Edgar Hoover - Director of the FBI: biography, personal life, interesting facts
Edgar Hoover is one of the most controversial characters in modern history. The founder and all-powerful chief of the FBI was at the head of the federal agency during the leadership of eight presidents, developed most modern methods of investigating crimes, had compromising information on prominent political figures, and at the same time was known for connections with criminal structures. According to rumors, it was his support that allowed Joseph McCarthy to organize the famous “witch hunt”. Edgar Hoover's figure has remained one of the key in American history for almost fifty years.
Early years and early legal careers
The future director of the FBI was born on January 1, 1895, in the capital of the United States of America. Edgar Hoover’s father, Dickerson Neilor Hoover, supervised the printing press; his mother, Annie Marie Sheitlin, came from a family of Swiss immigrants. John Edgar was the last child of the Hoover couple.He also had two older sisters and a brother.
The mother, who recognized the abilities of her younger son early, raised Edgar so that the child was very dependent on her. The boy did well at school, and at eleven he began publishing his own two-page news paper. As a teenager, Edgar Hoover had already paid close attention to any little things. He recorded in his weekly weather conditions, spending pocket money, birthdays of home and friends, memorable dates.
For excellent academic success and an active position (Edgar headed the cadet unit during the parade in honor of assuming the office of President Wilson, was a member of the discussion club) the young man received an invitation to become a student at one of the best universities in the USA - Virginia University. Hoover politely declined and entered the law school of a local educational institution. Then the care of the family fell on the shoulders of the young man and his brother: the father experienced prolonged depression, was sick, and recently lost his job.
In his younger years, Hoover worked in the library. The young man diligently carried out his duties, so he soon became the caretaker of the catalog.After graduation, Edgar (on the recommendation of his uncle) got a job as a clerk in the US Department of Justice. The young man showed himself excellently and was given the opportunity to head the department of registration of citizens of hostile states. Career Edgar Hoover developed rapidly: in the first year of work, he received a promotion three times.
“Red Threat” and the largest mass arrests
In 1917, when the USA entered the First World War, and a revolution occurred in Russia, anti-communist sentiments began to grow in American society. After a series of explosions that thundered in 1919 in eight cities of the United States, a department was organized under the Ministry, whose task was to identify "dangerous for the American society of foreigners." It was then that twenty-four-year-old John Edgar Hoover became head of the general intelligence department.
For three years, the FBI file (though the department was called differently) added 15,000 names, and two years later the number of files increased to 450,000. Edgar Hoover impressed his superiors, so he got the position of adviser for special assignments. In the new post, he was engaged in collecting and systematizing data on the activities of communist organizations in the United States.In the first installment of the Hoover file, more than two hundred people were expelled from the country.
Large-scale arrests (the so-called “raids (raids) of Palmer”), during which more than 10,000 people were arrested, began in November 1919. “Behind the scenes” again was Edgar Hoover, who a little later initiated the “Emma Goldman case” - an American anarchist and feminist. The director of the department was engaged in the fact-rigging, but as a result he managed to achieve the deportation of Goldman from the country.
Empowerment of the federal agency
In 1924, the new Minister of Justice took up the eradication of corruption and the reorganization of the administrative apparatus. Hoover temporarily received the post of director of the Bureau of Investigation, but met expectations and remained in office. He understood what the authorities needed, so he proposed and implemented a number of changes:
Increased requirements for candidates for positions in the Bureau of Investigation.
Introduced entrance tests for new employees.
Qualitatively increased the level of staff skills.
Carefully got rid of workers who had political connections (Hoover tightened requirements, referred to flaws, lowered in posts, so that employees often left themselves).
Introduced a new procedure for storing information.
Created a database of fingerprints, which eventually became the largest in the world.
He organized a forensic school at the Bureau of Investigation.
Indirectly (by improving the quality of the department’s work), he increased the number of arrests and charges.
He achieved permission to detain criminals (previously the Bureau had no right to arrest).
Strengthened corporate spirit and internal communications in the Bureau of Investigation.
Established internal rules: demanded strict observance of the dress code, did not tolerate a demonstration of a high level of welfare, encouraged marriage, followed the absence of errors and errors in work, otherwise a report was immediately made, sometimes it came to the employee’s dismissal.
Bureau of Investigation under President Franklin Roosevelt
Edgar Hoover, whose biography is distinguished by his rapid ascent of his career, remained at his post after the change of president. In 1935, when the Bureau of Investigation was reorganized into the Federal Intelligence Agency, Hoover even came up with a department motto - “Loyalty, courage, honesty”. The director realized that it was important to have public opinion on his side for successful work, so he began to establish contact with the general public.The popularity of the agency grew, and Edgar Hoover, whose quotations flew instantly, even became a national hero.
The power of the FBI in those years has strengthened the next expansion of powers. The department received permission to listen in on telephone conversations, investigate the activities of political opponents, intercept letters and much more. At the same time Hoover tried to discredit competitors - the Central Intelligence Agency, which launched intelligence activities in the eastern part of Asia and Europe.
The role of Hoover in the McCarthy movement
After the sudden death of President Roosevelt and the inauguration of Harry Truman, the head of the FBI, Edgar Hoover, launched an anti-communist campaign called McCarthyism. The assistance of Senator Joseph McCarthy allowed the FBI to increase the staff and budget, get new privileges, which essentially turned the agency into a kind of secret police.
The arrests were carried out against those who were suspected of sympathizing with the Communists. In the “black list”, consisting of 151 names, hit the famous Charlie Chaplin. Total Hoover planned to arrest about 12 thousand people.The director of the FBI even proposed the creation of a “troika” that would have passed sentences without the involvement of witnesses, but this did not happen.
Criticism of the methods of the head of the FBI and timid attempts to remove from office
Harry Truman disliked the FBI director because Edgar Hoover sent an unofficial message to the president on the day he took office. The commander in chief considered such an action a violation of subordination. However, Hoover remained in office. Even then, the “gray cardinal” of the American government possessed an extensive database of information in which compromising information could be found on many politicians. His methods of work were widely criticized, but the high status of the FBI chief remained unshakable.
Kennedy also tried to fire Hoover, but he never did. Later, in 1964, Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, stated that the law on retirement at the director of a federal agency (and Edgar Hoover just noted the 40th anniversary of his career) does not apply. Seven years later, counselors persuaded Nixon to remove Hoover from his post, but once again the FBI director remained in his place.
The linkage of John Kennedy's assassination with the name of Edgar Hoover
Separate coverage deserve Edgar Hoover's difficult relationship with John F. Kennedy. Hoover carefully collected compromising information on the young politician, negatively related to his love affairs, did not share liberal views. John Kennedy wanted to build a "new America", while Edgar Hoover remained a fragment of the "old" and was well aware of this fact. Problems added and the president's brother, who formally became the head of the director of the FBI.
The assassination of the president triggered a wave of criticism of the federal agency that spied on the criminal long before Kennedy went to Dallas. The FBI conducted an investigation long and unorganized. It appeared that the customer of John Kennedy’s murder was John Edgar Hoover. Of course, this assumption is not proven.
Personal Relationship Card of the Federal Agency Director
Edgar Hoover collected “interesting” facts from the life of his surroundings, which made many enemies. But the “eternal director” had good acquaintances, friends. The latter can be considered:
Clyde Tolson - a close friend and possibly lover of Edgar Hoover.
Dorothy Lamour - a Hollywood actress who never gave a definite answer about a possible romance with Hoover.
Shirley Temple is an American actress who, after leaving show business, has shown interest in political activities.
Secrets of the personal life of the most influential man of America
The director of the federal agency possessed secret information about many political figures, while he himself was known to have connections with the mafia, abusing the power and financial resources of the FBI. In addition, Hoover had a penchant for men and he loved to dress in women's clothes. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson (Deputy FBI) not only worked, but also lived together. After the death of Edgar (1971), it was Tolson who inherited a large sum, moved to Hoover's house and adopted the American flag, which was covered with a coffin at a funeral (according to American tradition, a widow or close relative of the deceased takes the flag).
Legislative changes after the death of Edgar Hoover
Only after the death of the “eternal director” did the question arise that the activities of the FBI should be controlled by Congress. In a democratic state, politicians considered, the head of the federal agency should not “hold by the neck” the president. In this regard, a series of reforms were carried out that put the FBI’s activities under tight control.