Hoover - The Head of the FBI
J. Edgar Hoover, born on January 1, 1895, in Washington, DC, is perhaps most famous for being the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, most commonly known as the "FBI." He was also, at the time of his death in 1972 the longest serving director of the FBI, a record he will always hold as after his death, due to his rather publicly controversial term, measures were put in place to ensure FBI director's in the future could only ever hold this position for a maximum of 10 years time, with the possibility of an extension via senate vote, to avoid the same circumstances that led to Hoovers 37 year reign as FBI director and around 47 years as director of the BOI as a whole.
As a youngster however, John Hoover, born to Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. and Anna Marie Scheitlin Hoover, became the primary source of income for his family due to the mental instability and eventual death of his father, the young Hoover being forced into work which he subsequently found as a messenger boy in the Library of Congress in the day and by spending the evenings and nights studying for a law degree at George Washington University. In 1917, he achieved this and also went onto obtain an LLM, a Master of Laws degree.
(A young John Hoover)
It was a short while after this that this young, ambitious individual was hired by the current Justice Department, It’s claimed with the help of his uncle who at the time was a judge. After a few years he rose to become the special assistant to A. Mitchell Palmer, the Attorney General at the time, and was responsible for being the head of a new section of the BOI (Bureau of Investigation - which was the FBI of the day), called the General Intelligence Division (Known as the G.I.D). It was here that he seemingly first embarked on "illegal activities done legally" as I call it, particularly by personally targeting Pan-African leader, Marcus Garvey for example.
In 1919, Hoover targeted Pan-African leader Marcus Garvey, naming him a "notorious negro agitator," and began searching for any evidence that would allow Garvey to be charged with a crime. In December of 1919, afraid of Garvey's growing influence, Hoover hired the first black agent in the Bureau's history: James Wormley Jones. Jones was sent to gather intelligence on Garvey, and the resulting information led Hoover and his group to sabotage Garvey's Black Star Line, a series of ships meant to transport goods between the black communities of North America, the Carribbean and Africa. As a result, Garvey's Black Star service went bankrupt, and the leader began entertaining thoughts of self-harm.(Source)
Heading this section of the BOI he was responsible for gathering Intelligence and information on what they deemed "Radical Groups" or any individual of particular importance, as well as organizing the arrest and deportation of "alleged seditionists." Perhaps the most famous and well known instance of this practice going on is the famous Palmer Raids, named after Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, which was an attempt to arrest and deport anarchists and radical leftists in the Unites States of America.
- Wikipedia: Palmer Raids
- FBI.gov: A Byte Out of History - The Palmer Raids
- Spartacus.Schoolnet: The Palmer Raids
Worried by the revolution that had taken place in Russia, Palmer became convinced that Communist agents were planning to overthrow the American government. His view was reinforced by the discovery of thirty-eight bombs sent to leading politicians and the Italian anarchist who blew himself up outside Palmer's Washington home. Palmer recruited John Edgar Hoover as his special assistant and together they used the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918) to launch a campaign against radicals and left-wing organizations.(Source)
A. Mitchell Palmer claimed that Communist agents from Russia were planning to overthrow the American government. On 7th November, 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, over 10,000 suspected communists and anarchists were arrested. Palmer and Hoover found no evidence of a proposed revolution but large number of these suspects were held without trial for a long time. The vast majority were eventually released but Emma Goldman and 247 other people, were deported to Russia.
On 2nd January, 1920, another 6,000 were arrested and held without trial. These raids took place in several cities and became known as the Palmer Raids. A. Mitchell Palmer and John Edgar Hoover found no evidence of a proposed revolution but large number of these suspects, many of them members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), continued to be held without trial. When Palmer announced that the communist revolution was likely to take place on 1st May, mass panic took place. In New York, five elected Socialists were expelled from the legislature.
A few years went by and in 1924 the impressed Attorney General, now Harlan F. Stone, as Palmer had retired from Government service in March of 1921, took the decision to give Hoover the position of Acting Director of the BOI after the allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns, was involved in the famous Teapot Dome scandal - which, before Watergate, was being classified as perhaps the greatest and most shameful scandal in all of American history - before the 10th of May the very same year the current President of the Unites States, Calvin Coolidge, appointed him as the official director of the Bureau of Investigation, the 6th person to hold such a position and a position he held from that day right up until the FBI was established as a separate entity in 1935 where he became their very first Director.
The BOI and the FBI - A brief History:
In 1886, the Supreme Court, in Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois, found that the states had no power to regulate interstate commerce. The resulting Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 created a Federal responsibility for interstate law enforcement. The Justice Department made little effort to relieve its staff shortage until the turn of the century, when Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte reached out to other agencies, including the Secret Service, for investigators. But the Congress forbade this use of Treasury employees by Justice, passing a law to that effect in 1908.(Source)
So the Attorney General moved to organize a formal Bureau of Investigation (BOI or BI), complete with its own staff of special agents. The Secret Service provided the Department of Justice 12 Special Agents and these agents became the first Agents in the new BOI. Thus, the first FBI agents were actually Secret Service agents. Its jurisdiction derived from the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.
The FBI grew out of this force of special agents created on July 26, 1908 during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. The first Chief (the title has since been changed to Director) was Stanley W. Finch. Its first official task was visiting and making surveys of the houses of prostitution in preparation for enforcing the "White Slave Traffic Act," or Mann Act, passed on June 25, 1910. In 1932, it was renamed the United States Bureau of Investigation. The following year it was linked to the Bureau of Prohibition and rechristened the Division of Investigation (DOI) before finally becoming an independent service within the Department of Justice in 1935. In the same year, its name was officially changed from the Division of Investigation to the present-day Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI.
With the BOI however, this being before the FBI was officially established as an independent investigation entity, Hoover was responsible for a rather vast leap forward on most aspects of their work particularly on improving the training of agents, their investigative techniques used (such as the emergence of scientific measures), he was the public face of a number of high profile gangster arrests and killings, most famously John Dillinger, and he helped greatly increase the funding from Congress.
When Hoover took over, the Bureau of Investigation had approximately 650 employees, including 441 special agents who worked in field offices in nine cities. By the end of the decade, there were approximately 30 field offices, with divisional headquarters in New York, Baltimore, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Portland. He immediately fired those agents he considered unqualified and proceeded to professionalize the organization. For example, Hoover abolished the seniority rule of promotion and introduced uniform performance appraisals. At the beginning of the decade, the Bureau of Investigation established field offices in nine cities. He also scheduled regular inspections of the operations in all field offices.(Source)
Then, in January 1928, Hoover established a formal training course for new agents, including the requirement that new agents had to be in the 25-35 year range to apply. He also returned to the earlier preference for special agents with law or accounting experience.
Still, it was all not enough it would seem. He wanted more power to fully achieve his goals. You see, when Hoover took over as Director of the original Bureau of Investigation, commonly referred to as simply the BOI, he was very limited with what could be achieved by him and his already limited staff - Thus why he massively expanded them. Guns were not allowed to be carried by the agents nor could they arrest suspects. These years commonly being referred to as the Lawless years in fact, particularly with the emergence of the Great Depression in the late 20's and the emergence of what became known as the “Depression Era - Criminals.”
In 1935 however that all changed - the FBI was officially established with Hoover as It's director. Agents were given vastly more power and influence, the ability to fight crime and in particular violent crime and they even seemingly went as far as willingly setting out to murder violent criminals. With this new Agency with-in the Justice Department, Hoover also helped to finally establish the very first scientific crime-detention laboratory, a vital asset even today.
As Director of the FBI Hoover also appointed close friend and ‘protege’ Clyde Tolson as his "second in command," or as the Assistant Director of the FBI as he is officially known despite his lack of real experience. In 1936, Tolson joined Hoover in an attempt to arrest well known bank robber Alvin "Creepy" Karpis in a staged arrest (staged in the sense of gaining Hoover more fame and credibility) who was located by the FBI in New Orleans, and who was one of the last of the "Public enemies" as they became known, something of an early version of what has become known as the Top 10 most wanted list on the official FBI website today.
Tolson ended up getting into a gun fight a short while later while once again assisting Hoover, this time with New York City criminal Harry Brunette, in what was supposed to be a staged arrest to help gain Tolson more fame and credibility with the public. But it went wrong as the FBI raided his apartment an estimated 14 hours ahead of schedule.
Almost from the start, there were problems between the NYPD and the FBI. It was agreed that raid would take place that afternoon at 2:00 pm, when it was believed that Brunette would be asleep. However, federal agents moved ahead with the raid and stormed the apartment building at midnight. Confused police detectives, still on stakeout, watched as the raid began 14 hours ahead of schedule. When police officers at the scene questioned Hoover, according to the New York Times, the director "merely shrugged his shoulders".(Source)
Within a few minutes, Brunette was alerted when a federal agent unsuccessfully attempted to shoot the lock off his door and immediately returned fire. Gas grenades were tossed into his room, inadvertently starting a fire, and the New York City Fire Department was called.
Tolson was later photographed arresting the surrendering Harry Brunette and despite strong criticisms of the FBI in this operation, which resulted in Merle Vandenbush, crime partner of Brunette, escaping capture, Tolson still gained his fame for the operation.
(John Hoover and Clyde Tolson)
John Edgar Hoover was never actually fired from his position of Director of the FBI, despite holding the position for around 37 years time (Not counting his years as director before the FBI was established) and even in the face of great scrutiny by many people, in particular American Presidents – Many of which seemingly expressed great interest in ousting him, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy perhaps the most well known to have wished for such a thing.
None were ever successful and Hoover served as Director of the FBI and BOI under 8 United States presidents, reasons for which are still not fully known although much speculation has arisen to suggest that the real reason was not because of Hoover’s over all support among them, which he never had, instead he didn’t play by the rules – He cheated his way into keeping his job and in particular worked at gathering Intelligence for purposes of blackmailing people including Presidents and their wife’s, among many more including innocent people.
This “secret stash” of his known most commonly today as the famous Hoover Files, something we know for a fact exists, or did exist. Whether he really did as many people claimed.. we don’t know. In this thread I’d like to have the opportunity to at least give my thoughts on the subject. And either way there is one thing we know for sure, J. Edgar Hoover was, and most probably always will be, the longest serving Director of the FBI in American history..
edit on 23-2-2012 by Rising Against because: (no reason given)