J. Edgar Hoover

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For nearly half a century J. Edgar Hoover was one of the most powerful officials in the Federal government of the United States. As head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924 until his death in 1972, he was the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. His intimate knowledge of politicians and government operations made him a man to be feared by elected officials, and none of the eight presidents under whom he served dared fire him. J.Edgar Hoover was born on January 1, 1895, in Washington D.C. He attended George Washington University and earned a degree in 1917. In 1919 he became assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in the Department of Justice. It was Palmer who instigated the post World War I "red scare," an anti-Communist hysteria that led to the deportation of many aliens. Hoover was put in charge of the deportations. When Hoover became director of the Bureau in 1924, he quickly formed an elite force of powerful law enforcement officers. He enhanced the FBI’s fame by capturing many gangsters, bank robbers, and other lawbreakers. After World War II he waged a relentless fight against internal subversion. The 1970’s often criticized Hoover for his authoritarian methods. He died in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 1972. In the rest of the paper I will explain more in depth of how J. Edgar Hoover rose to power and why he is considered one of the most corrupt men to ever hold a government position. It is not very difficult to figure out the most outstanding characteristic of J. Edgar Hoover. Out of all of his characteristics, the one that truly stands out is that he was extremely powerful. J. Edgar Hoover is the most famous law enforcement officer that the United States has ever known. J. Edgar Hoover began his adult life at the bottom of the ladder with a very limited amount of power. As he grew older and became more experienced his prestige and power skyrocketed. At the height of his prestige and power he was the most famous director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the history of the United States. One factor that helped J. Edgar Hoover gain more power, was that he had many connections with many important people (Summers 29). Another factor that aided J. Edgar Hoover in his rise to power was the knowledge he had about people (Kessler 449-450). This meant that he could control people, or in other words, blackmai...

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...led in public life (Summers 45). If there is a moral here, it is perhaps the one drawn by future Vice President Walter Mondale while taking part in the senate probe of the CIA and FBI in 1975 (Summers 438). "The lesson we learn from this history," he said, "is that we cannot keep our liberty secure by relying alone on the good faith of men with great power" (Summers 438). I think that a very important lesson is taught by the life of J. Edgar Hoover. His life teaches that being powerful is not necessarily a good thing. If power is used intelligently and in moderation, it can be a good thing. However, Hoover used his power for his own benefit. Finally, it got to the point where Hoover would do anything to hold on to his power. That is why he is always shrouded in controversy and his name is synonymous with greed and corruption. Works Cited: Kessler, Ronald. The FBI. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1994. Powers, Richard Gid. Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover. New York, NY: Collier Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1987. Summers, Anthony. Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993.
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