James Wormley “Jack” Jones was a World War I veteran and former officer with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. Jones is considered to be the first special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was instrumental in helping the agency take down Marcus Garvey’s burgeoning movement.
Jones was born September 22, 1884 in Fort Monroe, Virginia. His family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, but Jones eventually returned to Virginia to complete his collegiate studies at Virginia Union University. In 1905, he joined Washington’s police force, rapidly rising to detective. In 1917, Jones joined the U.S. Army and trained as an officer, then was assigned to the 368th Infantry at the rank of Captain.
Director A. Bruce Bielaski, then director of the FBI, appointed Jones on November 19, 1919. Jones worked under J. Edgar Hoover, who maintained a lifelong obsession with so-called “subversive” groups of activists and organizers thought to be a threat to the national security of America. Jones was sent to infiltrate Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association.
Adopting the code name “Agent 800,” Jones, who appeared to be a man of European descent, worked to convince the skeptical UNIA members that he was indeed Black. His investigations sank Garvey’s movement with charges of mail fraud, but his true identity revealed itself in later operations as he was recognized as a former police officer. No longer a valuable necessity for the FBI, he resigned in 1923.
Jones passed on December 11, 1959 in Dormont, Pennsylvania at the age of 74.
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