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William J. Flynn

William J. Flynn

William J. Flynn
July 1, 1919 - August 21, 1921

William J. Flynn was born in New York City in 1867. He began his government career in 1897 after a public school education. His first assignment was as an agent in the United States Secret Service. Mr. Flynn gained recognition in 1911 when he successfully reorganized the New York City Detective force and returned to the Secret Service as chief. During World War I, Mr. Flynn served as chief of the United States Railroad Secret Service, investigating threats of sabotage.

In 1919, Mr. Flynn was named Director of the Bureau of Investigation. Attorney General Palmer praised his new appointee as “the leading, organizing detective of America...Flynn is an anarchist chaser...the greatest anarchist expert in the United States.”

On September 27, 1921, Mr. Flynn resigned, saying he had a “private business matter to accept.” Attorney General Harry Daugherty accepted the resignation immediately and appointed William J. Burns to the position.

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