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As director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover had rabid anti-Communist and anti-subversive views and used unconventional tactics to monitor related activity.
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Watch a short video about J. Edgar Hoover and how this secretive man created an organization that would uncover the secrets of millions.
J. Edgar Hoover faced many challenges from President Harry S. Truman, the greets of which was Truman's creation of the CIA to diminish the FBI.
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Born on January 1, 1895, in Washington, D.C., J. Edgar Hoover was the long-time director of the FBI (1924-1972) and spent much of his career gathering intelligence on radical groups and individuals and "subversives," Martin Luther King Jr. being one of his favorite targets. Hoover's methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps and planted evidence, and his legacy is tainted because of it. He died in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 1972.
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lawyer, and criminologist. Born January 1, 1895, in Washington, D.C. to Annie Marie Scheitlin Hoover and Dickerson Naylor Hoover. Hoover attended night classes at George Washington University while working as a clerk at the Library of Congress.
After being admitted to the District of Columbia bar in 1917, his uncle—who was a judge—helped him land a job in the U.S. Justice Department. Within two years, he became special assistant to attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer. In this position, he was given the responsibility of heading a new section of the Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation called the General Intelligence Division. The G.I.D. was created to gather intelligence on radical groups, and was responsible for organizing the arrest or deportation of alleged seditionists. This led to the controversial "Palmer Raids," in which Hoover and his associates arrested and deported left-wing radicals, especially anarchists, from the United States.
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.
Advancing from assistant in 1921 to director of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924, Hoover emphasized modern technological investigative techniques, improved training, and obtained increased funding from Congress for the organization. During the 1930s, F.B.I. exploits against notorious gangsters, particularly John Dillinger, made Hoover a national hero. A string of high-profile gang arrests by the Bureau led to an expansion of power for the organization, and the Bureau became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.
By the 1940s and 1950s, Hoover became well known for his anti-Communist and anti-subversive views and activities. In 1956, frustrated that the Justice Department was not allowed to prosecute and deport people for their political opinions, Hoover created the Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO. The group conducted a series of covert, and most often illegal, aimed at the dissolution and discrediting of radical political organizations.
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