1908: Napoleon Bonaparte’s Nephew Founded the FBI

1908: Napoleon Bonaparte’s Nephew Founded the FBI
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/FBI SWAT agents in a training exercise

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 26 July 1908
  • It is a little known interesting fact that the famous American FBI was founded by a Prince from the Bonaparte dynasty. It was Charles Joseph Bonaparte, nephew of the famous Emperor Napoleon.

On this day the important American federal investigating agency FBI was established. 

Interestingly, it was founded by none other than one Prince of Napoleon’s Bonaparte dynasty. 

It was Charles Joseph Bonaparte, grandson of Napoleon’s youngest brother Jerome Bonaparte, king of Westphalia at one time. 

The American branch of the Bonaparte dynasty moved to the United States in the early 19th century. Mentioned Charles Joseph Bonaparte grew up in the United States, graduated from Harvard Law School and became the American Attorney General. He was a member of the cabinet of President Theodore Roosevelt, and prior to that was the U.S. Secretary of the Navy. As the attorney general, Charles Joseph Bonaparte needed special agents to conduct criminal investigations.

Due to lack of staff, he firstly used the agents of the American Secret Service, which was under the Department of the Treasury. However, Congress prohibited the practice that the Ministry of Justice uses the agents of Department of the Treasury. 

That is why Minister Bonaparte set up a new service. It was called the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) and it initially consisted of 12 special agents. 

Stanley W. Finch became the first director of the new service. Only in 1935, during the tenure of the famous director J. Edgar Hoover, the name of the service was modified into Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but in fact it was the same organization.

Said JEdgar Hoover was the director of that agency during unbelievable 48 years.

 The FBI’s role is implementation of criminal investigations at the federal level, but also counter-intelligence activities (counterespionage). 

We should also mention that the aforementioned U.S. Secret Service, which is known for protecting the president, was under the Department of the Treasury until 2003, when it was transferred to Department of Homeland Security. 

The fact that Secret Service used to be under the Department of the Treasury was justified with its original role – preventing money counterfeiting.

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