Melvin Purvis - Biography Essay Example
Melvin Purvis, attended the local Thompsonville High School, where he was a two sport athlete and the president of the literary society - Melvin Purvis introduction. (v) He possessed immense poise, and foresight by engaging in activities in which molded him into a leader and a diverse citizen. He spent his time hunting and fishing, activities which taught him to be patient and to never ignore any detail. Mr. Purvis went on to attend The University of South Carolina where he received a law degree in 1925. He also served as Treasurer and Assistant Manager of various clubs and teams.
He was a hard working student; his instructors remarked of his “solid qualities. ” As further proof of his diligence, the Annual Review wrote that there was “no more devoted and faithful student” of law. (NYT 5) After law school, Purvis became an attorney at the most prestigious law firm in Florence, South Carolina. It is here that Mr. Purvis met his future wife, Rosanne Willcox. (v p. 32) Mr. Purvis was unhappy working as a attorney and decided to leave Ms. Willcox behind and move to Washington D. C. (NYT 5) Throughout Mr.
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Purvis’s young adulthood, he was regarded as a well mannered Southern Gentlemen, he was well educated and loyal, yet adventurous. Melvin Purvis moved to Washington D. C. intending on working for the Department of State. However The Department of State did not have any openings, Consequently, Purvis applied for a job at Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he enrolled in 1926. Mr. Purvis became J. Edger Hoover’s “favorite SAC [Special Agent-in-Charge]” (PE 65) “To Hoover, Melvin Purvis personified everything he wanted in his new breed of agent” (V 6).
Hoover became attracted to Purvis and sent him letters addressing him as “Mel” and signing as “Jayee”. (v 6) on one occasion. This informality and familiarity between the men demonstrate the development of a close and personal relationship between Hoover and Purvis. Their relationship extended beyond the office based on Hoover’s desires for a more intimate relationship. Although, Hoover may have been attracted to Purvis on a more than professional level, Purvis remained a ladies’ man though loyal professionally to Hoover. This relationship would soon prove beneficial to both men.
Purvis distinguished himself from other agents and quickly rose through the ranks of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On October 29, 1932, J Edgar Hoover transferred Melvin Purvis from Birmingham, Alabama to Chicago where he would serve as the Special Agent-in-charge. Although, Purvis only had five years of experience with the Bureau, so the promotion demonstrated Hoover’s confidence in Purvis’ abilities. (v 46) In 1932, America was three years into The Great Depression and Organized Crime was at an all time high, and the city of Chicago was in the center of it all.
The Chicago field office during Purvis’ tenure was “ground zero in the war on crime. ” Hoover and Purvis worked together and became the two most influential men in combating the organized crime. Although, Purvis lacked years of experience, Purvis led the man hunts of John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd. These manhunts were successful and began to bring an end to organized crime. Purvis installed a “never ignore anything” mantra into the Bureau. This attitude, which could have been inspired by his summers spent hunting in South Carolina, became the start of the future of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Purvis made sure that his agents made note of the slightest details and look deeper into details than ever before. This attention to detail led to the killing of John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd. Through the tracking of small things such as articles of clothing found in confiscated get away vehicles, to the tracking of girlfriends and family members, Purvis was able to corner countless outlaws and fugitives. Strangely, Purvis admitted to having fear in times of crisis, not for his own life but for the lives of his agents.
Purvis’ ability to track down criminals made him popular with the media, who dubbed him “Nervous Purvis. ” This media attention made J. Edgar Hoover jealous of Mr. Purvis, as papers and radio broadcasters called for J. Edgar Hoover to be replaced by Melvin Purvis. Hoover began to spread lies that Purvis had little to do with the Dillinger killing. Hoover began to order his agents to find information on Purvis that would block Purvis from getting future jobs, tarnish his reputation as a man of character, and ultimately kick Purvis out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Greed and jealousy quickly ruined Hoover and Purvis’ relationship. The man who took Purvis under his wing could not bear that Purvis was more successful and popular than him. A mere nine months after killing Pretty Boy Floyd on an Ohio farm, Melvin Purvis walked away from the Bureau. The hero responsible for the capture of the two most infamous criminals in the history of organized crime was expunged from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and left alienated from his greatest mentor. Purvis, however, remained loyal to Hoover, believing that Hoover would never go behind his back or sabotage his future.
Believing things such as, “that the publicity phrase ‘J. Edgar Hoover announces’ has been in use in every city except Chicago. Here the name of Mr. Purvis has been used in announcing the arrest of criminals” says the New York Times. (? ) Hoover was negating Purvis’ role and importance in arresting these criminals; Hoover attempted to take credit for all of Melvin Purvis’ successes. Purvis left the Federal Bureau of Investigation after working less than two years in the position of Special Agent-in-charge of the Chicago office.
His hatred of cheap media led him to write an autobiography, American Agent. in which he describes his time spent at the Bureau. Melvin Purvis went back to law after his time at the FBI. Purvis started a practice in law in San Francisco, and ironically started a news paper in Florence, South Carolina, where he reunited with Rosanne Willcox. The two, later married and had three sons on the house Melvin built on Rosanne’s parents’ property in South Carolina. Purvis enlisted in The Second World War, and rose to the rank of Colonel. After the war, he was dispatched to hunt down fugitive Nazis;” (v 7) he employed the same attention to detail and “never ignore anything” attitude to successfully find Nazi fugitives and question them prior to the Nuremburg trials. When Purvis returned home from his service he was unable to build solid relationships with his sons. He took up a job as Special counsel to the Senate Judiciary committee. It appears that Melvin Purvis committed suicide, but some details indicate other means of death.