J. Edgar Hoover was the founding director of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. He served that role for thirty-seven years until his death in 1972, and has been widely credited with modernizing policing with various techniques including fingerprinting and other forensic advancements. He’s undoubtedly one of the most significant names in the history of law enforcement, and his legacy is his contribution to the present-day FBI and the various scientific methods they employ to catch criminals.
He began his career during the presidency of Brother Franklin D. Roosevelt, and made a name for himself by going up against gangsters like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. While regarded as a powerful authoritarian, he was also known as a progressive, and instituted many modern practices to American law enforcement that ultimately led to the capture and arrest of some of the most wanted criminals in the country.
To say Hoover was a divisive figure would be an understatement. He was regularly accused of abuse of power, was known to collect illegal evidence for the purposes of titillation and blackmail, and amassed secret files on political figures and anyone who might oppose him. He was accused by President Truman of turning the FBI into his own private Gestapo-like organization and would stop at nothing to maintain his power.
His life story is profoundly interesting and marred with controversy, but that doesn’t take away from his remarkable achievements. We also know that Hoover was an extremely dedicated Mason. He was raised in Federal Lodge No.1 in Washington D.C. in November 1920. He was also a charter member of Justice Lodge No. 46, also in D.C. He became a Mason at the tender age of 25, and would remain an active brother until his death at the age of 77.
As well as being a Master Mason, Brother Hoover was also a Shriner, and was devoted to his passage through the York Rite. He is also part of the prestigious group of 33rd degree Scottish Rite Masons and holds his place in history as amongst the select few.
Whatever you may think of Hoover and his controversial life, he is rightly regarded as one of the most powerful and influential men in all of American history. And his contribution to the development of law enforcement in the United States cannot be understated.