Life and Career of J. Edgar Hoover, FBI’s First and Longest Director


  • J. Edgar Hoover took over the FBI, then known as the Bureau of Investigation in 1924 when he was 29 years old.
  • At first, agents couldn’t carry weapons and reported suspects to other law officials. Hoover changed all that.
  • He later used the bureau to gather information on influential people like John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Edgar Hoover ran the FBI For 48 years, serving under eight different presidents. Hoover turned the agency from a relatively powerless group into one of the most efficient investigative forces in the world. 

He had the FBI fight several threats to the country, including communists, gangsters, and Nazis. But he also had the agency spend decades harassing people of color, anti-war protestors, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. 

Hoover was known for keeping files on almost anyone with power and influence, including Supreme Court justices, senators, congressmen, and presidents, as well as actors and writers. The list included President John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, and Felix Frankfurter.

In 1972, after he died, then-US Attorney General Laurence Silberman reviewed some of Hoover’s secret files. He later said of it, “J. Edgar Hoover was like a sewer that collected dirt. I now believe he was the worst public servant in our history.”


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