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J. Edgar Hoover


J. Edgar Hoover
Author: Marion S. Trikosko

Where was J. Edgar Hoover born?

John Edgar Hoover was born in Washington, D.C. on January 1, 1895. His father worked as a printer for the government and his mother's family had a history of government service. As a child, his mother called him by his middle name Edgar. Young Edgar was a driven student. When he developed a stutter at the age of five, he worked relentlessly to conquer the stutter. By the time he was a senior in high school he was a part of the school debate team.

Early Career

Edgar graduated from George Washington University with a law degree in 1916. He had worked for the Library of Congress while attending school where he learned how to organize documents. He liked working for the government and, after passing the bar exam, he went to work for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Bureau of Investigation

In 1919, Hoover joined the Bureau of Investigation. At the Bureau, Hoover became an expert on communism. He tracked people that he believed were involved in communism in order to keep the movement from spreading in the United States. As part of the "Red Scare", Hoover arrested thousands of people and had many deported from the United States. In 1924, Hoover was named the Director of the Bureau of Investigation.

Fighting Gangsters

In the early 1930s, organized crime and bank robbers had become a serious problem across the country. Many gangsters had become famous like John Dillinger, Al Capone, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, and "Machine Gun" Kelly. Hoover put together a team to track down and capture these criminals. These men became known as "G-Men." As many of these gangsters were captured, Hoover and his men became heroes.

Forming the FBI

In 1935, the Bureau of Investigation was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI. Hoover maintained his position as director of the division. That same year the FBI National Academy was formed to train officers to become investigators. By the late 1930s, Hoover and his men had arrested most of the famous criminals of the time.

Anti-Communism and Subversives

During World War II and after, Hoover became concerned about subversives and communists. Subversives were people who Hoover thought were against the government. He wanted to stop anyone who might try to overthrow the government or supported communism. Hoover started a number of internal projects that were designed to infiltrate and discredit political organizations that he didn't agree with. In some cases, his methods were illegal including planting false evidence, harassment, and violence.

Secret Files

Despite his illegal methods at fighting political groups, Hoover remained in power. He did this through secret files he kept on many powerful people in the government. He put wire taps on people's phones, read their mail, and kept close watch on their relatives. He then used this information to stay in power. He kept secret files on senators, presidents, and famous people like Martin Luther King, Jr.

Death and Legacy

Hoover remained the director of the FBI until he died from a heart attack in 1972. Many presidents had wanted to replace him, but were scared to because he had become so powerful in Washington. He is known for building the FBI into a strong crime-fighting organization, but also for violating people's civil rights and abusing his powerful position.

Interesting Facts About J. Edgar Hoover Activities

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