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J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover

Overview
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive actions became public.
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Quotations

[Whoever did this] must be exterminated, and they must be exterminated by us.

On the perpetrators of the Kansas City Massacre|Kansas City Massacre of 1933, as quoted in Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough (2004: Penguin), p. 51

Banks are an almost irresistible attraction for that element of our society which seeks unearned money.

News summaries (7 April 1955)

Just the minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo|Gestapo.

Look magazine (14 June 1956)

We are a fact-gathering organization only. We don’t clear anybody. We don’t condemn anybody.

Look magazine (14 June 1956)

The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst. It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent.

The Elks Magazine (August 1956)

Above all, I would teach him to tell the truth. Truth-telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in 40 years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: Every single one was a liar.

"What I Would Tell a Son," Family Weekly (14 July 1963)
Encyclopedia
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive actions became public. His critics have accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI.
He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders,
and to collect evidence using illegal methods.
FBI directors are now limited to one 10-year term, subject to extension by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, because of his long and controversial tenure.

Early life and education


J. Edgar Hoover was born on New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

 1895 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, to Anna Marie (née Scheitlin; 1860–1938), who was of Swiss descent, and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), of English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 and German ancestry. The uncle of Hoover's mother was a Swiss honorary consul general to the United States. Hoover grew up near the Eastern Market
Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.
The Eastern Market is a public market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., housed in a 19th century brick building. It is located on 7th Street SE, a few blocks east of the U.S. Capitol between North Carolina Avenue SE and C Street SE. The Eastern Market is on the National...

 in Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood. He obtained a law degree from George Washington University
George Washington University
The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

 in 1916, and an LLM, a master of laws degree, in 1917 from the same university. While a law student, Hoover became interested in the career of Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock was a United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality.-Biography:...

, the New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 US Postal Inspector
United States Postal Inspection Service
The United States Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service. Its jurisdiction is defined as "crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S...

, who waged prolonged campaigns against fraud and vice
Vice
Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption...

, and also was against pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

 and birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

.

FBI career


During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, immediately after getting his LLM, Hoover was hired by the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

. He was soon promoted to head of the Enemy Aliens Registration Section. In August 1919, he became head of the new General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation within the Justice Department (see the Palmer Raids
Palmer Raids
The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer...

). From there, in 1921, he rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head, and in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On May 10, 1924, 10 months after the death of Pancho Villa and during the private war of Jesus Herrera, Hoover was appointed by President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 to be the sixth director of the Bureau of Investigation, following President Warren Harding's death and in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns
William J. Burns
William J. Burns , known as "America's Sherlock Holmes," is famous for having conducted a private investigation clearing Leo Frank of the murder of Mary Phagan, and for serving as the director of the Bureau of Investigation from August 22, 1921 to June 14, 1924...

, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.

Hoover was noted as sometimes being capricious in his leadership; he frequently fired FBI agents, singling out those who he thought "looked stupid like truck drivers" or he considered to be "pinheads".
He also relocated agents who had displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations. Melvin Purvis
Melvin Purvis
Melvin Horace Purvis, Jr. was an American law enforcement official and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent. He was given the nickname "Little Mel" because of his short stature...

 was a prime example; he was one of the most effective agents in capturing and breaking up 1930s gangs and received substantial public recognition, but a jealous Hoover maneuvered him out of the FBI.

Hoover often hailed local law-enforcement officers around the country and built up a national network of supporters and admirers in the process. One that he often commended was the conservative sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

 of Caddo Parish
Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Caddo Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Shreveport; as of 2000, the population was 252,161...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, J. Howell Flournoy
J. Howell Flournoy
Joseph Howell Flournoy was the sheriff of Caddo Parish based in Shreveport, Louisiana, from 1940 until his death in office...

, for particular effectiveness.

Gangster wars



In the early 1930s, criminal gangs carried out large numbers of bank robberies in the Midwest. They used their superior firepower and fast getaway cars to elude local law enforcement agencies and avoid arrest. Many of these criminals, particularly John Dillinger
John Dillinger
John Herbert Dillinger, Jr. was an American bank robber in Depression-era United States. He was charged with, but never convicted of, the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer during a shoot-out. This was his only alleged homicide. His gang robbed two dozen banks and four police stations...

, who became famous for leaping over bank cages and repeatedly escaping from jails and police traps, frequently made newspaper headlines across the U.S. Since the robbers operated across state lines, their crimes became federal offenses, giving Hoover and his men the authority to pursue them. Initially, the FBI suffered some embarrassing foul-ups, in particular with Dillinger and his conspirators. A raid on a summer lodge named "Little Bohemia
Little Bohemia Lodge
The Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin was the site of the 1934 gun battle between John Dillinger and his gang, and Melvin Purvis and the FBI. The Lodge was built in 1927, suffered a fire in 1928, and was rebuilt in 1930...

" in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Manitowish Waters is a town in Vilas County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 646 at the 2000 census. The unincorporated community of Manitowish Waters is located in the town.-Tourism:The town is best known for its chain of lakes...

, left an FBI agent and a civilian bystander dead, and others wounded. All the gangsters escaped. Hoover realized that his job was now on the line, and he pulled out all stops to capture the culprits. In late July 1934, Special Agent Melvin Purvis, the Director of Operations in the Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 office, received a tip on Dillinger's whereabouts which paid off when Dillinger was located, ambushed and killed by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater
Biograph Theater
The Biograph Theater, at 2433 North Lincoln Avenue, Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois, was originally a movie theater but now presents live productions. It is notable as the location where bank robber John Dillinger was shot by FBI agents after watching a gangster movie on July 22, 1934...

.

In the same period, there were numerous Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 shootings as a result of Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

, while Hoover continued to deny the very existence of organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

. Frank Costello
Frank Costello
Frank Costello was an Italian New York City gangster who rose to the top of America's underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and enjoyed political influence.Nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Underworld", he became one of the most powerful and influential Mafia...

 helped encourage this view by feeding Hoover, "an inveterate horseplayer" known to send Special Agents to place $100 bets for him, tips on sure winners through their mutual friend, gossip columnist
Gossip columnist
A gossip columnist is someone who writes a gossip column in a newspaper or magazine, especially a gossip magazine. Gossip columns are material written in a light, informal style, which relates the gossip columnist's opinions about the personal lives or conduct of celebrities from show business ,...

 Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell was an American newspaper and radio gossip commentator.-Professional career:Born Walter Weinschel in New York City, he left school in the sixth grade and started performing in a vaudeville troupe known as Gus Edwards' "Newsboys Sextet."His career in journalism was begun by posting...

. Hoover said the Bureau had "much more important functions" than arresting bookmakers and gamblers.

Even though he was not there, Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers. These included that of Dillinger, Alvin Karpis
Alvin Karpis
Alvin Francis Karpis , nicknamed "Creepy" for his sinister smile, was an American criminal known for his alliance with the Barker gang in the 1930s. He was the last "public enemy" to be taken.-Early life:Karpis was born to Lithuanian immigrants in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and was raised in Topeka,...

, and Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly
George Kelley Barnes , better known as "Machine Gun Kelly", was an American gangster during the prohibition era. His nickname came from his favorite weapon, a Thompson submachine gun. His most famous crime was the kidnapping of oil tycoon & businessman Charles Urschel in July 1933 for which he,...

, which led to the Bureau's powers being broadened and it was given its new name in 1935: the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

. In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

. Hoover made changes, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date. Hoover also helped to expand the FBI's recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory
FBI Laboratory
The FBI Laboratory is a division within the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that provides forensic analysis support services to the FBI, as well as to state and local law enforcement agencies free of charge. The lab is currently located at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico,...

, a division established in 1932 to examine evidence found by the FBI.

Investigation of subversion and radicals


Hoover was concerned about subversion, and under his leadership, the FBI spied upon tens of thousands of suspected subversives and radicals. According to critics, Hoover tended to exaggerate the dangers of these alleged subversives and many times overstepped his bounds in his pursuit of eliminating that perceived threat.

The FBI investigated rings of German saboteurs and spies starting in the late 1930s, and had primary responsibility for counterespionage. The first arrests of German agents were made in 1938, and continued throughout World War II. In the Quirin
Ex parte Quirin
Ex parte Quirin, , is a Supreme Court of the United States case that upheld the jurisdiction of a United States military tribunal over the trial of several Operation Pastorius German saboteurs in the United States...

 affair during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s set two small groups of Nazi agents ashore in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

 to cause acts of sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 within the country. The two teams were apprehended after one of the men contacted the FBI, and told them everything. He was also charged and convicted.
President Harry Truman wrote in his memoirs: "The country had reason to be proud of and have confidence in our security agencies. They had kept us almost totally free of sabotage and espionage during World War II".

The FBI participated in the Venona Project
Venona project
The VENONA project was a long-running secret collaboration of the United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies involving cryptanalysis of messages sent by intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union, the majority during World War II...

, a pre–World War II joint project with the British to eavesdrop on Soviet spies in the UK and the United States. It was not initially realized that espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 was being committed, but due to multiple wartime Soviet use of one-time pad
One-time pad
In cryptography, the one-time pad is a type of encryption, which has been proven to be impossible to crack if used correctly. Each bit or character from the plaintext is encrypted by a modular addition with a bit or character from a secret random key of the same length as the plaintext, resulting...

 ciphers, which are normally unbreakable, redundancies were created, enabling some intercepts to be decoded, which established the espionage. Hoover kept the intercepts—America's greatest counterintelligence secret—in a locked safe in his office, choosing not to inform President Truman, Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 J. Howard McGrath
J. Howard McGrath
James Howard McGrath was an American politician and attorney from the U.S. state of Rhode Island.McGrath, a Democrat, served as U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island before becoming Governor, U.S. Solicitor General, U.S...

, or two Secretaries of State—Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

 and General George Marshall
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

—while they held office. He informed the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) of the Venona Project in 1952.

In 1946, US Attorney General Tom C. Clark
Tom C. Clark
Thomas Campbell Clark was United States Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States .- Early life and career :...

 authorized Hoover to compile a list of potentially disloyal Americans who might be detained during a wartime national emergency. In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Hoover submitted to President Truman a plan to suspend the writ of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

 and detain 12,000 Americans suspected of disloyalty. Truman did not act on the plan.

COINTELPRO years


In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 decisions that limited the Justice Department's ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, most notably communists. At this time he formalized a covert "dirty tricks" program under the name COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

.

This program remained in place until it was revealed to the public in 1971, after the theft of many internal documents stolen from an office in Media, Pennsylvania, and was the cause of some of the harshest criticism of Hoover and the FBI. COINTELPRO was first used to disrupt the Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

, where Hoover went after targets that ranged from suspected everyday spies to larger celebrity figures such as Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

 who were seen as spreading Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 propaganda, and later organizations such as the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

's SCLC
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 and others. Its methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations.
Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders.
In 1975, the activities of COINTELPRO were investigated by the "United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities" called the Church Committee
Church Committee
The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in 1975. A precursor to the U.S...

 after its chairman, Senator Frank Church
Frank Church
Frank Forrester Church III was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a United States Senator from Idaho from 1957 to 1981....

 (D-Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

) and these activities were declared illegal and contrary to the Constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

.
Hoover amassed significant power by collecting files containing large amounts of compromising and potentially embarrassing information on many powerful people, especially politicians. According to Laurence Silberman, appointed Deputy Attorney General
United States Deputy Attorney General
United States Deputy Attorney General is the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice. In the United States federal government, the Deputy Attorney General oversees the day-to-day operation of the Department of Justice, and may act as Attorney General during the...

 in early 1974, FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley
Clarence M. Kelley
Clarence M. Kelley was a public servant who served as the 2nd Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation....

 thought such files either did not exist or had been destroyed. After The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

broke a story in January 1975, Kelley searched and found them in his outer office. The House Judiciary Committee then demanded that Silberman testify about them.

In 1956, several years before he targeted King, Hoover had a public showdown with T.R.M. Howard, a civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 leader from Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Mound Bayou is a city in Bolivar County, Mississippi. The population was 2,102 at the 2000 census. It is notable for having been founded as an independent black community in 1887 by former slaves led by Isaiah Montgomery. By percentage, its 98.4 percent African-American majority population is one...

. During a national speaking tour, Howard had criticized the FBI's failure to thoroughly investigate the racially motivated murders of George W. Lee
George W. Lee
George W. Lee was an African American civil rights leader, minister, and entrepreneur. He was a vice president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and head of the Belzoni, Mississippi branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People...

, Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith (activist)
Lamar Smith was a U.S. civil rights figure, black farmer, World War I veteran and an organizer of black voter registration. He was shot to death in broad daylight at close range on the lawn of the Lincoln County courthouse in Brookhaven, Mississippi...

, and Emmett Till
Emmett Till
Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married...

. Hoover wrote an open letter to the press singling out these statements as "irresponsible."

Response to Mafia and civil rights groups


In the 1950s, evidence of Hoover's unwillingness to focus FBI resources on the Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 became grist for the media and his many detractors. His moves against people who maintained contacts with subversive elements, some of whom were members of the civil rights movement, also led to accusations of trying to undermine their reputations. The treatment of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 and actress Jean Seberg
Jean Seberg
Jean Dorothy Seberg was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless , the musical Paint Your Wagon and the disaster film Airport ....

 are two examples. Jacqueline Kennedy recalled that Hoover told President Kennedy that King tried to arrange a sex party while in the capital for the March on Washington and told Robert Kennedy that King made derogatory comments during the President's funeral.

Hoover personally directed the FBI investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1964, just days before Hoover testified in the earliest stages of the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

 hearings, President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 waived the then mandatory U.S. Government Service Retirement Age of seventy, allowing Hoover to remain the FBI Director "for life." The House Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report in 1979 critical of the performance by the FBI, the Warren Commission, and other agencies. The report also criticized what it characterized as the FBI's reluctance to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.

Late career and death


Presidents Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great.

Hoover's FBI investigated Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti
Jack Valenti
Jack Joseph Valenti was a long-time president of the Motion Picture Association of America. During his 38-year tenure in the MPAA, he created the MPAA film rating system, and he was generally regarded as one of the most influential pro-copyright lobbyists in the world...

, a special assistant and confidant to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1964. Despite Valenti's two-year marriage to Johnson's personal secretary, the investigation focused on rumors that he was having a gay relationship with a commercial photographer friend.

Hoover maintained strong support in Congress until his death at his Washington, D.C., home on May 2, 1972, from a heart attack attributed to cardio-vascular disease. His body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
United States Capitol Rotunda
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Located below the Capitol dome, it is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart."...

, where Chief Justice Warren Burger
Warren E. Burger
Warren Earl Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. Although Burger had conservative leanings, the U.S...

 eulogized him. President Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 delivered another eulogy at the funeral service in the National Presbyterian Church
National Presbyterian Church
The National Presbyterian Church is a church located in Washington, D.C. affiliated with the Presbyterian Church .-Location:NPC is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood in Washington on Nebraska Avenue next to NBC and across from the Japanese Embassy...

. Hoover was buried in the Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

 in Washington, D.C., next to the graves of his parents and a sister who died in infancy.

Operational command of the Bureau passed to Associate Director Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson
Clyde Anderson Tolson was Associate Director of the FBI, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.-Early career:...

. On May 3, President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 appointed L. Patrick Gray
L. Patrick Gray
Louis Patrick Gray III was acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from May 2, 1972 to April 27, 1973. During this time, the FBI was in charge of the initial investigation into the burglaries that sparked the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of President...

, a Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 official with no FBI experience, as Acting Director, with W. Mark Felt
W. Mark Felt
William Mark Felt, Sr. was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation , who retired in 1973 as the Bureau's Associate Director...

 remaining as Associate Director.

Legacy


Hoover was a consultant to Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 on a 1959 theatrical film about the FBI, The FBI Story
The FBI Story
The FBI Story is a 1959 American drama film produced and directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The screenplay by Richard L. Breen and John Twist is based on a book by Don Whitehead.-Plot:...

, and in 1965 on Warner Bros.' long-running spin-off television series, The F.B.I. Hoover personally made sure that Warner Bros. would portray the FBI more favorably than other crime dramas of the times.

In 1979, there was a large increase in conflict in the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) under Senator Richard Schweiker
Richard Schweiker
Richard Schultz Schweiker is a former U.S. Congressman and Senator representing the state of Pennsylvania. He later was Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Cabinet of President Ronald Reagan.-Early life:...

, which had re-opened the investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, reported that Hoover's FBI "failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President". The HSCA further reported that Hoover's FBI "was deficient in its sharing of information with other agencies and departments".

The FBI Headquarters
J. Edgar Hoover Building
The J. Edgar Hoover Building is located in Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . The building, named for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The building received its official name, the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I...

 in Washington, DC is named after Hoover. Because of the controversial nature of Hoover's legacy, there have been periodic proposals to rename it. In 2001, Senator Harry Reid
Harry Reid
Harry Mason Reid is the senior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, he has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, having previously served as Minority Leader and Minority and Majority Whip.Previously, Reid was a member of the U.S...

 sponsored an amendment to strip Hoover's name from the building. "J. Edgar Hoover's name on the FBI building is a stain on the building", Reid said. However, the Senate never adopted the amendment.

Personal life


Since the 1940s, rumors have circulated that Hoover was gay
Gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

. It has been suggested that Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson
Clyde Anderson Tolson was Associate Director of the FBI, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.-Early career:...

, an associate director of the FBI who was Hoover's heir, may have been his lover.

Hoover hunted down and threatened anyone who made insinuations about his sexuality
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

. He also spread unsubstantiated rumors that Adlai Stevenson was gay to damage the liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 governor's 1952 presidential campaign. His extensive secret files contained surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 material on Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

's alleged lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

 lovers, speculated to be acquired for the purpose of blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

.

Some authors have dismissed the rumors about Hoover's sexuality and his relationship with Tolson in particular as unlikely,
while others have described them as probable or even "confirmed", and still others have reported the rumors without stating an opinion. Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego
Alter ego
An alter ego is a second self, which is believe to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. The term was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists...

: The men not only worked closely together during the day but also took meals, went to night clubs and vacationed together. This closeness between the two men is often cited as evidence that they were lovers, though some FBI employees who knew them, such as W. Mark Felt
W. Mark Felt
William Mark Felt, Sr. was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation , who retired in 1973 as the Bureau's Associate Director...

, say that the relationship was merely "brotherly".

Tolson inherited Hoover's estate and moved into his home, having accepted the American flag that draped Hoover's casket. Tolson is buried a few yards away from Hoover in the Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

.

Among those skeptical of claims that Hoover was homosexual is Hoover's biographer Richard Hack
Richard Hack
Richard Hack is an American writer best known for his biographical books and screenplays. He is a frequent guest on talk shows and an outspoken critic of bias in television news.- Background :...

. Hack notes that Hoover was romantically linked to actress Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour was an American film actress. She is best remembered for appearing in the Road to... movies, a series of successful comedies starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope .-Early life:Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Carmen Louise Dorothy...

 in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and that after Hoover's death Lamour did not deny rumors that she had had an affair with Hoover in the years between her two marriages. Hack additionally reports that during the 1940s and 1950s, Hoover so often attended social events with Lela Rogers, the divorced mother of dancer and actress Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who appeared in film, and on stage, radio, and television throughout much of the 20th century....

, that many of their mutual friends assumed the pair would eventually marry.

In his 1993 biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, journalist Anthony Summers
Anthony Summers
Anthony Bruce Summers is the non-fiction author of seven best-selling investigative books. He is an Irish citizen, and has been working for some twenty years with Robbyn Swan, who is now his co-author and fifth wife...

 quoted "society divorcee" Susan Rosenstiel as claiming to have seen Hoover engaging in cross-dressing
Cross-dressing
Cross-dressing is the wearing of clothing and other accoutrement commonly associated with a gender within a particular society that is seen as different than the one usually presented by the dresser...

 in the 1950s. She stated that on two occasions she witnessed Hoover wearing a fluffy pink dress with flounces and lace, stockings, high heels and a black curly wig, at homosexual orgies
Orgy
In modern usage, an orgy is a sex party where guests engage in promiscuous or multifarious sexual activity or group sex. An orgy is similar to debauchery, which refers to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures....

:
Summers also said that the Mafia had blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

 material on Hoover, which made Hoover reluctant to aggressively pursue organized crime. Although never corroborated, the allegation of cross-dressing has been widely repeated. In the words of author Thomas Doherty, "For American popular culture, the image of the zaftig FBI director as a Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen was the first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female.-Early life:...

 wanna-be was too delicious not to savor." Skeptics of the cross-dressing story point to Susan Rosenstiel's poor credibility (she served time at Rikers Island
Rikers Island
Rikers Island is New York City's main jail complex, as well as the name of the island on which it sits, in the East River between Queens and the mainland Bronx, adjacent to the runways of LaGuardia Airport. The island itself is part of the borough of the Bronx, though it is included as part of...

 jail for perjuring herself in a 1971 case) and say recklessly indiscreet behavior by Hoover would have been totally out of character, whatever his sexuality. Most biographers consider the story of Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 blackmail to be unlikely in light of the FBI's investigations of the Mafia. Truman Capote
Truman Capote
Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

, who helped spread salacious rumors about Hoover, once remarked that he was more interested in making Hoover angry than determining whether the rumors were true.

Attorney Roy Cohn
Roy Cohn
Roy Marcus Cohn was an American attorney who became famous during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations into Communist activity in the United States during the Second Red Scare. Cohn gained special prominence during the Army–McCarthy hearings. He was also an important member of the U.S...

, an associate of Hoover during the 1950s investigations of Communists and himself a closeted
Closeted
Closeted and in the closet are metaphors used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex people who have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity and aspects thereof, including sexual identity and sexual behavior.-Background:In late 20th...

 homosexual, opined that Hoover was too frightened of his own sexuality to have anything approaching a normal sexual or romantic relationship.

In his 2004 study of the Lavender Scare
Lavender scare
The Lavender Scare refers to the fear and persecution of homosexuals in the 1950s in the United States, which paralleled the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism....

, historian David K. Johnson attacked the notion of Hoover's homosexuality for relying on "the kind of tactics Hoover and the security program he oversaw perfected — guilt by association, rumor, and unverified gossip." He views Rosenstiel as a liar who was paid for her story, whose "description of Hoover in drag engaging in sex with young blond boys in leather while desecrating the Bible is clearly a homophobic
Homophobia
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the...

 fantasy." He believes only those who have forgotten the virulence of the decades-long campaign against homosexuals in government can believe reports that Hoover would allow himself to be seen in compromising situations.

Freemasonry


Hoover was a devoted Freemason
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, being raised a Master Mason on 9 November 1920, in Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, DC, just two months before his 26th birthday. During his 52 years with the Masons, he received many medals, awards and decorations. Eventually in 1955, he was coroneted a Thirty-Third Degree Inspector General Honorary in the Southern Scottish Rite Jurisdiction. He was also awarded the Scottish Rite's highest recognition, the Grand Cross of Honour, in 1965. Today a J. Edgar Hoover room exists within the House of the Temple
House of the Temple
The House of the Temple is a Masonic temple in Washington, D.C., United States that serves as the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A...

. The room contains many of Hoover's personal papers and records.

Honors

  • In 1938, Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University is a co-educational Christian liberal arts university located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Established in 1910, OBU is ranked No.2 among baccalaureate colleges in the western region in the 2010 U.S...

     awarded Hoover an honorary doctorate during commencement exercises at which he spoke.
  • In 1939, the National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

     awarded Hoover its Public Welfare Medal
    Public Welfare Medal
    The Public Welfare Medal is awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences "in recognition of distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare." It is the most prestigious honor conferred by the Academy...

    .
  • In 1950, King George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

     awarded Hoover an honorary knighthood in the Order of the British Empire
    Order of the British Empire
    The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

    .
  • In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower gave Hoover the National Security Medal
    National Security Medal
    The National Security Medal was a decoration of the United States of America officially established by President Harry S. Truman in Executive Order 10431 of January 19, 1953...

    .
  • In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson bestowed the State Department's Distinguished Service Award on Hoover for his service as director of the FBI.
  • The FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., is named the J. Edgar Hoover Building
    J. Edgar Hoover Building
    The J. Edgar Hoover Building is located in Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . The building, named for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The building received its official name, the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I...

    .
  • Congress voted to honor Hoover's memory by publishing a memorial book. J. Edgar Hoover: Memorial Tributes in the Congress of the United States and Various Articles and Editorials Relating to His Life and Work appeared in 1974.
  • In Schaumburg, IL, a grade school was named after Hoover. In 1994, after personal information about Hoover was released, the school's name was changed to reflect Herbert Hoover instead of J. Edgar Hoover.

Portrayals


J. Edgar Hoover has been portrayed many times in film and on stage. Some notable portrayals include:
  • In the 1971 Woody Allen
    Woody Allen
    Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

     film Bananas
    Bananas (film)
    Bananas is a 1971 comedy film written by Mickey Rose and Woody Allen, directed by Allen, and starring himself and Louise Lasser. Parts of the plot were based on the book Don Quixote, U.S.A. by Richard P. Powell. It was filmed on location in New York City, Lima , and various locations in Puerto...

    , J. Edgar Hoover was portrayed by actress Dorothi Fox.
  • Broderick Crawford
    Broderick Crawford
    Broderick Crawford was an Academy Award-winning American stage, film, radio and TV actor, often cast in tough-guy roles and best known for his starring role in the television series "Highway Patrol."-Early life:...

     and James Wainwright portrayed Hoover in the Larry Cohen
    Larry Cohen
    Lawrence G. "Larry" Cohen is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter. He is best known as a B-Movie auteur of horror and science fiction films - often containing a police procedural element - during 1970s and 1980s...

     film The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
    The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
    The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover is a 1977 film directed by Larry Cohen. It stars Broderick Crawford and James Wainwright. The all star cast includes Jose Ferrer, Michael Parks, Celeste Holm, Ronee Blakely, Tanya Roberts in a cameo role, and in final screen appearances, Jack Cassidy and Dan...

    (1977).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Dolph Sweet
    Dolph Sweet
    Dolph Sweet was an American actor, credited with nearly 60 television and film roles as well as several roles in stage productions before his death from cancer in 1985.-Biography:...

     in the TV miniseries King (1978).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Sheldon Leonard
    Sheldon Leonard
    Sheldon Leonard was a pioneering American film and television producer, director, writer, and actor.-Biography:...

     in the William Friedkin
    William Friedkin
    William Friedkin is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973; for the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Director...

     film The Brink's Job
    The Brink's Job
    The Brink's Job is a 1978 film directed by William Friedkin and starring Peter Falk, Peter Boyle, Allen Garfield, Warren Oates, Gena Rowlands, and Paul Sorvino. It is based on the Brink's robbery in Boston, where almost 3 million dollars were stolen....

    (1978).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Ernest Borgnine
    Ernest Borgnine
    Ernest Borgnine is an American actor of television and film. His career has spanned more than six decades. He was an unconventional lead in many films of the 1950s, including his Academy Award-winning turn in the 1955 film Marty...

     in the TV film Blood Feud (1983), as well as in Hoover (2000).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Vincent Gardenia
    Vincent Gardenia
    Vincent Gardenia was an Italian American stage, film, and television actor.-Early life:...

     in the TV film Kennedy (1983).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Jack Warden
    Jack Warden
    Jack Warden was an American character actor.-Early life:Warden was born John Warden Lebzelter in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Laura M. and John Warden Lebzelter, who was an engineer and technician. He was of Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry...

     in the TV film Hoover vs. The Kennedys (1987).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Treat Williams
    Treat Williams
    Richard Treat Williams is a Screen Actors Guild Award–nominated American actor and children's book author who has appeared on film, stage and television...

     in the TV film J. Edgar Hoover (1987).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Kevin Dunn
    Kevin Dunn
    Kevin Dunn is an American actor who has appeared in supporting roles in a number of films since the 1980s. His roles include Colonel Hicks in the 1998 version of Godzilla, Sam Witwicky's father in Transformers, and Oscar Galvin, the primary antagonist in the 2010 action thriller...

     in the film Chaplin (1992).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Pat Hingle
    Pat Hingle
    Martin Patterson "Pat" Hingle was an American actor.-Early life:Hingle was born Martin Patterson Hingle in Miami, Florida, the son of Marvin Louise , a schoolteacher and musician, and Clarence Martin Hingle, a building contractor. Hingle enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December 1941, dropping out of...

     in the TV film Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn is a 1992 cable film covering the life of Joseph McCarthy's controversial chief counsel Roy Cohn. James Woods, who starred as Cohn, was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance...

    (1992).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Richard Dysart
    Richard Dysart
    Richard A. Dysart is an American actor, perhaps best known for his role as Leland McKenzie on the NBC legal drama L.A. Law....

    , both in the TV film Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair (1993) and in Mario Van Peebles
    Mario Van Peebles
    Mario "Chip" Cain Van Peebles is an American director and actor who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films. He is son of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles.-Life and career:...

    ' 1995 film Panther
    Panther (film)
    Panther is a 1995 film directed by Mario Van Peebles, from a screenplay adapted by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, based on his book. The film dramatizes the story of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense...

    .
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Bob Hoskins
    Bob Hoskins
    Robert William "Bob" Hoskins, Jr. is an English actor known for playing Cockney rough diamonds, psychopaths and gangsters, in films such as The Long Good Friday , and Mona Lisa , and lighter roles in family films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook .- Early life :Hoskins was born in Bury St...

     in the Oliver Stone
    Oliver Stone
    William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

     drama Nixon
    Nixon (film)
    Nixon is a 1995 American biographical film directed by Oliver Stone for Cinergi Pictures that tells the story of the political and personal life of former US President Richard Nixon, played by Anthony Hopkins....

    (1995).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor David Fredericks in two episodes of The X-Files
    The X-Files
    The X-Files is an American science fiction television series and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The program originally aired from to . The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans became popular culture touchstones in the 1990s...

    , as well as on its sister show Millennium
    Millennium (TV series)
    Millennium is an American television series created by Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files. Millennium aired on the Fox Network from 1996 to 1999. The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, though most episodes were ostensibly set in or around Seattle, Washington...

    .
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Kelsey Grammer
    Kelsey Grammer
    Allen Kelsey Grammer is an American actor and comedian. He is most widely known for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier...

     with John Goodman
    John Goodman
    John Stephen Goodman is an American film, television, and stage actor. He is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne for which he won a Best Actor Golden Globe Award in 1993, and for appearances in the films of the Coen brothers, with prominent roles in Raising...

     as his lover, in the Harry Shearer
    Harry Shearer
    Harry Julius Shearer is an American actor, comedian, writer, voice artist, musician, author, radio host and director. He is known for his long-running role on The Simpsons, his work on Saturday Night Live, the comedy band Spinal Tap and his radio program Le Show...

     comic musical J. Edgar! on L.A. Theatre Works
    L.A. Theatre Works
    L.A. Theatre Works is a non-profit media arts organization based in Los Angeles.- History :Founded in 1974, the organization was originally called “Artists in Prison,” and used theatre as a means to provide a voice to incarcerated men and women who were traditionally unheard and underserved. In...

    ' The Play's the Thing (2001).
  • Hoover was originally portrayed by Eric Jordan Young in the musical Dillinger, Public Enemy Number One.
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Billy Crudup
    Billy Crudup
    William Gaither "Billy" Crudup is an American actor of film and stage. He is well known for his roles as guitarist Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, Will Bloom in Big Fish, and Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke. He also starred in the 2007 romantic comedy film Dedication, alongside Mandy Moore...

     in the Michael Mann film Public Enemies (2009).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Enrico Colantoni
    Enrico Colantoni
    Enrico Colantoni is a Canadian actor, probably best known for portraying Elliot DiMauro in the sitcom Just Shoot Me!, Keith Mars on the television series Veronica Mars, and Sergeant Greg Parker on the television series Flashpoint. He has also had supporting roles in such films as The Wrong Guy, ...

     in the TV miniseries The Kennedys (2011).
  • Hoover is portrayed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is an American actor and film producer. He has received many awards, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Aviator , and has been nominated by the Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television...

     in the Clint Eastwood
    Clint Eastwood
    Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

     biopic J. Edgar
    J. Edgar
    J. Edgar is a 2011 biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood, from a script by Dustin Lance Black. The film focuses on the career of FBI director J...

    (2011).

See also


  • Anti-communism
    Anti-communism
    Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

  • G-Man (slang)
    G-Man (slang)
    G-Man is a slang term for Special agents of the United States Government. It is specifically used as a term for a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent....

  • McCarthyism
    McCarthyism
    McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...


Writings


J. Edgar Hoover was the nominal author of a number of books and articles. Although it is widely believed that all of these were ghostwritten by FBI employees, Hoover received the credit and royalties.
John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive actions became public. His critics have accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI.
He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders,
and to collect evidence using illegal methods.
FBI directors are now limited to one 10-year term, subject to extension by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, because of his long and controversial tenure.

Early life and education


J. Edgar Hoover was born on New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

 1895 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, to Anna Marie (née Scheitlin; 1860–1938), who was of Swiss descent, and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), of English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 and German ancestry. The uncle of Hoover's mother was a Swiss honorary consul general to the United States. Hoover grew up near the Eastern Market
Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.
The Eastern Market is a public market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., housed in a 19th century brick building. It is located on 7th Street SE, a few blocks east of the U.S. Capitol between North Carolina Avenue SE and C Street SE. The Eastern Market is on the National...

 in Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood. He obtained a law degree from George Washington University
George Washington University
The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

 in 1916, and an LLM, a master of laws degree, in 1917 from the same university. While a law student, Hoover became interested in the career of Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock was a United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality.-Biography:...

, the New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 US Postal Inspector
United States Postal Inspection Service
The United States Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service. Its jurisdiction is defined as "crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S...

, who waged prolonged campaigns against fraud and vice
Vice
Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption...

, and also was against pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

 and birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

.

FBI career


During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, immediately after getting his LLM, Hoover was hired by the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

. He was soon promoted to head of the Enemy Aliens Registration Section. In August 1919, he became head of the new General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation within the Justice Department (see the Palmer Raids
Palmer Raids
The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer...

). From there, in 1921, he rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head, and in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On May 10, 1924, 10 months after the death of Pancho Villa and during the private war of Jesus Herrera, Hoover was appointed by President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 to be the sixth director of the Bureau of Investigation, following President Warren Harding's death and in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns
William J. Burns
William J. Burns , known as "America's Sherlock Holmes," is famous for having conducted a private investigation clearing Leo Frank of the murder of Mary Phagan, and for serving as the director of the Bureau of Investigation from August 22, 1921 to June 14, 1924...

, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.

Hoover was noted as sometimes being capricious in his leadership; he frequently fired FBI agents, singling out those who he thought "looked stupid like truck drivers" or he considered to be "pinheads".
He also relocated agents who had displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations. Melvin Purvis
Melvin Purvis
Melvin Horace Purvis, Jr. was an American law enforcement official and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent. He was given the nickname "Little Mel" because of his short stature...

 was a prime example; he was one of the most effective agents in capturing and breaking up 1930s gangs and received substantial public recognition, but a jealous Hoover maneuvered him out of the FBI.

Hoover often hailed local law-enforcement officers around the country and built up a national network of supporters and admirers in the process. One that he often commended was the conservative sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

 of Caddo Parish
Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Caddo Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Shreveport; as of 2000, the population was 252,161...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, J. Howell Flournoy
J. Howell Flournoy
Joseph Howell Flournoy was the sheriff of Caddo Parish based in Shreveport, Louisiana, from 1940 until his death in office...

, for particular effectiveness.

Gangster wars



In the early 1930s, criminal gangs carried out large numbers of bank robberies in the Midwest. They used their superior firepower and fast getaway cars to elude local law enforcement agencies and avoid arrest. Many of these criminals, particularly John Dillinger
John Dillinger
John Herbert Dillinger, Jr. was an American bank robber in Depression-era United States. He was charged with, but never convicted of, the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer during a shoot-out. This was his only alleged homicide. His gang robbed two dozen banks and four police stations...

, who became famous for leaping over bank cages and repeatedly escaping from jails and police traps, frequently made newspaper headlines across the U.S. Since the robbers operated across state lines, their crimes became federal offenses, giving Hoover and his men the authority to pursue them. Initially, the FBI suffered some embarrassing foul-ups, in particular with Dillinger and his conspirators. A raid on a summer lodge named "Little Bohemia
Little Bohemia Lodge
The Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin was the site of the 1934 gun battle between John Dillinger and his gang, and Melvin Purvis and the FBI. The Lodge was built in 1927, suffered a fire in 1928, and was rebuilt in 1930...

" in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Manitowish Waters is a town in Vilas County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 646 at the 2000 census. The unincorporated community of Manitowish Waters is located in the town.-Tourism:The town is best known for its chain of lakes...

, left an FBI agent and a civilian bystander dead, and others wounded. All the gangsters escaped. Hoover realized that his job was now on the line, and he pulled out all stops to capture the culprits. In late July 1934, Special Agent Melvin Purvis, the Director of Operations in the Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 office, received a tip on Dillinger's whereabouts which paid off when Dillinger was located, ambushed and killed by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater
Biograph Theater
The Biograph Theater, at 2433 North Lincoln Avenue, Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois, was originally a movie theater but now presents live productions. It is notable as the location where bank robber John Dillinger was shot by FBI agents after watching a gangster movie on July 22, 1934...

.

In the same period, there were numerous Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 shootings as a result of Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

, while Hoover continued to deny the very existence of organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

. Frank Costello
Frank Costello
Frank Costello was an Italian New York City gangster who rose to the top of America's underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and enjoyed political influence.Nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Underworld", he became one of the most powerful and influential Mafia...

 helped encourage this view by feeding Hoover, "an inveterate horseplayer" known to send Special Agents to place $100 bets for him, tips on sure winners through their mutual friend, gossip columnist
Gossip columnist
A gossip columnist is someone who writes a gossip column in a newspaper or magazine, especially a gossip magazine. Gossip columns are material written in a light, informal style, which relates the gossip columnist's opinions about the personal lives or conduct of celebrities from show business ,...

 Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell was an American newspaper and radio gossip commentator.-Professional career:Born Walter Weinschel in New York City, he left school in the sixth grade and started performing in a vaudeville troupe known as Gus Edwards' "Newsboys Sextet."His career in journalism was begun by posting...

. Hoover said the Bureau had "much more important functions" than arresting bookmakers and gamblers.

Even though he was not there, Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers. These included that of Dillinger, Alvin Karpis
Alvin Karpis
Alvin Francis Karpis , nicknamed "Creepy" for his sinister smile, was an American criminal known for his alliance with the Barker gang in the 1930s. He was the last "public enemy" to be taken.-Early life:Karpis was born to Lithuanian immigrants in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and was raised in Topeka,...

, and Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly
George Kelley Barnes , better known as "Machine Gun Kelly", was an American gangster during the prohibition era. His nickname came from his favorite weapon, a Thompson submachine gun. His most famous crime was the kidnapping of oil tycoon & businessman Charles Urschel in July 1933 for which he,...

, which led to the Bureau's powers being broadened and it was given its new name in 1935: the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

. In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

. Hoover made changes, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date. Hoover also helped to expand the FBI's recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory
FBI Laboratory
The FBI Laboratory is a division within the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that provides forensic analysis support services to the FBI, as well as to state and local law enforcement agencies free of charge. The lab is currently located at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico,...

, a division established in 1932 to examine evidence found by the FBI.

Investigation of subversion and radicals


Hoover was concerned about subversion, and under his leadership, the FBI spied upon tens of thousands of suspected subversives and radicals. According to critics, Hoover tended to exaggerate the dangers of these alleged subversives and many times overstepped his bounds in his pursuit of eliminating that perceived threat.

The FBI investigated rings of German saboteurs and spies starting in the late 1930s, and had primary responsibility for counterespionage. The first arrests of German agents were made in 1938, and continued throughout World War II. In the Quirin
Ex parte Quirin
Ex parte Quirin, , is a Supreme Court of the United States case that upheld the jurisdiction of a United States military tribunal over the trial of several Operation Pastorius German saboteurs in the United States...

 affair during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s set two small groups of Nazi agents ashore in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

 to cause acts of sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 within the country. The two teams were apprehended after one of the men contacted the FBI, and told them everything. He was also charged and convicted.
President Harry Truman wrote in his memoirs: "The country had reason to be proud of and have confidence in our security agencies. They had kept us almost totally free of sabotage and espionage during World War II".

The FBI participated in the Venona Project
Venona project
The VENONA project was a long-running secret collaboration of the United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies involving cryptanalysis of messages sent by intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union, the majority during World War II...

, a pre–World War II joint project with the British to eavesdrop on Soviet spies in the UK and the United States. It was not initially realized that espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 was being committed, but due to multiple wartime Soviet use of one-time pad
One-time pad
In cryptography, the one-time pad is a type of encryption, which has been proven to be impossible to crack if used correctly. Each bit or character from the plaintext is encrypted by a modular addition with a bit or character from a secret random key of the same length as the plaintext, resulting...

 ciphers, which are normally unbreakable, redundancies were created, enabling some intercepts to be decoded, which established the espionage. Hoover kept the intercepts—America's greatest counterintelligence secret—in a locked safe in his office, choosing not to inform President Truman, Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 J. Howard McGrath
J. Howard McGrath
James Howard McGrath was an American politician and attorney from the U.S. state of Rhode Island.McGrath, a Democrat, served as U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island before becoming Governor, U.S. Solicitor General, U.S...

, or two Secretaries of State—Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

 and General George Marshall
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

—while they held office. He informed the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) of the Venona Project in 1952.

In 1946, US Attorney General Tom C. Clark
Tom C. Clark
Thomas Campbell Clark was United States Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States .- Early life and career :...

 authorized Hoover to compile a list of potentially disloyal Americans who might be detained during a wartime national emergency. In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Hoover submitted to President Truman a plan to suspend the writ of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

 and detain 12,000 Americans suspected of disloyalty. Truman did not act on the plan.

COINTELPRO years


In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 decisions that limited the Justice Department's ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, most notably communists. At this time he formalized a covert "dirty tricks" program under the name COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

.

This program remained in place until it was revealed to the public in 1971, after the theft of many internal documents stolen from an office in Media, Pennsylvania, and was the cause of some of the harshest criticism of Hoover and the FBI. COINTELPRO was first used to disrupt the Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

, where Hoover went after targets that ranged from suspected everyday spies to larger celebrity figures such as Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

 who were seen as spreading Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 propaganda, and later organizations such as the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

's SCLC
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 and others. Its methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations.
Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders.
In 1975, the activities of COINTELPRO were investigated by the "United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities" called the Church Committee
Church Committee
The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in 1975. A precursor to the U.S...

 after its chairman, Senator Frank Church
Frank Church
Frank Forrester Church III was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a United States Senator from Idaho from 1957 to 1981....

 (D-Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

) and these activities were declared illegal and contrary to the Constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

.
Hoover amassed significant power by collecting files containing large amounts of compromising and potentially embarrassing information on many powerful people, especially politicians. According to Laurence Silberman, appointed Deputy Attorney General
United States Deputy Attorney General
United States Deputy Attorney General is the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice. In the United States federal government, the Deputy Attorney General oversees the day-to-day operation of the Department of Justice, and may act as Attorney General during the...

 in early 1974, FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley
Clarence M. Kelley
Clarence M. Kelley was a public servant who served as the 2nd Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation....

 thought such files either did not exist or had been destroyed. After The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

broke a story in January 1975, Kelley searched and found them in his outer office. The House Judiciary Committee then demanded that Silberman testify about them.

In 1956, several years before he targeted King, Hoover had a public showdown with T.R.M. Howard, a civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 leader from Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Mound Bayou is a city in Bolivar County, Mississippi. The population was 2,102 at the 2000 census. It is notable for having been founded as an independent black community in 1887 by former slaves led by Isaiah Montgomery. By percentage, its 98.4 percent African-American majority population is one...

. During a national speaking tour, Howard had criticized the FBI's failure to thoroughly investigate the racially motivated murders of George W. Lee
George W. Lee
George W. Lee was an African American civil rights leader, minister, and entrepreneur. He was a vice president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and head of the Belzoni, Mississippi branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People...

, Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith (activist)
Lamar Smith was a U.S. civil rights figure, black farmer, World War I veteran and an organizer of black voter registration. He was shot to death in broad daylight at close range on the lawn of the Lincoln County courthouse in Brookhaven, Mississippi...

, and Emmett Till
Emmett Till
Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married...

. Hoover wrote an open letter to the press singling out these statements as "irresponsible."

Response to Mafia and civil rights groups


In the 1950s, evidence of Hoover's unwillingness to focus FBI resources on the Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 became grist for the media and his many detractors. His moves against people who maintained contacts with subversive elements, some of whom were members of the civil rights movement, also led to accusations of trying to undermine their reputations. The treatment of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 and actress Jean Seberg
Jean Seberg
Jean Dorothy Seberg was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless , the musical Paint Your Wagon and the disaster film Airport ....

 are two examples. Jacqueline Kennedy recalled that Hoover told President Kennedy that King tried to arrange a sex party while in the capital for the March on Washington and told Robert Kennedy that King made derogatory comments during the President's funeral.

Hoover personally directed the FBI investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1964, just days before Hoover testified in the earliest stages of the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

 hearings, President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 waived the then mandatory U.S. Government Service Retirement Age of seventy, allowing Hoover to remain the FBI Director "for life." The House Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report in 1979 critical of the performance by the FBI, the Warren Commission, and other agencies. The report also criticized what it characterized as the FBI's reluctance to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.

Late career and death


Presidents Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great.

Hoover's FBI investigated Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti
Jack Valenti
Jack Joseph Valenti was a long-time president of the Motion Picture Association of America. During his 38-year tenure in the MPAA, he created the MPAA film rating system, and he was generally regarded as one of the most influential pro-copyright lobbyists in the world...

, a special assistant and confidant to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1964. Despite Valenti's two-year marriage to Johnson's personal secretary, the investigation focused on rumors that he was having a gay relationship with a commercial photographer friend.

Hoover maintained strong support in Congress until his death at his Washington, D.C., home on May 2, 1972, from a heart attack attributed to cardio-vascular disease. His body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
United States Capitol Rotunda
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Located below the Capitol dome, it is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart."...

, where Chief Justice Warren Burger
Warren E. Burger
Warren Earl Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. Although Burger had conservative leanings, the U.S...

 eulogized him. President Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 delivered another eulogy at the funeral service in the National Presbyterian Church
National Presbyterian Church
The National Presbyterian Church is a church located in Washington, D.C. affiliated with the Presbyterian Church .-Location:NPC is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood in Washington on Nebraska Avenue next to NBC and across from the Japanese Embassy...

. Hoover was buried in the Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

 in Washington, D.C., next to the graves of his parents and a sister who died in infancy.

Operational command of the Bureau passed to Associate Director Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson
Clyde Anderson Tolson was Associate Director of the FBI, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.-Early career:...

. On May 3, President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 appointed L. Patrick Gray
L. Patrick Gray
Louis Patrick Gray III was acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from May 2, 1972 to April 27, 1973. During this time, the FBI was in charge of the initial investigation into the burglaries that sparked the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of President...

, a Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 official with no FBI experience, as Acting Director, with W. Mark Felt
W. Mark Felt
William Mark Felt, Sr. was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation , who retired in 1973 as the Bureau's Associate Director...

 remaining as Associate Director.

Legacy


Hoover was a consultant to Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 on a 1959 theatrical film about the FBI, The FBI Story
The FBI Story
The FBI Story is a 1959 American drama film produced and directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The screenplay by Richard L. Breen and John Twist is based on a book by Don Whitehead.-Plot:...

, and in 1965 on Warner Bros.' long-running spin-off television series, The F.B.I. Hoover personally made sure that Warner Bros. would portray the FBI more favorably than other crime dramas of the times.

In 1979, there was a large increase in conflict in the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) under Senator Richard Schweiker
Richard Schweiker
Richard Schultz Schweiker is a former U.S. Congressman and Senator representing the state of Pennsylvania. He later was Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Cabinet of President Ronald Reagan.-Early life:...

, which had re-opened the investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, reported that Hoover's FBI "failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President". The HSCA further reported that Hoover's FBI "was deficient in its sharing of information with other agencies and departments".

The FBI Headquarters
J. Edgar Hoover Building
The J. Edgar Hoover Building is located in Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . The building, named for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The building received its official name, the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I...

 in Washington, DC is named after Hoover. Because of the controversial nature of Hoover's legacy, there have been periodic proposals to rename it. In 2001, Senator Harry Reid
Harry Reid
Harry Mason Reid is the senior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, he has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, having previously served as Minority Leader and Minority and Majority Whip.Previously, Reid was a member of the U.S...

 sponsored an amendment to strip Hoover's name from the building. "J. Edgar Hoover's name on the FBI building is a stain on the building", Reid said. However, the Senate never adopted the amendment.

Personal life


Since the 1940s, rumors have circulated that Hoover was gay
Gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

. It has been suggested that Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson
Clyde Anderson Tolson was Associate Director of the FBI, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.-Early career:...

, an associate director of the FBI who was Hoover's heir, may have been his lover.

Hoover hunted down and threatened anyone who made insinuations about his sexuality
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

. He also spread unsubstantiated rumors that Adlai Stevenson was gay to damage the liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 governor's 1952 presidential campaign. His extensive secret files contained surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 material on Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

's alleged lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

 lovers, speculated to be acquired for the purpose of blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

.

Some authors have dismissed the rumors about Hoover's sexuality and his relationship with Tolson in particular as unlikely,
while others have described them as probable or even "confirmed", and still others have reported the rumors without stating an opinion. Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego
Alter ego
An alter ego is a second self, which is believe to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. The term was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists...

: The men not only worked closely together during the day but also took meals, went to night clubs and vacationed together. This closeness between the two men is often cited as evidence that they were lovers, though some FBI employees who knew them, such as W. Mark Felt
W. Mark Felt
William Mark Felt, Sr. was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation , who retired in 1973 as the Bureau's Associate Director...

, say that the relationship was merely "brotherly".

Tolson inherited Hoover's estate and moved into his home, having accepted the American flag that draped Hoover's casket. Tolson is buried a few yards away from Hoover in the Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

.

Among those skeptical of claims that Hoover was homosexual is Hoover's biographer Richard Hack
Richard Hack
Richard Hack is an American writer best known for his biographical books and screenplays. He is a frequent guest on talk shows and an outspoken critic of bias in television news.- Background :...

. Hack notes that Hoover was romantically linked to actress Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour was an American film actress. She is best remembered for appearing in the Road to... movies, a series of successful comedies starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope .-Early life:Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Carmen Louise Dorothy...

 in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and that after Hoover's death Lamour did not deny rumors that she had had an affair with Hoover in the years between her two marriages. Hack additionally reports that during the 1940s and 1950s, Hoover so often attended social events with Lela Rogers, the divorced mother of dancer and actress Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who appeared in film, and on stage, radio, and television throughout much of the 20th century....

, that many of their mutual friends assumed the pair would eventually marry.

In his 1993 biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, journalist Anthony Summers
Anthony Summers
Anthony Bruce Summers is the non-fiction author of seven best-selling investigative books. He is an Irish citizen, and has been working for some twenty years with Robbyn Swan, who is now his co-author and fifth wife...

 quoted "society divorcee" Susan Rosenstiel as claiming to have seen Hoover engaging in cross-dressing
Cross-dressing
Cross-dressing is the wearing of clothing and other accoutrement commonly associated with a gender within a particular society that is seen as different than the one usually presented by the dresser...

 in the 1950s. She stated that on two occasions she witnessed Hoover wearing a fluffy pink dress with flounces and lace, stockings, high heels and a black curly wig, at homosexual orgies
Orgy
In modern usage, an orgy is a sex party where guests engage in promiscuous or multifarious sexual activity or group sex. An orgy is similar to debauchery, which refers to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures....

:
Summers also said that the Mafia had blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

 material on Hoover, which made Hoover reluctant to aggressively pursue organized crime. Although never corroborated, the allegation of cross-dressing has been widely repeated. In the words of author Thomas Doherty, "For American popular culture, the image of the zaftig FBI director as a Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen was the first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female.-Early life:...

 wanna-be was too delicious not to savor." Skeptics of the cross-dressing story point to Susan Rosenstiel's poor credibility (she served time at Rikers Island
Rikers Island
Rikers Island is New York City's main jail complex, as well as the name of the island on which it sits, in the East River between Queens and the mainland Bronx, adjacent to the runways of LaGuardia Airport. The island itself is part of the borough of the Bronx, though it is included as part of...

 jail for perjuring herself in a 1971 case) and say recklessly indiscreet behavior by Hoover would have been totally out of character, whatever his sexuality. Most biographers consider the story of Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 blackmail to be unlikely in light of the FBI's investigations of the Mafia. Truman Capote
Truman Capote
Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

, who helped spread salacious rumors about Hoover, once remarked that he was more interested in making Hoover angry than determining whether the rumors were true.

Attorney Roy Cohn
Roy Cohn
Roy Marcus Cohn was an American attorney who became famous during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations into Communist activity in the United States during the Second Red Scare. Cohn gained special prominence during the Army–McCarthy hearings. He was also an important member of the U.S...

, an associate of Hoover during the 1950s investigations of Communists and himself a closeted
Closeted
Closeted and in the closet are metaphors used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex people who have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity and aspects thereof, including sexual identity and sexual behavior.-Background:In late 20th...

 homosexual, opined that Hoover was too frightened of his own sexuality to have anything approaching a normal sexual or romantic relationship.

In his 2004 study of the Lavender Scare
Lavender scare
The Lavender Scare refers to the fear and persecution of homosexuals in the 1950s in the United States, which paralleled the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism....

, historian David K. Johnson attacked the notion of Hoover's homosexuality for relying on "the kind of tactics Hoover and the security program he oversaw perfected — guilt by association, rumor, and unverified gossip." He views Rosenstiel as a liar who was paid for her story, whose "description of Hoover in drag engaging in sex with young blond boys in leather while desecrating the Bible is clearly a homophobic
Homophobia
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the...

 fantasy." He believes only those who have forgotten the virulence of the decades-long campaign against homosexuals in government can believe reports that Hoover would allow himself to be seen in compromising situations.

Freemasonry


Hoover was a devoted Freemason
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, being raised a Master Mason on 9 November 1920, in Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, DC, just two months before his 26th birthday. During his 52 years with the Masons, he received many medals, awards and decorations. Eventually in 1955, he was coroneted a Thirty-Third Degree Inspector General Honorary in the Southern Scottish Rite Jurisdiction. He was also awarded the Scottish Rite's highest recognition, the Grand Cross of Honour, in 1965. Today a J. Edgar Hoover room exists within the House of the Temple
House of the Temple
The House of the Temple is a Masonic temple in Washington, D.C., United States that serves as the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A...

. The room contains many of Hoover's personal papers and records.

Honors

  • In 1938, Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University is a co-educational Christian liberal arts university located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Established in 1910, OBU is ranked No.2 among baccalaureate colleges in the western region in the 2010 U.S...

     awarded Hoover an honorary doctorate during commencement exercises at which he spoke.
  • In 1939, the National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

     awarded Hoover its Public Welfare Medal
    Public Welfare Medal
    The Public Welfare Medal is awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences "in recognition of distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare." It is the most prestigious honor conferred by the Academy...

    .
  • In 1950, King George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

     awarded Hoover an honorary knighthood in the Order of the British Empire
    Order of the British Empire
    The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

    .
  • In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower gave Hoover the National Security Medal
    National Security Medal
    The National Security Medal was a decoration of the United States of America officially established by President Harry S. Truman in Executive Order 10431 of January 19, 1953...

    .
  • In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson bestowed the State Department's Distinguished Service Award on Hoover for his service as director of the FBI.
  • The FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., is named the J. Edgar Hoover Building
    J. Edgar Hoover Building
    The J. Edgar Hoover Building is located in Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . The building, named for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The building received its official name, the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I...

    .
  • Congress voted to honor Hoover's memory by publishing a memorial book. J. Edgar Hoover: Memorial Tributes in the Congress of the United States and Various Articles and Editorials Relating to His Life and Work appeared in 1974.
  • In Schaumburg, IL, a grade school was named after Hoover. In 1994, after personal information about Hoover was released, the school's name was changed to reflect Herbert Hoover instead of J. Edgar Hoover.

Portrayals


J. Edgar Hoover has been portrayed many times in film and on stage. Some notable portrayals include:
  • In the 1971 Woody Allen
    Woody Allen
    Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

     film Bananas
    Bananas (film)
    Bananas is a 1971 comedy film written by Mickey Rose and Woody Allen, directed by Allen, and starring himself and Louise Lasser. Parts of the plot were based on the book Don Quixote, U.S.A. by Richard P. Powell. It was filmed on location in New York City, Lima , and various locations in Puerto...

    , J. Edgar Hoover was portrayed by actress Dorothi Fox.
  • Broderick Crawford
    Broderick Crawford
    Broderick Crawford was an Academy Award-winning American stage, film, radio and TV actor, often cast in tough-guy roles and best known for his starring role in the television series "Highway Patrol."-Early life:...

     and James Wainwright portrayed Hoover in the Larry Cohen
    Larry Cohen
    Lawrence G. "Larry" Cohen is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter. He is best known as a B-Movie auteur of horror and science fiction films - often containing a police procedural element - during 1970s and 1980s...

     film The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
    The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
    The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover is a 1977 film directed by Larry Cohen. It stars Broderick Crawford and James Wainwright. The all star cast includes Jose Ferrer, Michael Parks, Celeste Holm, Ronee Blakely, Tanya Roberts in a cameo role, and in final screen appearances, Jack Cassidy and Dan...

    (1977).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Dolph Sweet
    Dolph Sweet
    Dolph Sweet was an American actor, credited with nearly 60 television and film roles as well as several roles in stage productions before his death from cancer in 1985.-Biography:...

     in the TV miniseries King (1978).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Sheldon Leonard
    Sheldon Leonard
    Sheldon Leonard was a pioneering American film and television producer, director, writer, and actor.-Biography:...

     in the William Friedkin
    William Friedkin
    William Friedkin is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973; for the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Director...

     film The Brink's Job
    The Brink's Job
    The Brink's Job is a 1978 film directed by William Friedkin and starring Peter Falk, Peter Boyle, Allen Garfield, Warren Oates, Gena Rowlands, and Paul Sorvino. It is based on the Brink's robbery in Boston, where almost 3 million dollars were stolen....

    (1978).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Ernest Borgnine
    Ernest Borgnine
    Ernest Borgnine is an American actor of television and film. His career has spanned more than six decades. He was an unconventional lead in many films of the 1950s, including his Academy Award-winning turn in the 1955 film Marty...

     in the TV film Blood Feud (1983), as well as in Hoover (2000).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Vincent Gardenia
    Vincent Gardenia
    Vincent Gardenia was an Italian American stage, film, and television actor.-Early life:...

     in the TV film Kennedy (1983).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Jack Warden
    Jack Warden
    Jack Warden was an American character actor.-Early life:Warden was born John Warden Lebzelter in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Laura M. and John Warden Lebzelter, who was an engineer and technician. He was of Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry...

     in the TV film Hoover vs. The Kennedys (1987).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Treat Williams
    Treat Williams
    Richard Treat Williams is a Screen Actors Guild Award–nominated American actor and children's book author who has appeared on film, stage and television...

     in the TV film J. Edgar Hoover (1987).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Kevin Dunn
    Kevin Dunn
    Kevin Dunn is an American actor who has appeared in supporting roles in a number of films since the 1980s. His roles include Colonel Hicks in the 1998 version of Godzilla, Sam Witwicky's father in Transformers, and Oscar Galvin, the primary antagonist in the 2010 action thriller...

     in the film Chaplin (1992).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Pat Hingle
    Pat Hingle
    Martin Patterson "Pat" Hingle was an American actor.-Early life:Hingle was born Martin Patterson Hingle in Miami, Florida, the son of Marvin Louise , a schoolteacher and musician, and Clarence Martin Hingle, a building contractor. Hingle enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December 1941, dropping out of...

     in the TV film Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn is a 1992 cable film covering the life of Joseph McCarthy's controversial chief counsel Roy Cohn. James Woods, who starred as Cohn, was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance...

    (1992).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Richard Dysart
    Richard Dysart
    Richard A. Dysart is an American actor, perhaps best known for his role as Leland McKenzie on the NBC legal drama L.A. Law....

    , both in the TV film Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair (1993) and in Mario Van Peebles
    Mario Van Peebles
    Mario "Chip" Cain Van Peebles is an American director and actor who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films. He is son of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles.-Life and career:...

    ' 1995 film Panther
    Panther (film)
    Panther is a 1995 film directed by Mario Van Peebles, from a screenplay adapted by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, based on his book. The film dramatizes the story of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense...

    .
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Bob Hoskins
    Bob Hoskins
    Robert William "Bob" Hoskins, Jr. is an English actor known for playing Cockney rough diamonds, psychopaths and gangsters, in films such as The Long Good Friday , and Mona Lisa , and lighter roles in family films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook .- Early life :Hoskins was born in Bury St...

     in the Oliver Stone
    Oliver Stone
    William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

     drama Nixon
    Nixon (film)
    Nixon is a 1995 American biographical film directed by Oliver Stone for Cinergi Pictures that tells the story of the political and personal life of former US President Richard Nixon, played by Anthony Hopkins....

    (1995).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor David Fredericks in two episodes of The X-Files
    The X-Files
    The X-Files is an American science fiction television series and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The program originally aired from to . The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans became popular culture touchstones in the 1990s...

    , as well as on its sister show Millennium
    Millennium (TV series)
    Millennium is an American television series created by Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files. Millennium aired on the Fox Network from 1996 to 1999. The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, though most episodes were ostensibly set in or around Seattle, Washington...

    .
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Kelsey Grammer
    Kelsey Grammer
    Allen Kelsey Grammer is an American actor and comedian. He is most widely known for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier...

     with John Goodman
    John Goodman
    John Stephen Goodman is an American film, television, and stage actor. He is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne for which he won a Best Actor Golden Globe Award in 1993, and for appearances in the films of the Coen brothers, with prominent roles in Raising...

     as his lover, in the Harry Shearer
    Harry Shearer
    Harry Julius Shearer is an American actor, comedian, writer, voice artist, musician, author, radio host and director. He is known for his long-running role on The Simpsons, his work on Saturday Night Live, the comedy band Spinal Tap and his radio program Le Show...

     comic musical J. Edgar! on L.A. Theatre Works
    L.A. Theatre Works
    L.A. Theatre Works is a non-profit media arts organization based in Los Angeles.- History :Founded in 1974, the organization was originally called “Artists in Prison,” and used theatre as a means to provide a voice to incarcerated men and women who were traditionally unheard and underserved. In...

    ' The Play's the Thing (2001).
  • Hoover was originally portrayed by Eric Jordan Young in the musical Dillinger, Public Enemy Number One.
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Billy Crudup
    Billy Crudup
    William Gaither "Billy" Crudup is an American actor of film and stage. He is well known for his roles as guitarist Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, Will Bloom in Big Fish, and Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke. He also starred in the 2007 romantic comedy film Dedication, alongside Mandy Moore...

     in the Michael Mann film Public Enemies (2009).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Enrico Colantoni
    Enrico Colantoni
    Enrico Colantoni is a Canadian actor, probably best known for portraying Elliot DiMauro in the sitcom Just Shoot Me!, Keith Mars on the television series Veronica Mars, and Sergeant Greg Parker on the television series Flashpoint. He has also had supporting roles in such films as The Wrong Guy, ...

     in the TV miniseries The Kennedys (2011).
  • Hoover is portrayed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is an American actor and film producer. He has received many awards, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Aviator , and has been nominated by the Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television...

     in the Clint Eastwood
    Clint Eastwood
    Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

     biopic J. Edgar
    J. Edgar
    J. Edgar is a 2011 biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood, from a script by Dustin Lance Black. The film focuses on the career of FBI director J...

    (2011).

See also


  • Anti-communism
    Anti-communism
    Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

  • G-Man (slang)
    G-Man (slang)
    G-Man is a slang term for Special agents of the United States Government. It is specifically used as a term for a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent....

  • McCarthyism
    McCarthyism
    McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...


Writings


J. Edgar Hoover was the nominal author of a number of books and articles. Although it is widely believed that all of these were ghostwritten by FBI employees, Hoover received the credit and royalties.
John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive actions became public. His critics have accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI.
He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders,
and to collect evidence using illegal methods.
FBI directors are now limited to one 10-year term, subject to extension by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, because of his long and controversial tenure.

Early life and education


J. Edgar Hoover was born on New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

 1895 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, to Anna Marie (née Scheitlin; 1860–1938), who was of Swiss descent, and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), of English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 and German ancestry. The uncle of Hoover's mother was a Swiss honorary consul general to the United States. Hoover grew up near the Eastern Market
Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.
The Eastern Market is a public market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., housed in a 19th century brick building. It is located on 7th Street SE, a few blocks east of the U.S. Capitol between North Carolina Avenue SE and C Street SE. The Eastern Market is on the National...

 in Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood. He obtained a law degree from George Washington University
George Washington University
The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

 in 1916, and an LLM, a master of laws degree, in 1917 from the same university. While a law student, Hoover became interested in the career of Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock
Anthony Comstock was a United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality.-Biography:...

, the New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 US Postal Inspector
United States Postal Inspection Service
The United States Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service. Its jurisdiction is defined as "crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S...

, who waged prolonged campaigns against fraud and vice
Vice
Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption...

, and also was against pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

 and birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

.

FBI career


During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, immediately after getting his LLM, Hoover was hired by the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

. He was soon promoted to head of the Enemy Aliens Registration Section. In August 1919, he became head of the new General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation within the Justice Department (see the Palmer Raids
Palmer Raids
The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer...

). From there, in 1921, he rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head, and in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On May 10, 1924, 10 months after the death of Pancho Villa and during the private war of Jesus Herrera, Hoover was appointed by President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 to be the sixth director of the Bureau of Investigation, following President Warren Harding's death and in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns
William J. Burns
William J. Burns , known as "America's Sherlock Holmes," is famous for having conducted a private investigation clearing Leo Frank of the murder of Mary Phagan, and for serving as the director of the Bureau of Investigation from August 22, 1921 to June 14, 1924...

, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.

Hoover was noted as sometimes being capricious in his leadership; he frequently fired FBI agents, singling out those who he thought "looked stupid like truck drivers" or he considered to be "pinheads".
He also relocated agents who had displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations. Melvin Purvis
Melvin Purvis
Melvin Horace Purvis, Jr. was an American law enforcement official and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent. He was given the nickname "Little Mel" because of his short stature...

 was a prime example; he was one of the most effective agents in capturing and breaking up 1930s gangs and received substantial public recognition, but a jealous Hoover maneuvered him out of the FBI.

Hoover often hailed local law-enforcement officers around the country and built up a national network of supporters and admirers in the process. One that he often commended was the conservative sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

 of Caddo Parish
Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Caddo Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Shreveport; as of 2000, the population was 252,161...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, J. Howell Flournoy
J. Howell Flournoy
Joseph Howell Flournoy was the sheriff of Caddo Parish based in Shreveport, Louisiana, from 1940 until his death in office...

, for particular effectiveness.

Gangster wars



In the early 1930s, criminal gangs carried out large numbers of bank robberies in the Midwest. They used their superior firepower and fast getaway cars to elude local law enforcement agencies and avoid arrest. Many of these criminals, particularly John Dillinger
John Dillinger
John Herbert Dillinger, Jr. was an American bank robber in Depression-era United States. He was charged with, but never convicted of, the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer during a shoot-out. This was his only alleged homicide. His gang robbed two dozen banks and four police stations...

, who became famous for leaping over bank cages and repeatedly escaping from jails and police traps, frequently made newspaper headlines across the U.S. Since the robbers operated across state lines, their crimes became federal offenses, giving Hoover and his men the authority to pursue them. Initially, the FBI suffered some embarrassing foul-ups, in particular with Dillinger and his conspirators. A raid on a summer lodge named "Little Bohemia
Little Bohemia Lodge
The Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin was the site of the 1934 gun battle between John Dillinger and his gang, and Melvin Purvis and the FBI. The Lodge was built in 1927, suffered a fire in 1928, and was rebuilt in 1930...

" in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Manitowish Waters is a town in Vilas County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 646 at the 2000 census. The unincorporated community of Manitowish Waters is located in the town.-Tourism:The town is best known for its chain of lakes...

, left an FBI agent and a civilian bystander dead, and others wounded. All the gangsters escaped. Hoover realized that his job was now on the line, and he pulled out all stops to capture the culprits. In late July 1934, Special Agent Melvin Purvis, the Director of Operations in the Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 office, received a tip on Dillinger's whereabouts which paid off when Dillinger was located, ambushed and killed by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater
Biograph Theater
The Biograph Theater, at 2433 North Lincoln Avenue, Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois, was originally a movie theater but now presents live productions. It is notable as the location where bank robber John Dillinger was shot by FBI agents after watching a gangster movie on July 22, 1934...

.

In the same period, there were numerous Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 shootings as a result of Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

, while Hoover continued to deny the very existence of organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

. Frank Costello
Frank Costello
Frank Costello was an Italian New York City gangster who rose to the top of America's underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and enjoyed political influence.Nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Underworld", he became one of the most powerful and influential Mafia...

 helped encourage this view by feeding Hoover, "an inveterate horseplayer" known to send Special Agents to place $100 bets for him, tips on sure winners through their mutual friend, gossip columnist
Gossip columnist
A gossip columnist is someone who writes a gossip column in a newspaper or magazine, especially a gossip magazine. Gossip columns are material written in a light, informal style, which relates the gossip columnist's opinions about the personal lives or conduct of celebrities from show business ,...

 Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell was an American newspaper and radio gossip commentator.-Professional career:Born Walter Weinschel in New York City, he left school in the sixth grade and started performing in a vaudeville troupe known as Gus Edwards' "Newsboys Sextet."His career in journalism was begun by posting...

. Hoover said the Bureau had "much more important functions" than arresting bookmakers and gamblers.

Even though he was not there, Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers. These included that of Dillinger, Alvin Karpis
Alvin Karpis
Alvin Francis Karpis , nicknamed "Creepy" for his sinister smile, was an American criminal known for his alliance with the Barker gang in the 1930s. He was the last "public enemy" to be taken.-Early life:Karpis was born to Lithuanian immigrants in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and was raised in Topeka,...

, and Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly
George Kelley Barnes , better known as "Machine Gun Kelly", was an American gangster during the prohibition era. His nickname came from his favorite weapon, a Thompson submachine gun. His most famous crime was the kidnapping of oil tycoon & businessman Charles Urschel in July 1933 for which he,...

, which led to the Bureau's powers being broadened and it was given its new name in 1935: the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

. In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

. Hoover made changes, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date. Hoover also helped to expand the FBI's recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory
FBI Laboratory
The FBI Laboratory is a division within the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that provides forensic analysis support services to the FBI, as well as to state and local law enforcement agencies free of charge. The lab is currently located at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico,...

, a division established in 1932 to examine evidence found by the FBI.

Investigation of subversion and radicals


Hoover was concerned about subversion, and under his leadership, the FBI spied upon tens of thousands of suspected subversives and radicals. According to critics, Hoover tended to exaggerate the dangers of these alleged subversives and many times overstepped his bounds in his pursuit of eliminating that perceived threat.

The FBI investigated rings of German saboteurs and spies starting in the late 1930s, and had primary responsibility for counterespionage. The first arrests of German agents were made in 1938, and continued throughout World War II. In the Quirin
Ex parte Quirin
Ex parte Quirin, , is a Supreme Court of the United States case that upheld the jurisdiction of a United States military tribunal over the trial of several Operation Pastorius German saboteurs in the United States...

 affair during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s set two small groups of Nazi agents ashore in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

 to cause acts of sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 within the country. The two teams were apprehended after one of the men contacted the FBI, and told them everything. He was also charged and convicted.
President Harry Truman wrote in his memoirs: "The country had reason to be proud of and have confidence in our security agencies. They had kept us almost totally free of sabotage and espionage during World War II".

The FBI participated in the Venona Project
Venona project
The VENONA project was a long-running secret collaboration of the United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies involving cryptanalysis of messages sent by intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union, the majority during World War II...

, a pre–World War II joint project with the British to eavesdrop on Soviet spies in the UK and the United States. It was not initially realized that espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 was being committed, but due to multiple wartime Soviet use of one-time pad
One-time pad
In cryptography, the one-time pad is a type of encryption, which has been proven to be impossible to crack if used correctly. Each bit or character from the plaintext is encrypted by a modular addition with a bit or character from a secret random key of the same length as the plaintext, resulting...

 ciphers, which are normally unbreakable, redundancies were created, enabling some intercepts to be decoded, which established the espionage. Hoover kept the intercepts—America's greatest counterintelligence secret—in a locked safe in his office, choosing not to inform President Truman, Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 J. Howard McGrath
J. Howard McGrath
James Howard McGrath was an American politician and attorney from the U.S. state of Rhode Island.McGrath, a Democrat, served as U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island before becoming Governor, U.S. Solicitor General, U.S...

, or two Secretaries of State—Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

 and General George Marshall
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

—while they held office. He informed the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) of the Venona Project in 1952.

In 1946, US Attorney General Tom C. Clark
Tom C. Clark
Thomas Campbell Clark was United States Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States .- Early life and career :...

 authorized Hoover to compile a list of potentially disloyal Americans who might be detained during a wartime national emergency. In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Hoover submitted to President Truman a plan to suspend the writ of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

 and detain 12,000 Americans suspected of disloyalty. Truman did not act on the plan.

COINTELPRO years


In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 decisions that limited the Justice Department's ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, most notably communists. At this time he formalized a covert "dirty tricks" program under the name COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

.

This program remained in place until it was revealed to the public in 1971, after the theft of many internal documents stolen from an office in Media, Pennsylvania, and was the cause of some of the harshest criticism of Hoover and the FBI. COINTELPRO was first used to disrupt the Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

, where Hoover went after targets that ranged from suspected everyday spies to larger celebrity figures such as Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

 who were seen as spreading Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 propaganda, and later organizations such as the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

's SCLC
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 and others. Its methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations.
Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders.
In 1975, the activities of COINTELPRO were investigated by the "United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities" called the Church Committee
Church Committee
The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in 1975. A precursor to the U.S...

 after its chairman, Senator Frank Church
Frank Church
Frank Forrester Church III was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a United States Senator from Idaho from 1957 to 1981....

 (D-Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

) and these activities were declared illegal and contrary to the Constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

.
Hoover amassed significant power by collecting files containing large amounts of compromising and potentially embarrassing information on many powerful people, especially politicians. According to Laurence Silberman, appointed Deputy Attorney General
United States Deputy Attorney General
United States Deputy Attorney General is the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice. In the United States federal government, the Deputy Attorney General oversees the day-to-day operation of the Department of Justice, and may act as Attorney General during the...

 in early 1974, FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley
Clarence M. Kelley
Clarence M. Kelley was a public servant who served as the 2nd Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation....

 thought such files either did not exist or had been destroyed. After The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

broke a story in January 1975, Kelley searched and found them in his outer office. The House Judiciary Committee then demanded that Silberman testify about them.

In 1956, several years before he targeted King, Hoover had a public showdown with T.R.M. Howard, a civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 leader from Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Mound Bayou is a city in Bolivar County, Mississippi. The population was 2,102 at the 2000 census. It is notable for having been founded as an independent black community in 1887 by former slaves led by Isaiah Montgomery. By percentage, its 98.4 percent African-American majority population is one...

. During a national speaking tour, Howard had criticized the FBI's failure to thoroughly investigate the racially motivated murders of George W. Lee
George W. Lee
George W. Lee was an African American civil rights leader, minister, and entrepreneur. He was a vice president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and head of the Belzoni, Mississippi branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People...

, Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith (activist)
Lamar Smith was a U.S. civil rights figure, black farmer, World War I veteran and an organizer of black voter registration. He was shot to death in broad daylight at close range on the lawn of the Lincoln County courthouse in Brookhaven, Mississippi...

, and Emmett Till
Emmett Till
Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married...

. Hoover wrote an open letter to the press singling out these statements as "irresponsible."

Response to Mafia and civil rights groups


In the 1950s, evidence of Hoover's unwillingness to focus FBI resources on the Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 became grist for the media and his many detractors. His moves against people who maintained contacts with subversive elements, some of whom were members of the civil rights movement, also led to accusations of trying to undermine their reputations. The treatment of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 and actress Jean Seberg
Jean Seberg
Jean Dorothy Seberg was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless , the musical Paint Your Wagon and the disaster film Airport ....

 are two examples. Jacqueline Kennedy recalled that Hoover told President Kennedy that King tried to arrange a sex party while in the capital for the March on Washington and told Robert Kennedy that King made derogatory comments during the President's funeral.

Hoover personally directed the FBI investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1964, just days before Hoover testified in the earliest stages of the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

 hearings, President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 waived the then mandatory U.S. Government Service Retirement Age of seventy, allowing Hoover to remain the FBI Director "for life." The House Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report in 1979 critical of the performance by the FBI, the Warren Commission, and other agencies. The report also criticized what it characterized as the FBI's reluctance to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.

Late career and death


Presidents Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great.

Hoover's FBI investigated Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti
Jack Valenti
Jack Joseph Valenti was a long-time president of the Motion Picture Association of America. During his 38-year tenure in the MPAA, he created the MPAA film rating system, and he was generally regarded as one of the most influential pro-copyright lobbyists in the world...

, a special assistant and confidant to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1964. Despite Valenti's two-year marriage to Johnson's personal secretary, the investigation focused on rumors that he was having a gay relationship with a commercial photographer friend.

Hoover maintained strong support in Congress until his death at his Washington, D.C., home on May 2, 1972, from a heart attack attributed to cardio-vascular disease. His body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
United States Capitol Rotunda
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Located below the Capitol dome, it is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart."...

, where Chief Justice Warren Burger
Warren E. Burger
Warren Earl Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. Although Burger had conservative leanings, the U.S...

 eulogized him. President Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 delivered another eulogy at the funeral service in the National Presbyterian Church
National Presbyterian Church
The National Presbyterian Church is a church located in Washington, D.C. affiliated with the Presbyterian Church .-Location:NPC is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood in Washington on Nebraska Avenue next to NBC and across from the Japanese Embassy...

. Hoover was buried in the Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

 in Washington, D.C., next to the graves of his parents and a sister who died in infancy.

Operational command of the Bureau passed to Associate Director Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson
Clyde Anderson Tolson was Associate Director of the FBI, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.-Early career:...

. On May 3, President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 appointed L. Patrick Gray
L. Patrick Gray
Louis Patrick Gray III was acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from May 2, 1972 to April 27, 1973. During this time, the FBI was in charge of the initial investigation into the burglaries that sparked the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of President...

, a Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 official with no FBI experience, as Acting Director, with W. Mark Felt
W. Mark Felt
William Mark Felt, Sr. was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation , who retired in 1973 as the Bureau's Associate Director...

 remaining as Associate Director.

Legacy


Hoover was a consultant to Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 on a 1959 theatrical film about the FBI, The FBI Story
The FBI Story
The FBI Story is a 1959 American drama film produced and directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The screenplay by Richard L. Breen and John Twist is based on a book by Don Whitehead.-Plot:...

, and in 1965 on Warner Bros.' long-running spin-off television series, The F.B.I. Hoover personally made sure that Warner Bros. would portray the FBI more favorably than other crime dramas of the times.

In 1979, there was a large increase in conflict in the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) under Senator Richard Schweiker
Richard Schweiker
Richard Schultz Schweiker is a former U.S. Congressman and Senator representing the state of Pennsylvania. He later was Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Cabinet of President Ronald Reagan.-Early life:...

, which had re-opened the investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, reported that Hoover's FBI "failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President". The HSCA further reported that Hoover's FBI "was deficient in its sharing of information with other agencies and departments".

The FBI Headquarters
J. Edgar Hoover Building
The J. Edgar Hoover Building is located in Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . The building, named for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The building received its official name, the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I...

 in Washington, DC is named after Hoover. Because of the controversial nature of Hoover's legacy, there have been periodic proposals to rename it. In 2001, Senator Harry Reid
Harry Reid
Harry Mason Reid is the senior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, he has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, having previously served as Minority Leader and Minority and Majority Whip.Previously, Reid was a member of the U.S...

 sponsored an amendment to strip Hoover's name from the building. "J. Edgar Hoover's name on the FBI building is a stain on the building", Reid said. However, the Senate never adopted the amendment.

Personal life


Since the 1940s, rumors have circulated that Hoover was gay
Gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

. It has been suggested that Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson
Clyde Anderson Tolson was Associate Director of the FBI, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.-Early career:...

, an associate director of the FBI who was Hoover's heir, may have been his lover.

Hoover hunted down and threatened anyone who made insinuations about his sexuality
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

. He also spread unsubstantiated rumors that Adlai Stevenson was gay to damage the liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 governor's 1952 presidential campaign. His extensive secret files contained surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 material on Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

's alleged lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

 lovers, speculated to be acquired for the purpose of blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

.

Some authors have dismissed the rumors about Hoover's sexuality and his relationship with Tolson in particular as unlikely,
while others have described them as probable or even "confirmed", and still others have reported the rumors without stating an opinion. Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego
Alter ego
An alter ego is a second self, which is believe to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. The term was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists...

: The men not only worked closely together during the day but also took meals, went to night clubs and vacationed together. This closeness between the two men is often cited as evidence that they were lovers, though some FBI employees who knew them, such as W. Mark Felt
W. Mark Felt
William Mark Felt, Sr. was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation , who retired in 1973 as the Bureau's Associate Director...

, say that the relationship was merely "brotherly".

Tolson inherited Hoover's estate and moved into his home, having accepted the American flag that draped Hoover's casket. Tolson is buried a few yards away from Hoover in the Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

.

Among those skeptical of claims that Hoover was homosexual is Hoover's biographer Richard Hack
Richard Hack
Richard Hack is an American writer best known for his biographical books and screenplays. He is a frequent guest on talk shows and an outspoken critic of bias in television news.- Background :...

. Hack notes that Hoover was romantically linked to actress Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour was an American film actress. She is best remembered for appearing in the Road to... movies, a series of successful comedies starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope .-Early life:Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Carmen Louise Dorothy...

 in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and that after Hoover's death Lamour did not deny rumors that she had had an affair with Hoover in the years between her two marriages. Hack additionally reports that during the 1940s and 1950s, Hoover so often attended social events with Lela Rogers, the divorced mother of dancer and actress Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who appeared in film, and on stage, radio, and television throughout much of the 20th century....

, that many of their mutual friends assumed the pair would eventually marry.

In his 1993 biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, journalist Anthony Summers
Anthony Summers
Anthony Bruce Summers is the non-fiction author of seven best-selling investigative books. He is an Irish citizen, and has been working for some twenty years with Robbyn Swan, who is now his co-author and fifth wife...

 quoted "society divorcee" Susan Rosenstiel as claiming to have seen Hoover engaging in cross-dressing
Cross-dressing
Cross-dressing is the wearing of clothing and other accoutrement commonly associated with a gender within a particular society that is seen as different than the one usually presented by the dresser...

 in the 1950s. She stated that on two occasions she witnessed Hoover wearing a fluffy pink dress with flounces and lace, stockings, high heels and a black curly wig, at homosexual orgies
Orgy
In modern usage, an orgy is a sex party where guests engage in promiscuous or multifarious sexual activity or group sex. An orgy is similar to debauchery, which refers to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures....

:
Summers also said that the Mafia had blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

 material on Hoover, which made Hoover reluctant to aggressively pursue organized crime. Although never corroborated, the allegation of cross-dressing has been widely repeated. In the words of author Thomas Doherty, "For American popular culture, the image of the zaftig FBI director as a Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen was the first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female.-Early life:...

 wanna-be was too delicious not to savor." Skeptics of the cross-dressing story point to Susan Rosenstiel's poor credibility (she served time at Rikers Island
Rikers Island
Rikers Island is New York City's main jail complex, as well as the name of the island on which it sits, in the East River between Queens and the mainland Bronx, adjacent to the runways of LaGuardia Airport. The island itself is part of the borough of the Bronx, though it is included as part of...

 jail for perjuring herself in a 1971 case) and say recklessly indiscreet behavior by Hoover would have been totally out of character, whatever his sexuality. Most biographers consider the story of Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 blackmail to be unlikely in light of the FBI's investigations of the Mafia. Truman Capote
Truman Capote
Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

, who helped spread salacious rumors about Hoover, once remarked that he was more interested in making Hoover angry than determining whether the rumors were true.

Attorney Roy Cohn
Roy Cohn
Roy Marcus Cohn was an American attorney who became famous during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations into Communist activity in the United States during the Second Red Scare. Cohn gained special prominence during the Army–McCarthy hearings. He was also an important member of the U.S...

, an associate of Hoover during the 1950s investigations of Communists and himself a closeted
Closeted
Closeted and in the closet are metaphors used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex people who have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity and aspects thereof, including sexual identity and sexual behavior.-Background:In late 20th...

 homosexual, opined that Hoover was too frightened of his own sexuality to have anything approaching a normal sexual or romantic relationship.

In his 2004 study of the Lavender Scare
Lavender scare
The Lavender Scare refers to the fear and persecution of homosexuals in the 1950s in the United States, which paralleled the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism....

, historian David K. Johnson attacked the notion of Hoover's homosexuality for relying on "the kind of tactics Hoover and the security program he oversaw perfected — guilt by association, rumor, and unverified gossip." He views Rosenstiel as a liar who was paid for her story, whose "description of Hoover in drag engaging in sex with young blond boys in leather while desecrating the Bible is clearly a homophobic
Homophobia
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the...

 fantasy." He believes only those who have forgotten the virulence of the decades-long campaign against homosexuals in government can believe reports that Hoover would allow himself to be seen in compromising situations.

Freemasonry


Hoover was a devoted Freemason
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, being raised a Master Mason on 9 November 1920, in Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, DC, just two months before his 26th birthday. During his 52 years with the Masons, he received many medals, awards and decorations. Eventually in 1955, he was coroneted a Thirty-Third Degree Inspector General Honorary in the Southern Scottish Rite Jurisdiction. He was also awarded the Scottish Rite's highest recognition, the Grand Cross of Honour, in 1965. Today a J. Edgar Hoover room exists within the House of the Temple
House of the Temple
The House of the Temple is a Masonic temple in Washington, D.C., United States that serves as the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A...

. The room contains many of Hoover's personal papers and records.

Honors

  • In 1938, Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Baptist University is a co-educational Christian liberal arts university located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Established in 1910, OBU is ranked No.2 among baccalaureate colleges in the western region in the 2010 U.S...

     awarded Hoover an honorary doctorate during commencement exercises at which he spoke.
  • In 1939, the National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

     awarded Hoover its Public Welfare Medal
    Public Welfare Medal
    The Public Welfare Medal is awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences "in recognition of distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare." It is the most prestigious honor conferred by the Academy...

    .
  • In 1950, King George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI of the United Kingdom
    George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

     awarded Hoover an honorary knighthood in the Order of the British Empire
    Order of the British Empire
    The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

    .
  • In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower gave Hoover the National Security Medal
    National Security Medal
    The National Security Medal was a decoration of the United States of America officially established by President Harry S. Truman in Executive Order 10431 of January 19, 1953...

    .
  • In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson bestowed the State Department's Distinguished Service Award on Hoover for his service as director of the FBI.
  • The FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., is named the J. Edgar Hoover Building
    J. Edgar Hoover Building
    The J. Edgar Hoover Building is located in Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation . The building, named for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The building received its official name, the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I...

    .
  • Congress voted to honor Hoover's memory by publishing a memorial book. J. Edgar Hoover: Memorial Tributes in the Congress of the United States and Various Articles and Editorials Relating to His Life and Work appeared in 1974.
  • In Schaumburg, IL, a grade school was named after Hoover. In 1994, after personal information about Hoover was released, the school's name was changed to reflect Herbert Hoover instead of J. Edgar Hoover.

Portrayals


J. Edgar Hoover has been portrayed many times in film and on stage. Some notable portrayals include:
  • In the 1971 Woody Allen
    Woody Allen
    Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

     film Bananas
    Bananas (film)
    Bananas is a 1971 comedy film written by Mickey Rose and Woody Allen, directed by Allen, and starring himself and Louise Lasser. Parts of the plot were based on the book Don Quixote, U.S.A. by Richard P. Powell. It was filmed on location in New York City, Lima , and various locations in Puerto...

    , J. Edgar Hoover was portrayed by actress Dorothi Fox.
  • Broderick Crawford
    Broderick Crawford
    Broderick Crawford was an Academy Award-winning American stage, film, radio and TV actor, often cast in tough-guy roles and best known for his starring role in the television series "Highway Patrol."-Early life:...

     and James Wainwright portrayed Hoover in the Larry Cohen
    Larry Cohen
    Lawrence G. "Larry" Cohen is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter. He is best known as a B-Movie auteur of horror and science fiction films - often containing a police procedural element - during 1970s and 1980s...

     film The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
    The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
    The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover is a 1977 film directed by Larry Cohen. It stars Broderick Crawford and James Wainwright. The all star cast includes Jose Ferrer, Michael Parks, Celeste Holm, Ronee Blakely, Tanya Roberts in a cameo role, and in final screen appearances, Jack Cassidy and Dan...

    (1977).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Dolph Sweet
    Dolph Sweet
    Dolph Sweet was an American actor, credited with nearly 60 television and film roles as well as several roles in stage productions before his death from cancer in 1985.-Biography:...

     in the TV miniseries King (1978).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Sheldon Leonard
    Sheldon Leonard
    Sheldon Leonard was a pioneering American film and television producer, director, writer, and actor.-Biography:...

     in the William Friedkin
    William Friedkin
    William Friedkin is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973; for the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Director...

     film The Brink's Job
    The Brink's Job
    The Brink's Job is a 1978 film directed by William Friedkin and starring Peter Falk, Peter Boyle, Allen Garfield, Warren Oates, Gena Rowlands, and Paul Sorvino. It is based on the Brink's robbery in Boston, where almost 3 million dollars were stolen....

    (1978).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Ernest Borgnine
    Ernest Borgnine
    Ernest Borgnine is an American actor of television and film. His career has spanned more than six decades. He was an unconventional lead in many films of the 1950s, including his Academy Award-winning turn in the 1955 film Marty...

     in the TV film Blood Feud (1983), as well as in Hoover (2000).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Vincent Gardenia
    Vincent Gardenia
    Vincent Gardenia was an Italian American stage, film, and television actor.-Early life:...

     in the TV film Kennedy (1983).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Jack Warden
    Jack Warden
    Jack Warden was an American character actor.-Early life:Warden was born John Warden Lebzelter in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Laura M. and John Warden Lebzelter, who was an engineer and technician. He was of Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry...

     in the TV film Hoover vs. The Kennedys (1987).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Treat Williams
    Treat Williams
    Richard Treat Williams is a Screen Actors Guild Award–nominated American actor and children's book author who has appeared on film, stage and television...

     in the TV film J. Edgar Hoover (1987).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Kevin Dunn
    Kevin Dunn
    Kevin Dunn is an American actor who has appeared in supporting roles in a number of films since the 1980s. His roles include Colonel Hicks in the 1998 version of Godzilla, Sam Witwicky's father in Transformers, and Oscar Galvin, the primary antagonist in the 2010 action thriller...

     in the film Chaplin (1992).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Pat Hingle
    Pat Hingle
    Martin Patterson "Pat" Hingle was an American actor.-Early life:Hingle was born Martin Patterson Hingle in Miami, Florida, the son of Marvin Louise , a schoolteacher and musician, and Clarence Martin Hingle, a building contractor. Hingle enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December 1941, dropping out of...

     in the TV film Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn is a 1992 cable film covering the life of Joseph McCarthy's controversial chief counsel Roy Cohn. James Woods, who starred as Cohn, was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance...

    (1992).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Richard Dysart
    Richard Dysart
    Richard A. Dysart is an American actor, perhaps best known for his role as Leland McKenzie on the NBC legal drama L.A. Law....

    , both in the TV film Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair (1993) and in Mario Van Peebles
    Mario Van Peebles
    Mario "Chip" Cain Van Peebles is an American director and actor who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films. He is son of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles.-Life and career:...

    ' 1995 film Panther
    Panther (film)
    Panther is a 1995 film directed by Mario Van Peebles, from a screenplay adapted by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, based on his book. The film dramatizes the story of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense...

    .
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Bob Hoskins
    Bob Hoskins
    Robert William "Bob" Hoskins, Jr. is an English actor known for playing Cockney rough diamonds, psychopaths and gangsters, in films such as The Long Good Friday , and Mona Lisa , and lighter roles in family films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook .- Early life :Hoskins was born in Bury St...

     in the Oliver Stone
    Oliver Stone
    William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

     drama Nixon
    Nixon (film)
    Nixon is a 1995 American biographical film directed by Oliver Stone for Cinergi Pictures that tells the story of the political and personal life of former US President Richard Nixon, played by Anthony Hopkins....

    (1995).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor David Fredericks in two episodes of The X-Files
    The X-Files
    The X-Files is an American science fiction television series and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The program originally aired from to . The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans became popular culture touchstones in the 1990s...

    , as well as on its sister show Millennium
    Millennium (TV series)
    Millennium is an American television series created by Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files. Millennium aired on the Fox Network from 1996 to 1999. The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, though most episodes were ostensibly set in or around Seattle, Washington...

    .
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Kelsey Grammer
    Kelsey Grammer
    Allen Kelsey Grammer is an American actor and comedian. He is most widely known for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier...

     with John Goodman
    John Goodman
    John Stephen Goodman is an American film, television, and stage actor. He is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne for which he won a Best Actor Golden Globe Award in 1993, and for appearances in the films of the Coen brothers, with prominent roles in Raising...

     as his lover, in the Harry Shearer
    Harry Shearer
    Harry Julius Shearer is an American actor, comedian, writer, voice artist, musician, author, radio host and director. He is known for his long-running role on The Simpsons, his work on Saturday Night Live, the comedy band Spinal Tap and his radio program Le Show...

     comic musical J. Edgar! on L.A. Theatre Works
    L.A. Theatre Works
    L.A. Theatre Works is a non-profit media arts organization based in Los Angeles.- History :Founded in 1974, the organization was originally called “Artists in Prison,” and used theatre as a means to provide a voice to incarcerated men and women who were traditionally unheard and underserved. In...

    ' The Play's the Thing (2001).
  • Hoover was originally portrayed by Eric Jordan Young in the musical Dillinger, Public Enemy Number One.
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Billy Crudup
    Billy Crudup
    William Gaither "Billy" Crudup is an American actor of film and stage. He is well known for his roles as guitarist Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, Will Bloom in Big Fish, and Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke. He also starred in the 2007 romantic comedy film Dedication, alongside Mandy Moore...

     in the Michael Mann film Public Enemies (2009).
  • Hoover was portrayed by actor Enrico Colantoni
    Enrico Colantoni
    Enrico Colantoni is a Canadian actor, probably best known for portraying Elliot DiMauro in the sitcom Just Shoot Me!, Keith Mars on the television series Veronica Mars, and Sergeant Greg Parker on the television series Flashpoint. He has also had supporting roles in such films as The Wrong Guy, ...

     in the TV miniseries The Kennedys (2011).
  • Hoover is portrayed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is an American actor and film producer. He has received many awards, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Aviator , and has been nominated by the Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television...

     in the Clint Eastwood
    Clint Eastwood
    Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

     biopic J. Edgar
    J. Edgar
    J. Edgar is a 2011 biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood, from a script by Dustin Lance Black. The film focuses on the career of FBI director J...

    (2011).

See also


  • Anti-communism
    Anti-communism
    Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

  • G-Man (slang)
    G-Man (slang)
    G-Man is a slang term for Special agents of the United States Government. It is specifically used as a term for a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent....

  • McCarthyism
    McCarthyism
    McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...


Writings


J. Edgar Hoover was the nominal author of a number of books and articles. Although it is widely believed that all of these were ghostwritten by FBI employees, Hoover received the credit and royalties.

External links