J. Edgar Hoover


Director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1924 until his death in 1972.

"What are the dangers to a democracy of a national police organization, like the FBI, which operates secretly and is unresponsive to public criticism?" - The essay question that pissed off Hoover. It was optional question number 7 on UC's 1959 English aptitude test for high school applicants. See: Reagan, Hoover and the UC Red Scare - a SF Chronicle Special Report


John Edgar Hoover was born on New Year's Day in 1895 in Washington, D.C. He was the youngest of the three surviving children born to Dickerson Naylor Hoover and Annie Marie Scheitlin Hoover. J. Edgar's only brother was Dickerson, Jr., fifteen years his senior and his sister Lillian who was thirteen years older. Another sister, Sadie Marguerite was born in 1890 and died of diphtheria in 1893.The Young Man ...

Is this the truth? Apparently just about everything that is known about Hoover's early life comes from a 500 word 1937 profile in the New Yorker magazine written by one Jack Alexander. See: The Mysterious Origins of J. Edgar Hoover by Edward Spannaus.

Palmer Raids

In 1919 Woodrow Wilson appointed A. Mitchell Palmer as his attorney general. Palmer recruited John Edgar Hoover as his special assistant and together they used the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918) to launch a campaign against radicals and left-wing organizations. [more]

J. Edgar Hoover turned the deportation of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman into a personal crusade. In this letter he brands them as "beyond doubt, two of the most dangerous anarchists in this country." As special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, Hoover amassed evidence against Goldman and Berkman and presented the case against them at their deportation hearing. Hoover was also present at 5:00 a.m. on the morning of December 21, 1919, when the Buford set sail for Russia carrying Goldman, Berkman, and the other deportees. Hoover and the FBI monitored Goldman's activities closely for the remainder of her life in exile from the United States. Emma Goldman Papers @ sunsite.berkeley.edu

May 10, 1924 Hoover selected to head the Bureau of Investigation. When Hoover took over, the Bureau of Investigation had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents. He immediately fired those Agents he considered unqualified and proceeded to professionalize the organization. For example, Hoover abolished the seniority rule of promotion and introduced uniform performance appraisals. Regular inspections of Headquarters and field office operations were scheduled. New Agents had to be between 25 and 35 years old. Then, in January 1928, Hoover established a formal training course for new Agents. He also returned to the earlier preference for Special Agents with law or accounting experience.

The new Director was also keenly aware that the Bureau of Investigation could not fight crime without public support. In remarks prepared for the Attorney General in 1925, he wrote, "The Agents of the Bureau of Investigation have been impressed with the fact that the real problem of law enforcement is in trying to obtain the cooperation and sympathy of the public and that they cannot hope to get such cooperation until they themselves merit the respect of the public." --THE "LAWLESS" YEARS at fbi.gov

In 1935 sensation surrounded the opening of Warner Bros.' newest film, G-Men. In the film, James Cagney did not play the "tough guy gangster" for which he was known, but rather a federal lawman. - pbs.org

One-time number three man in the FBI, William C. Sullivan, sated in his book, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI (published just after his accidental death): “. . . the Mafia is powerful, so powerful that entire police forces or even a mayor’s office can be under Mafia control. That’s why Hoover was afraid to let us tackle it. he was afraid that we’d show up poorly. Why take the risk, he reasoned, until we were forced to by public exposure of our shortcomings.” - anzwers.org

on Communism "I would have no fears if more Americans possessed the zeal, the fervor, the persistence and the industry to learn about this menace of Red fascism. I do fear for the liberal and progressive who has been hoodwinked and duped into joining hands with the communists..." Testimony of J. Edgar Hoover before HUAC - March 26, 1947
on Martin Luther King, Jr.

J. Edgar Hoover's obsession with King is also well-documented in FBI files. These files show examples such as the FBI calling Marquette University in 1964 to tell them not to award an honorary degree to King. At Springfield College (Mass.) a month later, the FBI told the college that King's SCLC was "Communist affiliated". J. Edgar & Martin

Hoover's FBI mailed tapes of King's sexual affairs to his wife and tried to blackmail him politically; in an anonymous letter, encouraged him to commit suicide; and, among other disinformation successes, convinced Marquette University officials in 1964 to back out of giving King an honorary degree. [source]

Nixon and the Plumbers As the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover told the journalist Andrew Tully in the days before June, 1972, "By God, he's [Nixon's] got some former CIA men working for him that I'd kick out of my office. Someday, that bunch will serve him up a fine mess." [fn 20] Chapter -XII- Chairman George in Watergate, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin --
on motorcycles 1960 ... The popularity of the motorcycle -- both in connection with its use as a sport and as a means of rapid transportation -- makes it imperative that the individual owner exercise every precaution against the possibility of theft. --Your Motorcycle And You by John Edgar Hoover, AMERICAN MOTORCYCLING - November, 1960
Hoover dies -
May 2, 1972

James Crawford came to work a little early that Tuesday morning.  The Boss had ordered some rosebushes and Crawford promised him that he would be there at 8:30 to help him plant them. ... " J. Edgar Hoover, by Marilyn Bardsley, May 2, 1972

A university professor of forensic science [James Starrs], suspecting foul play in J. Edgar Hoover's death, has been granted access to the District of Columbia medical examiner's records to reinvestigate how the former FBI director died. J. Edgar Hoover death records getting another look by Kalpana Srinivasan The Associated Press, Seattle Times January 18, 1998

  1. Hoover's FBI : The Inside Story by Hoover's Trusted Lieutenant, by Cartha 'Deke' Deloach (1997) @amazon.com
  2. Official and Confidential: The Secret LIfe of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summers (1993) @amazon.com
  3. The Real J.Edgar Hoover for the Record, by Ray Wannall (2000) @amazon.com
  4. The Union Station Massacre : The Original Sin of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI by Robert Unger @amazon.com
  5. The F.B.I. Story, by Don Whitehead
  6. Honk If You Love J. Edgar Hoover - by By Allyn Baskerville and Bill Gillespie
  7. Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism in America and How to Fight It, by J. Edgar Hoover, 1958 [excerpt ]

Hoover Book Titles at amazon.com


More Hoover Photos

Japanese internment ...

My book contains data regarding Hoover's advocacy of civil rights, laced with a strong compassion for the plight of others. The "Japanese internment" issue is cited as an example of this. More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up and herded into concentration camps. This was demanded by numerous well-known individuals, including Treasury Secretary Henry Morganthau, renowned columnist Walter Lippman, California Governor Earl Warren who later became Chief Justice of the United States, even President Franklin Roosevelt. ... Hoover described the demands as "a capitulation to public hysteria," and told Morganthau that arrests should not be made "unless there were sufficient facts (probable cause) upon which to justify the arrests." He contended the rights of American citizens should be protected, and protested the dragnet procedures. He was overridden. --From book about J. Edgar Hoover by W. Ray Wannall published by Turner Publishing Co. of Paducah, Kentucky.

"The most serious discrimination during World War II was the decision to evacuate Japanese nationals and American citizens of Japanese descent from the West Coast and send them to internment camps." Apparently FBI Director Hoover took the position that because it "had arrested the individuals whom it considered security threats, confining others was unnecessary." President [Franklin D. Roosevelt] overruled him. - FBI History

Hoover as a Mason ...

"Hoover was just as devoted to his Masonic Brothers. He was raised a Master Mason on November 9, 1920, in Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, DC, just two months before his 26th birthday. During his 52 years with the Craft, he received innumerable medals, awards and decorations. In 1955, for instance, he was coroneted a Thirty-third Degree Inspector General Honorary and awarded the Scottish Rite’s highest recognition, the Grand Cross of Honour in 1965." -J. Edgar Hoover, 33, Grand Cross-Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity Cartha D. “Deke” DeLoach, Chairman, Hoover Foundation

“The virtue of tolerance and the ability to respect different opinions, beliefs, and ideas have enriched the life of America. Tolerance is the eternal virtue through which good conquers evil and truth vanquishes untruth.”
Illustrious J. Edgar Hoover, 33, Grand Cross
Addressed to the Grand Lodge of New York, May 2, 1950

Other sources of information about J. Edgar Hoover ...

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