Mississipi and Magnolia flower icon

Percy "Sam" Foxworth and J. Edgar Hoover

Posted on

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 8:33am

by

Jennifer Ford

Percy E. Foxworth was born on 29 November 1906 in Purvis, Mississippi. He received his early education in the grade and high schools of Poplarville and Derby, Mississippi. He attended Pearl River Junior College for two years and then began his accounting studies at the Walton School of Commerce and the LaSalle Extension University. In 1926 he entered the employ of the Edward Hines Western Pine Company at Poplarville, Mississippi, and later was transferred to the company's offices at Burne, Oregon where he allegedly picked up the nickname "Sam".

Foxworth applied to enter the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on 21 March 1932. After completing his initial training he was assigned to FBI field offices located at Jacksonville, FL, Oklahoma City, OK, New York City and Washington, D.C. He served as an Administrative Assistant to J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI from 8 April 1935 until June 1939, when he was made Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the FBI. From June 1940 until 9 April 1941 Foxworth was assigned at the Washington headquarters of the FBI as an Assistant Director in charge of the FBI's New York City Field Office.

Foxworth was killed in the line of duty on 15 January 1943 when his plane crashed in Suriname, on the northern coast of South America, during a secret mission. He was posthumously awarded the FBI Memorial Star in 1991.

Featured below are two documents from the Percy E. Foxworth/Chambers/Roberts Collection held in the University of Mississippi Libraries' Department of Archives & Special Collections. The first is a letter from J. Edgar Hoover written on 24 November 1943 to the Foxworth's widow. Hoover writes to let her know that the Permanente Metals Corporation asked him to suggest a name for a new Liberty Ship and he submitted "Sam's" name for consideration. The legendary FBI Director wrote, "I am indeed hopeful that the proposed plan will be worked out because it would be a most fitting tribute to Sam's devotion to duty and services in connection with the war effort." The plan did come to pass and on 7 February 1944 the S.S. Percy E. Foxworth was launched and christened by Mrs. Foxworth. The original invitation (image featured below) indicates it was the corporation's two hundred and seventy-seventh Liberty Ship.

Letter from J. Edgar Hoover to Mrs. P.E. Foxworth. November 24, 1943. Re: Naming of Liberty Ship after Percy E. Foxworth

Invitation to the launching of the S.S. Percy E. Foxworth on 7 February 1944