Friday, May 10, 2019

Today in history: Jack Kerouac and J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover (L) and Jack Kerouac (R)

On this date -- May 10 -- in 1924, "Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone appointed the 29-year-old [J. Edgar] Hoover acting director of the Bureau [FBI], and by the end of the year Mr. Hoover was named Director" (Source:

The Kerouac connection? Hoover was no fan of the Beats -- he
claimed at the 1960 Republican National Convention that “beatniks” were, alongside communists and liberal “eggheads,” one of the three greatest menaces to U.S. National Security. (Source: click here)

Hoover is quoted in 1961 as saying:
Ever since the war, the communist fronts and the beatniks and the eggheads have conducted a national chorus of denunciation. (Source: Beat Studies Association)

You will note that Hoover used the term "beatniks," a term that a true Beat would see as pejorative, and I suspect he meant it that way, capitalizing on the link to communism via the "nik" suffix.

I've tried in vain to ascertain whether Jack had an FBI file. I can't believe he didn't, but the FBI has responded to my FOIA requests as being unable to find any records (click here).

Apparently, Hoover was no paragon of virtue himself, and I hesitated to give him space on my blog. However, he was a major figure in history and certainly has a connection to Kerouac via his (Hoover's) detest for the counterculture Jack helped catalyze.

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