Secret Service during FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan years!!

Secret Service during FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan years!!
Secret Service during FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan years!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Abraham Bolden

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Abraham Bolden (born January 19, 1935) is an American former United States Secret Service agent and author.



[edit] Biography

Abraham Bolden grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois.[1] After receiving a degree in music from Lincoln University of Missouri,[2] he began his professional career as an Illinois state trooper. He joined the Secret Service in 1960 during the Eisenhower administration. In 1961, he became the first African American member of the Secret Service's Presidential Protective Division after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy.[3] According to Bolden, Kennedy personally invited him to join the White House Detail when the two met at an event in Chicago in April.[4] He worked in the dual capacities of guarding the President and investigating counterfeiting.[5]
In the wake of the 1963 John F. Kennedy assassination, Bolden contacted the Warren Commission, hoping to testify about an alleged assassination plot in Chicago two weeks before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. He traveled to Washington but before he could testify, Bolden was returned to Chicago. There he was arrested on May 20, 1964 on federal charges that he had solicited a bribe from a counterfeiting ring that he had helped break.[6] He was accused of seeking $50,000 in exchange for a secret file on the investigation.[7] The government's case rested primarily on the testimony of two men, Frank Jones and Joseph Spagnoli, both facing felony charges originating from the same Secret Service office that Bolden was employed, and who were facing upcoming trials before the same Chicago court. The case against Jones was dismissed after the Bolden conviction.[8] The copy of the secret government file on the Spagnoli counterfeiting operation that Bolden allegedly put up for sale was never recovered, last being seen in the Chicago offices of the Secret Service, disappearing before charges were brought against Bolden. Bolden was neither accused of receiving, nor was he ever found to be in possession of any illicit funds from the accused felons who testified against him. He maintained his innocence, asserting that he had been framed because he planned to expose dereliction among the agents assigned to guard Kennedy in front of the Commission. The Secret Service denied Bolden's claims. United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Edward Hanrahan, was quoted in news reports from May 1964, as calling Bolden's assertion of "overall general laxity" of Secret Service agents assigned to the late President Kennedy, and Bolden's belief he was prosecuted for doing so, as "fantastic". Hanrahan implied Bolden should have brought the charges in 1961. Bolden claimed he did just that, to James J. Rowley, the head of the Secret Service, but without result. Lewiston Tribune, May 21, 1964. Bolden's first jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction, at which time presiding judge Joseph Sam Perry issued an Allen charge in which he expressed his belief that Bolden was guilty but that the jury was free to disregard his opinion. The jury remained deadlocked and Perry declared a mistrial on July 11, 1964. A black female juror was the sole vote against conviction. The second trial had an all white jury. In the retrial Bolden was convicted and Judge Perry sentenced him to six years in prison.[3] Bolden appealed his conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, based in part on Perry's Allen charge in the first trial. Bolden claimed that the charge was evidence that Perry was not impartial and that his failure to recuse himself denied Bolden a fair trial. The Appeals Court disagreed and upheld Bolden's conviction in a decision issued December 29, 1965.[8]
Following his release from prison, Bolden worked as a quality control supervisor in the automotive industry until his retirement in 2001.[9]
In January 1978, Abraham Bolden gave testimony on his experiences as an agent with the Secret Service to investigators of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U. S. House of Representatives. The Final Report of that Committee, released in March 1979 included these conclusions: "The Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated, or used by the Secret Service in connection with the president's trip to Dallas; in addition, Secret Service agents in the motorcade were inadequately prepared to protect the president from a sniper." National Archives of the United States.
In 2008, Bolden published his memoir, The Echo From Dealey Plaza: The True Story of the First African American on the White House Secret Service Detail and His Quest for Justice After the Assassination of JFK. In his memoir, Bolden claimed to have overheard Secret Service agents say that they would not protect President John F. Kennedy from would-be assassins:
[President Kennedy] alienated Southerners and conservatives around the country, most of whom were already suspicious of him. In this, the Secret Service reflected the more backward elements of America. Many of the agents with whom I worked were products of the South.... I heard some members of the White House detail say that if shots were fired at the president, they'd take no action to protect him. A few agents vowed that they would quit the Secret Service rather than give up their lives for Kennedy.[10]

[edit] Portrayals in fiction

Abraham Bolden appears in the 2011 television miniseries The Kennedys. He is depicted joining the President's protective detail and later President Kennedy turns to him as a sounding board during the crisis surrounding the 1962 desegregation of the University of Mississippi. Bolden is portrayed by Rothaford Gray.

[edit] Further reading

  • Bolden, Abraham (2008). The Echo From Dealey Plaza: The True Story of the First African American on the White House Secret Service Detail and His Quest for Justice After the Assassination of JFK. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 0-307-38201-X.

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Suspended Agent Denies Charges". Toledo (OH) Blade (Associated Press): p. 8. July 10, 1964.
  2. ^ "Secret Service Agent In Recitals For Defense Fund". Jet: p. 10. June 25, 1964.
  3. ^ a b "US Agent Bolden Gets 6 Year Sentence". The Milwaukee Journal (UPI): p. 3. August 12, 1964.
  4. ^ Kelly, Joyce; Daily News staff (February 25, 2009). "First African-American Secret Service agent to speak in Franklin". The Milford (MA) Daily News. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
  5. ^ "Whites Were Slack on Guard of JFK, Says Secret Service Negro". Jet: pp. 6–7. June 4, 1964.
  6. ^ "Secret Service Agent Accused". The Reading (PA) Eagle (UPI): p. 19. May 20, 1964.
  7. ^ "Mistrial Declared In Secret Service Agent's trial". Ocala (FL) Star Banner (Associated Press): p. 23. July 12, 1964.
  8. ^ a b United States v. Bolden
  9. ^ Turner Rice, Dawn (January 18, 2010). "Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden of Chicago served President John Kennedy as the first African-American on the White House security detail". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
  10. ^ The Echo from Dealey Plaza, (New York: Harmony Books, 2008), p. 19. ISBN 978-0-307-38201-6

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