J. Edgar Hoover: Hero or Villain

Essay by Jwhit49University, Bachelor'sA, July 2014

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Joshua Whitehead

March 3, 2014

J. Edgar Hoover: Hero or Villain?

John Edgar Hoover was the face of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for forty eight years. To many, Hoover had more control and was more powerful than eight different presidents of the United States. He was instrumental in fighting organized crime and under his direction the FBI was responsible for taking down some of America's most notorious criminals. On the surface, Hoover seemed like the face of American justice. However, many questioned whether it was it possible to have that much power and be that successful, while staying within the confines of the law. Many felt that Hoover stepped outside the confines of the law in order accomplish his goals. This has led many to debate if Hoover was an American hero or a villain. Hoover did what he felt was necessary to protect the American people, and under his direction the FBI stopped major threats against the United States, which makes him an American Hero.

J. Edgar Hoover climbed the career ladder very quickly to become the Director of the FBI. Hoover began working for the Justice Department, shortly after obtaining his law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1917. At the age of 22, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him head of the Alien Enemy Bureau. Two years later in 1919, he was appointed Assistant Attorney General. He then joined the Bureau of Investigation in 1921; three years later he was named the director.[1: Federal Bureau of Investigation, "John Edgar Hoover," Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/directors/hoover (accessed January 29, 2014).]

The Bureau of Investigation changed its name to the United States Bureau of Investigation on July 1, 1932. Over the next couple of years the Department of Justice experimented...