Biography of John Edgar Hoover (1895-1972)

Official and American criminologist. He/She was born on January 1, 1895, in Washington D.C. (district of Columbia), and died on 1 May 1972, in the same city. He/She was member of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) since 1924, and its director from 1935, charge that remained almost forty years, helping to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your organization, to the point of turning it into the symbol of the law and the federal order par excellence. In his last years in office he/she was accused of abuse of power and exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI.

Educated in his native city, John Edgar Hoover studied law at the University of Washington, whose classes came at night, since by day he/she worked at the library of Congress. In 1917 he/she managed to graduating with the highest qualifications and joined, that same year, the Federal Department of Justice. Two years later he/she was appointed Assistant Attorney general (Minister of Justice), Mitchell Palmer, as which he/she served until the year 1921, when he/she was appointed Assistant director of the Bureau of Investigation (FBI from the year 1932). On May 24, 1924, John Edgar Hoover was confirmed unofficially as director of the federal police U.S., directly dependent on the Federal Department of Justice, with the specific mission to create a police force able to pursue and deal with all kinds of crimes, especially those that had to do with issues relating to the security of the State and the organized criminal gangs nationwide.

The birth of the FBI

Finally, in 1935, he/she was officially appointed director of the Agency already baptized with the name of Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hoover began his new post with a few ridiculous human and material resources for the mission that was entrusted to him: had just 441 men at his service and outdated research resources and little operating. To alleviate such shortage, Hoover introduced a rigorous selection system and preparation of the candidates, in addition to gradually introduce all sorts of technological innovations and materials for fighting crime, such as forensic techniques, detention and listening radio systems, tracking suspects, laboratories of analysis and investigation of evidence or the creation of the FBI National Academy. These innovations were used to improve the negative image of the Organization to the public because of past scandals and abuses.

Because of the emergence, in the Decade of the 1930s, real organized gangs of criminals of all kinds, born under the protection of the economic recession of 1929, Hoover oversaw investigations and the police campaign against the main ringleaders, imprisoning characters as Al Capone or the famous bank robber John Dillinger. Although these arrests, so airy by own Hoover, did not lead to eradicate the true "organized crime syndicate" which was in the main cities of the country, yes they earned him the FBI and its director reputation of integrity and effectiveness.

During the course of the second world war, Hoover expanded the functions of the FBI, which took tasks of counter-espionage and fight against sabotage.

After the war, his increasing authoritarianism and immunity de facto which enjoyed, made that his person is found to be involved in a controversial constant, accused of abuse of power and violating the federal law not infrequently. With the onset of the cold war, Hoover began a series of thorough investigations in all areas of the country, governmental, private and civil, in order to suppress all possible subversive activities, work which was supported with fervor by Senator Joseph Mac Carthy and the UN-American activities Committee.

In the year 1945, 441 initial agents had passed 14,000 officers, the famous g-men (hombres G) relentlessly driven Mister FBI nickname by which became known to Hoover. The remarkable autonomy with which acted never ceased to be seen as a parastatal force of uncontrollable power, circumstances that led, in 1971, the head of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Hale Baggs, said "we live in a police state".

More than forty years of service in the Organization, with eight successive presidencies, since Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon, they were enough to make Hoover creates the world's largest police network and become a hated and feared, but at the same time essential character for the maintenance of internal order. His vesanico hatred towards people of color and the civil rights movement was proverbial and anything sneaky. The same Martin Luther King was repeatedly harassed and spied constantly by agents of Hoover.

His many writings and reflections, Hoover left written the following works: hidden people (1938), masters of deception (1958), study of communism (1962), and the crime in the United States (1965).


FAIRCHILD, Erika and WEBB, Vincent The politics of crime and criminal justice. (Beverly Hills: Sage. Ed. 1985).

HERNÁNDEZ SÁNCHEZ-BARBA. Mario: History of the United States of America: the bourgeois Republic to presidential power. (Madrid: Ed. Marcial Pons. 1997).

ROSSOTI, Renzo: FBI. (Barcelona: Ed. Dopesa. 1974).