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John Edgar Hoover (1 January 1895 – 2 May 1972), better known as J. Edgar Hoover, was an American detective and the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. He was appointed as the fifth director of the Bureau of Investigation — the FBI's predecessor — in 1924 and was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 at the age of 77. Hoover has been credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency than it was at its inception and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

J. Edgar Hoover
Hoover-JEdgar-LOC.jpg
1st Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
In office
23 March 1935 – 2 May 1972
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Deputy Clyde Tolson
Preceded by Himself (as BOI Director)
Succeeded by Clyde Tolson (Acting)
5th Director of the Bureau of Investigation
In office
10 May 1924 – 22 March 1935
Acting: 10 May 1924 – 10 December 1924
President Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by William J. Burns
Succeeded by Himself (as FBI Director)
Personal details
Born John Edgar Hoover
(1895-01-01)1 January 1895
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Died 2 May 1972(1972-05-02) (aged 77)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting place Congressional Cemetery
Political party Republican
Education George Washington University (LLB, LLM)
Signature

Later in life and after his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive abuses of power began to surface. He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI,[1] and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders,[2] and to collect evidence using illegal methods.[3] Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting presidents.[4]

One of his biographers, Kenneth Ackerman, writes that the allegation that Hoover's secret files kept presidents from firing him is “a myth”.[5] However, Richard Nixon was recorded in 1971 stating that one of the reasons he did not fire Hoover was that he was afraid of reprisals against him from Hoover.[6] President Truman said that Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force:

... we want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him. — Harry S. Truman[7]

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

John Edgar Hoover was born on New Year's Day 1895 in Washington, D.C., to Anna Marie (née Scheitlin; 1860–1938), who was of Swiss-German descent, and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), who was of English and German ancestry. Hoover's maternal great-uncle, John Hitz, was a Swiss honorary consul general to the United States.[8] He was the closest to his mother in the family, who was the family's moral guide and disciplinarian.[9]

Hoover did not have a birth certificate filed upon his birth, although it was required in 1895 in Washington. Two of his siblings did have certificates, but Hoover's was not filed until 1938 when he was 43.[8]

Hoover lived in Washington, D.C. for his entire life. He grew up near the Eastern Market in Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood and attended Central High School, where he sang in the school choir, participated in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, and competed on the debate team.[10] During debates, he argued against women getting the right to vote and against the abolition of the death penalty.[11] The school newspaper applauded his "cool, relentless logic."[12] Hoover stuttered as a boy, which he overcame by teaching himself to talk quickly—a style that he carried through his adult career. He eventually spoke with such ferocious speed that stenographers had a hard time following him.[13]

Hoover was 18 years old when he accepted his first job, an entry-level position as messenger in the orders department, at the Library of Congress. The library was a half mile from his house. The experience shaped both Hoover and the creation of the FBI profiles; as Hoover noted in a 1951 letter,

This job [...] trained me in the value of collating material. It gave me an excellent foundation for my work in the FBI where it has been necessary to collate information and evidence.[14]

Hoover obtained a Bachelor of Laws[15] from The George Washington University Law School in 1916, where he was a member of the Alpha Nu Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order, and an LL.M. in 1917 from the same university.[16][17] While a law student, Hoover became interested in the career of Anthony Comstock, the New York City U.S. Postal Inspector, who waged prolonged campaigns against fraud, vice, pornography, and birth control.[12]

Department of JusticeEdit

 
Hoover in 1932

Immediately after getting his LL.M. degree, Hoover was hired by the Justice Department to work in the War Emergency Division.[18] He accepted the clerkship on 27 July 1917. The job paid $990 a year ($ 18,500 in 2017) and was exempt from the draft.[18]

War Emergency DivisionEdit

He soon became the head of the Division's Alien Enemy Bureau, authorized by President Woodrow Wilson at the beginning of World War I to arrest and jail allegedly disloyal foreigners without trial.[12] He received additional authority from the 1917 Espionage Act. Out of a list of 1,400 suspicious Germans living in the U.S., the Bureau arrested 98 and designated 1,172 as arrestable.[19]

Bureau of InvestigationEdit

Head of the [anti-]Radical DivisionEdit

In August 1919, Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division, also known as the Radical Division because its goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals.[19] America's First Red Scare was beginning, and one of Hoover's first assignments was to carry out the Palmer Raids.[20]

Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch,[21] monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport those whose politics they decided were dangerous. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey;[22] Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs;[23] Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman;[24] and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, who, Hoover maintained, was "the most dangerous man in the United States".[25]

Head of the Bureau of InvestigationEdit

In 1921, Hoover rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head and, in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On 10 May 1924, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Hoover as the fifth Director of the Bureau of Investigation, partly in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal.[citation needed][26] When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.[27]

Early leadershipEdit

Hoover was sometimes unpredictable in his leadership. He frequently fired Bureau agents, singling out those he thought "looked stupid like truck drivers", or whom he considered "pinheads".[28][page needed] He also relocated agents who had displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations. Melvin Purvis was a prime example: Purvis was one of the most effective agents in capturing and breaking up 1930s gangs, and it is alleged that Hoover maneuvered him out of the Bureau because he was envious of the substantial public recognition Purvis received.[29]

Hoover often praised local law-enforcement officers around the country, and built up a national network of supporters and admirers in the process. One whom he often commended for particular effectiveness was the conservative sheriff of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, J. Howell Flournoy.[30]

Depression-era gangstersEdit

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 frequently made newspaper headlines across the United States, particularly John Dillinger, who became famous for leaping over bank cages, and repeatedly escaping from jails and police traps. The gangsters enjoyed a level of sympathy in the Midwest, as banks and bankers were widely seen as oppressors of common people during the Great Depression.

The robbers operated across state lines, and Hoover pressed to have their crimes recognized as federal offenses so that he and his men would have the authority to pursue them and get the credit for capturing them. Initially, the Bureau suffered some embarrassing foul-ups, in particular with Dillinger and his conspirators. A raid on a summer lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, called "Little Bohemia", left a Bureau agent and a civilian bystander dead and others wounded; all the gangsters escaped.

Video clips of famous Depression Era gangsters, including Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and Machine Gun Kelly.

Hoover realized that his job was then 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 office, received a tip on Dillinger's whereabouts that paid off when Dillinger was located, ambushed, and killed by Bureau agents outside the Biograph Theater.[31]

Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers, even though he was not present at the events. These included those of Machine Gun Kelly in 1933, of Dillinger in 1934, and of Alvin Karpis in 1936, which led to the Bureau's powers being broadened.

In 1935, the Bureau of Investigation was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence, thanks in large part to changes made by Hoover, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division, to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date,[32][33] and Hoover's help to expand the FBI's recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory, a division established in 1932 to examine and analyze evidence found by the FBI.

American MafiaEdit

During the 1930s Hoover persistently denied the existence of organized crime, even while there were numerous shootings as a result of Mafia control of and competition over the Prohibition-created black-market.[34] Gangster Frank Costello helped encourage this view by feeding Hoover tips on sure winners through their mutual friend, gossip columnist Walter Winchell.[35] (Hoover had a reputation as "an inveterate horseplayer" known to send Special Agents to place $100 bets for him.)[35] Hoover said the Bureau had "much more important functions" than arresting bookmakers and gamblers.[35]

While Hoover had fought bank-robbing gangsters in the 1930s, anti-communism was a bigger focus for him after World War II, as the Cold War developed. During the 1940s through mid-1950s, he seemed to ignore organized crime of the type that ran vice rackets such as drugs, prostitution, and extortion. He denied that any Mafia operated in the U.S. In the 1950s, evidence of Hoover's unwillingness to focus FBI resources on the Mafia became grist for the media and his many detractors.

The Apalachin Meeting of late 1957 embarrassed the FBI by proving on newspaper front pages that a nationwide Mafia syndicate thrived unimpeded by the nation's "top cops". Hoover immediately changed tack, and during the next five years, the FBI investigated organized crime heavily. Its concentration on the topic fluctuated in subsequent decades, but it never again merely ignored this category of crime.[citation needed]

Investigation of subversion and radicalsEdit

Hoover was concerned about what he claimed was subversion, and under his leadership, the FBI investigated 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.[36]

 
Hoover, perhaps at the behest of Richard Nixon, investigated ex-Beatle John Lennon by putting the singer under surveillance, and Hoover wrote this letter to Richard Kleindienst, the US Attorney General in 1972. A 25 year battle by historian Jon Wiener under the Freedom of Information Act eventually resulted in the release of documents like this one.

William G. Hundley, a Justice Department prosecutor, said Hoover may have inadvertently kept alive the concern over communist infiltration into the government, quipping that Hoover’s “informants were nearly the only ones that paid the party dues.”[37]

Florida and Long Island U-boat landingsEdit

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.[38] In the Quirin affair, during World War II, German U-boats set two small groups of Nazi agents ashore in Florida and Long Island to cause acts of sabotage 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.[39]

During the war and for many years afterward, the FBI maintained a fictionalized version of the story in which it had preempted and caught the saboteurs solely by its own investigations and had even infiltrated the German government. This story was useful during the war to discourage the Germans by making the FBI seem more invincible than it really was and perhaps afterward to similarly mislead the Soviets; but it also served Hoover in his efforts to maintain a superhero-style image for the FBI in American minds.[citation needed]

Illegal wire-tappingEdit

During this time period President Roosevelt, out of concern over Nazi agents in the United States, gave “qualified permission” to wiretap persons “suspected ... [of] subversive activities”. He went on to add, in 1941, that the United States Attorney General had to be informed of its use in each case.[40]

The Attorney General Robert H. Jackson left it to Hoover to decide how and when to use wiretaps, as he found the “whole business” distasteful. Jackson’s successor at the post of Attorney General, Francis Biddle, did turn down Hoover's requests on occasion.[41]

Concealed espionage discoveriesEdit

The FBI participated in the Venona Project, a pre-World War II joint project with the British to eavesdrop on Soviet spies in the UK and the United States. They did not initially realize that espionage was being committed, but the Soviet's multiple use of one-time pad ciphers (which with single use are unbreakable) created redundancies that allowed some intercepts to be decoded. These established that espionage was being carried out.

Hoover kept the intercepts – America's greatest counterintelligence secret – in a locked safe in his office. He choose to not inform President Truman, Attorney General J. Howard McGrath, or Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and General George Marshall while they held office. He informed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the Venona Project in 1952.[citation needed]

Plans for suspending habeus corpusEdit

In 1946 Attorney General Tom C. Clark 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 and detain 12,000 Americans suspected of disloyalty. Truman did not act on the plan.[42]

COINTELPRO and the 1950sEdit

 
Hoover photographed in 1959

In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that limited the Justice Department's ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, most notably communists. Some of his aides reported that he purposely exaggerated the threat of communism to "ensure financial and public support for the FBI."[43] At this time he formalized a covert "dirty tricks" program under the name COINTELPRO.[44] COINTELPRO was first used to disrupt the Communist Party USA, where Hoover went after targets that ranged from suspected everyday spies to larger celebrity figures such as Charlie Chaplin that he saw as spreading Communist Party propaganda.[45]

COINTELPRO's methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents, and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations.[46] Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders.[47][48]

This program remained in place until it was exposed to the public in 1971, after the burglary by a group of eight activists of many internal documents from an office in Media, Pennsylvania, and COINTELPRO became the cause of some of the harshest criticism of Hoover and the FBI. COINTELPRO's activities were investigated in 1975 by the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, called the "Church Committee" after its chairman, Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho); the committee declared COINTELPRO's activities were illegal and contrary to the Constitution.[49]

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 in early 1974, FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley thought such files either did not exist or had been destroyed. After The Washington Post 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.

Reaction to civil rights groupsEdit

 
24 July 1967. President Lyndon B. Johnson (seated, foreground) confers with (background L-R): Marvin Watson, J. Edgar Hoover, Sec. Robert McNamara, Gen. Harold Keith Johnson, Joe Califano, Sec. of the Army Stanley Rogers Resor, on responding to the Detroit riots

In 1956, several years before he targeted King, Hoover had a public showdown with T. R. M. Howard, a civil rights leader from Mound Bayou, Mississippi. During a national speaking tour, Howard had criticized the FBI's failure to thoroughly investigate the racially motivated murders of George W. Lee, Lamar Smith, and Emmett Till.[citation needed] Hoover wrote an open letter to the press singling out these statements as "irresponsible".[citation needed]

In 1960s, Hoover's FBI monitored John Lennon and Malcolm X.[50] The COINTELPRO tactics were later extended to organizations such as the Black Panther Party, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and others. Hoover's 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.[51]

The treatment of Martin Luther King, Jr. and actress Jean Seberg are two examples: Jacqueline Kennedy recalled that Hoover told President John F. 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.[52]

 
President Lyndon B. Johnson at the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. White House East Room. People watching include Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen, Senator Hubert Humphrey, First Lady "Lady Bird" Johnson, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover, Speaker of the House John McCormack. Television cameras are broadcasting the ceremony.

King aide Andrew Young later claimed in a 2013 interview with the Academy of Achievement that the main source of tension between the SCLC and FBI was the government agency's lack of black agents, and that both parties were willing to cooperate with each other by the time the Selma to Montgomery marches had taken place.[53]

Late career and deathEdit

Presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great.[54]

In 1964, Hoover's FBI investigated Jack Valenti, a special assistant and confidant of President Lyndon Johnson's. 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.[55]

Hoover personally directed the FBI investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1964, just days before Hoover testified in the earliest stages of the Warren Commission hearings, President Lyndon B. Johnson waived the then-mandatory U.S. Government Service Retirement Age of 70, allowing Hoover to remain the FBI Director "for an indefinite period of time."[56] 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 criticized the FBI's (Hoover's) reluctance to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.[57]

When Richard Nixon took office in January 1969, Hoover had just turned 74. There was a growing sentiment in Washington, D.C., that the aging FBI chief needed to go, but Hoover's power and friends in Congress remained too strong for him to be forced into retirement.[58]

Hoover remained director of the FBI until he died of a heart attack in his Washington home, on 2 May 1972.[59] Operational command of the Bureau passed to Associate Director Clyde Tolson. On 3 May 1972, Nixon appointed L. Patrick Gray – a Justice Department official with no FBI experience – as Acting Director of the FBI, with W. Mark Felt remaining as Associate Director.[60]

Hoover's body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, where Chief Justice Warren Burger eulogized him.[61] President Richard Nixon delivered another eulogy at the funeral service in the National Presbyterian Church, and called Hoover one of the Giants, [whose] long life brimmed over with magnificent achievement and dedicated service to this country which he loved so well.[62] Hoover was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., next to the graves of his parents and a sister who died in infancy.[63]

LegacyEdit

 
FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC

Biographer Kenneth D. Ackerman summarizes Hoover's legacy thus:

For better or worse, he built the FBI into a modern, national organization stressing professionalism and scientific crime-fighting. For most of his life, Americans considered him a hero. He made the G-Man brand so popular that, at its height, it was harder to become an FBI agent than to be accepted into an Ivy League college.[5]

Hoover worked to groom the image of the FBI in American media; he was a consultant to Warner Brothers for a theatrical film about the FBI, The FBI Story (1959), and in 1965 on Warner's long-running spin-off television series, The F.B.I.[citation needed] Hoover personally made sure Warner portrayed the FBI more favorably than other crime dramas of the times.[citation needed]

In 1979 there was a large increase in conflict in the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) under Senator Richard Schweiker, which had re-opened the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy and 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.[64]

Because Hoover's actions came to be seen as abuses of power, FBI directors are now limited to one 10 year term,[65] subject to extension by the United States Senate.[66]

The FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC is named the J. Edgar Hoover Building, after Hoover. Because of the controversial nature of Hoover's legacy, there have been periodic proposals to rename it by legislation proposed by both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.[citation needed] For example, in 2001 Senator Harry Reid sponsored an amendment to strip Hoover's name from the building. Reid said J. Edgar Hoover's name on the FBI building is a stain on the building.[67] The Senate did not adopt the amendment.

Hoover's practice of violating civil liberties for the sake of national security has been questioned in reference to recent national surveillance programs. An example is a lecture titled Civil Liberties and National Security: Did Hoover Get it Right?, given at The Institute of World Politics on 21 April 2015.[68]

Private lifeEdit

 
Hoover with Bebe Rebozo (left) and Richard Nixon. The three men relax before dinner, Key Biscayne, Florida, December 1971.

PetsEdit

Hoover received his first dog from his parents when he was a child, after which he was never without one. He owned many throughout his lifetime and became an aficionado especially knowledgeable in fine breeding of pedigrees, particularly Cairn Terriers and Beagles. He gave away many dogs to notable people, such as Presidents Herbert Hoover (no relation) and Lyndon B. Johnson,[69] and buried seven canine pets, including a Cairn Terrier named Spee De Bozo, at Aspen Hill Memorial Park, in Silver Spring, Maryland.[70]

SexualityEdit

From the 1940s, rumors circulated that Hoover, who was still living with his mother, was homosexual.[71] The historians John Stuart Cox and Athan G. Theoharis speculated that Clyde Tolson, who became an associate director of the FBI and Hoover's primary heir, may have been his lover.[72] Hoover reportedly hunted down and threatened anyone who made insinuations about his sexuality.[73] Truman Capote, who enjoyed repeating salacious rumors about Hoover, once remarked that he was more interested in making Hoover angry than determining whether the rumors were true.[54]

Some associates and scholars dismiss rumors about Hoover's sexuality, and rumors about his relationship with Tolson in particular, as unlikely,[74][75][76] while others have described them as probable or even "confirmed".[77][78] Still other scholars have reported the rumors without expressing an opinion.[79][80]

Scholar Claire Bond Potter's thoughts on the matter are:

What does the history of sex look like without evidence of sexual identities or proof that sex acts occurred? And how might an analysis of gossip, rumors, and perhaps even lies about sex help us to write political history?[81]

Cox and Theoharis concluded that “the strange likelihood is that Hoover never knew sexual desire at all.”[76]

Hoover and TolsonEdit

 
Hoover and his assistant Clyde Tolson sitting in beach lounge chairs, c. 1939

Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego: the men worked closely together during the day and, both single, frequently took meals, went to night clubs, and vacationed together.[72] This closeness between the two men is often cited as evidence that they were lovers. Some FBI employees who knew them, such as W. Mark Felt, say the relationship was "brotherly", however former FBI official Mike Mason suggested that some of Hoover's colleagues denied that he had a sexual relationship with Tolson in an effort to protect Hoover's image.[82]

The novelist William Styron told Summers that he once saw Hoover and Tolson in a California beach house, where the director was painting his friend's toenails.[83] Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations, said Hoover and Tolson sat in boxes owned by and used exclusively by gay men at the Del Mar racetrack in California.[83]

Hoover bequeathed his estate to Tolson, who moved into Hoover's house after Hoover died. Tolson accepted the American flag that draped Hoover's casket. Tolson is buried a few yards away from Hoover in the Congressional Cemetery.[84]

Other romantic allegationsEdit

Hoover's biographer Richard Hack does not believe the director was gay. Hack notes that Hoover was romantically linked to actress Dorothy Lamour 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 him.[54]

Hack further reported that, during the 1940s and 1950s, Hoover attended social events with Lela Rogers, the divorced mother of dancer and actress Ginger Rogers, so often that many of their mutual friends assumed the pair would eventually marry.[54]

Cross-dressing storyEdit

In his biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993), journalist Anthony Summers quoted "society divorcee" Susan Rosenstiel as claiming to have seen Hoover engaging in cross-dressing in the 1950s, at all-male parties.[85][86]

Summers alleged the Mafia had blackmail material on Hoover, which made Hoover reluctant to pursue organized crime aggressively. According to Summers, organized crime figures Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello obtained photos of Hoover's alleged homosexual activity with Tolson and used them to ensure that the FBI did not target their illegal activities.[87] Additionally, Summers claimed that Hoover was friends with Billy Byars, Jr., an alleged child pornographer and producer of the film The Genesis Children.[88]

Another Hoover biographer who heard the rumors of homosexuality and blackmail, however, said he was unable to corroborate them,[87] though it has been acknowledged that Lansky and other organized crime figures had frequently been allowed to visit the Del Charro Hotel in La Jolla, California, which was owned by Hoover's friend, and staunch Lyndon Johnson supporter, Clint Murchison, Sr.[89][90] Hoover and Tolson also frequently visited the Del Charro Hotel.[90] Summers quoted a source named Charles Krebs as saying, "on three occasions that I knew about, maybe four, boys were driven down to La Jolla at Hoover's request."[88]

Skeptics of the cross-dressing story point to Susan Rosenstiel's lack of credibility (she pleaded guilty to attempted perjury in a 1971 case and later served time in a New York City jail).[91][92] Recklessly indiscreet behavior by Hoover would have been totally out of character, whatever his sexuality. Most biographers consider the story of Mafia blackmail unlikely in light of the FBI's investigations of the Mafia.[93][94]

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 wanna-be was too delicious not to savor."[95] Biographer Kenneth Ackerman contends that Summers' accusations have been “widely debunked by historians”.[96]

The Lavender ScareEdit

The attorney Roy Cohn served as general counsel on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations during Senator Joseph McCarthy's tenure as chairman and assisted Hoover during the 1950s investigations of Communists[97] and was generally known to be a closeted homosexual.[98][97] Cohn's opinion was that Hoover was too frightened of his own sexuality to have anything approaching a normal sexual or romantic relationship.[54]

During the Lavender Scare, Cohn and McCarthy further enhanced anti-Communist fervor by suggesting that Communists overseas had convinced several closeted homosexuals within the U.S. government to leak important government information in exchange for the assurance that their sexual identity would remain a secret.[97][99] A federal investigation that followed convinced President Dwight D. Eisenhower to sign an Executive Order on 29 April 1953, that barred homosexuals from obtaining jobs at the federal level.[100]

In his 2004 study of the event, historian David K. Johnson attacked the speculations about Hoover's homosexuality as 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 fantasy. He believes only those who have forgotten the virulence of the decades-long campaign against homosexuals in government can believe reports that Hoover appeared in compromising situations.[101]

Supportive friendsEdit

Some people associated with Hoover have supported the rumors about his homosexual tendencies.[102] According to Anthony Summers, Hoover often frequented New York City's Stork Club. Luisa Stuart, a model who was 18 or 19 at the time, told Summers that she had seen Hoover holding hands with Tolson as they all rode in a limo uptown to the Cotton Club in 1936.[83]

Actress and singer Ethel Merman was a friend of Hoover's from 1938, and familiar with all parties during his alleged romance of Lela Rogers. In a 1978 interview she said:

Some of my best friends are homosexual: Everybody knew about J. Edgar Hoover, but he was the best chief the FBI ever had.[83]

Written worksEdit

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.[103][104][105] Hoover received the credit and royalties.

HonorsEdit

Theater and media portrayalsEdit

J. Edgar Hoover has been portrayed by numerous actors in films and stage productions featuring him as FBI Director. The first known portrayal was by an un-credited voice actor in the 1941 Looney Tunes short "Hollywood Steps Out". Some notable portrayals (listed chronologically) include:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ ""J. Edgar Hoover", Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia". Microsoft Corporation. 2008. Archived from the original on 1 November 2009. 
  2. ^ ""Hoover, J. Edgar", The Columbia Encyclopedia" (Sixth ed.). Columbia University Press. 2007. 
  3. ^ Cox, John Stuart; Theoharis, Athan G. (1988). The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition. Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-532-X. 
  4. ^ J. Edgar Hoover. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 
  5. ^ a b Ackerman, Kenneth (9 November 2011). "Five myths about J. Edgar Hoover". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ Wines, Michael (5 June 1991). "Tape Shows Nixon Feared Hoover". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Summers, Anthony (1 January 2012). "The secret life of J. Edgar Hoover". The Guardian. London, UK. (quoting former president Harry S. Truman) 
  8. ^ a b Spannaus, Edward (August 2000). "The Mysterious Origins of J. Edgar Hoover". American Almanac. 
  9. ^ "J. Edgar Hoover". Biography.com. 
  10. ^ Cox, John Stuart; Theoharis, Athan G. (1988). The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition. Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-532-X. 
  11. ^ "The secret life of J Edgar Hoover". The Guardian. London, UK. 1 January 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Weiner, Tim (2012). "Anarchy". Enemies – A history of the FBI (1 ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-64389-0. 
  13. ^ Burrough, Bryan (2009). Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34. Penguin Books. 
  14. ^ J. Edgar Hoover (28 June 2012). "The Hoover Legacy, 40 Years After". FBI. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. 
  15. ^ "FBI — John Edgar Hoover". Fbi.gov. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  16. ^ "J. Edgar Hoover's GW Years". GW Today. The George Washington University. 
  17. ^ "Prominent Alumni". The George Washington University. Archived from the original on 11 June 2010. 
  18. ^ a b Gentry 2001, p. 68
  19. ^ a b Weiner, Tim (2012). "Traitors". Enemies – A history of the FBI (1 ed.). New York, NY: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-64389-0. 
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BibliographyEdit

Kenneth D. Ackerman (2007). Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0-7867-1775-0. 

William Beverly (2003). On the Lam; Narratives of Flight in J. Edgar Hoover's America. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-537-2. 

Carter, David (2003). Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-34269-2. 

Douglas Charles (2007). J. Edgar Hoover and the Anti-interventionists: FBI Political Surveillance and the Rise of the Domestic Security State, 1939–1945. Ohio State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8142-1061-1. 

Garrow, David J. (1981). The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr., From 'Solo' to Memphis. W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-01509-2. 

Gentry, Curt (1991). J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. Plume. ISBN 0-452-26904-0. 

Gentry, Curt (2001). J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393343502.  - Total pages: 848

Hack, Richard (2007), Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, Phoenix Books, ISBN 1-59777-512-6 

Lowenthal, Max (1950). The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8371-5755-2. 

Porter, Darwin (2012). J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson: Investigating the Sexual Secrets of America's Most Famous Men and Women. Blood Moon Productions. ISBN 1-936003-25-2. 

Richard Gid Powers (1986). Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-925060-9. 

Joseph L. Schott (1975). No Left Turns: The FBI in Peace & War. Praeger. ISBN 0-275-33630-1. 

Stove, Robert J. (2003). The Unsleeping Eye: Secret Police and Their Victims. Encounter Books. ISBN 1-893554-66-X. 

Summers, Anthony (2003). Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Putnam Publishing Group. ISBN 0-399-13800-5. 

Swearingen, M. Wesley. FBI Secrets: An Agent's Expose. 

Theoharis, Athan (1993). From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover. Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-017-7. 

Frontline (1993) The Secret File on J. Edgar Hoover (#11.4)[citation needed]

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by
William J. Burns
as Director of the Bureau of Investigation
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Bureau of Investigation: 1924–1935

1924–1972
Succeeded by
Pat Gray
Acting
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Everett Dirksen
Persons who have lain in state or honor
in the United States Capitol rotunda

May 3–4, 1972
Succeeded by
Lyndon Johnson