Posts Tagged ‘J. Edgar Hoover

10
May
09

On This Day, May 10: J Edgar Hoover

May 10, 1924

J. Edgar Hoover begins his legacy with the FBI

J. Edgar Hoover is named acting director of the Bureau of Investigation (now the FBI) on this day in 1924. By the end of the year he was officially promoted to director. This began his 48-year tenure in power, during which time he personally shaped American criminal justice in the 20th century.

Hoover first became involved in law enforcement as a special assistant to the attorney general, overseeing the mass roundups and deportations of suspected communists during the Red Scare abuses of the late 1910s. After taking over the FBI in 1924, Hoover began secretly monitoring any activities that did not conform to his American ideal.

Hoover approved of illegally infiltrating and spying on the American Civil Liberties Union. His spies could be found throughout the government, even in the Supreme Court. He also collected damaging information on the personal lives of civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

While Hoover’s success at legitimate crime fighting was modest, his hold over many powerful people and organizations earned him respect and kept him in power. He was extremely successful at attracting attention and favorable press to the FBI. It wasn’t until after his death in 1972, right before the beginning of the Watergate scandal, that Hoover’s corruption became known.

“J. Edgar Hoover begins his legacy with the FBI,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=998 [accessed May 10, 2009]

On This Day

1676 – Bacon’s Rebellion, which pits frontiersmen against the government, began.

1773 – The English Parliament passed the Tea Act, which taxed all tea in the U.S. colonies.

1774 – Louis XVI ascended the throne of France.

1775 – Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold led an attack on the British Fort Ticonderoga and captured it from the British.

1796 – Napoleon Bonaparte won a brilliant victory against the Austrians at Lodi bridge in Italy.

1840 – Mormon leader Joseph Smith moved his band of followers to Illinois to escape the hostilities they had experienced in Missouri.

1865 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irvinville, GA.

1869 – Central Pacific and Union Pacific Rail Roads meet in Promontory, UT. A golden spike was driven in at the celebration of the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S.

1908 – The first Mother’s Day observance took place during a church service in Grafton, West Virginia.

1933 – The Nazis staged massive public book burnings in Germany.

1940 – Germany invaded Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

1941 – Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, parachuted into Scotland on what he claimed was a peace mission.

1960 – The U.S.S. Triton completed the first circumnavigation of the globe under water. The trip started on February 16.

1986 – Navy Lt. Commander Donnie Cochran became the first black pilot to fly with the Blue Angels team.

1994 – Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president.

2002 – Robert Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole. Hanssen, an FBI agent, had sold U.S. secrets to Moscow for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.

May 10, 1990

China releases Tiananmen Square prisoners

The government of the People’s Republic of China announces that it is releasing 211 people arrested during the massive protests held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in June 1989. Most observers viewed the prisoner release as an attempt by the communist government of China to dispel much of the terrible publicity it received for its brutal suppression of the 1989 protests.

In early 1989, peaceful protests (largely composed of students) were held in a number of Chinese cities, calling for greater democracy and less governmental control of the economy. In April, thousands of students marched through Beijing. By May, the number of protesters had grown to nearly 1 million. On June 3, the government responded with troops sent in to crush the protests. In the ensuing violence, thousands of protesters were killed and an unknown number were arrested. The brutal Chinese government crackdown shocked the world. In the United States, calls went up for economic sanctions against China to punish the dramatic human rights violations. The U.S. government responded by temporarily suspending arms sales to China.

Nearly one year later, on May 10, 1990, the Chinese government announced that it was releasing 211 people arrested during the Tiananmen Square crackdown. A brief government statement simply indicated, “Lawbreakers involved in the turmoil and counterrevolutionary rebellion last year have been given lenient treatment and released upon completion of investigations.” The statement also declared that over 400 other “law-breakers” were still being investigated while being held in custody. Western observers greeted the news with cautious optimism. In the United States, where the administration of President George Bush was considering the extension of most-favored-nation status to China, the release of the prisoners was hailed as a step in the right direction.

“China releases Tiananmen Square prisoners,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2663 [accessed May 10, 2009]

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02
May
09

On This Day, May 2: Stonewall Jackson Wounded

May 2, 1863

Jackson flanks Hooker at Chancellorsville

Stonewall Jackson administers a devastating defeat to the Army of the Potomac. In one of the most stunning upsets of the war, a vastly outnumbered Army of Northern Virginia sent the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Joseph Hooker, back to Washington in defeat.

Hooker, who headed for Lee’s army confident and numerically superior, had sent part of his force to encounter Lee’s troops at Fredericksburg the day before, while the rest swung west to approach Lee from the rear. Meanwhile, Lee had left part of his army at Fredericksburg and had taken the rest of his troops to confront Hooker near Chancellorsville. When the armies collided on May 1, Hooker withdrew into a defensive posture.

Sensing Hooker’s trepidation, Lee sent Jackson along with 28,000 troops on a swift, 14-mile march around the Union right flank. Splitting his army into three parts in the face of the mighty Army of the Potomac was a bold move, but it paid huge dividends for the Confederates. Although Union scouts detected the movement as Jackson swung southward, Hooker misinterpreted the maneuver as a retreat. When Jackson’s troops swung back north and into the thick woods west of Hooker’s army, Union pickets reported a possible buildup; but their warnings fell on deaf ears.

In the evening of May 2, Union soldiers from General Oliver Otis Howard’s 11th Corps were casually cooking their supper and playing cards when waves of forest animals charged from the woods. Behind them were Jackson’s attacking troops. The Federal flank crumbled as Howard’s men were driven back some two miles before stopping the Rebel advance.

Despite the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Union forces soon gained the upper hand in the war in the eastern theater. Scouting in front of the lines as they returned in the dark, Jackson and his aides were fired upon by their own troops. Jackson’s arm was amputated the next morning, and he never recovered. He died from complications a week later, leaving Lee without his most able lieutenant.

“Jackson flanks Hooker at Chancellorsville,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2002 [accessed May 2, 2009]

On This Day

1519 – Leonardo da Vinci died.

1670 – The Hudson Bay Company was founded by England’s King Charles II.

1776 – France and Spain agreed to donate arms to American rebels fighting the British.

1798 – The black General Toussaint L’ouverture forced British troops to agree to evacuate the port of Santo Domingo.

1865 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson offered $100,000 reward for the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

1887 – Hannibal W. Goodwin applied for a patent on celluloid photographic film. This is the film from which movies are shown.

1926 – U.S. Marines landed in Nicaragua to put down a revolt and to protect U.S. interests. They did not depart until 1933.

1933 – Hitler banned trade unions in Germany.

1945 – Russians took Berlin after 12 days of fierce house-to-house fighting. The Allies announced the surrender of Nazi troops in Italy and parts of Austria.

1970 – Student anti-war protesters at Ohio‘s Kent State University burn down the campus ROTC building. The National Guard took control of the campus.

1974 – Former U.S. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew was disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

1982 – The British submarine HMS Conqueror sank Argentina’s only cruiser, the General Belgrano during the Falkland Islands War. More than 350 people died.

1994 – Nelson Mandela claimed victory after South Africa’s first democratic elections.

May 2, 1972

End of an era at the FBI

After nearly five decades as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover dies, leaving the powerful government agency without the administrator who had been largely responsible for its existence and shape.

Educated as a lawyer and a librarian, Hoover joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and within two years had become special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Deeply anti-radical in his ideology, Hoover came to the forefront of federal law enforcement during the so-called “Red Scare” of 1919 to 1920. The former librarian set up a card index system listing every radical leader, organization, and publication in the United States and by 1921 had amassed some 450,000 files. More than 10,000 suspected communists were also arrested during this period, but the vast majority of these people were briefly questioned and then released. Although the attorney general was criticized for abusing his authority during the so-called “Palmer Raids,” Hoover emerged unscathed, and on May 10, 1924, he was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation, a branch of the Justice Department established in 1909.

During the 1920s, with Congress’ approval, Director Hoover drastically restructured and expanded the Bureau of Investigation. He built the corruption-ridden agency into an efficient crime-fighting machine, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for agents. In the 1930s, the Bureau of Investigation launched a dramatic battle against the epidemic of organized crime brought on by Prohibition. Notorious gangsters such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly and John Dillinger met their ends looking down the barrels of Bureau-issued guns, while others, like Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the elusive head of Murder, Incorporated, were successfully investigated and prosecuted by Hoover’s “G-men.” Hoover, who had a keen eye for public relations, participated in a number of these widely publicized arrests, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, as it was known after 1935, became highly regarded by Congress and the American public.

With the outbreak of World War II, Hoover revived the anti-espionage techniques he had developed during the first Red Scare, and domestic wiretaps and other electronic surveillance expanded dramatically. After World War II, Hoover focused on the threat of radical, especially communist, subversion. The FBI compiled files on millions of Americans suspected of dissident activity, and Hoover worked closely with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the architect of America’s second Red Scare.

In 1956, Hoover initiated Cointelpro, a secret counterintelligence program that initially targeted the U.S. Communist Party but later was expanded to infiltrate and disrupt any radical organization in America. During the 1960s, the immense resources of Cointelpro were used against dangerous groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, but also against African American civil rights organizations and liberal anti-war organizations. One figure especially targeted was civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who endured systematic harassment from the FBI.

By the time Hoover entered service under his eighth president in 1969, the media, the public, and Congress had grown suspicious that the FBI might be abusing its authority. For the first time in his bureaucratic career, Hoover endured widespread criticism, and Congress responded by passing laws requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limiting their tenure to 10 years. On May 2, 1972, with the Watergate affair about to explode onto the national stage, J. Edgar Hoover died of heart disease at the age of 77. The Watergate affair subsequently revealed that the FBI had illegally protected President Richard Nixon from investigation, and the agency was thoroughly investigated by Congress. Revelations of the FBI’s abuses of power and unconstitutional surveillance motivated Congress and the media to become more vigilant in future monitoring of the FBI.

“End of an era at the FBI,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4969 [accessed May 2, 2009]




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