J. Edgar Hoover Quotes

John Edgar Hoover, 1895 – 1972

Born: 1 January 1895, Washington City
Died: 2 May 1972, Washington City

Hoover’s career at the Justice Department began during World War I after he earned his law degrees from George Washington University. He was soon promoted to head the Enemy Aliens Registration Section, and in August 1919 became head of the new General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation. After his promotion to deputy head of the Bureau of Investigation, his boss, William J. Burns, was implicated in the Teapot Dome scandal. President Calvin Coolidge appointed Hoover to take Burns’ place in 1924.

Hoover became a national hero during the 1930s as he led the Bureau in hunting down a series of high-profile, violent bank robbers such as John Dillinger, although at that time he denied the existence of the Mafia. The Bureau’s powers were expanded and it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935, with Hoover as Director. By the 1940s, Hoover became increasingly concerned about subversives, and formed the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in 1956 to get information on those he considered enemies of the nation, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers, and the Communist Party.

He was known for his vendettas, his capricious management style, his paranoia, and his willingness to use any means, including blackmail, illegal wiretaps, burglary, and planted evidence, to maintain power and to bring down his enemies. Rumors have circulated about cross-dressing and a long homosexual relationship with Clyde Tolson, his deputy and heir. Despite the fact that Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson all considered dismissing him as Director of the FBI, Hoover managed to retain his position and influence until his death at home from a heart attack.

J. Edgar Hoover quotes:

Above all, I would teach him to tell the truth. Truth-telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in forty years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: Every single one was a liar.
    J. Edgar Hoover – “What I Would Tell a Son,” Family Weekly (14 July 1963)

Banks are an almost irresistible attraction for that element of our society which seeks unearned money.
    J. Edgar Hoover

Experts say that children are not born criminals, nor pampered parasites. They are made that way by the environment in which they live.
    J. Edgar Hoover

I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce.
    J. Edgar Hoover

Just the minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo.
    J. Edgar Hoover

Justice is incidental to law and order.
    J. Edgar Hoover

No amount of law enforcement can solve a problem that goes back to the family.
    J. Edgar Hoover

Purpose of counter-intelligence action is to disrupt [the Black Panther Party] and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge. If facts are present it aids in the success of the proposal but the Bureau feels … that disruption can be accomplished without facts to back it up.
    J. Edgar Hoover – Memo (16 Sept. 1970)

The cure for crime is not the electric chair, but the high chair.
    J. Edgar Hoover

The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst. It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent.
    J. Edgar Hoover – The Elks Magazine (August 1956)

We are a fact-gathering organization only. We don’t clear anybody. We don’t condemn anybody.
    J. Edgar Hoover – LOOK magazine (14 June 1956)

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