William J. Burns returns?

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Nov 30, 2012

This is something which has been puzzling me for months. Somewhere, toward the end of my research or while I was beginning to write Brilliant Deduction, I came across a reference to a William J. Burns connected with the Department of State. As I was also writing about a William J. Burns connected with high profile federal government departments, I was naturally curious. I quickly learned that William Joseph Burns is currently serving as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.

Close-up of William Joseph Burns

Associated Press photo

I’ve remained curious, since, about any connection. With a recent Atlantic item speculating about Burns as a candidate to succeed his boss as Secretary of State, it seems like as good a time as any to post about the question.

Obviously, “William Burns” isn’t the most unusual name in the world. But the possibility of a connection is intriguing. If William Joseph Burns is a relation, his career would represent an interesting comeback story for a family and a name that left Washington under a cloud 90 years ago.

Perhaps a great grandson? I’m only guessing, here, though having spent quite some time in front of photos of the earlier Burns, the photo at right does suggest a resemblance, to me.

The more I think about it, the more I’m curious. I’ve begun exploring the question, a little, and will certainly post further if I should learn anything.

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