Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 10, 1924, and remained so until his death in 1972, having been appointed to that position for life by Lyndon Johnson. To date, he is the longest-serving leader of an executive branch agency in the United States, having served under a record eight presidents, from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon, and indeed it is because of Hoover that future FBI Directors were limited to a term of ten years. He is credited with creating an effective law enforcement organization, but was also accused of flagrantly abusing his authority in blackmailing notable public figures and unwarrantably engaging in political persecution . Hoover's COINTELPRO program allowed FBI agents to harass, disrupt, and destroy 'enemies' such as the Black Panther Party and other leftist political organizations.
He was born in Washington, DC, but the details of his early life are almost unknown; a birth certificate for him was not filed until 1938. All known information can be usually traced back to a single 1937 profile by the journalist Jack Alexander. He was educated at George Washington University, graduating in 1917 with a degree in law. During his time there he became a member of Kappa Alpha Order (Alpha Nu '14), and in 1966 would receive the Distinguished Achievement Award for his role as Director of the FBI. Rather than enlisting for World War I, he found work with the Justice Department. He soon proved himself capable and was promoted to head the Enemy Aliens Registration Section. In 1919, he became head of the new General Intelligence Division of the Justice Department (see the Palmer Raids). From there, in 1921, he joined the Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as deputy head and in 1924 the Attorney General made him director.
When Hoover took over the FBI it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents. It was renamed and empowered as the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence.
Evidently, Hoover amassed significant power by collecting files on people, especially politicians, that were kept off of the official FBI records. This unofficial legacy is speculative because his secretary of decades, (Miss) Helen Gandy, allegedly spent the days after Hoover's death destroying all of these files.
Speculation and rumors that Hoover was a homosexual have never been definitively proven (although evidence suggests this); notions that he was a crossdresser, however, have been cited as urban legend. Hoover's right-hand man, Clyde Tolson, was a constant companion for more than 40 years, and they often vacationed together. Hoover and Tolson were both lifelong bachelors and Hoover lived with his mother until her death in 1938 when he was 43 years old. Hoover was raised a devout Presbyterian, considered the ministry as a career, and used this publicly known fact as an excuse to render his personal conduct, sexually or otherwise, unimpeachable during his tenure at the FBI.
It is said that the Chicago mafia, with ties to the media, frequently blackmailed him with photos of him in drag, which would explain why he allegedly never went after them; however, after he was ordered to go after the mafia, he pursued them zealously, and according to sources in the mafia, no such photos existed.
An FBI memorandum dated June 11, 1943, mentions rumors of Hoover being "queer" and keeping "a large group of young boys around him," and notes that such rumors had circulated since at least two years earlier.
- Gentry, Curt, J. Edgar Hoover: The man and the secrets, Plume, 1991, ISBN 0-452-26904-0, LoC HV7911.H6G46 1992
- J. Edgar Hoover, Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism in America and How to Fight It, Pocket Books, 1958. One of Hoover's many ghost-written books
- "Assassinating" J. Edgar Hoover
- The FBI Needs Another Hoover
- Hoover's dark secret?
- The Straight Dope: Was J. Edgar Hoover a crossdresser?
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details