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America’s Sherlock Holmes

Another real-life detective was William Burns and author Arthur Conan Doyle the creator of Sherlock Holmes called him America’s Sherlock Holmes. Burns began his career starting off as an assistant and working up to becoming a private eye. Once he became a Secret Service Agent he went on to open the William J. Burns International Detective Agency. After solving several high-profile cases and gathering notable connections he became Director of the Bureau of Investigation or BOI which came before the establishment of the FBI.

Burns was the first to investigate two infamous domestic terrorism cases. His agency worked on the bombing of the Los Angeles Times building in 1910 in which 21 people were killed. With the anarchist movement, Burns went undercover and made the arrest of brothers John and James McNamara who were responsible for the bombing.

Burns investigated the Wall Street Bombing which occurred in the Financial District in New York City in September 1920 and seriously injured 143 people and killed 30. Unfortunately, this case remains unsolved. Burns and his agency detectives went undercover all the way to Russia to try to uncover the culprits but were unsuccessful.

Burns ran into trouble when he was implicated in the Teapot Dome Scandal which was a bribery scandal involving the administration of the 29th U.S. President Warren G. Harding. His detectives had the task of investigating the jurors in the trail of oil tycoon Harry Ford Sinclair who was also implicated in this scandal. It was Sinclair who tampered with the jury. Afterward, Burns was asked to resign from the BOI and was replaced by J. Edgar Hoover. So what does a great detective do after this? Burns retired to Florida and began writing detective stories.

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