1921-1924
- William J. Flynn, 1919-1921
- William E. Allen (acting), 1919
- Alexander B. Bielaski, 1912-1919
- Stanley W. Finch, 1908-1912

‪The FBI Director:
Background on the Position‬
‪Since its beginning in 1908, the FBI has been led by a single individual. At first called “Chief,” this leader has been titled “Director” since the term of William Flynn (1919-1921). The FBI Director has answered directly to the attorney general since the 1920s.‬ ‪Under the Omnibus Crime Control Act and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Public Law 90-3351, the Director is appointed by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. On October 15, 1976, in reaction to the extraordinary 48-year term of J. Edgar Hoover, Congress passed Public Law 94-503, limiting the FBI Director to a single term of no longer than 10 years. ‪Details