JFK+50: Volume 5, No. 1937MR. FBI DIED 44 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Forty-four years ago today, May 2, 1972, J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, died of complications from heart disease here in the Nation's Capital where he served for so many years. Mr. Hoover, who was 77 years old, died in his sleep.
Mr. Hoover began his career as an 18 year old clerk at the Library of Congress. After passing the bar on July 25, 1917, J. Edgar went to work at the Justice Department the following day.
Having served as an assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer during the Red Scare, Hoover was appointed Director of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924. In 1935, the agency became known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Under his direction, the Bureau set up an index card system of 450,000 files on every radical leader, organization and publication in the United States during the 1920s.
In the 1930s, the FBI established a fingerprint file, a crime laboratory and training academy for FBI agents. The Bureau also targeted organized crime figures during the decade.
In 1956, Hoover set up a secret counterintelligence program to target communists and radical organizations operating in the United States.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Mr. Hoover the National Security Medal in 1955 and in early November 1960, Mr. Hoover wrote to President-elect John F. Kennedy to congratulate him on his election victory.
Passed 3 years after his death, Public Law 94-503 limits the Director of the FBI to a single term of no more than 10 years. Since Hoover's 48 year reign as Director (Bureau of Investigation and FBI), there have been 11 directors. Constitution Daily describes J. Edgar Hoover as "among the most-powerful government officials ever."
Since the Director's death there has been much speculation about J. Edgar Hoover. Kenneth D. Ackerman of the Washington Post addresses five myths about Mr. FBI. Following is a list of those myths followed by Mr. Ackerman's assessment of their validity.
1. HOOVER WAS A GAY CROSS-DRESSER
The truth about his sex life is nearly impossible to pin down.
2. HOOVER'S SECRET FILES KEPT PRESIDENTS FROM FIRING HIM
The Director's FBI files are now open at the National Archives for all
Americans to see.
3. HOOVER WAS A COWARD WHO REFUSED SERVICE IN WWI
Young Hoover was financially responsible for his family as his father
suffered from mental illness.
4. HOOVER WAS AFRICAN-AMERICAN
Possibly, but unproven.
5. HOOVER'S LEGACY IS A STAIN ON THE FBI
For most of his life, JEH was an American hero, but 48 years of power
is a recipe for abuse.
*John Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) was FBI Director from its founding in 1935 until his death. He was born in Washington, D.C. to Dickerson and Anna Maria Hoover. JEH earned the LLB and LLM from the George Washington University School of Law in 1916 and 1917.
His 1st job was head of the Justice Department's Alien Enemy Bureau. In 1919, he became head of the General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation and was appointed head of the Bureau by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.
"Five myths about J. Edgar Hoover," by Kenneth D. Ackerman, The Washington Post, November 9, 2011, www.washingtonpost.com/
"J. Edgar Hoover: The library clerk who became America's 'most-powerful man,'" Constitution Daily, www.blog.constitutioncenter.org/