When 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.


The 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.


Over 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.


With 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.


William 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



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