Legacy of J. Edgar Hoover

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Imagine, a time when law enforcement agents could only watch a criminal walk away. A time when they were unable to return fire in a gunfight. A time when no means for tracking criminals existed. A time when a state line stood as impassible as a great wall for law enforcement. There was a time, when men created legends with their criminal exploits, by name of John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Baby Face Nelson. They stood unopposed, taking what they wished on a whim. In 1924, a young man, years short of 30, was put in charge of an agency with no bite. By the end of his life, J. Edgar Hoover was the most powerful man in America, at the head of one of the most powerful organizations in America. He held more power than the very presidents of the nation. J. Edgar Hoover's penchant for pushing the boundaries of acceptable political behavior led to the revolutionizing of modern day law enforcement, a byproduct of his unyielding idealism and ironclad sense of self-preservation.

Hoover's values and ideals were instilled in him early, and they guided him for the remainder of his 77 year long life (O'Brien, Steven G.). Hoover was brought up in a Presbyterian family, and drew a great many parallels between American and Protestant ideals. As a result, he developed a rabid "distrust of alien ideas and movements that called those values into question" (O'Brien, Steven G.). His hatred of alien ideals came to fruition in 1919. A green 25-year-old Hoover was responsible for the flood of radical arrests known as the Palmer raids (named after Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, who appointed Hoover to be his special assistant). The success of the raids propelled Hoover to be named the director of the Bureau of Investigation, which later became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a post he would cling to for the next 48 years (1935-1972), all the while transforming the agency. At the time of his appointment, the Bureau "had jurisdiction over little more than car-thefts....
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