Year
1924
Month Day
May 10

J. Edgar Hoover begins his 48-year tenure as FBI director

J. Edgar Hoover is named acting director of the Bureau of Investigation (now the FBI) on May 10, 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.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Confederate President Jefferson Davis captured by Union forces

Jefferson Davis, president of the fallen Confederate government, is captured with his wife and entourage near Irwinville, Georgia, by a detachment of Union General James H. Wilson’s cavalry. On April 2, 1865, with the Confederate defeat at Petersburg, Virginia imminent, General ...read more

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is inaugurated

In South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is sworn in as the first black president of South Africa. In his inaugural address, Mandela, who spent 27 years of his life as a political prisoner of the South African government, declared that “the time for the healing of the wounds ...read more

Government gives Chrysler $1.5 billion loan

On May 10, 1980, United States Secretary of the Treasury G. William Miller announces the approval of nearly $1.5 billion dollars in federal loan guarantees for the nearly bankrupt Chrysler Corporation. At the time, it was the largest rescue package ever granted by the U.S. ...read more

Winston Churchill becomes prime minister of Britain

Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, is called to replace Neville Chamberlain as British prime minister following the latter’s resignation after losing a confidence vote in the House of Commons. In 1938, Prime Minister Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement with Nazi ...read more

Transcontinental railroad completed, unifying United States

On May 10, 1869, the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah, and drive a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads. This made transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time in U.S. history. ...read more

Rutherford B. Hayes has first phone installed in White House

On May 10, 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes has the White House’s first telephone installed in the mansion s telegraph room. President Hayes embraced the new technology, though he rarely received phone calls. In fact, the Treasury Department possessed the only other direct ...read more

Eight climbers die on Mt. Everest

Eight climbers die on Mount Everest during a storm on May 10, 1996. It was the worst loss of life ever on the mountain on a single day. Author Jon Krakauer, who himself attempted to climb the peak that year, wrote a best-selling book about the incident, Into Thin Air, which was ...read more

China releases 211 prisoners arrested during Tiananmen Square protests

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 ...read more

Famed Confederate general Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson dies

The South loses one of its boldest and most colorful generals on May 10, 1863, when 39-year-old Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson dies of pneumonia a week after his own troops accidentally fired on him during the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. In the first two years of the ...read more

Second Continental Congress assembles as Americans capture Fort Ticonderoga

On May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold lead a successful attack on Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York, while the Second Continental Congress assembles in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Congress faced the task of conducting a war already in progress. Fighting had ...read more

Treaty of Frankfurt am Main ends Franco-Prussian War

The humiliating defeat of Louis Napoleon’s Second Empire of France is made complete on May 10, 1871, when the Treaty of Frankfurt am Main is signed, ending the Franco-Prussian War and marking the decisive entry of a newly unified German state on the stage of European power ...read more

As Germany invades Holland and Belgium, Winston Churchill becomes prime minister of Great Britain

On this day in 1940, Hitler begins his Western offensive with the radio code word “Danzig,” sending his forces into Holland and Belgium. On this same day, having lost the support of the Labour Party, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigns; Winston Churchill accedes to ...read more