A Brief History
On May 24, 1924, J. Edgar Hoover, only 29 years old, was appointed head of the Bureau of Investigation, the agency that became the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He remained in that post until he died in 1972 when he was 77 years old.
Hoover made the FBI famous through high standards of hiring and rigorous training of its agents, and by striving to stay on the cutting edge of scientific crime fighting. Through the carefully planned use of publicity, he kept the FBI and himself at the front of the public’s attention, and the attention of politicians.
It was not until later years that some of his shenanigans came to light. Hoover was a mean spirited and secretive man that amassed information about people he considered enemies. These enemies could be ones he sincerely believed were a threat to the US, such as communists, anti-war protestors, African-American civil rights activists and others. Hoover used the FBI like his own secret police, illegally wire tapping his targets and using other illegal means that he thought prudent. Some have speculated that Hoover’s FBI had something to do with the assassinations of JFK and MLK.
It was right before his death when the public found out some of his activities against civil rights activists, and the fact that he had hidden evidence in the 16th St. Church Bombing in Birmingham. As such information leaked, conspiracy theorists had a fertile new patch to sow. Meanwhile, Hoover kept politicians in check by maintaining information about their sex lives and other indiscretions instead of chasing criminals.
Hoover made a big splash whenever he could, seizing the opportunity for a photo op or publicity windfall by targeting very visible criminals. At the same time, he denied the existence of the much harder nut to crack, organized crime. The mafia and other mobs were beyond his reach as he continued to pretend they did not exist. Some think the mafia had blackmail worthy dirt on Hoover, thus keeping him off their backs.
While Hoover made a special target of homosexual or suspected homosexual citizens, especially politicians, Hoover himself was rumored to be gay and a cross dresser starting around World War II. He diligently had any person that spoke of such things persecuted and kept under strict surveillance. Hoover’s lifelong friend and companion, Clyde Tolson is thought by many to have been Hoover’s lover. Since Hoover never married and spent most of his time with Tolson, even to the point of the two bachelors going on vacation together, such rumors are not surprising. Hoover even left his estate to Tolson. Although some people claim that J. Edgar was definitely not a homosexual, the vast preponderance of witnesses say otherwise. In keeping with Hoover’s secretive nature, he was also an avid Freemason, becoming a Master Mason in 1920 and receiving their highest award in 1965.
Hoover did write several books, and of course much has been written about him. He is frequently portrayed on television and in movies, and the FBI headquarters building is named for him. Was J. Edgar Hoover an American hero or a sneaky vindictive fraud? Many people fall on both sides of that fence. Which side do you believe?
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