Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Long time FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover,* died 46 years ago today, May 2, 1972, of complications from heart disease here in the Nation's Capital. Mr. Hoover, who was 77 years old, died in his sleep.
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 US. President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Mr. Hoover the National Security Medal in 1955 while President Lyndon B. Johnson presented the Director with the State Department's Distinguished Service Award in 1966.
Much has been written about the stormy relationship between Hoover and the Kennedys. There were, however, some times of civility. When Hoover learned that Senator Jack Kennedy was recovering from his back operation in 1954, he wrote...
"It was with great regret that I learned of the suffering occasioned by your recent operation. You have the heartfelt prayers and hopes of your many admirers."
Then in 1956, Bobby Kennedy wrote these words to J. Edgar Hoover...
"I hope the United States continues to enjoy your leadership for a long period of time."
Public Law 94-503 now limits the Director of the FBI to a single term of no more than 10 years. Of course, that is subject to the discretion of the POTUS as James Comey can attest.
*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. He 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.